September news, Are you ready to be excited?

September news, Are you ready to be excited?


In this month's newsletter we share with you some of the recent BLOG articles, which seem very apt for today. There is a lot of change happening at the moment. So we bring you a an update on a range of topics covering residential sales and lettings, commercial property, financial services and everything in between,  we hope you'll find it useful.
 


<span style="font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-weight: bold; font-size: 18px;"><span style="font-weight: bold;">What you need to know about mortgage holidays<span style="text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%;"></span></span></span>

It’s estimated that one in six Brits have taken out a mortgage holiday since the start of lockdown – on average, suspending payments of £755 each per month.

Initially introduced back in March and then later extended, the break on mortgage payments has proven to be a valuable lifeline for many households during the last few months.

With the government’s furlough scheme ending in October, there’s a concern that the number of homeowners and tenants facing financial difficulty will increase further.

Across the country, one in nine are currently behind on their household bills, which includes essential items such as rent, water, energy, council tax and credit card repayments.

Although the mortgage holiday deadline is open until October 31st for new applicants, experts are expressing caution before taking this option and urging for alternative solutions – where possible.

Miles Robinson – at online mortgage broker, Trussle – warns that some borrowers may be unaware of the “true cost” of taking a break from monthly payments, which may result in huge increases overall and potential difficulties in the future applying for new loans.

“The banks were very under-resourced when they were handing them out and people were allowed to essentially self-certify whether they needed one or not.”

The Financial Conduct Authority has been advising firms to help mortgage customers by offering a range of support options, such as waiving or reducing payments, once we’ve reached the end of the official mortgage holiday on the 31st October.

If you need guidance on mortgage restructuring, as well as any long-term or short-term measures in place for COVID-19 support, we’d recommend contacting your lender directly.

You can also talk to us for more information.
 
 



<span style="font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%;">The eviction ban extension for tenants and landlords</span>

In a move that was intended to “support renters over winter”, Housing Secretary – Robert Jenrick – announced key changes to regulations surrounding tenancy evictions.

The ban on evictions, which has now been extended until the 20th of September, will mark a six-month period in which no tenant has been legally evicted at the height of the pandemic.

From September 21st, it will be a requirement for landlords to provide information on a renter’s financial circumstances in relation to the coronavirus when making possession claims regarding rent arrears.

Alongside this, landlords will now need to provide a notice period of six months when seeking possession of their property. This will apply up to March 2021.

With courts prioritising hearings based on the severity of each individual case, coming to an agreed solution with your tenants would be the preferred approach to take, where rent payments are not being met.

Of course, exceptions have been outlined for the following instances:

• Anti-social behaviour – four weeks’ notice
• Domestic violence – two weeks’ notice
• Rent arrears totalling six months – four weeks’ notice
 
 

Could there be a better solution?

Given that the vast majority of private landlords (94%) are renting just one or two properties, this could have significant consequences on income revenue for these individuals.

In a recent letter to the Prime Minister, the National Residential Landlords Association have called for reconsiderations to be made to protect the private rented sector and enable landlords to keep offering accommodation to UK renters.

They wrote that: “failure to provide any direct financial support for the sector during the pandemic means that many landlords will be forced to seek money claims against renters building arrears. This would leave tenants' credit scores in tatters.”

The NRLA put forward the argument that the only way to untangle the conflict with COVID-19 related rent arrears is to offer interest-free, government-guaranteed hardship loans to tenants.

As this has already been introduced in Wales, the NRLA argue that it would be the best solution to “sustain tenancies and remove any risk of eviction as furlough is removed”.

We're doing our utmost to protect and support our landlords and tenants at this time, contact us for more information on how we can help you.
 
 



<span style="font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%;">How to market your house correctly for a speedy, seasonal sale</span>

The property market has continued to experience remarkable levels of activity.

In the first week of August, properties at SSTC (Sold Subject to Contract) were almost at double their number compared to figures from the same period in 2019. This indicates a significant release of pent-up demand due to lockdown.

If you, like a lot of homeowners right now, are considering putting your property on the market, here are some of the ways to market your house well to potential buyers.
 
 

Make sure your property images are professional

In order to get viewings, you need to reel them in with your property advert.

Make sure your photos are clear and focused. If it is a cloudy day, see if you can rearrange the shoot. There is nothing nicer than a clear blue sky!
 
 

Increase your kerb appeal

It takes just seven seconds for somebody to make their first impression of your property, so make sure your property’s exterior is the best it can be. You want them to walk down the drive feeling impressed and excited to go inside.

Some easy ways to do this is to give your front door or fencing a fresh lick of paint, put up some hanging baskets to add colour, pull out any weeds, move the bins out of sight and make sure the lawn is mowed.
 
 

De-clutter

The hallway is famous for housing plenty of clutter: shoes, coats, handbags. Make sure everything that can be put away is tucked out of sight to make it appear more spacious.

As some hallways can be dark and narrow, adding a mirror to a wall can give the illusion of space and can also brighten it up.

A kitchen is a big selling point, so make sure all desktops are wiped down and free of clutter.
 
 

Give your viewers space

Let your viewers freely wander around your home with the agent.

This will make them feel much more comfortable asking questions and it also means they might take their time in each room.

Be ready to answer any questions after the viewing. Also be sure to leave hand sanitiser dotted around your property, so not only you but also your viewers will feel comfortable.
 
 

Make the most of outdoor space

Since lockdown, we have noticed a real shift in property priorities.

Everybody is putting outdoor space at the top of their agendas, so make sure your garden is well showcased.

If this is an impromptu house viewing, you might not have time to lay a new flower bed, but make sure the lawn is freshly mown, trees and shrubs are cut back to create more space, weeds are removed, and outside furniture is laid out nicely.
 
 



<span style="font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 18px; font-weight: bold; text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%;">The changing landscape for city office spaces</span>

Fewer than 8% of Brits had experience working remotely at the start of 2020.

Within a matter of weeks, this figure rose considerably as businesses scrambled to meet new demands and challenges, with 46.6% of the country’s professional workforce ‘clocking in’ from home across April and May – rising to 57% in London.

This month, the government will be encouraging more and more firms to return to their offices, addressing a very real concern about the economic toll remote working has had on city centres.

High streets up and down the UK are all but empty of foot traffic, meaning that small businesses will continue to struggle to stay in business over the coming months.

Whilst acknowledging the merits of home working, Dame Carolyn comments on the role the UK’s offices play as “vital drivers” of the economy, suggesting that:

"The costs of office closure are becoming clearer by the day. Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade.”
 
 

Is remote working here to stay?

It’s estimated that those working from home have racked up an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime during lockdown, which adds up to almost four days’ additional work.

The chief reason for this being that 86% feel it’s a necessity to prove their value to their employers and ultimately keep their jobs.

Although remote working has put a strain on the country’s commercial hubs, with employees equally feeling more workload pressure, there’s an evident shift in mindset amongst professional workers towards flexible opportunities.

Of those asked, only 7% would opt to work full time without any element of remote working.

Compared to 93% who would want at least one day a week from home.

Whether you’re in need of a new home with dedicated office space, or you’d like to find out what commercial properties are available, talk to us.
 
 



<span style="font-size: 18px; font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-weight: bold; text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%;">Are you asking these key questions when you buy or sell?</span>

A recent study has revealed the 'most dreaded' and unusual questions buyers have asked about a property before putting in an offer.

With a small minority asking whether the pets come included in the sale, it’s fair to say that not all of the responses are winners.

However, the report by Hillarys has shed light on just how many Brits lack proper preparation during the home buying process.

Up to two-thirds will not plan their questions ahead of a house viewing, meaning they are not getting the full value out of the experience, as well as potentially wasting an opportunity to find out all of the property’s pros and cons earlier on.
 
The most dreaded questions from buyers:
 
Has it dropped in value?  54%
What local plans could affect us?  42%
What’s the lowest price we could get it for?  33%
Is the seller in a chain? 21%
 
 
To help you make the most of your viewings the next time you decide to buy or sell, we thought we'd share practical suggestions for you to consider.
 
 

What are some of the more serious questions you should be asking?

Whether you're instructing an agent or viewing a property, how prepared you are will determine how quickly you're able to move.

Are you asking these key questions:

1. Exactly what is included in the sale? Whilst it's safe to assume most sellers will want to keep their pets, it's important to outline what content might be included, such as fixtures, fittings and garden furniture.

2. How long has it been on the market and how many offers have they received so far?

3. When are the sellers looking to move out? Knowing whether they've already found another home or they're still in the midst of looking will help you to determine how long the process may take and how much room for uncertainty there is.

4. Have there been recent renovations or any difficulties with boilers, drains and guttering?

5. How did the agent decide on an asking price? Good agents will be able to provide justifications for the value of a property, so you'll know whether it's listed at the right amount or if it's overpriced.
 
 

What to ask when selling:

1. How will you market my property? Are they regularly contacting a database of suitable applicants to give you greater market exposure, or does their strategy start and end with a basic Rightmove listing?

2. What are your success metrics and how do they compare to other agents? In other words, what's their experience selling a home like yours at a price like yours?

3. How much will you charge? Choosing the agent who offers the lowest fees won't guarantee you reach asking price and you may lose time and money on the market, be savvy when you instruct representation for your property investments.

4. What are the contract terms? Before beginning any contractual relationship, know exactly what it is you should expect from them.

If you're thinking of selling and want to find out the value of your home, contact us.
 
 
 
 



<span style="text-align: justify; display: block; width: 100%; font-family: 'Century Gothic', AppleGothic, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;">What Is The Green Energy Grant And How To Claim It</span>

As part of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement, green energy grants up to a possible £10,000 will be available from September in order to pay for green home improvements such as a new boiler, loft insulation or double glazing.

For the majority of homeowners, grants of up to £5,000 will be available but for those from low income households, this amount doubles in order for the cost of energy-efficient home improvements to be fully covered.

The Chancellor confirmed: "From September, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient and create local jobs.

"The grants will cover at least two thirds of the cost, up to £5,000 per household.

"And for low income households, we’ll go even further with vouchers covering the full cost - up to £10,000."

Measures such as loft, wall and floor insulation, double glazing, lighting, energy-efficient doors, boilers and heat pumps will all be included under the scheme, with Rishi Sunak predicting a saving a £300 per year for households who make the most of the grants.

The grant will be available from September via a Government website, yet to be launched, which will also detail an approved list of suppliers.