Full planning application no longer needed for many home extensions in England

Home owners in England will be able to extend their properties quickly and easily without the need for a full planning application, it has been announced.

Under a wide reaching package of reforms, rights allowing larger home extensions have been made permanent, following its introduction in 2013.

In addition, restrictive planning rules have also been axed, which will ensure business owners can respond quickly to changing trends on the High Street.

It means that home owners can extend their homes without a full planning application but they will have to provide consideration of the impact on neighbours.

Under the rules, they can put a single-storey rear extension on their property of up to six metres for terraced or semi-detached homes, or eight metres for detached homes.

Over 110,000 extensions have been completed since 2014 under the previously temporary rules. The announcement will mean more families can ensure their homes meet their specific needs, according to Housing Minister Kit Malthouse.

‘These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape. By making this permitted development right permanent, it will mean families can grow without being forced to move,’ he said.

He pointed out that it is part of a package of reforms to build more, better, faster and make the housing market work and sits alongside the Government’s drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid 2020s.

The aim is to make it easier for families to build outwards rather than go through the arduous process of moving to a larger home.

As part of the reforms, permitted development rights will also give business owners on the high street greater flexibility as they respond to changing trends in customer spending.

Shops will now be able to change to office space without the need for a full planning application, bringing skilled professionals and their disposable income back to the High Street and help support neighbouring traders by increasing local footfall.

‘Giving greater certainty to property owners and the wider industry, it will also help businesses adjust to the changing needs of the consumer,’ said High Streets Minister Jake Berry.

The move builds upon changes to the law which allow business owners to change the use of buildings from takeaways to new homes without undergoing a full planning application.

He also pointed out that to help deliver a greater mix of uses on the High Street, the changes also allow the temporary change of use from high street uses such shops, offices, and betting shops to certain community uses such as a library or public hall.

Original Source: Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/full-planning-application-no-longer-needed-for-many-home-extensions-in-england/

Getting on the ladder: how much can I borrow for my first mortgage?

Getting your foot on the property ladder is a big step – and there are countless factors to consider, from your personal finances to pinning down your dream home.

But while it can be a complex process, it’s one that first time buyers across the UK are navigating in increasing numbers.

New data from UK Finance shows that in the first three months of 2019 the number of first-time buyer mortgage completions rose in London by 1.6 per cent compared to the same period last year, while Scotland and Wales also saw increases, with the biggest recorded in Northern Ireland.

Before you even start looking you’ll need to have an idea of your budget, which will depend on how big a deposit you have saved and how much you will be able to borrow to fund your purchase.

How many times my salary can I get a mortgage?

Mortgage lenders will lend anything between four and five times a person’s salary. But there are a range of things to take into account.

“One of the key points is dependent on how much of the deposit you’re putting into the property,” Richard O’Reilly, mortgage expert at Habito told Homes and Property.

“For example, Virgin Money will lend five times your income if you earn over £30,000 and have a 15 per cent deposit as a minimum, subject to credit checks and factors that will deduct from borrowing.”

It’s important to remember that outgoings such as credit commitments, personal loans, student loans, car loans “will start eating away at what you can borrow,” says O’Reilly, which is why a thorough evaluation of your income and outgoings is needed before applying for a mortgage.

Each lender has different criteria to stress test what they believe you will be able to afford if circumstances change, such as interest rates increasing.

Big commitments such as dependent children or dependent adults will be taken into account when checking your ability to afford a mortgage.

Getting your finances in order is a must. Being overdrawn at the bank can be viewed the same as having a credit card balance, while missing or defaulting on payments will also affect how willing a lender is to lend to you.

“Your credit file covers the last six years – make sure you pay your bills on time and always stay in the black if you can,” says O’Reilly.

What is the maximum mortgage-to-income ratio?

Some lenders will go up to 5.5 times your salary, but that tends to be reserved for those with a six-figure income, according to O’Reilly.

What is the minimum mortgage amount you can borrow?

This depends on the lender and many will have thresholds of anything between £25,000 and £75,000. Some, such as Halifax, have no minimum value for borrowing, but will assess each individual case on its merit.

If you find yourself in a position where you don’t need a big mortgage, O’Reilly suggests looking at a personal loan, though these tend to get capped at £15,000 and may have a higher interest rate.

How long should I get a fixed-rate mortgage for?

It is possible to get a fixed interest rate on your mortgage for between two and five years, but there are increasingly options for seven or 10 years, too. The general advice is to shop around to find the best deal for you.

“For first-time buyers we recommend only a two-year deal,” Owen Cook, chartered independent financial adviser at Ablestoke Wealth Management says.

“After that deal ends you’re free to remortgage with another bank. If you go into a fixed-rate mortgage for five years but want to move after two you might have a penalty on that.”

If your circumstances are likely to change, it’s worth considering your options.

“If you’re buying your family home you’re much more aware that’s where you’ll be for 20 years, but if you’re a first time buyer you could be in a part of your career where you salary will likely rise, or you might meet a partner and be able to afford a bigger property elsewhere. Two years comes round quite quickly.”

But for people worried about interest rates increasing, for example, there are a number of seven and 10 year products on the market that let you fix for longer.

“And most lender’s products are portable so you could take that mortgage and use it on another property if you think you’ll move within five or seven years,” says O’Reilly.

How much should I aim to have for a deposit?

You usually need to have at least five per cent of a property’s value saved, but essentially, the bigger the deposit the better.

“You’ll get a better interest rate, and if you’re in a position to make overpayments on your mortgage a lot of lenders will let you do this without giving penalties,” says O’Reilly. “If you can overpay by £300-£500 a month you can knock a good six or seven years off the mortgage.”

But Cook adds that it’s important to look at your finances holistically, as other personal factors can take precedent in finding the right mortgage.

“If someone has an inheritance, should they put some of it down on a deposit, borrow more and invest the rest? It depends client by client, but if you have debts in the background such as a student loan, paying that off first might be better than having a bigger deposit.”

What can I do if I am on a low income or have a small deposit?

Having a lower income or only a small deposit to start off with can make getting a mortgage feel impossible, but there are schemes to help you on your way.

First-time buyers saving for a mortgage can open a Help to Buy ISA, where you earn interest on your savings and the Government will top up your money with a 25 per cent bonus.

The amount you can get a bonus on is capped at £12,000, which means you can get as much as £3,000 added to your savings pot, to put towards a home costing under £450,000 in London.

There is also a Lifetime ISA, which has been created for people to save for their first home or for their retirement, and also provides a 25 per cent bonus.

Paying into it is more flexible than the Help to Buy ISA, but either product will make getting on the ladder that little bit easier.

The Help to Buy scheme offers an equity loan, which is only available for new builds, where the Government will lend you up to 40 per cent of the cost of a London home, which will bring your cash deposit down to five per cent and your mortgage to 75 per cent of the purchase price.

And if you can’t afford to buy 100 per cent of your home you can buy a share of it through the Shared Ownership scheme. You can get a mortgage on between 25 per cent and 75 per cent of the property and pay rent on the rest.

Original Source: Homes and Property https://www.homesandproperty.co.uk/property-news/buying/first-time-buyers/first-time-buyer-how-much-borrow-mortgage-property-a130696.html

Sandbanks tops Britain’s list of most expensive seaside towns

Average house prices in UK seaside towns have increased by 29% in the past decade with Sandbanks in Poole the most expensive for the fourth year in a row.

A home in this sought after coastal location cost an average of £785,426 and that price has increased by an average £161,944 or 26% in the past year, according to research from lender the Halifax.

The second most expensive seaside town is Aldeburgh, which is also the only seaside town in the top 10 to have seen a dip in house prices over the last year, by an average of £22,773, to £526,064. This is followed by Lymington with an average house price of £502,253 and Padstow at £482,015.

Overall since 2009 the average house price in Britain’s seaside towns has risen by 29%, from an average £185,428 in 2009, to £239,138 in 2019.This equates to an average increase of over £5,000 a year.

The South East has the largest growth in seaside town prices, with the majority of the top 20 seaside towns with the biggest house price growth, over the last 10 years, dotted along the South East coast.

Average house prices in Southend on the coast have risen by 73% or £311,718, followed by Shoreham by the Sea up 69% and then Whitstable and Herne Bay, both up 63%. The only seaside towns in the top 20 outside the South East are Lerwick in the Shetlands where prices are up 62%, Wadebridge up 56%, Brancester up 49% and Aldeburgh up 46%.

The most affordable seaside towns are in Scotland and the North of England. Port Bannatyne is the most affordable town with an average price of £86,830, closely followed by Campbeltown at £87,651. England’s least expensive seaside town is Newbiggin by the Sea in Northumberland, with an average house price of £88,844.

‘Seaside towns are highly popular places to live, offering sought after scenery, lifestyle and good weather. Being by the sea side does come at a price, with the overall marked increase in house prices, reflecting the demand for rooms with a sea view,’ said Russell Galley, Halifax managing director.

‘The South East coast continues to be home to the most expensive seaside towns in the country, while many of the least expensive are in the north, particularly in Scotland. Despite a clear North/South divide in property prices among seaside towns, the continuing price growth in many Northern seaside towns over the years suggests the popularity of coastal living isn’t exclusive to the South,’ he added.

Original source: Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/sandbanks-tops-britains-list-of-most-expensive-seaside-towns/

Asking price growth reaches record highs in Wales and parts of England

Asking prices in the UK increased by an average of 0.9% or £2,841 this month, buoyed by the spring market and consistent with the previous two year average of 1% for the time of year.

The latest data from the Rightmove index also shows that four out of 11 regions covered recorded new asking price records in May, suggesting that in some locations Brexit is not having much impact on the market.

Year on year asking prices increased by a more modest 0.1%, taking the average price of newly marketed homes to £308,290.

But prospective buyers in Wales, the West Midlands, the East Midlands, and the North West are being confronted with all-time highs for the average price of property coming to market.

In Wales asking prices are 4.1% higher than 12 months ago, taking the average above £200,000, while in the West Midlands they are 3% higher, in the East Midlands 2.5% higher and in the North West at 2.1% higher.

‘These increases are the result of a combination of strong demand, buyers’ affordability headroom, and a continuing shortage of suitable properties. Agents in these areas say that Brexit concerns are not really on the agenda of home-movers; they are more concerned with satisfying their housing needs,’ said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.

Rightmove says that upwards price pressure and positive sentiment in these regions are overcoming hesitancy to come to market, with average number of new sellers in the year to date steady at -0.3% compared with same period in 2018.

In London asking prices increased by 1.2% month on month to an average of £621,589 but are 2.5% down compared with May 2018. In the South East they are down 1.1% on an annual basis and up just 0.6% month on month to £407,239.

Meanwhile, in Scotland the market has been steady, up 1.1% month on month and up 1.7% year on year to an average asking price of £157,073.

‘Price increases are the norm at this time of year, with only one fall in the last 10 years, as new to the market sellers’ price aspirations are under pinned by the higher buyer demand that is a feature of the spring market,’ Shipside explained.

‘Indeed the 0.9% monthly rise is consistent with the previous two years’ average rise of 1% over the same period. What will seem inconsistent to some, given the ongoing uncertainty of the Brexit outcome, is that four out of 11 regions have hit record highs for new seller asking prices,’ he added.

But Shipside also pointed out that the right price still attracts good interest. ‘In spite of some of the challenges in the market, interest in property remains very high. People’s ongoing desire to satisfy their pent-up housing needs means that on average someone contacts an agent on Rightmove every second,’ he added.

Ian Marriott, director at FHP Living in West Bridgford in Nottinghamshire, said that there is a strong market in the East Midlands at the moment. ‘There are less buyers out there at the moment, but the people who are in the market are doers rather than people who will mess you around. Sellers shouldn’t be disheartened if viewing figures are down because the quality of people who are interested in buying is better than before,’ he pointed out.

‘I think people are just really bored of the whole Brexit debate. It feels like there is some kind of election every week and so the fear factor is perhaps subsiding, and people are just getting on with their lives. There may be 30% less people in our market, but the good news is that 70% of people still want to get on and move. We’re possibly less affected than the London and southern regions because, being further removed from the city, we have a slightly more stable market. Things don’t react as quickly here to the economy,’ he added.

According to Dafydd Spear, sales manager at Belvoir Swansea, there is lots of investment in the city centre which is really driving things and boosting the whole area. ‘We’re a very buoyant market. People still need to buy, and people still need to sell and over the last 12 months it’s been all system go really. We’ve been seeing a few cheeky offers, but by and large we’re getting houses sold at very close to their asking prices, and in some cases, exceeding them,’ he said.

Original source: Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/asking-price-growth-reaches-record-highs-in-wales-and-parts-of-england/

Landlords warned to prepare for a flurry of tenant activity after June 1st

According to a new report from inventory service provider, No Letting Go, warnings have been issued to landlords and letting agents over a possible surge in tenant activity from June 1.

According to research, many tenants will be looking to move after June 1 in order to avoid paying upfront fees and benefitting from capped security and holding deposits.

No Letting Go’s warning comes after recent research from The Deposit Protection Service (DPS) suggested that tenants could be delaying moves between rental properties until the Tenant Fees Act officially becomes law next month.

The study found that rents dropped during the first quarter of 2019, with the average rent across the country during the first three months of the year falling to £757. This is down by £5 (0.64%) from the final quarter of 2018 and £14 (1.87%) from Q1 2018 a year earlier.

The DPS said that the drop-off is down to a range of economic factors alongside a period of ‘tenant inactivity’ ahead of the fees ban.

Nick Lyons, CEO and Founder of No Letting Go, had this to say: “It’s no surprise to see shrewd tenants delaying moves until after the fees ban and deposit caps are introduced on June 1.

The upfront cost of moving between rental homes can be high – particularly in London and the South East – so renters will do anything they can to keep costs down, even if that means putting their move on hold for a few months.”

Lyons says that while a recent dip in activity may have allowed agents and landlords some extra time to prepare for the new system, they should be braced for a significant uplift in activity from June onwards.

He says: “Tenants are likely to have continued searching for properties over the last few months and will be keen to push their moves through as quickly as possible so they can be settled in their new property for the majority of the summer months.”

The firm also reminds landlords that when the five-week deposit cap comes into force, the presence of an independently compiled inventory will become even more valuable towards protecting their investment.

Lyons says: “Inventory reports confirm the condition of a rental property at the beginning and end of a tenancy. The presence of this document provides landlords with the evidence to make fair deductions for damage and lost items.

With the fees ban likely to reduce average deposits in some areas, it’s vital that landlords have peace of mind that their property is protected by an inventory that can support them in the event they need to make deposit deductions.”

Lyons adds that letting agents preparing to take on more administrative work as the market kickstarts in June should look to partner with the industry’s best outsourced suppliers.

He concludes: “Taking this approach can help to save agents time and money, allowing them to become more efficient and dedicate more resource to providing a personal service to clients.”

Original source: Property Reporter https://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/landlords/landlords-warned-to-prepare-for-a-flurry-of-tenant-activity-after-june-1st.html

Mortgage approvals increased in April, latest data shows

mortgage approvals continue to rise

There was a sharp increase in mortgage approvals in April as home owners continued to take advantage of low mortgage rates across much of the market, the latest data shows.

There were 65,781 mortgages approved during April 2019, up 2.7% compared to the same month in 2018, according to the mortgage monitor from residential chartered surveyors e.surv.

The report points out that while new activity in the wider housing market remains stagnant in many areas of the country, existing home owners are capitalising on a battle between High Street banks and other lenders which has seen interest rates fall so far this year.

This was also reflected in the rise in activity, with new approvals up 5.5% compared to March and the proportion of loans given to those with small deposits, usually first time buyers, reached 28.5%, up from the 26% recorded in March.

‘In many parts of London and the South East, the property market continues to move slowly. Yet this has not translated into the mortgage market with activity remaining strong. There has been a healthy increase in the proportion of loans going to first time buyers, showing that lenders are welcoming these customers,’ said Richard Sexton, director at e.surv.

‘Previously it may have been difficult for these borrowers to get their foot on the ladder, but lenders are now reaching out to these parts of the market,’ he added.

However, the data also shows that the proportion of mortgage approvals to large deposit borrowers fell in April, continuing the recent trend away from this part of the market. Indeed, less than a quarter of all loans, just 24.3%, were to these borrowers in April, lower than the 26.2% recorded in March 2019 and some way off the 2019 high of 28.1%, recorded in January.

‘Large deposit borrowers once held a tight grip on the mortgage market but that has loosened in recent times. Yet the low rates available mean that there are still many current homeowners coming to the market for new loans,’ Sexton pointed out.

First time buyers, and others looking to purchase in Yorkshire benefited from the most favourable market conditions for small deposit borrowers. More than a third of the region’s mortgage approvals were to those with little equity or cash to spare at 36.6%. This is the fifth successive month that the region has been top.

Next was the North West where 35.1% of loans went to this part of the market and then the Midlands at 31.8%. By contrast, those looking to buy in London had a much tougher time, accounting for just 18.9% of approvals recorded in April.

The capital was the area of the country most dominated by large deposit borrowers, with 33% of all loans going to this market segment. This was ahead of the South East region at 28.1% this month. Behind that were Northern Ireland and the South and South Wales regions, both on 25.5%.

Original source: Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/mortgage-approvals-increased-in-april-latest-data-shows/

Energy efficiency cited as main reason three quarters would consider a new build home

According to a new survey compiled for the Home Builders Federation, three quarters of those seeking a home would consider buying new, with 38% citing energy efficiency as their number one reason.

Closely following this reason were: being free from DIY tasks at 35%; and “acquiring a complete blank canvas” at 34% of respondents.

The research also revealed that two out of three of non-home owners wish to own their own home, with this figure rising to 78% amongst 18-24-year-olds and 83% within the 25-34-year-old group.

These statistics are released as New Homes Week launches this week (May 13 – 17). This is a week of the year “dedicated to the numerous benefits of buying new”, providing “valuable information to those weighing up their home buying options”, HBF explained.

As part of the event, and in view of HBF’s research results, interior stylist Sophie Robinson will show how she applies bold colour and contemporary design to create comfortable interiors for all types of buyer, HBF said.

With the average spend on home improvements totalling £13,472, HBF added that the appeal of new build homes was apparent. Of this total, decorating produced the highest expenditure with 68% of home owner respondents to the survey undertaking this, and 43% carrying out kitchen and bathroom renovations.

Sophie Robinson said: “Moving into a new home is a fantastic opportunity to discover your personal taste, refresh your style and relish the freshly decorated space and beautiful new fixtures and fittings.”

Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, commented: “New homes are energy efficient, saving buyers hundreds a year in running costs and there is no need to spend thousands upgrading a home with brand new fixtures and fittings throughout. If practical reassurances are what you are seeking, then buying new is a great way to assure peace of mind.”

Original source: Property Reporter https://www.propertyreporter.co.uk/property/energy-efficiency-cited-as-main-reason-three-quarters-would-consider-a-new-build-home.html

How to give your living room a Spring makeover

Spring is officially in full swing, so if you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get your home ready for the warmer weather. More specifically, you’ll want to spruce up your living room to bring more cheer and comfort to this well lived in and sociable living space.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you get started revamping your living room this season.

Give it a Fresh Coat of Paint

Perhaps the easiest, most affordable thing you can do it completely change the look of your living room with minimal effort while drastically changing its style, is to splash a new coat of paint in the walls. Whether you choose to paint the entire room or simply stick with one “accent” wall, a new paint colour is a great way to go.

When choosing your colour, consider bright, cheery tones that are more reminiscent of the season. Colours like soft blue, lime green, pale yellow are great options. That said, feel free to go with a hue that best suits you.

Create a “Gallery” Wall

If you’ve got plenty of open space on a wall to play around with, consider turning one into a gallery. Hang your favourite family photos, your children’s artwork, or simply art pieces that really speak to you.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match frame sizes, styles, and colours, as this will really help to make your gallery wall a unique one.

Replace Your Cushions

Out of all accessories in a living space, cushions are amongst the easiest to instantly change the colour and feel of the décor. To inject a spring-like ambience in the room, choose cushions in vibrant colours and patterns.

You could even replace the covers of your existing cushions with a completely different fabric to brighten up your space. This spring go for fashionable patterns like florals and geometrics.

Add Fresh Florals to Your Coffee Table

A quick and easy way to bring the springtime into your living space is by simply adding a bouquet or two of fresh flowers in your favourite spring pastel tones.

A bundle of florals has an effective way to brighten up an interior. Plus, fresh flowers allow a beautiful fresh scent to waft through your home as well.

Giving your living room a makeover doesn’t have to break the bank or involve heaps of elbow grease. With a few simple changes, you can create a cheery living room that will totally complement the cheeriness of the season.

Original source: New id Interiors https://new-id.co.uk/how-to-give-your-living-room-a-springtime-makeover/

Positive start to 2019 for new home building industry as registrations up

The number of new homes registered by the UK’s house builders and developers in the first three months of the year reached more than 37,500, a 3% increase on the same period in 2018.

Overall some 37,672 new homes were registered to be built compared to 36,508 last year, according to the figures from NHBC, the warranty and insurance provider for new homes in the UK whose registration statistics are a lead indicator for the new homes market.

A breakdown of the figures shows that the private sector was down by 6% to 26,841 from 28,554 in 2018, while the affordable and rental sector was up 36% to 10,831 from 7,954 in 2018.

In England there were 37,672, new registrations, in Scotland 2,444, in Wales 1,230 and in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man 999. In England the South East saw the biggest number at 6,267, followed by London with 5,625, the data also shows.

The NHBC said that the overall increase, despite the ongoing Brexit uncertainty, is partly due to the low levels seen in the corresponding period 12 months ago when the Beast from the East weather pattern caused severe disruption on sites across the country.

It added that the rise in the affordable and rental registration numbers reflects the continued growth in the Private Rental Sector in many UK towns and cities.

At a regional level London saw a 58% increase compared to the first quarter of 2018 to 5,625 from 3,549 in 2018 and this was boosted by a number of large schemes being registered at the start of this year.

‘Although Brexit uncertainties are impacting consumer confidence and causing some dampening of new build and second hand sale markets, housing remains an attractive asset class for inward investors, which does cause us to be more optimistic about Build to Rent,’ said NHBC chief executive Steve Wood.

‘At NHBC, we will continue to work with developers, builders and housing associations to help to improve the quality of new homes for the people who will live in them,’ he added.

Original Source: Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/positive-start-to-2019-for-new-home-building-industry-as-registrations-rise/

Five year fixed rate mortgages are more popular than ever

The popularity of five years mortgages is continuing with the latest figures showing that 49% now opt for a fixed product of five years or more and they have almost doubled in popularity.

Low interest rates and desire for cost certainty are key factors influencing customer behaviour, according to the latest financial advisor confidence tracking index from Paragon.

According to the survey, almost half of all mortgage customers now opt for an initial fixed rate period of five years or more when selecting a mortgage, up from 25% in 2013.

Two and three year fixed rate products recorded a drop in popularity as a result, with two year fixed rate products falling from 54% of the total in 2013 to 37% in the first quarter of 2019, and three year fixed rate products down from 18% to 12%.

The vast majority of mortgage intermediaries, some 90%, highlighted low interest rates coupled with concern over future rate rises as the key factor behind the popularity of the five year fix. Customers’ preference for long term certainty on payments was also highlighted as important by 76% of intermediaries.

Whilst 50% of mortgage intermediaries felt that increased popularity of the five year fix was neutral for the mortgage market, 19% felt it could have negative implications.

In particular, intermediaries were keen to stress that products with a longer term initial fixed period should only be considered by customers who expected to stay in their current home for an extended period. For customers considering a house move, early redemption penalties could outweigh the benefits of a longer term deal.

Intermediaries did not foresee any immediate catalyst to disrupt the popularity of the five year fix. A more stable economic climate post-Brexit was the factor highlighted as most likely to lead to an interest rate rise and reduce attractiveness by 56% of intermediaries.

‘The five year fix has found a real sweet spot in the market. Low interest rates, economic uncertainty around Brexit, a drop in home mover transactions and more remortgaging means that five year products have become a viable option for a much larger proportion of customers,’ said John Heron, managing director of mortgages at Paragon.

Original Source Property Wire https://www.propertywire.com/news/uk/five-year-fixed-rate-mortgages-are-more-popular-than-ever/