28Nov

Is a ‘forever home’ a myth? There those who know exactly what they want and stick to it, no matter what, but for most of us, it will take a lot to find a property that lasts a lifetime.

If you are determined to find a home which lasts forever, here are 5 main points to consider: 

1. Flexibility
Open plan living spaces could work really well as your needs change over time as you can zone the space differently to suit your lifestyle. A dining space can soon become a children’s play area, for example. 

Think about the style of the property, not so much the décor but the structural elements. You want a property that suits you, but one that you could also suit you in 20 years. In addition, think about how your life may need to adapt – think about how older relatives would navigate your space if they needed to come and stay, it will be a good indicator of the practicality of a home.

2. Location
Finding the right home has a great deal to do with the right location. Considering your needs carefully will allow you to future-proof your home, as far as possible. Education from pre-school through to sixth form should be factored in, for example.

A lasting home will also need to be well-catered for; from bus routes to shops, the more local amenities available, the more robust your home will be for whatever circumstances appear on the horizon.

3. Costs
 
A drafty old property that’s always in need of a little mending here and there, will fritter your money away. Choose a home you can afford to fully repair if necessary, or stir towards a cost-effective home you know you can heat through the winters.

In short, for longevity find an efficient house!

4. Can you sell it?
Things change, you may want to move! Forever rarely means forever, and these days changing home isn’t so hard – getting bored with your property can easily be fixed. Ask yourself who would want to buy your home if you put it up for sale? Don’t pick, or develop, a property which is too niche and limit your options. 

28Nov

Lenders have started to announce changes to their buy-to-let policies following the Prudential Regulation Authority’s decision to phase in new stricter rules.

 

The PRA said in September that lenders must take the borrower’s income and personal circumstances into account as well as rental income when assessing buy-to-let mortgage applications.

 

Lenders must also apply a ‘stress test’ of a minimum interest rate of 5.5%, unless the mortgage rate is fixed for 5 years or more.

 

These requirements don’t come into effect until January next year, but some lenders have already announced changes to the way they underwrite buy-to-let mortgages.

 

Santander was the first major lender to confirm their changes, and will tighten the rental calculation from 23rd November.

 

The bank currently requires landlords to receive 125% of their mortgage liabilities in rental income. This will change to 145%.

 

At the moment Santander applies a stress rate of 5% for some deals with a 60% loan to value, or 5.50% above that, but this will change to 5.50% for all borrowers.

 

Other lenders are expected to announce changes in the coming weeks. 

28Nov

It’s getting chillier by the day; the leaves have fallen and the time has come to cosy up in front of the fire. Caring for your home in the colder months is vital. If you are planning on selling this winter, the last thing you need is frozen or burst pipes you have to fix and décor to replace!

Here’s 5 top tips to help to get your home through the winter:

1. Guttering
Water should flow freely through your guttering, well away from your walls, to prevent damp and leaks. When it comes to selling, shoddy guttering will let your kerb appeal down, but the occasional clean will make them look as good as new, and keep them in good working order.

2. Loft insulation
Not only does decent insulation keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer, it’ll add value for the buyers are looking for energy efficient homes.

3. Frozen Pipes
If the water in your pipes freezes, you could end up with a soggy mess. Save yourself costly repairs by setting your heating on low during the day when it’s really cold (especially if you go on holiday) and wrapping your pipes with lagging in the coldest areas, like a chilly utility room.

Make sure you know where to the stop cock is - in case of emergencies!

4. Service your boiler
An efficiently running boiler will reduce fuel bills, save you from expensive future repairs, and your annual service will ensure that you meet any insurance requirements.

5. Safe and secure
As the daylight fades and we switch the lights on, it becomes easier to see into our houses making them more vulnerable. Precautions can include a sensor light, drawing your curtains and keeping valuables out of sight.


Friends can pop in and check your home while you’re away and neighbours will notice when things are amiss – sounds like the perfect time to invite them round for coffee!

28Nov

At its mid-September meeting, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee unanimously voted to leave its main interest rate at 0.25 per cent. The Bank halved its interest rate from 0.5 per cent to the new historic low in August with the aim of maintaining the stability of the UK’s banking system following the June referendum on membership of the European Union. 

A number of indicators measuring near-term economic activity suggest that the impact of the Brexit vote has been weaker than at first feared. However, the Bank still expects that the pace of economic activity in the July to September quarter will still be half the growth rate recorded earlier in the year. The Bank reiterated that it might yet need to cut interest rates further in the coming months.

The Monetary Policy Committee also voted to stand by its August decision to expand quantitative easing. The Bank will purchase an extra £60 billion of government bonds, which will take the total to £425 billion. It will also buy a further £10 billion of corporate bonds as part of its continuing measures to prevent the economy falling into recession.

Under a new timetable, the next Monetary Policy Committee meeting will not take place until November.

One of the economic indicators that seems to show that consumer confidence has not fallen away since the Brexit vote is that UK retail sales were stronger than expected in August. The Office for National Statistics reported that sales volumes fell by just 0.2 per cent from July and were up by 6.2 per cent from August last year. Furthermore, the sales increase for July was also revised upwards from 1.4 per cent to 1.9 per cent, representing the best performance for the month in 14 years.

Another positive indicator was the slight fall in UK unemployment to 1.63 million between May and July. The unemployment rate was 4.9 per cent compared to 5.5 per cent a year ago. However, the number of people employed in the public sector is at its lowest level since the Office for National Statistics started collecting the figures in 1999, down to 5.33 million, indicating that it is the private sector that is making the jobs.

A key measure of the economy is the UK Consumer Prices Index of inflation; in the year to August, the average cost of everyday household goods and services went up by 0.6 per cent, unchanged from July. The Retail Prices Index, which includes the cost of mortgages, dropped to 1.8 per cent in August from 1.9 per cent in July.

28Nov

Annual house price growth has fallen to a three-year low, according to Halifax’s latest House Price Index.

 

November’s Report shows that annual growth eased to 5.2% in the year to the end of October.

 

This is nearly half its 10% peak in March and a fall from 5.8% in the year to the end of September.

 

It is the lowest yearly growth rate since July 2013, when annual house price growth was at 4.6%.

 

The bank attributed the slowdown to mounting affordability pressures, which have constrained housing demand.

 

Activity levels have also stabilised, having risen sharply in the early part of the year prior to April’s increase in stamp duty on second homes and buy-to-let purchases. Quarterly figures from July to September show that UK home sales were 8% lower than in the same three months last year.

 

Despite lower annual growth, the average price of a home in the UK was up 1.4% in October compared to September, at £217,411.

 

Going forward, Halifax said that property prices should be supported by the restricted property supply. Low mortgage rates are also helping homeowners.

Value My Property