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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.

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.

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 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. 

How Will The New Tier System Affect House Moves

Posted on 4th December 2020 by Master Removers

Now that England has emerged from the second lockdown and back into the tier system, you might think, with a sigh of relief, that the conditions resemble those we experienced before the second lockdown. But, as if to be confusing for confusion’s sake, we’re not reverting to the earlier tier system but instead entering a new one. To make things even more bewildering, the new tiers have the same names as the old ones. Tier 1 is ‘medium’, Tier 2 is ‘high’ and Tier 3 is ‘very high’. However, the strictures and rules of each tier have changed. And then there are all kinds of complex exceptions and get-outs – for example, if you’re helping someone classed as ‘vulnerable’, then you can enter that person’s property even if you and they are in the most restrictive tier. The best place to get clued up on the new tiers is at the government’s website. You can find out what tier you’re in here  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/full-list-of-local-restriction-tiers-by-area and then learn more about what each tier means here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/local-restriction-tiers-what-you-need-to-know. Alternatively, if you find government prose rather dry, then your local or national newspaper will almost certainly have published its own explanations online.

But what about moving house? Just what bearing does the all-new tier system have on your plans, whether those plans are to buy and/or sell, or to move between rented properties? The good news is that the housing market will stay active in all three tiers. Not only can you go to viewings but you can also move. All businesses associated with moving are allowed to keep operating, including removals companies and estate agents (sales and lettings). Therefore, all the advice below applies across the tiers.

Does The Tier System Affect Moving Day?

The rules for people moving house remain the same – on moving day, they should wash their hands at regular and frequent intervals and maintain distance for anyone involved in the move who isn’t from their household. The up-to-date guidance on diminishing transmission can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-two-metre-social-distancing-guidance/review-of-two-metre-social-distancing-guidance#annex-a-how-covid-19-is-transmitted-and-how-to-reduce-risks]. Face-coverings should stay in place throughout.

What If I’m Looking For A New Property?

If you’re not poised for moving day but are instead planning or considering a move and looking at options, you’ll notice that some of the processes are now markedly different. For example, some of the stages will be conducted online, including virtual viewings. There’s also new advice about vacating your current property when it’s being viewed and being even more thorough with final cleanings before the next people move in. Once arrangements have been made for your move, you’re advised to expect delays and to be flexible when they occur. It’s possible that someone, whether they’re in your moving chain or simply involved in the move in some other way, could become ill with coronavirus or simply be compelled to self-isolate because of potential contact with an infected person. The government are also advising that complete suspension of moving activities could be required at either a local or national level with little notice if there are flare-ups.

If you’re on the point of entering into a contract, raise the subject of covid-19 with your representative so that you can discuss any potential implications and even consider placing provisions in the contract in case such eventualities come into play.

The advice is to make initial viewings over the internet wherever possible and to wear masks when visiting estate agents or doing a physical viewing of a property. ‘Open house’ viewings have been suspended; only viewings by appointment are permitted. Remember not to touch surfaces when you’re being shown around – and to be even more vigilant about this if you’re accompanied by small children.

If you’re letting a property rather than renting it, then you’re instructed to keep all internal doors open when people come for viewings and to make sure all surfaces, especially door-handles, are sanitised after every viewing. You should also make available facilities for washing hands and provide paper towels for hand-drying so that contamination risks are minimised.

Much more advice can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak. Here you’ll find guidance as to the various ways in which covid can impact on: property searches; making offers/reservations; arranging surveys; moving your belongings and much more.

Our Brand New All Singing All Dancing Depot In Tolworth

Posted on 5th October 2020 by Master Removers

THE brand new, state of the art Tolworth depot for The Master Removers Group was all-singing, all-dancing recently when it was chosen by country-pop duo Ward Thomas as the backdrop to their latest music video.

The duo’s connections come via their father Anthony and his company of 40 years, Ward Thomas Removals – which was the founding brand of The Master Removers Group (MRG).

Read more…

Winter Moving Made Easier

Posted on 30th September 2020 by Master Removers

Packing up a house and putting a thousand-and-one fiddly affairs in order before a move can be a daunting proposition even when the days are long and plentiful rays of energising sunshine are at hand to keep us going and top up our morale. Add to that clement temperatures and the feelgood vibes of spring and summer and it’s no wonder that people might prefer to up sticks between May and September rather than in the bleak midwinter. But we don’t always have a say in how things pan out, especially if our move is dependent on making a sale and being part of a chain. Sometimes, no matter what mitigating steps we put in place, a winter move is just our lot and we just have to accept it, rather than rail against it. There are, at least, things that everyone can do to make it a little easier, even when we’re living in the time of Covid. Here’s our Master Removers guide to winter moving made easier.

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London Housing Market – Coronavirus Update

Posted on 19th June 2020 by Master Removers

As we move from the extreme nationwide strictures of Covid-19 lockdown, first into a kind of lockdown-lite and now into a phase in which more and more businesses are resuming some form of ‘normal’ activity, many people are wondering about where this leaves the removals industry and the London housing market in general.

The Master Removers Group remained open even at the height of lockdown. We continued to undertake critical moves; these were moves required to go ahead because of compelling circumstances. Some of them were moves with a potential impact on a person’s health and others involved moving chains established before lockdown which had to be followed through. Thanks to the goodwill and generosity of our team of volunteer removal personnel, we were able to keep going and help clients whose moves were deemed vital.

A fortunate consequence of this is that now that the removals industry is starting up again in earnest, we’re already firing in on all cylinders and in perfect place to handle the anticipated increase in demand. Every Master Removers company is primed and ready to operate at optimal efficiency.

Housing Trends Our Partners Are Seeing

The Master Removers Group comprises several removals and storage companies, all of whom report back to us, creating a pool of up-to-date knowledge and know-how and helping us to stay abreast of developments in the market. Among the changes we’ve noticed is that we’re helping many young people who’ve moved out of London for lockdown and returned to their family homes – plenty of them are still working from this new location and are therefore asking us to go to their London flats and remove their possessions.

Another trend we’re seeing more and more of is that of people who are staying in London but need more space because they’re now working from home. We can provide storage advice, helping them to turn cellars, spare bedrooms, sitting room and attics into home-offices by putting their excess belongings into storage or self-storage.

Leaving London Post-Lockdown

Now, we’re anticipating that more and more people will leave London for good – the idea of having more space and a garden is expected to become overwhelmingly appealing as we move into the new socially-distanced reality of 2020 and beyond. This is backed up by the latest home buyer web traffic which suggests that an exodus from the capital could become a reality. Several major property websites, including Rightmove and Savills, have reported a dramatic increase in searches by people in London looking at properties outside the city.

Good News For Owners

Thanks to the lifting of several restrictions in May, fears of a crash in the market have been, if not totally allayed, then certainly suspended for now. Owing to a surge in house prices just before lockdown occurred (the average cost of a London home rose by 1.2 per cent in March, with the greatest increases seen in Hackney, Kensington & Chelsea and Barking & Dagenham) the market was in robust enough a place to withstand the effects of Covid-19. A surge in viewings is now under way and although a seven per cent diminution in prices has been predicted, in the immediate term at least, the signs are much healthier.

The Coronavirus Rentals Market

Rents have been driven down by as much as 15 per cent as a consequence of Covid-19, the lockdown and the ongoing complications of social distancing. For seven weeks, there were tight restrictions on moving and viewing, which only began being loosened on May 13. From figures compiled by Hamptons International, it would seem that the biggest drops have occurred in the most expensive and central zones. Zone 3 has seen a plummet of almost eight per cent, Zone 2, 6.9 per cent and Zone 1, five per cent. One of the big changes is that properties that were part of the short-term, Airbnb/Spareroom.com market have now flooded into the long-term market, creating a surplus. Another contributory factor to the drop in prices is that many people are in compromised employment situations, whether that’s earning 20 per cent less because of furlough or faced with no employment whatsoever.

Safety First

At the Master Removers Group, we continue to prioritise customer and staff safety – we devised new protocols at the outset of lockdown and have refined them several times since then, putting us at the cutting edge of innovative, coronavirus-conscious working practices. By using a Master Removers Group company for your removals and storage requirements, you’ll be keeping yourself and your loved ones completely safe. Our fully trained, efficient and courteous movers, drivers, planners and packers take every precaution necessary to ensure that every job is undertaken safely.

Is Now A Good Time To Move To The Country

Posted on 1st June 2020 by Master Removers

As we move into a lockdown grey area (some might contend that it’s always been a grey area), the possibility of forging a new life, away from the cramped conditions of the city and into the comparably spacious and verdant meadows of the countryside, is more appealing than ever. Not only is summer a more pleasant experience when you’re far away from sweltering pavements and broiling Tube carriages, the notion of having much more space per person gives you an extra feeling of safety and security in terms of the likelihood of you or your loved ones succumbing to Covid-19 or whatever the next pandemic happens to be. Who among us experiencing the lockdown in London hasn’t pined for the idea of strolling through deserted woods, ambling across fields of gambling lambs or just having a much larger garden. Apart from a few conveniences and, perhaps, more cultural activities, city life is losing its lustre. But is now really the right time to make that move? We’re barely at the cusp of entering into a slightly less strict version of lockdown. Yes, schools are reopening, along with outdoor markets and car showrooms. And soon, all non-essential retailers will follow suit. But we’re still only just reemerging into a new version of normal life. Could it be better to wait a bit or not do it at all? Here’s the Master Removers lowdown.

 

Is it safer out of the city?

The answer is, yes and no. Of course, a rural compound of several acres or even a more humble detached cottage does mean more space between you and your fellows. But the data is, as yet, far from conclusive and there are drawbacks to be considered. For a start, local hospitals will have less capacity and your nearest one may not even have emergency facilities. And given how difficult delivery slots can be at present, you’ll have to grapple with just the same risks at supermarkets that city dwellers face. Still, it’s undeniable that the disease spreads more quickly where the population is clustered together. That’s why the history of pandemics is so tied to cities; think of TB, whooping cough, measles – they all flourished in places like London. But the picture in rural areas is mixed. Perhaps, in pre-industrial times, there really was something of a protective shield around the countryside. Today, if there can be said to be a shield, it’s a much more porous one.

 

Should I wait to move to the countrywide or do it now?

The dream of a life in greener pastures has, in the face of Covid-19, become all the more attractive. People trapped in global hotspots, confined to small properties when the same amount of money would get them something much larger in a rustic setting, are beginning to wonder whether the time to make the move has finally come. Some of the stats do bear this out. At the start of May, searches for countryside homes on Zoopla went up by almost 70 per cent compared to the figures for the start of March. There was a 126 per cent increase in searches for properties in Dartmouth, a 136 jump in searches for homes near Monmouth and a bump of almost 80 per cent for houses near Godalming, which enjoys swathes of Sussex countryside on its doorstep. Similar increases have occurred for the Isle of Wight and Cornwall. It looks as if plenty of Londoners have had enough of the urban lockdown experience and think that now – with removals companies resuming near-normal operations – is as good a time as any.

 

What are the drawbacks of moving to the countryside?

Nothing is 100 per cent good and there’s no such thing as perfect. As well as culture, nightlife, restaurants, frequent and easily-accessible public transport, you’ll also be saying goodbye to city-only apps like Uber, Uber Eats and Deliveroo, many of which have come in particularly useful in the face of the lifestyle restrictions of coronavirus lockdown. People making the move will also discover that while average property prices are lower, picturesque abodes in sought-after rural settings are not bargains. Also to be kept in mind is the fact that larger properties have larger running costs. And, once you make the move, if you should experience a change of heart, it may be difficult buying back into London.

Are lots of people moving to the countryside right now?

No necessarily. No one relishes the idea of finding themselves in competition with thousands of other buyers because there’s been a rush to get out of the city. Bear in mind that the bump in internet traffic relating to moving to the countryside may not lead to actual sales – people currently confined to cities could simply  be indulging their fantasies and may well reacclimatise to city life once lockdown is a thing