Monday, 8 December 2014

What The Stamp Duty Reform Will Mean To You

The stamp duty reform revealed and put into place last week, should we see as good news or bad news? The initial positive is buyers purchasing property under £937,500 will save on their stamp duty bill but the projected outcome will be that property prices will rise again. So actually will the new structure benefit us at all? Previously many house prices were determined by stamp duty thresholds, for example going over £250,000 tripled the percentage of stamp duty to 3%
Did the old formation keep property prices in relatively good order? Here is the old structure for you to take a look at for residential property:

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage

£0 - £125,000                                0%
£125,001 - £250,000                     1%
£250,001 - £500,000                     3%
£500,001 - 1million                      4%
1million  - 2million                      5%
over 2million                                7%

As of 4th Decmeber 2014 this is what the reform looks like for residential property:

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage

£0 - £125,000                               0%
£125,001 - £250,000                    2%
£250,001 - £925,000                    5%
£925,001 - 1.5million                10%
over 1.5million                          12%

Instant reaction is 'the percentages are higher!' yes this is true but the difference is you no longer pay stamp duty on the whole purchase price. You will only pay a portion of the total value that falls between each bracket. This is an example if you were purchasing a property with the old & new rates at the current average asking price of £273,000

OLD Rates

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage                   Stamp Duty Paid     

£273,000                                       3%                                                  £8,190

NEW Rates

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage                   Stamp Duty Paid   

£273,000                                       2%                                                  £2,500

(£125,000 of the purchase price falls within the second bracket £125,001 - £250,000)

                                                      5%                                                  £1,150

(£23,000 of the purchase price falls within the third bracket £250,001 - £925,000)

                                                                                     TOTAL           £3,650

So this means a total saving of £4,540! Lets see what the near future holds for the property market.....

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Friday, 28 November 2014

List Your Property For Sale In Time For The Christmas Rush!

Christmas is fast approaching and you are beginning to think....we need more space! Or you have too much space and need to downsize. So your thoughts creep towards the subject of, should we move in the new year? If this is you, then my best advice would be to list your property now!
Property search portals have their highest volume of web traffic over Christmas Day and Boxing Day. It sounds crazy but if you are thinking of moving then no doubt you will be part of that browsing traffic too. The important factor of this is to make sure your property is available for all potential buyers to see within this surge of activity over the Christmas period.

I know what you are thinking, you have too much to do and busy Christmas shopping but why leave this opportunity to pass by. Ok so another reason is, you already put your Christmas decorations up. See this as a positive, does your home look warm and inviting with a spruced Christmas tree draped in twinkling lights and shiny baubles? Of course it does, it is the time of year when home is where you want to be and buyers will be in the same mindset. But you want their new home to be your old home.

There are many aspects of selling a property and you don't want to leave any to chance. Sometimes the smallest of additions can make a difference and it only takes a quick visit from your agent to take new photographs once all the festive cheer is put away.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 

Avoid An Empty Property Over Christmas

So, have your tenants recently given notice to leave your rental property? Panic sets in because its getting closer to Christmas and the last thing you want is the thought of an empty property while tucking into your Christmas roast, fear not! Here are some hints and tips to effectively find a tenant sooner than you may think...

Confirm an exact date of when your current tenants will be vacating the property, ideally in writing and signed by both parties so a specific date is agreed.

Inspect the property before the tenants move out, make a snag list of all the odd jobs i.e fixing a leaky tap or lose door handle that can be done while the property is still tenanted. Bigger plans like painting or new carpets you can have scheduled to be carried out the minute your current tenants leave.

Instruct an agent (ahem, Beth Alexandra Property Specialists) to list the property and activate it 'live' at least one week before the end of the tenancy. Give your current tenants plenty of notice so the property can be prepared for the photographs.

Arrange an open day for potential tenants to view, preferably before your present tenants leave. It is usual practice that current tenants must co-operate with access for viewings during the last month of their tenancy.

The sooner viewings commence the sooner a new tenancy can be secured and less time the property is left empty.

It all seems easy when put into 5 simple steps, the key is knowing your plan, being organised and carrying it forward. So get started!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Is Your Tenancy Deposit Secure?

If you are a tenant renting a property who signed an Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement and paid a deposit under this agreement, have you made sure that your deposit is secure? All deposits paid under an AST from 6th April 2012 in England and Wales must be secured in a Government funding protection scheme. The funds have to be registered with 30 days of of receipt of the landlord and confirmation should be forwarded to the tenant so they are aware where the deposit is being held. The information should also include: 

  • The full address of the property being rented
  • How much deposit has been paid
  • Details on how the deposit it being protected
  • The contact details of the tenancy deposit scheme and its dispute resolution service
  • The landlords contact details
  • The letting agents details (if applicable)
  • Contact details of any third party who has paid the deposit
  • Instruction on how to claim the deposit back
  • What to do if there is ever a dispute

The protection scheme is in place to ensure the deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the tenancy in full or in case of a dispute the negotiation is dealt with professionally.

At the end of the tenancy the deposit should be transferred back to the tenant within 10 days of agreeing the amount. In the likelihood of a dispute the tenancy deposit scheme will continue to be protect the funds until the negotiation has been settled.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities

Landlord and tenant responsibilities are always made clear in a standard Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement but why do we still hear of bad experiences?

The foundation of a good relationship between landlord and tenant is respect on both sides and understanding what your responsibilities are.

For a landlord this involves making sure the property is free of any health hazards and safe for tenants to live in. The following checks must be carried out prior to tenants moving in:

Gas safety check - must be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer and provide the tenants with a copy of the certificate for proof.

Electrical safety - the electrical system and any appliances should all be checked and safe to use.

Fire safety - making sure the tenants have access to escape routes and all furnishings supplied are fire safe.

Landlords are always responsible for repairs on the structure and exterior of the property. Any type of sanitary fittings i.e sinks/baths/WC. Heating and hot water should always be in full working order. Bear in mind, any repairs needed due to the tenants own fault, there will need to be some compromise. This takes me onto the tenants responsibilities:

Pay the agreed rent on time.

Pay any utility bills that are not included in the rental amount i.e council tax, water, electricity & gas.

Take good care of the property, repair any damage caused by you, family or friends.

How easy does all that sound? In practice it should be and it makes sense!

These are just the basics and the obvious points but the responsibilities need to be clear and understood. Its the grounds of a good landlord and tenant relationship, start as you mean to go on.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

3D Printing a Full Sized House!

Believe it or not 3D printing of a full sized house is currently being worked on by Architects in Amsterdam taking property construction to another level! Could this be the next step to creating an Eco-friendly home? 

The material used is a plastic containing plant oil which contributes to 75% of the mixture. The structure itself is printed in sections inside a shipping container, one room can require six to ten blocks. Once all the pieces are ready they will be fitted together to form a detached house with an estimated construction time of 3 years. A company in China is also putting the idea into practice taking it a step further by using recycled materials to build each structure, they claim to print bungalows for less than £3000.

So if we look at this realistically this is not a project that will make any changes in the way property is built but if you want a space which you can claim to be Eco-friendly then this is for you. After all it is important to take care of our planet and recycling is an important contribution. Creative people out there have already assembled or are creating their own Eco-living space from converting shipping containers to making the most of used vehicle tires, the possibilities are endless! We would all love to have our own little space to escape.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Mortgage Rule Changes and Decrease in Lending

As released last week mortgage rules have changed, making it tougher for buyers to secure a mortgage. Lenders now take into account all outgoings of each applicant from how much you spend on a regular food shop to asking if you gamble. The interviews carried out by the lenders such as Santander, Nationwide, Natwest, Halifax, Yorkshire Building Society and Lloyds Bank, can range between one and a half to two and a half hours long. You may say this is a step too far but 1 in 5 first-time buyers regret not purchasing a cheaper property because they underestimated the costs involved in owning a property on top of all other spends. 

Prices are increasing throughout the UK, some areas more rapidly than others but now mortgage lenders have become more stringent, means it is less likely the hiking property prices will create a bubble and the system is more controlled. 

In the last 2 months mortgage approvals have fallen by 11.9%, it is too soon to say whether this is because of the new rules but it will certainly in the near future make an impact. Other factors could be the absence in property on the market so people are resistant to move. Howard Archer, the chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight has said ''it is likely that the further easing back in mortgage activity in March from January's peak level reflected some banks raising their mortgage lending standards before the new regulations''.
Whatever the reason may be it is a measurement we could be thanking in time to come.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Thursday, 24 April 2014

How the Help-to-Buy Scheme Has Helped

By the end of January 2014 there had been 17,395 property sales completed through the Help to Buy Scheme since its launch in April 2013. 82% of the equity loans went to first-time buyers and 85% to buyers outside of London and the South East.

The scheme had mixed reactions in the beginning and concerns it would create a housing bubble but as I mentioned in last weeks blog figures show that mortgage lending activity still remains lower than the previous record. The Help to Buy was designed to allow first-time buyers to get on the property ladder resulting in movement along the chain which is exactly what the market needed.

It has been released that Santander and NatWest are the first lenders to increase the interest rates on their Help to Buy mortgages, the increases ranging from 0.1% to 0.4%. Vince Cable, the Business Secretary has stated that interest rates should be raised to avoid a situation where house prices are out of control. 

If you are unsure how the Help to Buy Scheme works here is an outline for you.

  • It helps you to get onto the property ladder or move up it, to purchase new builds or existing homes up to the value of £600,000
  • You will need to contribute at least 5% of the property price for the deposit.
  • The Government will give you a loan for up to 20% of the price, the loan is interest free for the first 5 years.
  • You will need a mortgage of up to 75% to cover the rest of the property price.
  • Following the purchase you can choose at any time to make voluntary part repayments of the equity loan. The minimum voluntary repayment is 10% of the market value at the time of repayment. 

Who can't utilise the Help to Buy Scheme?
  • The property purchase must be your only residence. Help to Buy is not available to assist buy-to-let investors or those who will own any property other than their Help to Buy property after completing their purchase. 
  • You cannot rent out your existing home and buy a second homes through Help to Buy. 

What happens when you decide to sell?
  • The equity loan is re-payed upon completion of the property sale unless you have already chosen to repay the Agency's equity loan prior to selling.
  • If you sell your property for more than the prevailing market value then the amount dye to the Agency under the equity loan will be their percentage value of the actual sale price.
  • The Agency will not agree to release its charge over the property for sales less than market value.
The scheme has now been extended until 2020 to continue to make a difference and keep our property market moving.

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Thursday, 17 April 2014

UK Property Prices Continue to Rise

So, my blog last week I discussed the price divide between the North and South property markets but let us have a quick look about the UK as a whole. As official figures are released from the Office for National Statistics prices across the UK rose by 9.1% in the year to February 2014, this is 3.6% higher than the last property boom in 2008.

The Nations individually grew by the following amounts;
England   9.7%
Northern Ireland   2.8%
Scotland   2.4%
Wales   5.3%

But is the property 'bubble' being exaggerated? Lets face it, property prices can easily increase but will the sales keep up with the pace. Property prices in London alone have increased by 17.7% in the last year to February 2014 but is 75% of the turnover in property sales in the UK. 

Mortgage lending activity still remains lower than previous record but the Help to Buy scheme has been a huge success and contribution to moving the market forward. By the end of January 2014 the Help to Buy scheme sales had reached 17,395 and may this continue as the equity loan was last month extended to run to 2020.

Next week I will go into more detail about the Help to Buy scheme, after all it has really helped!

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Online Estate Agents Survey Results - Be Part Of It!

What is a theory without the facts? After carrying out my own survey to analyse the trends on how you search for property and what choices you would make when selling your home reveals the online estate agency model is the way forward. After all there are a few big names in business who realise the change and making huge investments in the online property industry.
Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou of EasyJet
Steve Smith of Poundland
Paul Pindar former Capita chairman
James Caan the Ex-Dragon

If you are still unsure on the concept or future of online estate agents, these results should help you.

1. When searching for property do you start by looking online?
Yes   100%
No    0%

2. When searching for property do you;
Go to estate agents websites individually   5.56%
Go to property portals such as Zoopla & Rightmove   94.44%

3. When searching for property do you visit the estate agents shop?
Yes   11.11%
No    88.89%

4. When arranging a viewing at a property, what are you most likely to do?
Call the agent   66.67%
Email the agent   33.33%
Visit the agents shop   0%

5. Online estate agents are known for offering lower fees so when selling your property would you use an online agent or high street agent at a higher fee?
Online agent   76.47%
High street agent   23.53%

6. When selling your property which payment method would you prefer?
Pay a low upfront fee and no fee on completion   52.94%
Pay no upfront fee and be charged a percentage of your sale price on completion   47.06%

Do you see the pattern emerge? 

From a business model point of view for Beth Alexandra Property I not only save you money by offering Flexi-Fees (pay upfront or pay percentage on completion) but provide a high quality service, continue to change the face of estate agency and deliver what you want!

7. Would you be more likely to use an estate agent on recommendation?
Yes   94.44%
No    5.56%

8. Please rate your previous experience with estate agents;
Poor   33.33%
Fair    16.67%
Average   33.33%
Good   16.67%
Excellent   0%

If you would like to take part in this survey please click the link

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Property Price Divide Between North & South

Well, after a successful blog last week about Gazumping which got me on a BBC Radio Breakfast Show! I'm going to branch out from this topic and discuss the property price divide between North & South. As the property market continues to move forward all over the country it causes property prices to increase but there is still a major difference in the increases and the pace of the market across the country.

Property prices are increasing all over the UK but some areas at higher rates than others, an average home in the South is 74% more expensive than in the North before we even start! Southern regions have risen by 6.1% year on year whereas this figure only reaches 3.1% in the North of the country.
Once a property hits the open market in the Capital it already has at least 25 buyers inline ready to purchase it whereas in comparison to the rest of the country only having 12.

There will always be a divide between the North & South property market but it is good to see that is it the whole of the UK to is benefiting in some way from the move in the market. This advance will not stop here, especially since the help to buy scheme was made available to new or existing homes up to £600,000 at the beginning of the year, 2014 is said to be the ‘Big Year’ and showing no signs of cooling down.

Are you looking to sell or rent your home? Look no further than Beth Alexandra Property Specialists

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Gazumping is when the property vendor, after accepting your offer then accepts a higher offer from another buyer. 

After hearing a story yesterday about an lady unfortunately experiencing this, now is the time to make you aware that gazumping is rearing its ugly head again! As the property marketed continues to move onwards and upwards you must be extra vigilant. It was rife in the nineties and early noughties when the property market was at its height but since the crash in 2008 it became a less common occurrence. 

How do you avoid it happening to you?

  • Insist the property is withdrawn from the market once your offer has been accepted. 
  • Offer a non-refundable deposit to show your commitment.
  • Make sure you have your mortgage in principle and all your finances are in place.
  • Instruct the property survey asap.
  • Speed up the sale, the less time the property is on the open market the better.

From an agents point of view we are obliged to inform our vendors of any offers so it is unfair to hold an agent responsible but I do believe in the event of a higher offer situation it should be dealt with fairly and professionally.

Do you want an honest and trusted agent? Beth Alexandra Property Specialists is who you need to contact!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Making ''Scents'' When Selling Your Home

So, you have a viewing at your property? Its surprising how many viewers will follow their noses, this being our strongest sense if the aroma isn't right that could be one less box ticketed for your potential buyer. Make your home smell too good to resist, you may think this is over the top but do you notice the elegant fragrance the minute you step into Next? Appealing isn't it, this is the same impact we want your viewer to feel. 

In 2010 a study found that on average 31.8% of shoppers spent more money when the store was scented, it proved that aromas can affect cognitive functions in the same areas of the brain involved in decision making. Now every property is different, you decide which environment you want to create. Here are some of my suggestions;

Homely smells like baked bread or freshly ground coffee this will create a warm and cosy atmosphere, ideal if it is cold dark day outside. 

Your property may suit the refreshing and crisp scent of lemon and orange, the citrus savour implements the distinctive summertime feeling.

The traditional vanilla and sandalwood could be the one a comforting and original scent, the perfect neutral option.

Whichever you pick my key tip is to frequently open those windows! Allow the fresh air to flow through the property and take note of the BIG no no's!
No pet smells
No stale smoke odors 
No overflowing rubbish bins
No damp washing

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists are here to get you moving!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Put A ''Spring'' Into Your House Sale

Put A ''Spring'' Into Your House Sale

Spring is finally upon us! After a scorcher last weekend, lets hope it was a taster of whats to come. 
This is the most popular time of year for property listings, you've done the clear-out, cleaned the windows, touched up the paint work and pruned the garden....its picture perfect. 

If you read my blog last week you will know that 95% of buyers go online to start their property search so its important your pictures are on top form, especially the frontage. The front external photograph is the first to be seen so a clear blue sky day is a must when the picture is taken, yes the British weather is hard to predict but at Beth Alexandra Property we will not settle for less. 

As the buyer takes their journey through in internal photographs every one should be 'showhome-esque', no clutter, no mess. Not only is this attractive to buyers, it can make a room look generous and fresh. Speaking of 'fresh' when it comes to the viewing your potential purchasers senses are on high alert so.....we will go into that next week. 

In the meantime there will be non of this!!.....

Yes this property was recently marketed! Please click the link to see further pictures...if you dare.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Online Estate Agents

Selling your home no longer needs to be an expensive move. Why pay inflated high street agency fees when you can save up to 53% with us! 

Not convinced? Let talk figures, approximately 95% of home buyers start their search online. Gone are the days of spending all your time going from branch to branch enquiring at your local estate agent, you are a busy person so this is not what you want to be doing. From personal experience working in high street estate agents, there is less and less footfall and genuine custom coming through the door. These shops cost a substantial amount of money to keep open resulting in you, the vendor having to pay on average 1.8% on the sale of your home. But this no longer needs to be the case.

We all want the same for less and will shop around to try and make a saving from a tin of beans to buying a car. When it comes to selling your house why not do the same? 
For the average person a property is the most expensive purchase you will make in your lifetime, may it be your home, business or investment; you worked hard to get it so maximise the return.

Online is not only the way forward for estate agency, if we look at large companies such as Littlewoods and Woolworths who moved from the high street to the world wide web due to the growing costs of literally keeping the lights on! If we look at the big players in online retail for example Amazon the price of goods is noticeably cheaper than a high street equivalent.  

So my message to you is to move with the times and keep that extra bit of cash so you can treat yourself when Beth Alexandra Property Specialists sell your home for less!