green-homes

Green property in 2021 

  • The Green Homes Grant has been extended
  • Interest in green housing is increasing
  • Homeowners have till 31st March 2021 to complete upgrades

 

In 2020, the government announced an extension of the Green Homes Grant, which attracts landlords to eco-friendly properties. The plan offers a grant to property owners to make eco-friendly renovations on their properties. 

The aim is to encourage more property owners to install energy-efficient improvements—for example, insulation, heating, draught-proofing, and double and triple glazing. Renewable energy innovations, like heat pumps or solar panels, also qualify.

How does it work?

The Green Homes scheme offers funding for up to two-thirds of the improvement costs, to the value of £5,000 per household. Homeowners and landlords wishing to use the grant have until 31st March 2021 to get their upgrades completed. 

What's the result?

The Green Homes Grant means that making energy efficiency improvements is more accessible. The government's extension of the grant has seen positive results alongside the public's growing awareness of environmental issues.

In 2021, almost 84% of British homeowners plan to address energy efficiency changes in their property, according to a study by City Plumbing.

Nearly 53% of households plan to invest in green measures specifically to reduce energy bills. The home improvements most usually chosen include upgrades to the cavity wall, loft, and underfloor insulation. Improving your property's insulation can have a significant impact on its energy performance. 

Evan Maindonald, CEO and founder of MELT Property, believes that buyers are ready to embrace sustainable living.

"If you are looking to improve the energy efficiency of your home, a good first step would be to review your property's heating system. Old-fashioned heating systems will send utility bills rocketing and have a high carbon footprint. To reduce both, consider installing an Air Source or Ground Source Heat Pump."

 

Why landlords should invest in 'green' rental properties

There are numerous benefits and incentives for landlords to invest in green housing, and now couldn't be a better time. 

More appealing buy-to-lets 

Eco-friendly properties will help landlords make their buy-to-lets more appealing and add value to their properties. 

Caters for the target tenant

Landlords who invest more in their properties to offer a place that caters to their target tenant see the most market success. Tenants are beginning to expect more from their rental properties, and as environmental issues prevail on people's minds, green housing is appealing to a wide range of tenants.

Eco-properties as an energy-efficient selling point

Landlords can now utilize eco-properties for their energy efficiency. As we all spend more time in our homes with coronavirus lockdowns, household bills go up. This will be particularly appealing for prospective tenants who are now working from home full-time.

Green mortgages as an added incentive

Lastly, green mortgages are gaining popularity. The UK population becoming increasingly eco-conscious has allowed ‘green mortgages’ to find their place in the mainstream market. The mortgages give borrowers special rates linked directly to the energy performance of their properties. This provides an added financial incentive for landlords and investors to focus on green credentials.


tax holiday ends

Is there still time to buy before the stamp duty holiday ends?

It may still be possible for buyers to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday before it ends. The stamp duty holiday will end on the 31st of March, and buyers looking to take advantage of this opportunity may be worried that it's too late. 

Thousands set to miss out on the tax holiday

The spike in interest from buyers due to the break has caused too much demand to keep up with in some areas. Buyers searching in popular locations are faced with a lack of properties of the right price range. If they are able to find a suitable property, due to the explosive demand, there are significant processing delays in getting sales through. 

Property experts warn that many buyers may be set to miss out on the £15,000 tax saving when their sale is delayed past the deadline. The rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday has created a staggering backlog in regulating mortgages, valuations and conveyancing. As a result, sales that were expected to take place this month may not be complete before the holiday expires. The likelihood is that thousands will be disappointed to find that they cannot complete by the 31st of March.

Calls for the tax break to be extended

There have been calls on chancellor Rishi Sunak to extend the holiday in the face of this backlog. However, the government has responded stating assertively that the deadline will not be prolonged.

Is there still time to get a sale through before the deadline? 

If you are looking to buy a property fast to take advantage of the tax break, you may still have a chance. It helps if you are fully prepared in terms of your mortgage and surveyor. If possible, you may consider employing a mortgage broker to chase any delays on your behalf. Ideally, to complete quickly, you will have no property chain to slow the process down. Brand new homes and chain free buyers get through matters faster. Purchasing a new-build home via Help to Buy could improve your chances of meeting the deadline.

However, in reality, if you haven't had your offer accepted before the end of the year, it will be hard to complete before the March deadline. Finance, surveys, and conveyancing can take up to 12 weeks.

What if you miss the cut-off date? 

There is no need to be discouraged if you do miss the cut-off date. Some experts suggest that you may, in fact, be better off waiting on your property purchase. While your tax bill will go up in April, demand is likely to begin to cool off. As the frenzy calms, you might be able to negotiate on the asking price to find an even better deal on your new home.


cladding-crisis

The UK Cladding Crisis Continues

One of the most prominent scandals currently in the UK is the cladding crisis. Up to 700,000 people are being forced to live in dangerous and unfit homes. The buildings are unsafe due to the flammable cladding material used. The type of cladding was the cause of how rapidly the fire spread in the deadly Grenfell Tower fire, which left 72 people dead in June 2017.

Government Confusion

In the wake of the tragic Grenfell Tower fire, the government decided to refurbish tower blocks with the unsafe cladding material - but did not specify who should cover the immense cost. The Government's confusing response to this crisis has left owners of up to 1.5 million flats in limbo. With the unsafe cladding on their buildings, they cannot sell or get a mortgage on their homes. Lenders are too cautious about providing mortgages for these high-rise flats unless they have certain safety certificates.

Those living in properties with the unsafe cladding are told they must spend thousands of pounds to remove it from the building. The majority, who are renters, do not even own these properties. As a result, millions have been left desperate and without options as they cannot afford the immense expense to remove the cladding, and while it remains, their properties are left worthless. Leaseholders are urging chancellor Rishi Sunak to settle the cladding scandal by covering the costs of removing the hazardous material.

Thousands of pounds in costs

Campaigners say that the cost of the urgent work needed to make buildings safe often falls on leaseholders. The sums of removing hazardous materials can reach above £100,000 per flat in the worst cases. Before the works can be done to make the buildings safe, leaseholders are also required to pay for waking watches, a 24-hour fire patrol, and other interim safety measures. These costs can reach up to £800 per month per flat. 

Earlier in the year, the Government announced a £1 billion fund towards covering the costs of necessary safety work. This cam on top of the £600 million previously committed. However, critics are adamant that the fund doesn’t go nearly far enough. They claim that the £1.6 billion will only cover the costs of fewer than 600 of the 2,957 high-rises that have registered for funding.

National effort required

Campaigners in the cladding scandal urge the Government to drive an urgent national effort to eliminate all dangerous cladding from buildings by June 2022. They push for the fund to be extended to cover all buildings, regardless of height, and deal with other dangerous fire safety defects. In response, the Government says that an ongoing effort is being led to develop a possible financing solution to protect leaseholders from the unaffordable costs. The Building Safety Programme aims 'to make sure that residents of high-rise buildings are safe – and feel safe – now, and in the future.'

However, the programme does not answer the call of flat owners left with uncertainty and desperate to move now. The Government must provide urgent clarity over what homeowners who cannot sell nor get a mortgage can do. The onus also falls to mortgage lenders, who must become more willing to accept applications from people in these flats looking to remortgage. 


international-travel-affect-property

How Will The Return Of International Travel Affect UK Property

Pfizer took the world by storm with the announcement that they have a vaccine in the works with BioNTech that is more than 90 per cent effective. Economic forecasts have since been enhanced and the FTSE 100 has seen several gains. Extraordinarily, the GDP is speculated to recover to levels from before the pandemic by the middle of 2021. As a promising vaccine makes its way around Europe and the rest of the world, international travel is beginning to resume. 

With the return of international travel, so too comes the international buyer - one of the most significant sectors in our cosmopolitan city. In areas such as Knightbridge and Belgravia, some estate agents report up to 70% of properties sold in the last ten years has been to international buyers. 

The coronavirus pandemic drew international travel to a near halt, stifling the property trade. In September, Heathrow arrivals were down 81 per cent on the previous year. The market so regularly accustomed to an onslaught of international buyers began to dry up. As a result, house prices in central London, usually safely afloat, decreased in value by 1.6 per cent compared to last year. 

While house prices seemingly plateaued, a newfound optimism has supplemented demand. According to London estate agents, the vaccine announcement has led to a spike in enquiries from international buyers. Despite questions still remaining on the efficacy of the vaccine out-rolling, the sense of hope is palpable. Discovering the light at the end of the tunnel has made its impression on buyers. The scale of the sudden restoration of interest has been likened to that generally reserved for a popular election result or influential budget announcement. The question remains whether this reinvigoration will last long enough to dispel the predictions of momentum loss in the housing market in 2021.

"Most people are taking a long-term view. There's an expectation that London will return, it's a question of when not if," says Ashley Wilsdon of buying agents Middleton Advisors.


london property prices

Will A Covid Vaccine Bring Back Central London Property Prices?

During the coronavirus pandemic, house prices in central London challenged expectations by declining in value. House prices in the prime location fell 1.6 per cent compared to last year. This is partially due to decreased demand with post-lockdown buyers fleeing urban metropoles in search of the countryside, larger properties for home working, and gardens. City-lovers continue to question the advantages of living in the heart of a city where the buzz is on pause. Theatres, galleries, restaurants, clubs and bars have not been in normal practise for close to a year. A swift commute to work is not the luxury it used to be when you're working from home 80% of the year. A central studio flat is also not an ideal space to act like a home, office, cinema, gym and more.

What difference could a vaccine make?

The City Buzz

The announced vaccine has the power to restore the London buzz and vibrancy that allures people to the city in the first place. As entertainment industries reopen, the hope is that the bustle will return perhaps with a new-found vigour in its revitalisation. 

"The real challenge for London's prime market is supporting buyer demand and attracting buyers willing to pay more to be in a buzzing city full of all the entertainment venues, restaurants, theatres, etc. that they have come to expect. It's difficult to put a number on it but prices are definitely looking rosier with a vaccine than without next year and beyond," says Marcus Dixon of LonRes.

The Workplace Commute

As workplaces get back to normal without the fear of infection, the commute will return and boost the city centre housing market. Knight Frank's Tom Bill thinks that the one-bedroom city-centre flat which has fallen out of favour, could then be revitalised.

"If you look at one-bedroom flats in urban locations that have perhaps fallen out of favour in the past months, it's quite a good time if you're a buyer or investor to look at those. These are the types of early signifiers that smart money reacts to and further down the line rest of the market following suit."

Pied-a-Terre Properties

The central one-bed properties are likely to be snapped up by a growing group of buyers who have recently left London. Those who headed for nature are likely to find themselves needing to commute more often than expected from their country homes. These now comparatively good-value properties will serve buyers looking for a temporary place to rest their head, according to Central London agents. With a tidy sum left over from the move from the capital to the country, the pied-a-terre market is expected to grow. 


emissions-uk-home

Housing Emissions Crisis To Intensify From The Coronavirus

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has published a report warning that UK housing emissions will be skyrocketed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The RIBA has cautioned that responses to the virus include changes in behaviour that will turbocharge the UK housing emissions crisis unless the Government urgently intervenes.

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a surge in people working from home, creating a shift in UK emissions contributions. There has been an immense growth in the proportion of emissions coming from the housing stock. Within Europe, the UK has one of the most inefficient housing stocks and the RIBA's 'Greener Homes' report urges the Government to enforce less wasteful strategies. The report suggests bringing forward a National Retrofit Strategy to make UK homes more energy efficient.

What is the National Retrofit Strategy?

As a part of the National Retrofit strategy, a sliding scale of stamp duty would be introduced with the most energy-efficient homes accruing significantly less tax than the least. The tax would have a cap of £25,000, 

A tax rebate may be made available for a period after purchase, encouraging homeowners to tackle their own energy-efficiency developments. The suggested improvements include insulating lofts and walls, switching to double or triple glazed windows, draught-proofing doors, windows and floors and adopting smarter heating systems.

What Does RIBA Recommend?

RIBA has outlined in the report a list of suggestions that the National Retrofit Strategy should incorporate. These include:

  • A commitment to front-load money by the Government bound to be given to energy-efficient strategies over the next ten years spent throughout this Parliament. This aims to 'address the shift in the balance of emissions and assist with the coronavirus economic recovery'.
  • More deliberate targeting of existing income support payments, including the Warm Homes Discount and the Winter Fuel Payment.
  • A distinct long-term timeline for improving the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards in both the private and social rented sectors
  • More robust performance standards for new homes
  • Further regulation of the quality of building work to make energy efficiency improvements making energy efficiency improvements conducted by tradespeople.

President of the RIBA, Alan Jones, said: "When it comes to energy efficiency, our homes are fundamentally below the mark. Our housing stock sits shamefully behind most European neighbours, and this will only be made more obvious by the changes in working habits brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We need urgent government action – a National Retrofit Strategy – with front-loaded spending that would double as a fiscal stimulus and a new stamp duty policy to encourage homeowners to think twice about opting for sub-standard homes.

"As the Committee on Climate Change has made clear, we need the near-total elimination of housing stock emissions to reach net-zero by 2050. It's quite clear we need to start now."

The report will be included as part of a submission by the RIBA to Her Majesty's Treasury that currently evaluates how public finances can be distributed to aid in the passage to reaching net-zero


House Prices 155% Higher In British Areas Of Military Importance

A new study shows houses in postcodes belonging to significant military buildings, such as the Churchill War Rooms and Bletchley Park, tend to have higher prices.

Analysis by estate agent Benham and Reeves sees UK postcodes of military importance command higher house prices compared to the general area. The new study analysed house price data in ten military locations. On average, property prices were £618,225, which is vastly higher than the UK average. Houses in postcodes of significant military buildings are 155% more expensive than the current average in Great Britain.

The most significant price rise is in the area of Hampshire’s Beaulieu Palace - a former finishing school for special ops agents. The New Forest location has the postcode S042, in which house prices are currently 107% higher than the wider area.

military-sginifance-higher-house-prices
Birds-eye-view of the New Forest S042 postcode.

The study revealed the second-highest house price postcode is that of The Frythe in Hertfordshire. The Frythe was used during the war as a secret research factory which manufactured army vehicles and camouflage equipment. Today, house prices in the postcode area 69% costlier than its neighbouring postcodes.

military-sginifance-higher-house-prices
The average price for the MK3 postcode in which Bletchley Park is located is £291,274.

We, of course, cannot fail to mention the iconic Churchill War Rooms - an underground complex that housed the government command centre during World War II. House prices in the local of the Churchill War Rooms run in around £1.4 million, 49% higher than average in the SW1 postcode in Westminster. 

military-sginifance-higher-house-prices
House prices in the postcode of the War Rooms are nearly twice as high as the surrounding Westminster area.

 

The director of estate agents Benham and Reeves, who conducted this study, is Marc von Grundherr. He emphasised that these costlier prices “aren’t so much an indicator of buyer demand, but more a demonstration of the pride taken in maintaining these locations and remembering the significant roles they played in their day.”

 

military-higher-prices
A chart published by Benham and Reeves displaying the results of the analysis.

The average overall UK house price is forecast to hit £362,350 by 2045, if the market is to continue to see property prices rise at the same rate, according to new research by estate agent Barrows and Forrester. Despite the coronavirus pandemic putting a short halt to the market, it has returned with a boom and shows no signs of slowing. Estate agents predict hose prices will continue to rise, and figures suggest that Britain’s property boom will progress. 

 


housing-market-second-lockdown

Can The Property Market Handle The Second Lockdown?

The property market has not shut in England despite restrictions of the second lockdown. The property market can continue to run, with viewings and valuations allowed throughout lockdown, the secretary of state for housing, Robert Jenrick, has confirmed. Renters, homeowners and buyers still able to view and move houses and construction sites remain open with tradespeople allowed to enter homes. Removal firms are also operating as usual, albeit while adhering to covid safety guidelines. The Welsh government, however, has paused all viewings.

The decision to remain open has been received well across the country. Many are eager to get on with their property exchanges and were relieved to hear that the government's approach had changed compared to the first lockdown. Back in March, all activities within the property industry were suspended for seven weeks, and estate agents were forced to shut their doors. In-person viewings were halted and builders forced to close construction sites. Surveying firms were also unable to perform on-site valuations. As a result, many home exchanges were put on hold.

Zoopla-housing-sales
Zoopla research shows the property market sales plummet over the lockdown market freeze and then rebound strongly.

As of yet, the property market is displaying flexibility and strength in the face of the second national lockdown. In fact, in the week following Boris Johnson's Saturday announcement of the lockdown, the number of pre-sale home valuations went up by 38 per cent. Many estate agents reported no difference in the number of viewing from one week to the next. Yet, the number of new viewings did fall by 15 per cent, according to Knight Frank. The number of buyers reaching out about properties also dropped, likely due in part to uncertainty on whether the property market would remain open. Nevertheless, the number of exchanges was 11 per cent higher in the week following the announcement, with the boom showing assured resilience to the lockdown. The number of sales agreed continues to grow, spurred, in part, by the stamp duty holiday.

Guy Robinson, head of residential agency at Strutt and Parker, stated: "Over the summer the industry has witnessed what can only be described as a 'mini-boom', with unexpectedly high activity levels across the UK, driven by pent-up demand after the property market was shut down for nearly three months… Usually, the market naturally starts to slow down at this time of year, but after the busiest summer that we can remember, there are a huge number of transactions in the pipeline for the coming weeks – so it is important that the market is kept moving from now until the spring when the Stamp Duty holiday is due to come to an end."


affordable-housing-prices-rise

Average UK House Prices See a 51% Rise by 2045

Study shows UK house prices potential rise by 51% as government fails to act on affordable housing crisis.

A new study has found that the average UK house price could hit £362,350 by 2045. This number is based on the market's current growth, with property values continuing to increase at this rate. This could see a 51% increase from the current average of £239,196. The average homebuyer would also see their 10% mortgage deposit climb to £36,235 - that's an increase of £12,315 from the average initial cost currently required.

The study by estate agent Barrows and Forrester also reveals that property prices in London could reach £789,531. The research looked into analysing historic data on housing prices and their rate of growth over the last 25 years to determine potential figures that could be actualised by 2045. For buyers in the South East of England, average house prices could rise to a predicted £524,726. This means that buyers would require £19,258 extra to afford a deposit for a property in this region, on top of the current average of £33,215. According to the research, those looking for property in the East of England could see the average house price rise by £167,135. House prices in South West could increase by £151,255, while homes in the West Midlands could go up by more than £100,000. House prices in the North East are predicted to climb by as much as £70,041. This would bring the average to £201,742, requiring a 10% mortgage deposit in excess of £20,000 from home buyers.

For many, these figures are a frightening reminder of the government's stagnant approach to the affordable housing crisis. Year after year, the government has consistently failed to act upon the call for affordable housing. The UK housing market bounced back from the pandemic market pause, and house prices are climbing once again. This rising trend has been maintained for the last quarter of a century and continues to increase to an unprecedented high. Promises to address the nationwide housing crisis have been made on multiple occasions, yet the government continues to neglect its responsibility with very few new builds being provided. In 2019, the BBC reported that yet another government plan to create new homes in England had resulted in no homes being built, the National Audit Office has found. A government plan to create 200,000 new homes in England for first-time buyers has resulted in no homes being built, the National Audit Office has found. None of 200,000 starter homes pledged five years prior had been built, according to watchdog

Barrows and Forrester hope that the study will act as a call to action for the government. They say this should be a warning to "refocus their attention on the delivery of affordable housing stock for the masses" to address "the spiralling issue of affordability for many homebuyers.


stamp-duty-renoavtion-jobs

Stamp Duty Holiday Protects Hundreds Of Thousands Of Jobs 

The introduction of the Stamp duty holiday helped to secure a 21.3% boost in house sales in September, helping to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in the housing sector. Figures from HM Treasury reveal the effect this has had on housing businesses and the wider supply chain. 

Residential property transactions rose 21.3% in September following a 15.6% rise in August. The surge in sales supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector. With more people deciding to buy a new home or move house, there are many more new homeowners ready to spend money on decorating and new furniture or appliances. 33% of buyers are planning to put savings from the tax break towards renovations or home improvements, supporting a wide range of businesses and jobs. The increased house sales will also be sure to support housebuilders and estate agents, among others across the housing supply chain and beyond.

As renovations ensue on thousands of newly purchased properties,  tradespeople, DIY stores, moving companies and cleaning businesses are all likely to benefit. The Bank of England estimates that those who move house are much more likely to purchase a variety of long-lasting items including furniture, carpets or electrical appliances. Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: "With a third of Brits planning to spend savings from the tax break on home improvements and renovations, the temporary stamp duty cut is boosting business and protecting jobs. This ranges from carpenters to cleaners, brickies and decorators, they can all benefit from each sale – helping us to further deliver on our Plan for Jobs."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the stamp duty holiday which began at the beginning of July and will end in March. The government imposed a temporary stamp duty holiday for residential properties up to £500,000 as part of their Plan for Jobs. It allows nine out of ten people purchasing a property to pay no SDLT at all, saving an average of £4,500. The government aimed for people to feel more confident in getting on the property ladder, moving house, selling, renovating and undergoing home improvements. 

Figures from the Building Societies Association show that there has been a considerable boost in the number of people who say that now is a good time to buy a property. 37% are confident in September, while only 25% believed so in June. It is clear that the confidence boost given to the property market through the Stamp Duty Holiday is impactful with a successful outcome of driving growth and supporting jobs.