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Welcome to November's Newsletter

12th November 2015

News: Good for starters? David Cameron has pledged to do away with planning rules that require property developers to build affordable homes for rent — an idea that aims to increase the building of homes for first-time buyers. The Conservatives know they have to deliver on the promises announced in their manifesto: namely that 200,000 starter homes will be built over the course of the next Parliament, reserved for first-time buyers under 40 and sold at 20 per cent below the market price. Mark Hayward, Managing Director of the National Association of Estate Agents, says that while this is good news, 200,000 homes “simply isn’t enough bricks and mortar to lift us out of the crisis we currently find ourselves in.” So... will more be said about housing when George Osborne delivers his Autumn Statement on 25 November, alongside the government's spending review? We'll wait and see...

Welcome to October's Newsletter

1st October 2015

News: Jeremy's building ideas. It shouldn't really have come as a shock: the pollsters had been predicting it for ages. But when Jeremy Corbyn was named as the new leader of the Labour Party a few weeks ago, everyone looked surprised — even the man himself. So now his policies will be scrutinised like never before. According to his website, Corbyn's housing manifesto proposes to allow councils the right and means to commission new homes, in order to meet the demand for affordable housing in their own areas. “Under my ‘Vision for Britain 2020’ Labour will promote major council-funded, desirable energy efficient building projects to provide our young people with a good start in life, to stop paying exorbitant rents and the opportunity of a home they can at least call their own,” he writes.

Welcome to September's Newsletter

16th September 2015

NEWS: Rates up, finances down? Do you believe the results of surveys and polls? After the chaos at the General Election, you'd be forgiven if you didn't. Still, one new survey, released at the end of August, showed that 78 per cent of UK households expect interest rates to rise within 12 months, which is economic food for thought. That said, the dramatic falls of the FTSE in late August — as stock markets across the US and Europe plunged due to fears of a Chinese economic slowdown — should delay any interest rate rises. Yet another survey, from Markit, found that UK households have suffered their sharpest deterioration in finances so far this year in August. Even so, Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, thought that the “improving economic fundamentals and gradually rising income from employment should continue to support household finances through the remainder of this year.” In other news, the Government has now given details about how it would (controversially) force landlords to evict known illegal migrants from privately rented properties — or face jail if they don't...

Welcome to August's Newsletter

11th August 2015

NEWS: George's summer surprise Before the general election in April, potential house buyers were taking a cautious 'wait and see' attitude and the property market stagnated as a result. Yet post-election figures show that property is back on track once again, with sales up by 4.7%. Confidence has returned, it seems. The really big news of the last few weeks, however, has been George Osborne's summer budget. There was no ignoring it, particularly if you're a landlord (more of which below) — although property owners also got a surprise, too: from April 2017, married couples and civil partners will be able to pass on family homes worth up to £1million to children or grandchildren without being hit by inheritance tax. Just two days later, Osborne followed this up with a series of sweeping planning proposals, including automatic planning permissions for brownfield sites in order to kickstart “an urban planning revolution.” It was a busy week for Her Majesty's Government...

Welcome to July's Newsletter

7th July 2015

NEWS: Recovery position Are banks and building societies making it easier for people to borrow? It certainly looks that way at first glance with experts predicting a "gentle recovery" in housing market activity, based on recent news reports. Before you get too excited, it should be noted that new figures show lending rising only slightly (by 2 per cent, in fact). Still it is going in the right direction. On the other hand, even if mortgages are more readily available, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) points out that the UK is still facing an acute shortage of housing supply. Meanwhile, important news for landlords is that after the cut off date in late June, they must now be meeting official deposit protection rules, or risk heavy fines. Are you covered?

Welcome to June's Newsletter

1st June 2015

NEWS: Cameron's next move Well, who saw that election result coming? Certainly not the pollsters and probably not even David Cameron himself. Yet he's installed in Number 10 for a further five years — and with a small majority this time. That, in many ways, was the easy bit, however: now the Prime Minister has to make good on the Conservative's manifesto pledges. This includes building 200,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers under 40 by 2020, extending the Help to Buy loans scheme, introducing a Help to Buy ISA, plus creating a brownfield fund to “unlock homes’ on brownfield sites. Labour's promise/threat (delete depending on your political affiliation) of a mansion tax went with Ed Miliband's defeat. With David Cameron in charge again some commentators believe that the rental market is likely to strengthen — so good news for landlords. But what about renters? Unlike Labour, the Conservatives aren't promising three-year tenancies and a ban on unfair lettings fees.

Welcome to May's Newsletter

1st May 2015

NEWS: Party Pledges Phew. The campaigning — and the incessant political bickering — is over. Still, here's a round-up of the main parties' manifesto pledges regarding housing. The Conservatives have said that they will build 200,000 new starter homes for first-time buyers under 40 and extend the Help-to-Buy scheme to 2020. Labour, meanwhile, have promised 200,000 new homes a year by 2020, giving first priority to local first-time buyers; plus they want to guarantee three-year tenancies to renters and cap excessive rent rises. The Lib Dems announced plans to build 300,000 homes per year, while introducing a new Help to Rent scheme so that government-backed tenancy deposit loans will be available for all first-time renters under 30; and Ukip has pledged to protect Britain’s green belt and exempt houses built on brownfield sites from stamp duty. The Greens would scrap Help to Buy, and protect tenants by capping rents and introducing longer tenancies and a licensing scheme for landlords.

Welcome to April's Newsletter

15th April 2015

NEWS: Alarming news for landlords Apart from George Osborne's budget help for first-time buyers, the big news recently has been a sobering report warning that the average UK household will owe close to £10,000 in debts such as personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts by the end of 2016. Are we falling in love with borrowing again, so soon after the credit crunch?

Welcome to March's Newsletter

2nd March 2015

According to a recent report by property analysis firm Hometrack, house prices are continuing to rise — but not just in the south. In fact, the gap between UK cities with the strongest house price growth and those with the weakest has shrunk to its narrowest levels in nearly 16 years, with locations such as Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow catching up with London, Oxford and Cambridge. In other news, as inflation hits a new low, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has been explaining why interest rates might not have to go up in the near future ('might not', are the operative words, naturally); and, of course, George Osborne will be delivering his final budget of the parliament on 18 March.

Welcome to February's Newsletter

2nd February 2015

High Speed Compensation? If you own a property in the areas neighbouring the path of the planned High Speed 2 (HS2), you'll doubtless have been concerned about how the scheme might affect the price of your house. Now, however, the government has announced details of compensation schemes which have been long awaited by homeowners and estate agents alike.

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