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UK Housing Market – Foreign Buyers Benefit From Weak Pound

Posted on 13th October 2022 by Master Removers

Ever since the pound plummeted, following the announcement in Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget that the top rate of tax was going to be reduced, there’ve been losers and winners. And chief among the latter are overseas buyers of UK property. Sterling may have rallied very, very slightly, thanks to the swift actions of the Bank of England, but it’s still a million miles away from the glory days, earlier in the new millennium, when it was two dollars to the pound. Today, it languishes horribly close to parity with the dollar – and the government u-turn did nothing to bolster it. As each day continues to bring more chaos and instability, the chances for a return to a strong pound look slender. So for the foreseeable future, people who buy UK property using the dollar are in an extremely advantageous position – and the savings they stand to make are even greater if they’re buying in the capital. Research by end-to-end real estate fund, Alliance Fund, has revealed that London property can be had for nearly 17 per cent less than it would have cost in January 2022 – a huge saving. Never has it been truer that one person’s misery is another’s mirth.

Alliance Fund’s study looked into the average price of property across the UK and then in London specifically both at the start of 2022 and now. They then saw how those costs lessened when exchanged into the currencies of ten overseas nations. The results were striking.

Weak Pound Winners

The USA is, hands down, the winner when it comes to the pound’s weakness against the dollar. In January 2022, UK house prices averaged at £272,833, translating to a dollar value of $369,825 based on an exchange rate of $1.36 the pound. Today, the picture couldn’t be more different. Although the average UK house price has risen by over 7 per cent, coming in at £292,118, with a moribund exchange rate, loitering around the $1.08-to-the-pound mark, the dollar cost has plummeted to $314,932. Buyers from the States can help themselves to a stunning 14.8 per cent discount compared to where things stood at the outset of the year. The same process applied to London-specific housing uncovered an even greater saving for Americans – closer to 17 per cent.

It’s not only buyers from the USA that stand to make a killing. The native currencies of several other countries mean that the UK property market is their oyster. In particular, the weakened pound is being received with unbridled jubilation in the United Arab Emirates, whose citizens are now in an exceptionally good position to buy UK property. For them, the UK-wide discount is 14.5 per cent, while the London discount is an event better 16.2 per cent. And they’re far from alone. Homebuyers from Hong Kong look to do very well indeed, with a UK-average reduction of 13.9 per cent and, in the capital, one of 15.6 per cent. It doesn’t stop there; the affordability of London and UK property has also been given quite a boost in Singapore, with the average UK house now 9.5 per cent cheaper and the average London property an impressive 11.3 per cent less. There are also good savings to be made by people buying UK property using the currencies of Australia, India, Canada and China. 

Weak Pound Losers

Countries at a disadvantage when it comes to the UK property market are few and far between. It’s mainly a time of hand-rubbing glee for foreign investors. Even in the Euro area, buyers opting for London can grab a 1.8 per cent discount. Alliance Fund cites only one territory unable to benefit from the current situation – Japan. Owing to the weakness of the Yen versus the pound, Japanese buyers are looking at an increase of 7.3 per cent nationally and, in London, 5.2 per cent. 

How Long Will It Last?

With more government chaos expected, it’s unlikely the pound is going to be strong at any point in the near future. Overseas buyers, especially those from North America, the UAE and Hong Kong, have plenty of sunshine in which to make hay. Even if they don’t act straight away, chances are they’ll still make savings. Central London will be the focus of the influx – a massive turn-around after the two-year period of the pandemic, when foreign demand dwindled dramatically. Many potential buyers waited in the wings, hoping for the perfect moment to swoop – and now it’s here. Commenting on the research, Alliance Fund CEO, Iain Crawford, says, “With recent government economic intervention doing little to reverse sterling’s slacking strength, buyers from the US, UAE and Hong Kong in particular will continue to save when buying a property in the UK.” But he does sound one note of caution: “This activity is likely to be concentrated in certain areas such as prime central London and will therefore do little to alleviate the uncertainty currently pervading the broader UK market.”

What Does the Weak Pound Mean for People in the UK

For every note of wild celebration from abroad, there’s one of galling sadness for those of us here. Thanks to the pound slumping to an all-time low after the government of Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss inflicted this ‘fiscal event’ upon us all, an array of consequences is being brought to bear on our lives. While many might only concern themselves with exchange rates when a holiday is imminent, the fact that our money will now go less far when we’re travelling is far from the only ramification. Factors influencing a country’s currency include interest rates, inflation and political/economic chaos. Even before the mini-budget, the pound was deteriorating against a background of energy-price rises, war in Ukraine and soaring inflation. Even though the dollar is subject to some of the same conditions, it is able to rally because it’s, by some margin, the biggest reserve currency for the world economy.

What this means for British consumers is that money won’t go as far when we’re buying goods and services that have been imported from abroad – and that, of course, includes fuel. While oil is roughly back to where it was, price-wise, at the outset of war in Ukraine, because it’s priced in dollars, the weak pound means it’s more expensive for us. The same problem will afflict products in shops and supermarkets that have been imported. Here, though, there’s a more complex picture; because much of our food is imported from Europe, and with the Euro also weak against the dollar, the increase in price shouldn’t be quite so sharp. The combination of rising food and fuel costs creates, in turn, an increasing pressure on inflation. And with inflation and interest rates going up, mortgage repayments are another thing on the rise – especially for people whose fixed-rate period has ended, leaving them on a variable rate. And, for now, when we travel overseas, the pound’s spectacular plummet will mean much less cash to play with, thanks to unfavourable exchange rates, especially if we’re holidaying in the USA.

How Master Removers Group Companies Can Help Foreign Buyers of UK Property

The Master Removers are a group of long-established, highly accomplished moving professionals stretching across the UK and the globe. Every Master Removers Group company is BAR (British Association of Removers)-registered, meaning that they’re committed to exceptional standards. Indeed, their membership is contingent upon maintaining them at all times. A Master Removers company can help you if you’re planning to take advantage of the current fiscal situation and invest in UK property, whether to occupy or not. Our courteous, thoughtful members can plan your move to London (or elsewhere in the country) and take on as much of the work as you like, including doing it in its entirety. 

All our removals companies can pack up your materials and belongings (or supply materials for you to do so), organise and execute international shipping and then retrieve everything at the destination and not only bring the containers to your property but unpack everything and then undertake furniture placement and arrange appliance installation. As a result, your London property will be fully habitable and functioning from Day One. Even the notoriously thorny and bureaucratic issue of customs can be accomplished by us, so you’re not embroiled in hold-ups and headaches. 

Master Removers are more than just removals companies; they’re the best of the best – the most skilful, diligent and industrious movers that the country has to offer. They bring to each job an understanding of the difficulties, stresses and tensions a move can mean for the client. They seek to mitigate your stress at every turn, so that you’re as close to unaware of it as possible. And because the Master Removers group stretches across the country, its strength and scale mean that prices can be kept to a reasonable and competitive level. 

For trained, experienced and highly competent movers, make sure you choose one of the BAR-approved, Master Removers. Your move to London can begin with a quick, no-obligation quotation on telephone no: 0808 164 6192

What alternatives are there to bricks and mortar in 2022 UK? 

Posted on 21st September 2022 by Master Removers

Contents

  • Van life and living on the road
  • Houseboats
  • Treehouses
  • Tiny Homes
  • Storage Container Homes
  • Storage Solutions 

Van life and living on the road 

In the UK living on the road is becoming more and more limited.  As there are fewer sites where vehicles can be parked and more stringent laws against caravans and vans on private land, it is not a way of life that is easy.  However, the adaptation of vehicles into homes has continued to develop particularly with larger vehicles like Horse box homes.  Often these conversions become great projects involving bespoke joinery and carpentry and the fulfillment of people’s dream homes. In the US where vanlifeing is a thing, there is more scope for taking in the great outdoors whilst living on wheels. The 2020 film Nomadland documents the growing communities in the US of people that are driven to take up the transient lifestyle of the road.  In the UK, nomadic road life can be a temporary way of connecting with the countryside but is tricky to establish as a permanent lifestyle.  The lack of places where mobile sites can be established is a problem for the traditional traveller community, who have fewer options as land is sold for development.  For those that want to live on the road in a van but not in a community, finding people with land that will let you park up will be the main challenge. 

Houseboats 

A different alternative community exists on the waterways.  With a wide spectrum of choices and affluence, from the narrow boat to the luxury marinas there are all kinds of streams of entry.  In London, there has been a 60% increase in boats registering to be moored in the city. Many Londoners are seeking to try life afloat in the post-pandemic era of the race for space and increased house prices.  While the advantages of low Council Tax and no Stamp Duty appeal to first-time buyers, mooring fees in London are not immune to inflation.  For the nomadic water dwellers, being a continual cruiser means you can skip the higher mooring fees and stay on the move. In London that gives you 14 days in each location, but there is the added challenge of finding places to moor.  A comprehensive system is in place set up by the Canal and River Trust which oversees the licensing and legislative aspects of the waterworld.  Living on the waters is likened to having a second job by some, and has more of a survival edge than a Victorian terrace. For insight into the way of life check out these guidelines to see if you are ready to take the plunge. 

Treehouses 

Once associated with environmental activists, now treehouses seem to be high on people’s Airbnb bucket lists.  There are even browsable categories there for Earth Homes and Treehouses. In fact, a lot of alternative dwellings have migrated into the tourism sector with the advent of Airbnb.  What began as alternative architectural ideas for off-grid living in the last decades, are now highly profitable designs for eco-tourism and niche get-aways.  Shepherds Huts, which have a nostalgic place in their hearts for the traveller lifestyle, have now been glamped up and gentrified.  There are no shepherds or sheep to be seen, instead flocks of wellness enthusiasts. While the real gypsy lifestyle is being driven out into extinction, it is always possible to hire an old-fashioned wagon for a great Instagram backdrop.  As long as it is not a permanent affront to the general trend of bricks and mortar, it can be enjoyed temporarily, and for a profit!

Tiny Homes 

The trend of tiny homes is a place where there may be some real competition to bricks and mortar.  Tiny homes, which have blown in from the US prairies, do pose a genuine alternative to home ownership, which can be both fixed and moveable at the same time. Tiny homes do not need planning permission if they keep within the required dimensions.  Seen as extensions of the home or land they are on; they can be permitted in that context.  What is required, is the land that they are built on.  To dwell in a tiny home, stealth storage is required and innovative design. Whilst they are easy to move in the US, on the smaller island of the UK they are more likely to be fixed addresses. As seen in the recent Parliamentary bills, to move a tiny Home in the UK, you would have to have permission from the landowner to be on that land. 

Storage & Shipping Container Homes

Container homes are a new innovative way to provide temporary and permanent housing solutions for homeless and disadvantaged peoples.  MAC container homes provide both container homes for shelter, as well as for domestic alternatives to extensions and houses.  Working with charities and church groups they can deliver housing solutions within 12 weeks.  Aside from being an excellent housing solution, storage container homes are also very fashionable. Cargotecture is the name of the architectural trend of utilizing and adapting shipping containers.  Popular because of the sustainable implications, stainless steel containers are an easy to recycle building material. With innovative designs, containers can be stacked on top of each other, or around each other to build up iconic units. With the cost effectiveness of this cheaper material, and the quick assembly times they have a lot of appeal and flexibility of purpose. In a new age of minimalism, paring down your possessions for a more streamlined abode seems to be the way forward.  Paradoxically, this is where the humble storage container can be most useful! 

Storage Containers

As the Master Removers, we are well aware of the necessity and versatility of storage containers.  With a network of storage facilities all over the UK, with different sizes and packages for storage we understand how useful it is to be able to put things away temporarily.  As a vital part of our removals resources, we can see the appeal for storage use growing over time.  As people downsize to take up alternative housing, as in a houseboat or a tiny home, a storage container add- on means you don’t have to compromise equipment and possessions.  By safely storing these items in a container, you can be sure they are climate controlled, secure, and easy to access at any time.  Master Removers have the whole removals map covered, from different grade business removals to domestic and overseas. Our British Association of Removers teams span the country providing the country with leading edge removals and storage services.  If you need expert advice on all things removals and storage you have found the right place. Get in touch and we are happy to advise you today! 

8 Reasons to Use a Specialist Removal and Storage Service

Posted on 21st August 2022 by Master Removers

For most companies, general business removal or storage services will suffice for their needs. However, there are others that can’t afford to leave their business’s equipment in the hands of anyone except an expert. This can be due to the value of the items or the technical setup necessary to install and get the machine up and running.

If you’re the owner of a company that works with highly sophisticated equipment, there’s no margin for error. You need to work with a logistics company with a proven track record. They need to understand how to handle sensitive and, typically, expensive devices and tools. Bishopsgate is part of the Master Removers Group, and they work with hundreds of B2B and B2C enterprises in the UK and Europe. Here are their top eight reasons why people use their specialist services.

Contents –

  1. Expertise – Using Professionals with Specialist Knowledge and Equipment
  2. Insurance – Vital Information on Coverage and Assistance
  3. Range of Services – Exclusive Logistics Packages
  4. Warehousing – Industrial Scale Storage at Strategic Locations
  5. Convenience – Strategic Planning and Delegate Every Task
  6. Peace of Mind – Work with Professionals with Specialist Handling Skills
  7. Efficient and Cost-effective – Avoid Downtime and Poor Service Delivery
  8. Flexible – Tailormade Packages to Fit your Business’s Requirements 

1: Expertise – Using Professionals with Specialist Knowledge and Equipment –

Specialist removal and storage companies have the experience and expertise to handle your business’s equipment and goods safely and securely. And when it comes to working with experts, you won’t find another logistics provider like Bishopsgate. They excel in providing the highest standards of customer care and service delivery.

If your business has sensitive or highly valuable equipment requiring transportation and installation, you must book the best. Bishopsgate takes this to the next level. For example, they recently installed a medical scanner that weighs 7.6-tons and is valued at over one million dollars. That’s the standard of service and capability you’ll receive when working with them.           

2: Insurance – Vital Information on Coverage and Assistance –

You might think it’s inevitable that business customers will have insurance in place before initiating a relocation. From experience, this isn’t always the case. Luckily, Bishopsgate has public and product liability insurance. You can read more about this and other important information in the terms and conditions section.

We suggest consulting an insurance broker to ensure your company has comprehensive coverage. Similarly, if you already have a policy, don’t assume it covers the removal or moving of items to storage. Provide your insurer with the full details to double-check. The last thing you want is for a problem to arise, and you can’t make a claim.

The Bishopsgate team can refer you to the same insurers they use and will assist with any documentation and information you need to send them.

3: Range of Services – Exclusive Logistics Packages –

Most specialist removal and storage companies offer a range of services, from packing and unpacking to furniture assembly and disassembly. However, they often fall short when it comes to genuinely providing comprehensive business removal services. That’s because they don’t understand how to handle and transport niche equipment.

Bishopsgate stands head and shoulders above any other business moving and logistics provider. To summarise, here’s a breakdown of each specialist service they offer below:

 4: Warehousing – Industrial Scale Storage at Strategic Locations –

Whether relocating to new premises or making space in your current one, businesses benefit from using storage. It provides extra spacing and security that your office or factory lacks the provisions to perform. And when you see what Bishopsgate’s warehousing service entails, you’ll understand why high-end companies use them.

Their warehousing goes beyond the typical storage service. They use computerised systems that monitor and log every item, not just each storage container. For instance, they use temperature controls, and everything that goes into their warehouse remains in perfect condition. That’s why industries like advanced IT and manufacturers of medical equipment trust and work with them.

Additionally, Bishopsgate is a member of the Master Removers Group. This gives their clients a network of partner companies in strategic locations throughout the UK. That equates to warehouse and storage provisions for long-distance haulage or national moving jobs.

5: Convenience – Strategic Planning and Delegate Every Task –

There are two key ingredients to a successful relocation. The first is understanding the time constraints you need to apply. Therefore, we advise all our Master Removers Group business and domestic customers to start preparing to relocate immediately. If there’s something you can do today, don’t put it off until tomorrow. And this is an essential point of order for a business that needs specialist services.

Bishopsgate will work with your team to create a unique strategy for your move. Likewise, they go in-depth into the roles of your company to identify any tasks they can perform on your behalf. Relocating is a highly stressful undertaking, and wherever possible, they’ll take the burden off your shoulders. Accordingly, this gives you more time to inform your clients and supply chain. 

6: Peace of Mind – Work with Professionals with Specialist Handling Skills –

Dealing with your company’s logistics and warehousing can be an arduous task, not to mention stressful. Moving to a new workplace or installing high-end machinery and equipment takes it up a notch. That’s why you’ll need to completely trust the company you book to undertake these duties. However, if you have reservations about delegating entire tasks over, you’re probably working with the wrong provider.

Bishopsgate’s clients have complete confidence in their ability to deliver. Their team understands there’s no room for error – they have one opportunity to get it right. Moreover, they consistently achieve the desired outcome, all without causing any stress for you. You have the peace of mind that professionals are always handling your goods and hardware. 

7: Efficient and Cost-effective – Avoid Downtime and Poor Service Delivery –

With any relocation, every company will have to mitigate an inevitable loss of operational time. However, if the business removal company misses a deadline, it can have a snowball effect. You’re then dealing with disgruntled suppliers or customers, or both in extreme situations! That’s the unfortunate reality if you choose a generalist remover instead of a specialist.

Bishopsgate works within a strict timeline, and they agree and set deadlines and targets in advance of your moving day. They do this to ensure there are no issues with access points or loading. Furthermore, their team need to understand how your business functions in detail. A manufacturing company with a supply line has different needs from a medical equipment manufacturer. The details make all the difference.

Efficiency leads to cost-effectiveness. Every hour over your downtime could cost hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in lost revenue. You’ll be up and running without disruption when you work with Bishopsgate. 

8: Flexible – Tailormade Packages to Fit your Business’s Requirements –

When looking for potential logistics and warehousing companies, remember to see how flexible they are. Some will have set packages that don’t have much leeway if you have non-typical specifications. Others, like Bishopsgate, have plenty of wiggle room regarding unique requirements and niche items.

It’s not a case of looking at who offers the cheapest rates. You need to balance this with high standards of customer service. Moreover, you also need to factor in the competency and flexibility of each provider. And be specific when seeking quotes about the precise service you need. Any logistics company worth its salt will be more than happy to discuss your job in detail. 

Book with Bishopsgate – Your Company Deserves the Best –

You need to bring in the experts if you have valuable equipment, furniture, or other work items. This means working with a logistics and warehousing provider that delves into the details and leaves nothing to chance. You won’t find another company that offers and can deliver these specialist packages. It takes decades of experience and the correct handling tools to perform the service.

It doesn’t begin and end when they complete the job. Bishopsgate will assist with the planning stages to ensure you’re ready for the big move or installation. They know that thorough preparation is the key ingredient to success. Furthermore, after they install and assemble the equipment or move you to your new workplace, there’s full aftercare services available.

Don’t take unnecessary risks by using a normie business removals service. Click here to speak to a Bishopsgate team member, and they’ll guide you through the process. You’ll receive a free, detailed quotation with further information about the best service for your requirements.

‘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.

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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