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Is A U.K. Housing Market Crash Coming?

Posted on 8th July 2022 by Master Removers

It’s the question that won’t go away. When it was asked earlier in the year, everyone’s fears were allayed and experts concluded that nothing worse than short-lived downturns lay ahead. It’s now reared its head again and this time the answers are not quite so unequivocal. But is or isn’t a crash in the housing market a likelihood for 2022? Here’s our Master Removers Guide, looking at the theories as to what possibly could happen.

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‘Right to buy’ – right or wrong?

Posted on 18th May 2022 by Master Removers

What’s ‘Right To Buy’?

The Right to Buy policy, which hit the news at the start of May when it was revealed that Boris Johnson was considering reviving it (a tidbit dangled just before the local council elections), finds its origins in the early 1980s. It was unveiled by Margaret Thatcher at the start of the decade as part of the Housing Act – millions of council properties were transferred to housing associations and their occupants were given the chance to buy them at heavily discounted prices. But since fewer than five per cent of the houses lost to the social/council sector were ever replaced, it’s always been a controversial measure. While it was a huge social mobility catalyst for nearly two million households, it left the social housing stock impoverished, leading to enormous waiting lists and ever more restrictive eligibility criteria. Now, according to press reports, it’s under consideration for revival by the current government in an attempt to “help generation-rent get on the property ladder”. Currently, around five million people rent from housing associations in England.

Right to Buy in 2022

What’s slightly confusing about the recent reports is that Right to Buy never went away. Council tenants with secure tenancies are still eligible. As of May 2022, the maximum discount for Londoners is £116,200, increasing each year commensurate with the consumer price index. The full discount will be determined by how long you’ve lived in the property, the type of property (ie flat or house) and the overall value of the home. For houses, the discount is 35%, provided you’ve been a public housing tenant for three to five years. The discount then rises by 1% for every additional year you’ve been a public sector tenant. The discount is then capped when it reaches 70% (unless it’s already hit the £116,200 London maximum). For flats, the discount is 50% and, after the same initial period, it rises by 2% a year, maxing out at the same levels (70% or £116, 200). Some factors negatively impact the discount. For example, if the landlord has spent money on maintenance of the property, this will reduce the available discount. Right to Buy works differently in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, it was suspended in 2016 to prevent further depletion of social housing stock.

Right To Acquire

With housing associations, the government scheme is called Right to Acquire, and comes with more stringent eligibility conditions. To acquire a housing association property, the property has to have been built or purchased by the housing association after 31st March 1997 or transferred from council ownership to housing association ownership after 31 March 1997. Your housing association has to be registered with the Regulator of Social Housing. Right to Acquire is open to people whose properties are owned not just by housing associations but also the armed services and NHS trusts/foundation trusts.

Preserved Right to Buy

What happens to the Right to Buy rights of council tenants whose properties are transferred to another landlord? In many cases, they retain the right to buy under a condition known as ‘preserved right to buy’. Not only that, the right to buy remains with that tenant if they end up moving home to another property owned by the new landlord. 

Voluntary Right to Buy

So – it’s not entirely clear exactly what the government would be bringing back when they speak of reviving Right to Buy. Most likely, as has been reported, it could be that they plan to extend Right to Buy to housing association tenants currently only eligible for the more restrictive Right to Acquire scheme. Judging by a pilot scheme they launched in the Midlands in 2018, known as Voluntary Right to Buy, this would seem to be the case. Voluntary Right to Buy, an idea that arose during the David Cameron era, entitled some housing association tenants to buy their homes at discounts similar to those of the Right to Buy scheme. It’s possible that the government mutterings of 2022 pertain to plans to extend this new scheme. The findings of the original Midlands pilot can be read here. 

What Does it Mean for the Housing Market and Removals?

It’s not immediately clear what, if any, impact an extension of Right to Buy to housing association tenants would have on the wider market, though it’s possible, if take-up were comparable to the original 1980s scheme, that an additional two million people would become owners. Of these, some would eventually sell up, moving home to properties with no social housing history, adding energy and movement to the housing market, and the removals and storage industry. Between 1980 and 2014, 1.8 million properties were bought via Right to Buy. It enabled people with below-average incomes to become owner-occupiers, with mortgage repayments that were similar to their rent payments. People who’d have otherwise been unable to afford it, managed to get a first foot on the property ladder. It led to increased mobility not only in the housing, removals and storage markets, but also in social terms because, after three years, Right to Buy owners are allowed to sell up without paying back the discount. This means they can move to a completely different area, rather than being consigned to the one decided for them by the housing authority. However, there were unintended consequences, too. Right to Buy properties often ended up in the private rented sector; Housing Benefit expenditure grew as people who once might have been eligible for social housing were forced, instead, to look to the private sector; some Right to Buy owners struggled with repair costs they hadn’t foreseen and service charges they hadn’t anticipated; in some remote areas, whole villages lost 100 per cent of their affordable housing; Right to Buy owners sometimes fell victim to property market slumps, ending up saddled with negative equity. And, most notoriously, failure to replace social housing stock has exacerbated the widespread problem of housing affordability. 

And What About the Impact of Interest Rates?

The news of the Right to Buy revival comes just as interest rates are expected to rise, plus inflation due to exceed 10 per cent in 2022. In April, before the Bank of England raised rates, house prices increased by 1.1% compared to March. And despite what lies ahead, that buoyancy is expected to continue, just at a slower pace. Experts say we’re nearing the end of an era of double-digit annual growth, but not on the cusp of a crash. Home removals, storage and housing look set to remain resilient through the year and beyond.

London Housing Market Predictions for 2022

Posted on 25th March 2022 by Master Removers

The housing market is subject to an overwhelming array of variables at the best of times, but recent years have thrown it one surprise after another, with covid following hot on the heels of Brexit and now the cost-of-living crisis and the war in Ukraine. It seems as if the moment one factor recedes, two arrive to take its place. And although we’re moving into the ‘living with it’ phase of the pandemic, no one knows what that really means or what’s around the corner in terms of new variants. Are we really beyond the era of lockdowns and restrictions or not? Is this the beginning of the resuming of normal life, or merely a short-lived reprieve before the next spike? Whatever the case, it makes housing market predictions a complicated and knotty proposition.

Defying Expectations

At the outset of the pandemic, the Bank of England expected prices to fall. Instead, Rightmove calculated that at the start of 2022, prices had increased by 7.6 per cent compared to a year before and buyer inquiries were up 24 per cent. The gloomy predications had failed to materialise and the market had not only got through the challenge of two years of on-off lockdown, but was actually as buoyant as ever. Trade association UK Finance calculated that 2021 was the strongest year for mortgage lending for 14 years, with £316-billions-worth of home loans being agreed. Between January and April 2022, the picture has only got rosier, with lockdown in some ways a positive contributory factor, since many Londoners who found the restrictions challenging in an urban setting were inspired to contact their chosen removals and storage company and move to the country in search of more space. This didn’t just benefit the market outside London; it also encouraged activity within the capital as people moved to surburban/leafy areas within the city (e.g. Dulwich). This lifestyle-reassessment trend, partly enabled by the increase in flexible and work-from-home jobs, has still not run its course. But what lies ahead in the second part of the year?

High Demand for Removals and Storage in May

Record highs are expected in May as the imbalance between buyers and sellers continues to drive up prices; recent estimates state that there are just 20 homes available per estate agency branch; the lowest figure for two decades. This is the picture painted by Reallymoving’s analysis. Drawing on more than 15,000 conveyancing quotation forms, they’ve established a three-month forecast which predicts a 6.7 per cent increase in prices in May. This represents an 11.9 per cent annual increase, although it should be taken into account that May 2021 brought with it a low average price. At the time, the Bank of England predicted a 16 per cent drop in prices as a result of the pandemic, but that didn’t happen. Instead, average prices went up by nearly 10 per cent that year and now, in the post-pandemic rush, the growth has only continued, with average prices now £34,000 higher than at the outset of the pandemic. Among the additional predictions is this, from Savills: homes in central areas will increase in value by 8 per cent in 2022 and by nearly 34 per cent by 2027, while those in the most sought-after suburbs will grow by 4 per cent in 2022 and as much as 13 per cent by 2027.

Prices to Fall In Second Half of 2022

Among the additional commentators is S&P Global Ratings whose recent research has found that the London property market is currently overvalued by up to 50 per cent, sparking fears of a slump when the inevitable correction occurs. The research points to several factors – the stamp duty holidays, low rates and the savings made during the pandemic – driving up prices in the capital and the South East. The figures are backed up by Rightmove’s most recent calculations which put the national-average cost of a home at £354,564 (the first time ever that the figure has gone over £350,000) and the London average up 6 per cent to £667,000. So while, right now, there is a rush to buy before mortgage costs increase, a situation exacerbated by demand doubly outpacing supply, a fall in prices is widely predicted for the second half of the year. For now, removals and storage companies are as busy as ever and the good news is that the prediction is for a gradually cooling-off, rather than a dramatic fall, as interest rates rise and mortgages become more costly, which will, in turn, lower demand for property. Already, there are portents of what’s to come; asking prices in Westminster, Kingston upon Thames, Greenwich and Bexley all tailed off slightly in February.

Impact of Sustainability Targets

Energy-efficient homes are more topical a subject than ever; not only do they enable homeowners to save on energy bills, they also increase a home’s value. Properties with the highest energy ratings are currently estimated to be worth, on average, £40,000 more than their poorly-rated equivalents. It’s likely that this will have a bearing on the activities of developers in the second part of the year, and it’s predicted that more legislation will come into force pertaining to environmentally-friendly home-building. It’s widely tipped that the government will increase the minimum Energy Performance Certificate ratings, meaning that all new rental tenancies will need a minimum rating of C by April 2025, a target which existing tenancies will have to reach by 2028. Because of the expense of meeting that target, may landlords will instead sell up. This will lower the number of rental properties on the market, increasing demand and driving up rental prices. 

At the same time, the issue of dangerous cladding means that there’s still a section of London homeowners who are unable either to sell up or to afford the necessary work to replace the dangerous materials. However, Property Investor today have predicted that the government will step in to help affected homeowners – and if that happens, there could be another surge in selling activity, which will add to the growth of the market.

What Is The Cost Of Living Impact On Moving Home?

Posted on 18th March 2022 by Master Removers

Though they might initially seem unrelated, the cost-of-living crisis has some unexpected consequences for the removals and storage market. A recent Deltapoll survey, commissioned by PR firm, the London Communications Agency, reveals that most Londoners now cite the cost of living as their greatest concern, well ahead of other pressing worries such as housing, the Ukraine war and crime. And those fears are well-founded, given that energy bills are rising by £700 a year, petrol costs are at an all-time high (we’re paying almost £400 more a year for it) and there’s an imminent National Insurance hike. Further to that, one of the solutions being put in place actually puts all households into £200 of debt; that’s the government’s fuel ‘rebate’, designed to help people in the short term but actually leaving them beholden to an unwanted instalment plan in the long term. The cost-of-living crisis is expected to put a considerable squeeze on renters, who had a period of reprieve during the coronavirus surge, when evictions were temporarily banned. Now the ban is over and people are left grappling with the possibility of arrears and eviction notices. 

Moving Home to Save Money

But what if there were a positive side to this otherwise-gloomy outlook? Because there’s one way in which moving house could be the solution (or at least an ameliorating factor) to the problem of energy costs going up and up. If someone moves to a properly insulated property and stays there for several years, they may not only quickly make back their moving costs, but end up with considerable savings. The industry-average cost of moving in 2022 is around £1180 (although moving to/from a one-bedroom flat can cost as little as £300), so it’s feasible you could have paid off the cost of the move and started to make a saving by the second year in your new home at the very latest. Leaving behind an un-insulated, draughty home, where rapid heat loss forces you to keep the central heating on for hours, and finding a property where the rooms remain at a pleasantly habitable temperature for hours and hours, is perhaps the best way of cocking a snook at the ever-increasing rapaciousness of the energy companies.

Choosing an Insulated Home

If you’re not familiar with a contemporary insulated home, there are several things to look out for when you’re viewing properties. New-builds are most likely to have extensive insulation already in place, but it’s possible to find homes from any period that have had significant insulation measures applied. You should confirm with the agent that the roof and/or loft are insulated. 2018 research by the Energy Saving Trust reveals that this alone brings down energy bills by as much as £200 a year. Wall insulation (particularly important for post-1920s houses that have cavity walls) is another important feature, bringing down your bills by over £200 (for cavity walls) or £400 (for solid walls). 

Floor insulation comes next. While some people take the DIY approach and simply apply sealant between skirting boards and floors, for old homes insulation is a more involved job, requiring mineral wool to be placed beneath the floorboards. The saving here is not quite as dramatic, but you can still enjoy another £60 vanishing from your bills. 

There are multiple methods of draught-elimination, so check that the properties you’re looking at have at least one or more of them in place (unless, of course, you’re willing to do it yourself – and it is one of the more straightforward insulation jobs). Draught-exclusion around windows and doors can take your bills down by another £25.

Adding insulation to pipes, water tanks and radiators means that water in your property stays hot for much longer. Some of these insulation jobs can be done via DIY. Pipe insulation, for example, entails the application of a foam rube to cover any exposed piping between the boiler and the hot water cylinder. Depending on how much work you do in this area, you can be looking at as much as an £80 reduction in energy bills. 

Keeping Your Moving Costs Down

If you take the plunge and move to an insulated property, you can start saving all the sooner if you manage your moving budget carefully. That’s where the Master Remover Group – an array of removals and storage companies – can be the answer, especially if you choose a cost-efficient man-and-van service. Our decades of experience have enabled us to offer removals and storage to suit a wide range of budgets and you can eliminate an additional cost by opting out of any packing/unpacking services (though we can still help provide boxes and packing materials). All Master Remover Group companies are happy to consult with you to devise a move that keeps costs low but without any diminution in the quality of the service you get.

Should I Tip My Removals Company?

Posted on 7th February 2022 by Master Removers

When you’re moving house, there’s so much to think about it can becoming overwhelming; that’s just one reason why using a reputable moving company can make such a difference. With a good removals firm at the helm, you immediately get back some of that head-space; you can think clearly and breathe again, because so many of the tasks that fell to you now fall to them. But there are still a few things people can agonise about and one of them is whether or not they’re expected to tip the men and women who come on moving day and get the job done. Here’s the Master Removers answer to that burning question.

When You Move With A Master Removers Group company

With any of our moving companies, tipping is entirely down to you. We don’t add a service charge, optional or otherwise, to any of our invoices. Tipping, as it should be, is discretionary but always hugely appreciated by our crews of fully trained, courteous, diligent movers, drivers and packers. If you would like to tip any Master Removers Group moving personnel, it can be done in cash on the day or, with your instruction, we can add it to your bill after the move. 

When You Move With Other Companies

It’s so hard to know which services come with an expectation of tipping and which don’t. Of course, with some – hairdressing, taxis, waiters – it’s widely known that tipping is expected and that its absence is considered rude or a sign of your unhappiness with the quality of the service. It’s especially important when you consider how many waiters are on wages it’s almost impossible to survive on alone – and the same often applies to the men and women who come on motorbikes with your take-away. Moving is different; it’s not an industry where tipping is a must, but it’s still a kind and effective way of signalling your appreciation of and happiness with the service. Of course, when you’re brain’s full to burst with all the complications a move can entail, it may be the last thing on your mind. 

Deciding To Tip

There are all kinds of things you can take into account when making this decision. Are you movers also doing your packing? Have they had to go over and above because you weren’t fully prepared; for example, did you label and sort your cardboard boxes for easy and quick loading and unloading? If not, your movers will have had to expend more energy and forethought. How many hours have they been with you? How difficult a move has it been and how many tricky, bulky items (e.g. pianos) have been involved?

What If The Removal Men And Women Expect A Tip?

No reputable movers would ever indicate that they’re anticipating a tip. It’s not a good sign if your moving personnel do this, whether by explicitly stating it or by using manipulative signals or passive-aggressive hints. The decision as to whether or not to tip should be entirely down to you and you should never be manoeuvred into it by guilt or embarrassment.

When Is The Right Time To Tip?

As with all similar services, tipping at the end makes the most sense; that way, both you and the recipient understand that it’s an acknowledgment of over-and-above levels of service. Only by waiting until the service has been delivered can you really decide whether or not it warrants a gratuity. 

How Much Should I Tip My Movers?

Use the same tipping conventions as you’d find in restaurants; somewhere between 10 and 12.5 per cent. 

Who Exactly Do I Tip – There Are So Many People Involved In My Move

In most instances you’ll want to make one single tip rather than go from person to person, especially if your move entailed a large team. You can always make it apparent that you’d like the tip to be shared. But this all comes down to how extravagant you’re feeling; there’s nothing to suggest you can’t tip multiple individuals if so moved. 

Tipping In Cash Or By Card?

Nothing is more direct and effective than tipping your movers with cash; that way, you know the tip is going just where you want it. Of course, many movers (including Master Removers Group companies) can facilitate paying a tip by card/contactless/transfer – you can then specify where and to whom you want the tip to go.

What Rights Do Tenants Have In The UK?

Posted on 8th December 2021 by Master Removers

It’s an issue that found itself centre-stage during the covid pandemic, when tenants were given a grace period, during which they were allowed longer notice periods, at first six months, and then – as the situation appeared to improve – four. Bailiff-enforced evictions were suspended.This was a gesture designed to recognise the difficulty tenants faced during lockdown, not only in terms of paying rent, but also in finding new homes in the event either of eviction or of coming to the end of their contracts. But it also served to highlight just how difficult renting can be, given the whims of landlords and the ever-rising costs, especially in the capital. If you’re renting, it’s unlikely you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge of your rights; after all, it’s hardly something most of us read up on for pleasure. But it could make all the difference if you find yourself in fraught circumstances. So here’s the Master Removers guide to tenants’ rights.

When you rent from a private landlord, your rights (and responsibilities) are to some extent determined by the kind of contract you sign. Rental agreements vary but in most instances, you’ll be given what’s known as an ‘assured short hold tenant’ (it’s different if you live in the same building as your landlord). If you’re a social housing tenant, the rights are slightly different and can be read up on here.

Staying In The Property

As an assured short hold tenant, you have the right to remain in the accommodation until the term fixed in your contract comes to an end. To evict you before this date, the landlord would need to present evidence to a court – whether that’s of damage, failure to pay rent or some other breach of contract. You may also remain in the property after the contract expires if your landlord hasn’t given you notice. 

Enforcing Your Rights

Assured shorthold tenants can enforce their rights (for example, to expedite repairs), but it’s worth bearing in mind that when you take this step, you’ll often find that landlords take the retaliatory measure of not renewing your contract. The first step in enforcing rights is to write to your landlord explaining that you will take legal action if the matter (e.g. repairs) isn’t resolved within 14 days. If you have to take the matter further, look up your nearest county court and send them a completed claim form. This will involve what’s known as an ‘issue fee’. 

Other Legal Rights

Not only do you have the right to stay in the property for the length of the fixed-term contract, you also have the right to expect the property to be kept in a good state of repair and the right to oversee small repairs yourself and then remunerate yourself by docking the cost from your next rent payment. 

Tenants also have the right not to be treated unjustly based on their disabilities, pregnancy/maternity, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation and gender reassignment. 

There is also the right of ‘succession’ – for a spouse, civil partner or partner to take over the tenancy when you die.

Rights break-down

As a tenant, you have the right to:

  • live in a home that’s safe and in a good state of repair
  • Challenge any excessively high charges
  • Get your deposit back when the tenancy ends (in some cases, this will also involve a deposit-protection scheme being taken out when the tenancy begins, designed to protect both parties)
  • Live undisturbed in the property
  • Know the identity of your landlord
  • Be protected from unfair eviction and unfair rent rises
  • View the property’s Energy Performance Certificate
  • Have a written agreement if your fixed-term tenancy is for more than three years
  • Have a tenancy agreement that is fair and compliant with the law
  • Be given a copy of the How To Rent guide by your landlord (in England)
  • Be given a Tenant Information Pack (if you live in Scotland)
  • Be given 24 hours’ notice by your landlord if he/she plans to visit/inspect the property, unless it’s an emergency requiring immediate access
  • Only be visited/inspected by your landlord at a reasonable time of day agreed between both parties

Responsibilities break-down

A prevalent misconception is that covid has altered tenants’ responsibilities. This is not true. Your responsibilities are:

  • To look after the property 
  • To pay the rent, even during times of dispute (e.g. waiting for repairs)
  • To pay the charges agreed in your contract, such as utility bills and council tax
  • To repair or cover the cost of damage that you’ve caused (or that’s been caused by friends/family)
  • Not to sub-let unless your tenancy agreement explicitly allows it or you’ve reached such an agreement with your landlord

Pros and Cons of Shared Ownership Schemes

Posted on 31st August 2021 by Master Removers

Should I Use a Shared Ownership Scheme?

You’ve almost certainly heard about shared ownership, but – like most of the population – that may be where your knowledge about them begins and ends. They certainly sound like something that could help people get a foot in the door of the housing market. And they’re even more appealing if you’re not in a position to get onto the housing ladder through more conventional pathways. But, you ask, surely there are downsides? Let’s take a closer look. What exactly are shared ownership schemes, who operates them and how do they work? Here’s our Master Removers guide to help you get started. 

What are Shared Ownership Schemes?

Shared ownership schemes are organised via a collaboration between government and housing associations. As you’d expect from their name, a shared ownership scheme means, instead of buying a home straight away, you own part of it. Every month, you’re charged mortgage repayments for the part of the property that you own, and then pay rent for the part you don’t own. At the outset of the shared ownership, you might buy anything from 10 to 70 per cent of the property. After that, you continue increasing the amount of the property that you own, with increases that must amount to at least one per cent. Shared Ownership is a halfway option between renting and buying and it’s especially useful for first-time buyers unable to raise a deposit large enough for upfront buying. Shared ownership represents a half-step out of renting and into ownership.

Am I Eligible For Shared Ownership

In all likelihood, you will only be eligible for shared ownership if you’re a first-time buyer. If you’re not a first-time buyer, you’ll need to be in the process of selling up in order to have a chance of qualifying. You’ll also need to have a household income below £80,000 (£90,000 in London), a good credit rating, a reputable rent/mortgage history and savings sufficient for the mortgage deposit and moving expenses. If you’re interested in getting started, a good place is your council’s Housing Team or the government’s website. 

What are the Pros of Shared Ownership?

In addition to the fact that shared ownership schemes provide a route to ownership for people who might otherwise be consigned to a lifetime of renting, there are other positives. Since you’ll begin the process with a mortgage that’s smaller than the standard one, your deposit will be similarly diminished. You might also find that the combination of mortgage repayments and rent comes to less than you’d be paying if you were renting privately. And you’ll be in a much more advantageous position than a renter because the portion of the home that you own will increase in value if/when the price of the property increases. The resulting equity will make it easier for you to increase your share of the property. 

The process of increasing your share of the property (right up to 100 per cent) is called ‘staircasing’. You can undertake this process as your circumstances allow. For example, if your earnings go up or you’ve managed to save a lump sum. But there are restrictions – usually, you can only ‘staircase’ three times. A typical route might be starting at 25 per cent, going up to 50 (first stair-step), then 75 (second stair-step), then 100 (final stair-step). When you staircase, the housing association undertakes a property valuation, so that each extra share is purchased at the current market value, not the value dating from the time you began shared ownership. You’ll be required to remortgage each time. 

And What About Stamp Duty When You’re in a Shared Ownership Scheme?

While there are stamp-duty exemptions for first-time buyers, with shared ownership you may not be entitled. Instead, you’ll most likely be faced with a choice: either pay all the stamp duty or just the stamp duty required for the portion of the property you’re buying. If you choose the former, you’ll then be entitled to exemption, but remember – the exemption is only for properties worth up to £300,000 (or £500,000 in the capital). 

What are the Cons of Shared Ownership?

Until you reach 100 per cent ownership, you’re still a renting tenant. This brings with it many of the same risks associated with normal renting. For example, you could be evicted if you don’t pay the rent or if you’re anti-social and cause a nuisance to other tenants. You won’t be allowed to sub-let, either. 

It’s also worth pointing out that part-ownership leaves you on shaky ground in some circumstances. For example, if you’re evicted there’s a chance you could actually lose the portion of the home you’ve already acquired since you’re not legally the owner until you reach 100 per cent. There is no legal requirement for the housing association to pay you back if you’re evicted – their only obligation is to pay you back for your share if/when they sell the property. Consequently, nothing could be more important than making double-sure you can afford both the mortgage repayments and the monthly rent before you take part in shared ownership. 

Like a full owner, you’ll have to pay service charges covering any/all costs accrued through maintenance of the communal parts of the building such as cleaning/lighting/electricity in shared hallways and staircases. 

You won’t own a share of the freehold; shared ownership properties come with a leasehold and if your lease dips below, say, 90 years, you’ll find it hard to sell. So don’t forget to ask upfront about the options for extending the lease. 

If, once you’ve thought about these ‘cons’, you decide shared ownership isn’t for you, consider looking into the government’s Help To Buy scheme instead. 

Should I Buy a New Build Property?

Posted on 9th June 2021 by Master Removers

Some people shudder at the thought of living in anything more modern than a Victorian property and have quite strong views about new builds, regardless of whether they’re designed to mimic period styles. But there are plenty of others who can’t wait to leave behind their old, creaking, repair-prone home and move into a place where everything’s likely to run smoothly. There are communities that are 100 per cent new build, most famously Prince Charles’s Dorset concept, Poundbury, which is just outside Dorchester. And then there are old towns and villages that contain a sprinkling of new builds. Further to that, an array of architectural styles awaits anyone thinking of buying a new build. Find out more with our Master Removers Guide To New Builds.

With hundreds of thousands more new builds coming on to the market each year, it’s almost certain that when you got house or flat-hunting, whether as a prospective buyer or a tenant, you’ll come across one. Let’s take a look at the advantages of new builds.

What are the Advantages of New Builds?

Plug and Play

Firstly, new builds are the ‘plug and play’ of properties. You buy it from the developer and in you go, with everything ready for living. You’ll find spotless paintwork and bright, shiny new tiles in the bathroom. All you have to do is unpack your boxes (or have them unpacked for you if you’re using the full packing/unpacking service that so many removals companies offer). A huge chunk of post-move stress is removed in one fell swoop. Once you’ve moved in, you can relax. 

Fewer Repairs

And that relaxation should prove pretty durable because another advantage of a new build is fewer repairs. This is not only because everything in the property is new but also because it’s all usually of a high standard. With any luck, the boiler repairman won’t be a regular fixture in your life. 

First-time Buyer Schemes

You’ll also potentially benefit from the kinds of schemes that are exclusive to new builds, whether that’s Shared Ownership or Help To Buy . These make it easier for first-timers to get on the property ladder and you can’t access them when you buy an older property. 

Little Extras

Developers of new build complexes also sometimes sweeten the deal with little extras. In fact, they’re not so little; they even extend to settling up your stamp duty or covering additional costs, such as carpeting. 

Smart Living

One of the most popular advantages of new builds is the fact that many of them are constructed with the most up-to-date technology and are perfect if you’re planning on having a smart home that you can operate from afar using a digital assistant such as Alexa or Siri. You’ll find other modern touches like open-plan layouts and sometimes additional facilities like gyms and security perks such as concierges.

Specs Appeal

Get in there early, before the new build company has started working in earnest, and you can have an even greater say in the layout and finish of your new home. This is called buying off-plan and extends to you a degree of control and influence you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Lower Bills, Greater Safety

Once you’ve moved in, another benefit kicks in; you should notice lower utility bills. That’s because new builds are obliged to comply with the very latest energy-efficiency regulations. The vast majority of new builds are extremely efficient at, for example, retaining heat. New builds are, with few exceptions, far cheaper to maintain than old properties. And they’re safer, too, because they’re built to modern standards in terms of fire-resistance and wiring. You may also find that your new build has the latest windows, door locks and alarms, which translates to lower insurance premiums and the comfort of knowing you’re a harder target for burglars. 

Eco-Friendly

New Build living is also good eco-living; toilets and showers will have been installed that make it easier to minimise water use and, as we’ve already discovered, you won’t need to blast the heating the way you might in an old home. 

No Gazumping

Another notoriously aggravating factor of a house move is that you’re at the mercy of a buying chain. One thing goes wrong and it throws everyone into miserable uncertainty. When you buy a new build, you’re most likely to be at the end of a selling chain. The developer may well offer you a part-exchange transaction – they’ll buy your old property and sell it themselves. Another horror of standard moving, being gazumped, can be happily forgotten; as soon as you reserve your new build, it’s taken off the market. 

Warranty

You’ll also discover that your new build comes with a guarantee. It’s by no means all-encompassing, but having a ten-year structural warranty is still a bit of protection you wouldn’t get with an old home. 

Should I Buy A House That Needs Renovating?

Posted on 15th April 2021 by Master Removers

It’s a question as old as the first civilisation, and yet – even in this new millennium – we’re no closer to a one-size-fits-all, definitive answer. For every person with the Midas touch, the luck and the know-how to turn a ruin into a beautiful and valuable home, there’s another who’s ended up with a money-pit that sends them to the brink of bankruptcy or beyond. However, there are things you can do to make it more likely that you end up in the former rather than the latter category. While it’s impossible to say, ‘Yes – you should definitely snap up that dilapidated property’, with the right kind of forethought, there’s no reason why it can’t turn out to be a good move. Here’s our Master Removers guide to buying a property to do up.

Is Buying a ‘Fixer-Upper’ a Good Investment?

When you’re surveying the housing market, you might spot opportunities to turn a profit by going for a property in some degree of disrepair with the intention of doing it up. Of course, while you’re able to acquire the property for less money, you’ll have an additional financial outlay in the form of all the work it’ll require. It’s not a commitment for the faint of heart and it needs careful consideration, but there’s no shortage of up-sides to it. If you’re looking for somewhere to live for a long time, you can end up with a property that conforms entirely to your own vision, and the money you save (via a lower asking price) can all go towards realising that vision.

PROS

What are the ‘Pros’ of Buying a Property to Renovate?

If you’re looking for a home in exactly the location you most desire and which conforms to all your ideas about size and space, you can be quite quickly disheartened. Sometimes, there’s just nothing out there that’s quite right. But when you factor in properties that need considerable work, suddenly you’ve got more options. One rule of thumb for people looking in towns and cities: don’t go for a dilapidated property on a street full of dilapidated properties. However much you do up yours, its price will still be affected by the bad condition of its neighbours. Instead, go for a property in disrepair on an otherwise wonderful, well-kept street. That’s where you’ve got the most room for increasing value. It’s vital that the property you select be priced in a way that reflects its poor condition.

What Kind of Value Can I Add to a Property by Renovating it?

Lofts, basements, kitchens and bathrooms are where the value can be added. It’s possible, with an investment of a £30,000 loft extension to add over £95,000 to the overall value of a property. A new £10,000 kitchen can nudge up overall value by £25,000. Of course, such figures are estimates and best-case-scenarios, and depend on other variables. For example, will your loft extension contain another bedroom and bathroom or, with the addition of a kitchenette, even create a mini-apartment at the top of the property? If so, you’re looking at considerably more value.

Easier Renovations That Anyone can do

Renovation doesn’t have to mean an array of tradespeople, noise and disruption. Although the smaller ‘fixes’ won’t have a dramatic effect on your property’s price, they will give it a push when it’s back on the market and help it sell for the most it can get. If you’re a confident DIY fan or an eager novice, you can tackle lots of mini-upgrades all by yourself, including cheap or passé decor; squeaky hinges, doors, flooring and stairs; degraded sealant in bathrooms and kitchens; wall and ceiling cracks; bad drain smells; damaged or dripping taps; tiling work; damaged windows; and much more besides.

CONS

Staying on Top of Your Budget

This is where it can start getting tricky. Once you’re a certain way into a renovation, there’s little turning back and expenses you didn’t account for can multiply. You might get rid of wallpaper only to discover that the walls themselves are in far greater distress than you had anticipated. Budgets are often very difficult to stay within, so protect yourself by allowing for this up-front. Going into a renovation with a flexible budget is the best approach.

What if my Renovations Don’t Change the Property’s Value

This may not matter if you’re intending to stay somewhere indefinitely, but there’s a risk that you could spend £100,000 and yet not add anything like £100,000 to the value of your home. The value of your property will be, in part, defined by the area it’s in, so sometimes there’s only so much value that can be added. Other variables, such as local demand, will also affect overall value. If your main aim in renovating is to increase the value of your property, then a strict budget and avoidance of unnecessary expense, are the pivotal factors.

What if You’re Saddled with Inept Builders?

It’s every buyer’s nightmare; getting some way into a job and then realising the people you’ve taken on aren’t up to the job or even vaguely conscientious about it. Fortunately, this is also a pitfall it shouldn’t be too hard to avoid. Always go with recommendations from friends and family and do extra due diligence on top of that. Develop an ear for fake online reviews, so you can use sites like TrustPilot, which are undoubtedly helpful, in a discerning way. 

2021 Predictions for the U.K. Housing Market

Posted on 18th February 2021 by Master Removers

No industry is immune from the disruption wrought by the covid-19 pandemic, as it pushes us from lockdown to ill-fated tier system and back to lockdown and more lockdown. Even with all the changes to process, such as online viewings and no-contact removals jobs, the housing market – like anything else that forms part of life in the UK – has been profoundly shaken up by the way the world has abruptly changed over the last 12 months. But enough of the past – what exactly lies ahead for the rest of 2021? Here’s our Master Removers report on what we expect of the UK housing market over the next few months.

What are the Main Factors Currently Influencing Change in the Market?

Without a doubt, it’s Brexit and coronavirus. These two forces have coincided (it might have been a better outcome had we been subjected to them one at a time, rather than simultaneously), sending shockwaves through every industry, from entertainment to fishing, and shutting some of them down entirely. Still, some of the government’s measures have had an off-setting effect. In July 2020, stamp duty was temporarily suspended, helping the market remain buoyant. Of course, all good things come to an end and, unless there’s a change of plan, the stamp duty holiday will be over at the end of March 2021. People buying before that date could save well as much as £15,000 in tax. The uptick created by this suspension has been significant, with HMRC figures indicating that December 2020 sales were up 32 per cent on the previous year. All of the companies within MRG have experience of this, to quote one, Peter Donaldson from Camp Hopson Removals in Newbury “We are over twice as busy as normal for this time of year and and the extra business is almost completely down to be people trying to move before the end of the stamp duty holiday” 

Meanwhile, there’s conjecture about the ongoing effects of Brexit on the housing market. We can see that there was a significant fall in property prices towards the end of 2018, some of which was attributed to Brexit worries. However, when we look at the market in terms of the number of transactions per month, it remains in a healthy state. Nevertheless, we still don’t know the full extent of the impact of Brexit on people’s everyday lives, and there remains some call for an extension on the stamp duty holiday so that the market remains supported through the uncertainty. Without that, it’s almost certain there’ll be a slump in movement in April and May. Price inflation, however, is not expected – prices are anticipated to be either static or lower, with rises only occurring in specific regions but not at a national level.

What are the Predictions for London?

Things in the capital are as clouded by doubt as everywhere else. There are two principal contributory factors likely to influence how things pan out in London this year; the whole country’s recovery from the pandemic and the unemployment rate. While it’s thought that overseas investment is likely to remain healthy, experts are predicting a drop in house prices by the time we reach autumn or winter. Then there’s the added effect of the widely-trumpeted London exodus; an averse reaction that many home-owners (and renters) experienced when they went through lockdown in cramped flats and apartments. While this trend is expected to stay active through the first half of 2021, it’s thought it will have calmed down by the second half. As for an actual figure on the lowering of house prices in London? Chestertons estate agents have given it an estimate of 2 per cent. However, this is the figure for Greater London – for central London, the picture is more optimistic; instead of a decrease, there could be a 1.5 per cent increase.

Will the End of the Furlough Scheme Affect House Prices?

That’s certainly one of the predictions. When the furlough scheme ends, there could well be a sudden rise in unemployment and consequent economic decline. People no longer able to keep up with mortgage repayments are compelled to sell up quickly and a spate of these sales-in-haste usually pushes prices down. That being said, the government could take action to try to mitigate some of this damage. 

What does Master Removers say about the outlook?

Charles Rickards, Director of the Master Removers Group, comments: 

“We expect the housing market to remain brisk until the end of March when the stamp duty holiday ends. Looking beyond this date, outcomes will depend on the budget in early March and how the Chancellor treats stamp duty going forward. A return to a more normal economic outlook becomes more likely as the vaccine rollout and its benefits gather momentum. However the end of the furlough scheme will, for some, be a moment of truth; not just for individuals, but for businesses as well. There is likely to be a short term negative effect on house prices and banks’ enthusiasm to lend which is likely dampen activity for the rest of 2021.”