A brief review of the property market this year and a look at predictions for 2018

A brief review of the property market this year and a look at predictions for 2018

Let’s end the year on a high! House prices are up, if only just and there’s good news for first-time buyers.

Back in October, the BBC published a rather depressing report.  “House prices in more than half of neighbourhoods in England and Wales are still lower in real terms than a decade ago.” they revealed. Up to 58% less in some areas. Added to the general gloom and doom of the Brexit negotiations, it wasn’t what most of us wanted to hear.

But …

maximising the rental yieldHere in the South East, house prices have in fact risen. And although the UK is still very much divided between north and south when it comes to house prices, overall across the UK, prices were up by 5% in the year to August 2017 and the market has been more robust this year than was predicted.

On Zoopla’s website they are recording:

The average price for property in South East England stood at £416,084 in December 2017. This is a rise of 0.81% in the last three months (since September 2017) and rise of 1.84% since 12 months ago. In terms of property types, flats in South East England sold for an average of £243,845 and terraced houses for £306,503.”

And in 2018?

Early this week, Rightmove predicted that house prices of small and medium-priced homes around the country will rise by 1% in 2018 (albeit with a decline in London). That’s despite a slight drop in the average asking price in England and Wales between November and December this year.

Rightmove also predicts that the increase will be slightly higher (3%) for properties typically bought by first time buyers (i.e. two bedroom properties or less) and for properties bought by those moving on from their first home (2%).

Slow but still good news

There is no escaping the fact that an increase of 1% is pretty modest, but it’s worth considering the predictions from this time last year which were that the property market would stagnate and the picture would be a lot worse.

Incentives for first-time buyers

tips for moving houseAnnounced in last month’s budget, the new stamp duty exemption for first-time buyers saw an instant flurry of new buyers making enquiries and registering with estate agents.

With immediate effect, the exemption abolished stamp duty for all properties up to £300,000 bought by first-time buyers.  For those first-time buyers buying a property worth between £300,000 and £500,000, the new policy provides a £5k discount off stamp duty.

Despite more predictions of gloom, it remains to be seen what effect this will have on house prices, although some suspect that those who will benefit most will be those second-time buyers who are upsizing.

The stamp duty cut wasn’t the only measure in the recent Budget introduced to boost the property market which included making available £44bn of funding, loans and guarantees to boost the housing supply by 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

It also shouldn’t be forgotten that there are still other resources available if you’re hoping to buy for the first time, including:

  • Help to Buy with an Equity Loan. Save a minimum 5% deposit of the property value and the Government will offer an interest-free loan of a further 20%. The remaining 75% is covered by a standard mortgage.
  • Help to Buy ISA and Lifetime ISA. I’ve written about these previously, and they are still a valuable resource. With the Help to Buy ISA, for every £200 you save into the account, the Government will add £50. This is up to a maximum bonus of £3,000 (which applies to £12,000 of savings). The Lifetime ISA offers a tax-free boost of up to £1,000 a year towards either buying your first home or saving towards retirement – and is available for savers aged under 40.

It’s always difficult to predict the property market but from an on the ground perspective here in the Dorking area, the situation does seem to continue to be reasonably dynamic. And if you’re thinking of buying or selling your first home in the foreseeable future, early in the new year could be the best time to capture some of the current interest and best deals.

So all that remains now, is for me to wish you a very Happy Christmas and New Year and I look forward to catching up with you in 2018!

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

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Selling an empty house? Should you furnish it or not?

What’s the best way to sell an empty property?

 

Hard as it is to believe, soon Christmas will be over and it will be prime time to place your property on the market. That’s all well and good if it’s your current home and you can spend time tidying up and adding some warm, finishing touches to present it at its best.

selling your empty property But what about when it’s empty? Should you furnish it or leave it as it is? Unfortunately, there isn’t a one size fits all answer to this. However, if you go through the following list, you should get a better idea of what is best for your situation:

  1. The condition of the property 

Fixtures and fittings hide a multitude of sins. That’s not that I am suggesting for one moment that you should deceive potential buyers. Absolutely not. But in an empty house, issues that may not actually be that significant or major can look like a much bigger issue and become a distraction.

selling your home

Take a slight stain on the paintwork, a bit of mildew from condensation or a damaged bit of skirting board. With an empty house, they are very obvious and can become the focus of a buyer’s attention – even though they are probably easy to fix.

The other thing to consider is how an empty house portrays itself and what first impression it creates. Does it come across as a warm, family home or will the first impression be a damp, musty smell?

My advice would be that if you want or have to sell it empty, you should invest a little in making sure it’s gleaming and spotless, as well as smelling fresh and clean. That will mean you probably need to bring the decor up to a very high standard.

Whatsmore, don’t forget to consider the condition of any fixtures that are being sold with it – do they need refreshing or replacing? And make sure the property is kept well ventilated and smelling fresh. Could you use some scented home fragrance (but don’t overdo it of course) to ensure it smells nice?

Finally, do not forget the condition of the carpets, floors and curtains! These can and do often retain unpleasant odours and stains so professional cleaning may be required.

2. The condition of any furniture you could install 

You may not have the budget or resources to furnish the property you’re selling, in which case, you will have to follow the steps above and below. But if you are considering furniture, do think about quality and impressions.

A furnished house is great for those buyers that can’t see beyond what is in front of them, those that don’t have the vision to imagine it as their home. It helps them work out how a bedroom or sitting room could be laid out and to what extent their furniture will fit.

But shabby, battered old furniture, that you’ve sourced on the cheap, could do more harm than good when it comes to creating the impression of a warm and comfortable home. Think about your budget carefully and decide whether your money wouldn’t be better spent bringing the decor and empty interior up to standard.

3. Don’t forget the outside 

maintaining your property for sale Having talked about first impressions, you must not forget kerb appeal and the garden. It’s absolutely essential to keep the garden of an empty property well maintained – even in winter – so that it looks tidy. You should also consider outside lighting and any other little touches that may have an impact if a potential buyer drives passed for a quick look or for when they first arrive.

4. Photos and floor plans 

One of the most influential aspects of encouraging interest is, of course, the photographs or your property. Most buyers will decide whether or not to view, based on these.

It can be difficult to create the right impression with an empty room. You don’t necessarily get the perspective of a room, in the same way as you do with a furnished house, where there is furniture by which you can judge how big a room is.

Therefore, if your property is unfurnished, your floor plans are going to play an important role. Check that they are crystal clear and include each room and ask whether you can add any details to make them more illustrative.

5. Your buyers 

In much of this post, I’ve put the emphasis on the buyers looking for a family home but of course, that’s not always the case. Think about the different types of buyers you might attract. Is your property likely to sell as an investment property? Is it ripe for substantial improvements or alterations? Might it be converted into multiple occupancies? It goes without saying, these factors will make a difference as to whether or not furnishings will make a difference.

If you’re still in any doubt, why not give me a call and we can discuss your property and what the best way to present it is.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com

 

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Calling all landlords – new Energy Efficiency rules from April 18

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)

In April next year, new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force. I blogged about this back in April this year and the fact that non-compliance carries a fine of up to £150,000!

So it’s very worrying to read research by EON which suggests 21% of landlords expect to have to spend over £1,000 on energy efficiency over the next 5 years.

Even more worrying is research by LetBritain that suggests 34% of landlords still don’t even know that they have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for their property.

The new regulations – a quick recap

The 2015 Energy Efficiency Regulations set out minimum energy efficiency standards for England and Wales. These regulations mean that from April 2018, it will be unlawful to grant a new lease of a property if it has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E, unless the property is registered as an exemption.

After 1 April 2023, landlords must register an exemption for any building with an EPC rating of less than E if they wish to let the building.

EPCs let the person who will use the building know how costly it will be to heat and light, and what its carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

For more information about the exemptions and non-compliance penalties, just visit our previous blog about Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES).

energy efficiency certificate

Mitigating the impact

Back in April, I made the point that the regulations aren’t all doom and gloom, and forward-thinking landlords have the potential to increase rental and asset value by making energy efficiency improvements and combining these with other upgrades.

This remains the case, and having a highly energy efficient property (which therefore attracts lower bills) may make your property the stand out property for potential tenants.

Check any existing EPC

If your property has an existing EPC, it will highlight cost-effective ways to achieve a better rating.  This can be a good place to start a thorough review of your property’s energy performance and identify areas for improvement.

Next, check the basics:

  • Windows and doors. Poorly insulated windows can account for 10%+ of heat loss. Double glazed windows or secondary glazing can make a significant difference. Secondary glazing is not quite as effective as double glazing but is more affordable.

Also check areas prone to drafts such as doors, letterboxes and even keyholes. Replacing old doors to exclude drafts (and improve security) can be a quick win.

MEES

  • Walls and lofts. Consider the construction of the property. Older properties with solid walls as well as newer ones, with cavity walls, can both benefit from additional insulation. It can be relatively easily applied and make a big difference to energy loss.

Also, check the quality of the loft insulation and whether it is complete. Loss of heat through the roof can amount to a quarter of a property’s overall heat loss.

  • Boiler. Check the boiler and consider whether an upgrade is appropriate.
  • Solar panels (which help heat the house) may seem like a big investment but could make a difference long term.

It’s also worth exploring any other new technology which could have an impact long-term and be attractive to potential tenants.

For landlords who are worried about the costs, financial support may be available through the Energy Company Obligation if tenants meet certain qualifying criteria.

However, the most important thing at this stage is to be aware of your responsibility and to take the appropriate measures. Failure to do so, may not only open you up to the risk of a substantial fine but could leave you with a property that is empty and unrentable.

Graham Faulkner is Branch Director of EweMove Dorking

www.ewemove.com/dorkingHe’s bought and sold a lot of properties over the years and is also a portfolio landlord, as well as specialising in helping other landlords. Apart from his own experience and expertise, he can also recommend the right professionals, as tried and tested by him, to advise you.

Multi-award winning EweMove in Dorking is a residential property sales and lettings agency who pride themselves on being refreshingly different and standing out from the crowd. EweMove Dorking covers from Ockley to Oxshott.

Enquiries to 01306 406 506 or via email to dorking@ewemove.com