Current BIG Property Topics

Here are the latest "hot property topics" that are hitting the headlines and being discussed "behind the scenes" in the industry. For more information or comments about these stories, please email Designs on Property.

Renting - the most important property market
This is now the biggest housing market by far! Hardly any first time buyers, but lots of first time renters. Yet where's the coverage about what's happening to rentals and whether people should be renting now or buying, latest legislation proposals and how to ensure you avoid a rogue landlord.

Is the Market Recovering?
The buying/selling market isn't really recovering, prices are stablising in areas where supply is short. Some areas are still in a lot of trouble and anyone buying/selling can't and shouldn't rely on national stats to make their decision on whether to move or stay put.  

Sadly a potentially good product which has now been turned into a political football. Now the industry is claiming that it's not the 'doom and gloom' or threat of job security or the recession that is stopping sellers putting their property on the market, apparently it's because the seller has to pay £300 for a HIP. The fact that they don't need to pay it upfront and no seller in their right mind would put their property up for sale at the moment to 'test' the market seems to have been missed!

Property Valuations
When a mortgage is involved, is the valuer putting a fair price on the property or are they being influenced to drive valutions down by the lenders?

Why aren't lenders lending?
Having kindly helped drive the UK housing market into a credit crunch through lending too much money when most property experts knew a downturn was on its way, the lenders are, with little justification, still holding onto what is effectively tax payers cash instead of offering at least decent rates as 90% if not 95% levels. Two questions, one why? and secondly do they really understand how the property market actually works and what they can safely lend to who?   

We need affordable homes!
While many cheer the lack of business available for developers and estate agents, what they don't realise is that the lack of transactions which is leading to a huge loss in new builds across the UK means that we are building less affordable homes. Why? For developers to secure planning permission, they have to agree to build a certain number of affordable homes, usually for housing associations. The price they have to build them for are at rock bottom, so they are typically funded out of the profit made on private homes. As private new builds have dropped from 240,000 to 80,000, think of the number of affordable homes that are now not being built! This is storing up a massive supply problem when buying/selling gets back to normal.

Government finally warns against buying plots of land with 'land banking' companies
Buying a plot of farming land from companies is finally being warned against by the Land Registry. They have published Public Guide 021 Land banking schemes which can be downloaded via the Land Registry website

With saving rates crashing, will BTL become viable again?
How things change. This time last year, if you put your money in a bank account you would probably get a better return on investment versus rent. However with interest rates so low now, BTL returns are starting make sense - as long as people buy at the right price.

2009 a great year for self build!
Plots prices down, material costs down, tradesman available!

Auction market hots up
Percentage sales of lots sold continues to increase, reaching the same levels as 2007 thanks to lower priced properties being offered for sale and investors coming back into the market.

What are the differences between the 1990s crash and our current one?
Lots! Interest rates are completely different; consumer's disposable spending is different; the way people pay back their mortgages has completely changed; people's attitude to property has changed; there are over a million buy to let properties which just didn't exist back in the 1990s!

Is Renting REALLY cheaper than Buying?
The BBC Money Programme is suggesting that renting can be more cost effective than buying. Although there are times when this is possible and it's quite right that people should consider renting rather than buying, you really have to chose the dates to make this work - and they ignored the best price increase years from 2000 to 2005! So interesting idea, but perhaps they should be saying that it depends on the individual's circumstances...rather than making generalised claims!  

Estate Agent compulsory Redress Scheme
A huge step change in the Estate Agent market - and not one of the major news channels have informed buyers and sellers of this CRUCIAL information! Everyone loves to report on rogue agents, but now there is a Redress Scheme to help to get rid of them, news channels are not running with the story - so no-one knows! The Redress Scheme was ntroduced on the 1st October 2008 and should help reduce the number of rogue estate agents. The Ombudsman of Estate Agents and The Surveyor's Ombudsman Service are now approved schemes. For more from BERR visit their two main press releases one and two.

Property Prices
With all the doom and gloom about property prices, no wonder the market is falling! Things aren't great, but there is only a tiny percentage of people actually suffering - not the millions of people currently being suggested by much of the press!

Public Guide 021 Land banking schemes - buying land in England and Wales claimed or thought to have development potential can be downloaded at or is available free from any Land Registry office.

With savings earning nothing in bank accounts, Buy to Let becomes viable again

Public Guide 021 Land banking schemes - buying land in England and Wales claimed or thought to have development potential can be downloaded at or is available free from any Land Registry office.

Most industry experts don't believe the 'this is a market correction' as many people can still afford to buy with a 5% or 10% deposit, it's just very few lenders want to lend. This will change and the market will move again. No-one will know until December 2008 when we have a better idea of supply/demand and the impact on house sales of people being made redundant.

Negative Equity
There are lots of stories about the number of people 'possibly' in negative equity, much of which is based on statistics rather than realistic numbers. Also no-one seems to mention that negative equity is only an issue to the small percentagae of people that have to sell and those wanting to borrow more money against their home. Many people went into negative equity in the 1990s, most were out of it within a few years!

Government Initiatives to Improve the Market
The government are doing what they can to help the industry. The biggest problem though is the lack of lending - and the lenders aren't taking up the £50 billion help offered by the government in April. Why not?

Although these are on the rise, so is the number of property investors bagging bargains to help people stay in their own homes!

EPCs for Renting Property
This is compulsory for all marketed properties for rent from the 1st October. Should help sort the good landlords from the bad as the latter are unlikely to bother to get one!

Rentals are going up and up!
Good news for investor landlords, some rental prices are increasing. However in some areas, supply is reaching demand levels as many sellers decide to rent their properties instead of buying.

Good or bad time to invest in Property?
A great time - many of today's biggest property investors were born out of the last crash in the 1990s.

Self Build - A great time to buy!
It's a fab time to self build. Deposits of only 5 to 10% are required so if you are short of a deposit, and want to build, then now is a good time to try. Also there are lots more tradespeople available due to the number of contractors laid off by developers.

Home Improvements - on the Rise
When people can't move, then improve. Loans are already increasing and with lots of highly qualified tradespeople around this is a good time to improve/extend your home. However beware of tradespeople that don't have a contract or haven't set up their business officially.


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