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Wealthy buyers want bigger homes, better wifi and a local pub

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The race for space among buyers of luxury homes shows no signs of slowing down despite the looming stamp duty holiday deadline, new research suggests.

Estate agent Savills said the desire for more room and land has driven the luxury homes market during the past year of the pandemic and that this looks set to continue.

This is despite a majority of buyers expecting to miss the looming stamp duty holiday deadline on June 30, it said.

This seven-bedroom detached house in Cornwall's Bude is for sale for £2.25million via Colwills estate agents

This seven-bedroom detached house in Cornwall’s Bude is for sale for £2.25million via Colwills estate agents

This five-bedroom detached house on St George's Hill in Surrey is for sale for £14.5million via estate agents Savills

This five-bedroom detached house on St George’s Hill in Surrey is for sale for £14.5million via estate agents Savills

Among buyers with the necessary financial security, the strong desire for larger homes with bigger gardens or in greener locations that are closer to family will continue to underpin demand in the coming months, Savills said.

More than two-thirds – at 71 per cent – of those currently in the middle of purchasing a property have no expectation of completing ahead of the deadline.

It means that a potential stamp duty saving was not factored into their decision-making process, according to the latest survey of around 750 Savills buyers and sellers conducted between June 4 and June 8.

The break on the first £500,000 of a home’s purchase price delivers a maximum £15,000 tax saving on properties costing at least that much.

A vast majority – at 85 per cent – of those still hoping to complete in time said that failure to do so would not affect their transaction in any way, rising to 90 per cent among those buying homes costing more than £1million.

One in 10 said they will look to renegotiate on price if they miss the deadline, perhaps splitting the difference with the seller, while only 5 per cent said they might choose not to progress with their transaction.

At the £2million-plus end of the market, all respondents said they expected to proceed as planned.

This six-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth, Dorset, is for sale for £1.65million via Mays estate agents

This six-bedroom detached house in Bournemouth, Dorset, is for sale for £1.65million via Mays estate agents

Frances Clacy, of Savills, said: ‘Lifestyle choices made during lockdown, or brought forward as a result of the experience of lockdown have almost totally dominated decision-making in the prime market over the past year and look set to do so over coming months.

‘Buyer and seller commitment to moving over the coming year remains strong although slightly lower than in June 2020 when the market reopened after the first lockdown.

‘The stamp duty holiday was announced in July, and while it may have brought forward some transactions, this survey tells us that it has not been the major motivator among equity rich home movers in the prime market.’

What buyers want: bigger homes, better wifi and a local pub

Lifestyle needs continue to dominate buyers’ wish lists, according to the estate agent.

It asked buyers to rank their top two ‘must haves’ in their new home, with more than half – at 54 per cent – of respondents naming extra living space, 40 per cent a larger garden, and 33 per cent an extra bedroom.

This desire for space remains at its most intense in London, with 59 per cent naming extra living space, 46 per cent a larger garden and 40 per cent an extra bedroom in their top two.

Home working looks set to continue to form part of people’s working week, with 41 per cent naming a separate working-from-home space in their top two.

And a net balance of 55 per cent said that quality wifi had become more important during the past year, with 35 per cent saying it was now significantly more important.

This seven-bedroom detached house in Kew, Surrey, is on the market for £8.5million via estate agents Antony Roberts-Kew

This seven-bedroom detached house in Kew, Surrey, is on the market for £8.5million via estate agents Antony Roberts-Kew

Ms Clacy added: ‘The pandemic has made people re-evaluate what they want from their homes and their leisure time, with many prioritising a better work-life balance.

‘In a light-hearted illustration of this, 15 per cent of respondents want their new home to be located close to a pub or restaurant, trumping proximity to work at just 12 per cent.’

Stamp duty holiday 

The stamp duty holiday applies to properties worth up to £500,000 until June 30.

After June, the stamp duty-free threshold drops to £250,000 until the end of September. 

She added: ‘In London, however, it’s a slightly different picture, and there’s evidence of buyers starting to prioritise a return to the office in their choice of home.

‘Being close to public transport is a key consideration for home buyers again, second now only to proximity to a park. 

‘Over four in ten – at 43 per cent – in the capital now wish to live close to a station, compared to just 19 per cent across the prime regional markets, and up from 39 per cent in March.

‘But even though it’s rare for Londoners not to have a pub or restaurant within close walking distance, proximity to a pub – a top two essential for 11 per cent of respondents – still trumps proximity to work at just 9 per cent.’

‘More widely, while demand remains strong, realistic pricing from the offset is important to secure a sale and will become even more so once the stamp duty holiday ends particularly if, as we expect, stock constraints begin to ease over coming months as those reluctant to sell while social distancing rules have been in place bring their homes to market.’

The survey was based on attitudes in the luxury homes market, defined as broadly the top 5 per cent by value.

This nine-bedroom detached house in Sculthorpe, Norfolk, is for sale for £1.8million via Fine & Country estate agents

This nine-bedroom detached house in Sculthorpe, Norfolk, is for sale for £1.8million via Fine & Country estate agents

Mortgage experts explained how stamp duty isn’t a priority for buyers at the moment – although it is an attractive saving. 

Tomer Aboody, of property lender MT Finance, said: ‘With house prices increasing at levels not seen in years, even if buyers miss the deadline and have to pay stamp duty, the increase in value of the property going forward could well outweigh this outlay.

‘Given the lack of property for sale, we are finding many buyers are simply grateful to find a suitable home to buy. Stamp duty isn’t the priority but the saving is a bonus. 

‘Buyers’ desires have changed, from wanting and needing to be near the city in order to get into work, towards a more flexible outlook which enables them to work from home. This shift has had a huge impact on buyers wanting space, both internally and externally, with gardens and home offices at the top of the list.

‘In a best-case scenario, buyers will push through their purchase before the end of the month. But if that doesn’t happen they may be able to agree to split the difference with the seller.’

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Who do I need to notify if I move home?

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Moving house is frequently said to be one of the most stressful things anyone can do.

The massive investment both financially and emotionally can take its toll, especially if the process takes months to complete.

It is why anything that helps to elevate some of the stress along the way can be hugely beneficial. This includes addressing some of the practicalities in advance, and having a list of who to notify when you move can help. 

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

We look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home

Dozens of companies will need to know your new address, whether this is an insurer who may use them to help calculate your insurance premiums or a retailer who need to know where to send the clothing you ordered online.

Without updating them, you may endure a bigger headache from moving home than you had anticipated.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘When moving home, it is vital to plan ahead. Moving day can come upon you very quickly, particularly if there is a short time between exchange and completion.

‘Buildings insurance is the most important thing that needs arranging on your new property as soon as you have exchanged contracts.

‘Confirm your moving date with your removals firm and make a list of who needs notifying about your impending change of address – the electoral roll, the DVLA, Amazon and other delivery firms, particularly supermarket deliveries. The last thing you want is for your orders to turn up at your ‘old’ address once you have moved.

‘Don’t forget to change your council tax, while utility providers will also need informing, and given final meter readings. The more you plan ahead, the smoother the process will be.’ 

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

A checklist for who to notify when you change address can help to elevate some of the stress of moving home

Tom Parker, of property website Zoopla, agreed: ‘Moving home can be overwhelming with so much to do. When it comes to notifying organisations, it’s best to divide it into digestible categories like work, household and vehicle.

‘Notifying your employer is a top priority, especially if your payslips are sent to your home. If you own a vehicle, ensure you update your driving licence, insurance providers and vehicle logbook.  

‘Make sure you also notify organisations like your broadband, utilities, insurance providers and council tax. Finally, don’t forget the small things like magazine subscriptions and store cards.’

Here we look at some of the organisations and companies who you may need to contact when you move home.

Employment 

Perhaps one of the most important and probably most overlooked places that need to be notified of your change of address is HMRC, which needs to know for tax purposes.  

Similarly, your employer needs to know when you change address for your payroll, so that it can update your contact details.

In addition, your National Insurance number helps the Government to identify you and is used by the organisations such as the DVLA and HMRC, so this will need your new address attached. 

Household

There are various companies providing services to your household that will need to know about your move so that they can update your contact information.

In some cases, you may end up continuing to pay for a service in your former home that you are no longer using if you fail to update these companies.

They include your cable or satellite provider, your phone and broadband company. It is also important to update your TV licence contact details, which can be done up to three months before a move.

Vehicles

You can update DVLA via its website and within two to four weeks, you should receive an updated licence and V5C log book documents for your car. Failing to update the log book could lead to a fine of up to £1,000.

You will also need to notify the supplier of your vehicle breakdown cover and your car insurer.

Insurance

Most insurers take postcodes into account when calculating premiums and the cost of insurance cover, so they will need to be notified of your change of address. 

You may need to contact those insurers who provide cover for household contents, health, life, travel and your pets.

Healthcare

As well as your health insurer, you will also need to provide your address to other healthcare organisations.

For example, if you change doctors when you move home, you will need to let your old doctor know so that your medical information can be forwarded to your new doctor. This may similarly apply to your dentists and opticians.

Utilities

Your gas, electricity and water suppliers will need your updated contact information, even if you are leaving them behind at the old property and taking on new suppliers.

It can take a couple of days for energy providers to update your information, so it is worth contacting your suppliers ahead of your move. However, you may be able to move your deal to your new property.

Make sure you take readings of your utilities on the day of your move so you can update your suppliers with these and only pay for the amounts you have used. 

Royal Mail’s redirection service may be worth considering as it forwards any post sent to your former address to your new address. You can apply for the redirection up to three months before your moving date.

Money

There are several companies and organisations that fall into this category and will need to know your new contact address.

They include bank and building societies, your pension providers, loan companies, credit card providers and store cards. If you are on a state pension, the Government will need to know your new details.

Similarly, you will need to update your address for council tax purposes.

Others include your accountant as you don’t want important tax documents going to your old address (if you are not using the a postal redirection service). And don’t forget updating NS&I with your new address if you put money into premium bonds.

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Ireland ‘one of world’s best five places’ to survive global societal collapse

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Ireland is one of the world’s five places best suited to survive a global collapse of society, according to a new study. The others are Iceland, Tasmania, the UK and, topping the list, New Zealand.

The researchers say human civilisation is “in a perilous state” because of the highly interconnected and energy-intensive society that has developed and the environmental damage this has caused.

A collapse could arise from shocks such as a severe financial crisis, the effects of the climate crisis, destruction of nature, an even worse pandemic than Covid-19 or a combination of these, the scientists says.

To assess which nations would be most resilient to such a collapse, countries were ranked according to their ability to grow food for their population, protect their borders from unwanted mass migration, and maintain an electrical grid and some manufacturing ability. Islands in temperate regions and mostly with low population densities have come out on top.

The researchers say their study highlights the factors that nations must improve to increase resilience. They say that a globalised society that prizes economic efficiency has damaged resilience, and that spare capacity needs to exist in food and other vital sectors.

Billionaires have been reported to be buying land for bunkers in New Zealand in preparation for an apocalypse. “We weren’t surprised New Zealand was on our list,” says Prof Aled Jones, at the Global Sustainability Institute, at Anglia Ruskin University, in the UK.

“We chose that you had to be able to protect borders and places had to be temperate. So with hindsight it’s quite obvious that large islands with complex societies on them already” make up the list.

The study, published in the journal Sustainability, says: “The globe-spanning, energy-intensive industrial civilisation that characterises the modern era represents an anomalous situation when it is considered against the majority of human history.”

The study also says that environmental destruction, limited resources and population growth mean civilisation “is in a perilous state, with large and growing risks developing in multiple spheres of the human endeavour”.

New Zealand was found to have the greatest potential to survive relatively unscathed due to its geothermal and hydroelectric energy, abundant agricultural land and low human population density.

Jones says major global food losses, a financial crisis and a pandemic have all happened in recent years, and “we’ve been lucky that things haven’t all happened at the same time – there’s no real reason why they can’t all happen in the same year”.

He adds: “As you start to see these events happening I get more worried, but I also hope we can learn more quickly than we have in the past that resilience is important. With everyone talking about ‘building back better’ from the pandemic, if we don’t lose that momentum I might be more optimistic than I have been in the past.”

He says the coronavirus pandemic has shown that governments can act quickly when needed. “It’s interesting how quickly we can close borders, and how quickly governments can make decisions to change things.”

But, he adds, “This drive for just-in-time, ever-more-efficient economies isn’t the thing you want to do for resilience. We need to build in some slack in the system, so that if there is a shock then you have the ability to respond because you’ve got spare capacity. We need to start thinking about resilience much more in global planning. But, obviously, the ideal thing is that a quick collapse doesn’t happen.” – Guardian

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Couple who bought coach house reveal transformation on George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations 

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A couple who bought a 19th-century coach house for £284,000 reveal their transformation of the property into a stunning family home on tonight’s episode of George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations. 

Childhood sweethearts Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, sold their own home, moved into a caravan and began renovating the derelict building into an Insta-worthy three bedroom house, with an added granny annex for Adrian’s parents Andrew and Elinor.

The couple, who appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight, initially wanted to renovate the 900 sq ft property within a £350,000 budget. 

But the build was hampered by difficulties from the outset, including delays with planning permission and the Covid-19 crisis, pushing their bill up to £450,000.   

BEFORE: Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, reveal their unrecognisable transformation of a 19th-century coach house into a stunning family home on George Clarke's Remarkable Renovations tonight. Pictured, the home property before the build

BEFORE: Laura and Adrian, from Staffordshire, reveal their unrecognisable transformation of a 19th-century coach house into a stunning family home on George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations tonight. Pictured, the home property before the build

AFTER: At the end of the build the couple unveil their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building's style alive

AFTER: At the end of the build the couple unveil their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building’s style alive

BEFORE: Having been used as a coach-house for other people's caravans for the past decade, the building is in poor condition with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork at the start of the project. Above, a room that becomes the living room

BEFORE: Having been used as a coach-house for other people’s caravans for the past decade, the building is in poor condition with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork at the start of the project. Above, a room that becomes the living room 

AFTER: The couple went £100,000 over budget on the build after unexpected costs sprung up but were delighted with the final result, including this stylish living room complete with pops of colour and plush furniture

AFTER: The couple went £100,000 over budget on the build after unexpected costs sprung up but were delighted with the final result, including this stylish living room complete with pops of colour and plush furniture 

The property is situated in the grounds of what was the Cliff Hall estate in the village of Kingsbury, near Birmingham.  

When George first met the couple in June 2019, they had already been living in a caravan on the site for 18 months in order to save money.   

Laura, a project manager in forensics, revealed the family have already ‘put a lot of effort’ into the building given it was originally intended to store horses and has been completely empty for 10 years.

Having been used as a coach-house for other people’s caravans for the past decade, the building was in poor condition at the start of the project, with rotten timbers and mismatched brickwork. 

But it was ripe for renovation, with Adrian and Laura seeing it’s potential and pipping a developer to the post to buy it for £284,000. 

KITCHEN BEOFRE: The couple appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight as they reveal their hopes to transform the 900 sq ft property with a budget of just £350,000. Above, one of the derelict rooms with crumbling and uneven floors before

KITCHEN BEOFRE: The couple appear on the Channel 4 programme tonight as they reveal their hopes to transform the 900 sq ft property with a budget of just £350,000. Above, one of the derelict rooms with crumbling and uneven floors before

KITCHEN AFTER: Features including the exposed brick walls and wooden beams add a touch of character to the space, which is otherwise kitted out as a modern home perfect for family living

KITCHEN AFTER: Features including the exposed brick walls and wooden beams add a touch of character to the space, which is otherwise kitted out as a modern home perfect for family living

Laura and Adrian end up living in a caravan on the building site for three years in order to get the project finished - but they insist it has all been worth it

Laura and Adrian end up living in a caravan on the building site for three years in order to get the project finished – but they insist it has all been worth it 

The ground floor had two large spaces, with two small rooms squashed into the middle. Meanwhile upstairs is a wide open space.

Laura and Adrian planned to build a modern timber frame inside the old brick shell, allowing them to configure the space exactly to their needs. They also wanted to build a self-contained two bed annex connected to the main house, where Adrian’s parents Andrew and Elinor will live.

Andrew says: ‘It was one Saturday morning they came up and they bought pictures of this place they’d looked at. 

‘In the past, we considered a wild pipe dream of building  something as a family. They said, “If you sold your house and we sold ours and we steal your pension, we could do this”.’

Meanwhile Elinor jokes: ‘They said can we have your money basically.’

Understandably, the couple have high expectations, Elinor tells George: ‘I’m not compromising on kitchens and bathrooms.’

Meanwhile Andrew, who uses a mobility scooter, says the property will need to be on one level. 

The family carefully stockpiled everything from the demolition of the barn, including over 70,000 bricks, to save money.   

With planning permission finally granted, and the family aimed to get everyone in in 10 months, enlisting local contractors to help. 

They quickly spent £15,000 reinforcing the current foundations and pouring concrete into the building’s floor.    

HALLWAY AFTERWARDS: The stunning space is flooded with light, while Adrian's clever design and craftsmanship brings together contemporary elements with the traditional features of the barn (pictured, the hallway)

HALLWAY AFTERWARDS: The stunning space is flooded with light, while Adrian’s clever design and craftsmanship brings together contemporary elements with the traditional features of the barn (pictured, the hallway) 

However it was not long before they feel their budget dwindling, with Adrian confessing he had to let go of his local builders.

He says: ‘It’s a shame I haven’t got another £50,000 to let the guys crack on. Not at the rate they’re on. The problem was never going to be getting someone to build it, it was going to be me doing as much as I can to get my hands on.’

Meanwhile Laura confesses: ‘We’ve been here so long, it’s like what’s another few months to get it right.’

Two months later, winter arrives in Tamworth and living in a caravan begins to take it’s toll on the family.

Elinor says: ‘Caravan is getting a bit tired now, it’s looking a bit worn. It’d be nice to have space.’

Meanwhile Andrew adds: ‘Things  are going reasonably well, but things are looking a little bit tight. Adrian has been busy – it’s a compromise between how much time he’s at work and being justified to get others in on the budget.’

MASTER BEDROOM AFTERWARDS: The couple build timber beams into the property, creating a stunning barn style master bedroom. The luxurious space is a welcome change after months living in a caravan

MASTER BEDROOM AFTERWARDS: The couple build timber beams into the property, creating a stunning barn style master bedroom. The luxurious space is a welcome change after months living in a caravan

With the budget and schedule slipping, Adrian is doing more and more of the work himself.  

Andrew jokes: ‘Time is a big problem,  we said it would be finished by Christmas…but we didn’t specify which Christmas that would be.’

By February 2020, Laura is also feeling the strain of caravan life – having lived in one for over two years.

She says: ‘It is hard work. these past few months, we’ve really struggled with the weather. It’s the mud more than anything.’

Meanwhile the mother-of-two admits she feels the burden of building a home for her in-laws as well as her own dream property, saying: ‘I’m really lucky, we got on really well anyway but we’re feeling a huge sense of responsibility towards them. Basically they’ve invested everything they’ve got in us and the vision we had.’

She continues: ‘I’ve known Adrian since I was about eight and we’ve been together for 17 years. We lost Adrian’s brother a few years ago and it makes you re-evaluate things and you realise how important it is to have family around you. It puts a different perspective on life. This has bought us closer together for sure.’

One month later, the family were knocked sideways as the pandemic shut the site down. 

The couple ended up spending £100,000 over their initial budget in order to complete the stunning family home for their children and in-laws. Pictured, the dining space leads on from the kitchen and has an industrial-style picnic table

The couple ended up spending £100,000 over their initial budget in order to complete the stunning family home for their children and in-laws. Pictured, the dining space leads on from the kitchen and has an industrial-style picnic table 

Elinor tells the camera: ‘We’re doing okay, it’d be nice to move in. We haven’t all fallen out completely but there’s  been some arguments.’  

Laura and Adrian struggled to get building supplies amid the pandemic, with Laura saying: ‘It’s reordered the schedule of things. Some of the busy jobs we’d been hoping would happen, just haven’t’ been able to.’

By July 2020, the building was finally watertight. But the budget was gone. ‘A family member has managed to lend us £50,000…but there’s only £4,000 of that left,’ Adrian says on the programme.

‘But there is another £10,000 that will get the build done…It’s my mother’s own secret stash that was going to pay for her kitchen just to get the house finished.’

George says there was a ‘massive challenge’ to get the family into the building within two months and admits he is concerned about how much work there is still to be done. 

Meanwhile Laura and Adrian also create cosy single bedrooms for their two sons, which are joined together with a mezzanine for the children to play on (pictured)

Meanwhile Laura and Adrian also create cosy single bedrooms for their two sons, which are joined together with a mezzanine for the children to play on (pictured) 

However two months later, the couple unveiled their stunning contemporary home which oozes charm and character. 

The living space blends modern style with traditional features, keeping the building’s style alive.

Upstairs, the space is divided to give the children their own mirror image bedrooms with a mezzanine between the two.

Meanwhile the gorgeous master bedroom acts as the perfect upgrade from caravan living.

And downstairs, the adjourning annex for Adrian’s parents is an elegant new-build structure connected to the main house with a glazed walkway.

The couple confess the three year long build has been ‘more than worth it’, with Adrian saying: ‘I think we’re going to be around £450,000 build cost. I’ve done it for a reason, I’ve done it for the family. That’s what it’s about.’ 

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