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Buyers reveal their regrets about panic buying their home

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The property market has been red hot in recent months as buyers rushed to complete their purchases ahead of the stamp duty holiday deadline at the end of last month.

It generated a market where some homes were being snapped up within hours of going on the market by buyers hungry to get the tax saving or simply secure a property.

But new research suggests that this panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners.

Indeed, it claims that half of homebuyers who bought during the coronavirus pandemic regret how much they paid.

New research suggests that panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners

New research suggests that panic-buying has led to some regrets among new homeowners

Among other regrets were repairs costing more than expected, among 14 per cent of buyers, furniture or fittings covering up faultys at 13 per cent, a tatty appearance or need for decoration at 12 per cent and poor insulation at 10 per cent.

The research by insurer Aviva was based on 2,200 homeowners – including 500 people who have agreed a sale since the start of the pandemic. 

The study found that more than two-thirds of homebuyers – at 68 per cent – felt under pressure to buy quickly when purchasing their latest property, rising to 94 per cent who agreed sales during the pandemic.

In most cases, people made their decision to buy after looking at their prospective home for less than an hour.

The research claimed people spent just 40 minutes viewing their property before opting to buy – although this figure was slightly higher for those buying during the pandemic, typically taking around 46 minutes.

Perhaps most alarmingly, 15 per cent of viewers felt confident of their decision to buy the property after less than 20 minutes.

We came close to a big mistake 

Lucy Stewart and husband James Cissel moved out of their London flat in March

Lucy Stewart and husband James Cissel moved out of their London flat in March

Lucy Stewart, 31, and husband James Cissel, 38, moved out of their London flat in March, ready to move into the home they had purchased in South Oxfordshire. 

Unfortunately their seller pulled out at the last minute. 

The couple have been living with Lucy’s parents for the last few months while they renewed they search.

They soon became concerned that they may end up spending more than they intended to – and more than the home may be worth in the future. 

They also discovered there is a lot of pressure from agents to act quickly or risk losing out. 

They have just had an offer accepted on a home, but it hasn’t been an easy route.

Lucy said: ‘It was a terrible market to be buying in and there was loads of pressure from estate agents. We kept seeing houses disappear from online sites in 24 hours, so put a lot of pressure on ourselves to move quickly. 

‘There were definitely occasions we came close to making a big mistake. We put a rush offer into one house in particular due to this. It just wouldn’t have been right for us at all but we did it because we felt that moving super-fast was what we needed to do. Fortunately the offer was rejected.’

Time pressures

The Aviva study also claimed that one in four buyers – at 26 per cent – felt one viewing was sufficient, although on the whole people usually viewed a property twice before making an offer. This was the case for 44 per cent of buyers.

Those who bought quickly did so for a number of reasons. A total of 34 per cent of people buying during lockdown did so due to the stamp duty holiday, although 32 per cent said they didn’t want to miss out because properties were selling so quickly.

At the same time, 30 per cent said they had lost out on other properties because they hadn’t made an offer quickly enough.  

Buyers were most likely to feel the need to make a quick purchase in London, where 85 per cent of buyers said they felt under pressure.

It compares with only 52 per cent of people in the north east who said the same.

Did more than half of buyers really not view homes in person? 

The study also revealed that more than half of pandemic buyers claim not to have seen their new home ‘in real life’ before deciding they should buy it.

When quizzed on this survey claim, Aviva said that it asked: ‘How did you view your property before you purchased it?’ 

With respondents given a number of boxes and asked to ‘tick all that apply’.

Astonishingly, just 42 per cent said they viewed it in person from these options for the period between March 2020 and June 2021.

Of the other options that chose video viewings at 33 per cent, photos at 36 per cent and written information at 36 per cent.

That dramatic shift to choosing to buy without an in-person visit follows the housing market being temporarily closed at the beginning of the lockdown from late March 2020, with virtual viewings being heavily promoted thereafter. Online tours became a way of viewings taking place more safely.

Despite this shift during the pandemic, the Aviva study suggested that the number of people seeing properties for sale in person was already beginning to fall. 

PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO VIEWED HOME FOR SALE IN PERSON
Date when sale was agreed Percentage of people who viewed their home in person
2020 March – June 2021 42%
March 2019 – February 2020 42%
March 2018 – February 2019 56%
March 2017 – February 2018 63%
March 2007 – February 2017 83%
March 1997 – February 2007 84%
February 1997 or before 87%
Source: Aviva 

 

Homebuyer regrets

Half of those who agreed a sale between March 2020 and June this year say they regret how much they paid for their properties.

It compares to only 12 per cent of buyers who purchased their property before February 2017.

At the same time, 23 per cent who bought since March last year said that they agreed a figure above the asking price. It compares to only 8 per cent in the 12 months prior to March 2020.

In addition to financial regrets, seven out of 10 buyers found issues with their property that they didn’t notice during their viewing. For those who bought during the pandemic, the figure rises to 92 per cent of buyers.

For example, 10 per cent found evidence of possible subsidence and a further 10 per cent had problems with insects or vermin.

People said they had to typically spend almost £10,000 to put right the problems they discovered after moving in – specifically £9,548 to the nearest pound on average. It increases to more than £20,000 for one buyer in 10.

Owen Morris, of Aviva, said: ‘The housing market is moving at an incredible pace, with multiple buyers for properties in many parts of the country. This is inevitably influencing how much people are paying for their homes and how quickly they are making decisions.

‘But our research reveals many people are finding problems with their properties only when it’s too late. These range from more minor irritations, such as the need to decorate, to more worrying problems such as crumbling brickwork or a risk of flooding.

‘It can be easy to fall in love with a home on first viewing, but we’d urge people to do their homework and proceed with caution when making one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives.’

REVEALED: THE MOST COMMON DISAPPOINTMENTS AMONG BUYERS 
Property problem discovered after purchase Percentage of all home-buyers finding this problem Percentage of home-buyers during pandemic finding this problem
Repairs costing more than expected 11% 14%
Furniture / fittings had covered up faults 11% 13%
Tatty appearance / in need of decoration 10% 12%
Poorly insulated home 10% 10%
Poor plumbing 10% 9%
Poor electrics 9% 8%
Damp / mould 9% 10%
Leaky / draughty windows or doors 9% 8%
Noisy neighbours 8% 11%
Busy traffic 7% 11%
Source: Aviva     

Separate research by property website OnTheMarket has revealed that the end of the stamp duty holiday has done little to dampen the enthusiasm of buyers. 

In particular, it found that found that 75.5 per cent of buyers were confident that they would purchase a property within the next three months.

It also claimed that 84 per cent of sellers were confident that they would sell their property within the next three months.

And a total of 28.5 per cent of properties were Sold Subject to Contract within 30 days of first being advertised for sale, compared with 8 per cent in June 2020. The research was based on questions asked via its website.

Jason Tebb, of property website OnTheMarket, said: ‘We believe that this ongoing momentum is the result of a perfect storm of long-term pent-up demand stemming from the lead up to the 2019 General Election and Brexit in early 2020, which due to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last spring never had a chance to unwind as it would in a normally functioning market.

‘This dynamic, together with the ‘race for space’ that we’ve observed as a direct result of successive lockdowns together with the market stimulus from the stamp duty holiday and record low mortgage rates, means that while the window for any major savings closed at the end of the month, buyer appetite hasn’t as yet dissipated, with all signs pointing to the fact that the market will continue in the same direction of travel over the summer.’

Estate agents report that many of their properties have gone to 'best and final' bids

Estate agents report that many of their properties have gone to ‘best and final’ bids

Trevor Abrahmsohn, of estate agents Glentree International in London, said: ‘Buyers have been shrugging aside the state of the economy and budget deficit over the last few months and have continued to transact unabated in the Capital, across almost all price ranges. 

‘The end of the stamp duty savings window in June did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm. We received a raft of new applicants throughout the month, particularly in the £800,000 to £4million price bracket.’

And Mark Proctor, of estate agents Knight Frank in Devon, said: ‘We’ve seen a huge amount of activity across the South West region in June, particularly in the price bracket up to £1million, which is understandable as this is where the stamp duty saving has had the most impact. 

‘Despite the fact that buyers registering over the last month have known that they wouldn’t benefit from the main savings available as they wouldn’t complete in time to meet the deadline, we’ve still had a significant volume of new applicants. 

‘This, together with the very limited amount of supply, has meant that many of our properties have gone to ‘best and final’ bids. What’s been particularly interesting is seeing a few properties that were listed last year but didn’t sell at the time that have now been successfully remarketed and sold in excess of asking price.’

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Facebook admits high-profile users are treated differently

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Facebook’s oversight board said the social media company hadn’t been “fully forthcoming” about internal rules that allowed some high-profile users to be exempt from content restrictions and said it will make recommendations on how to change the system.

In the first of its quarterly transparency reports published Thursday, the board said that on some occasions, Facebook “failed to provide relevant information to the board,” and in other instances the information it did provide was incomplete.

For example, when Facebook referred the case involving former US president Donald Trump to the board, it didn’t mention its internal “cross-check system” that allowed for a different set of rules for high-profile users.

Facebook only mentioned cross-check, or XCheck, to the board when asked whether Trump’s page or account had been subject to ordinary content moderation processes.

The cross-check system was disclosed in recent reporting by the Wall Street Journal, based in part on documents from a whistle-blower.

The journal described how the cross-check system, originally intended to be a quality-control measure for a select few high-profile users and designed to avoid public relations backlash over famous people who mistakenly have their posts taken down, had ballooned to include millions of accounts.

The oversight board said it will undertake a review of the cross-check system and make suggestions on how to improve it.

As part of the process, Facebook has agreed to share with the board relevant documents about the cross-check system as reported in the Wall Street Journal. – Bloomberg

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Green mortgages may leave owners of older homes unable to sell

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Estate agents warn owners of older homes, rural houses and listed properties could struggle to sell under green mortgage plans

  • Boris Johnson has unveiled his plans for turning Britain green by 2050 
  • The plans include proposals on how to make the housing stock greener 
  • The plans would see lenders disclose the energy performance of properties










Homeowners living in older, rural and even listed properties risk being unable to sell if strict green finance targets are introduced, estate agents have warned.

The warning comes after Boris Johnson unveiled his plan for turning Britain green by 2050 this week, with mortgage lenders having targets for the energy performance of properties in their portfolio.

A body that represents estate agents across Britain claimed that the property market could be distorted as a result of the measures and called for Britain’s historic housing stock to be taken into account.

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Boris Johnson revealed proposals on how to make the housing stock greener this week

Timothy Douglas, of Propertymark, said: ‘Incentivising green improvements to properties via lending creates risks of trapping homeowners with older properties, those who live in rural areas, listed buildings or conservation areas, making their homes difficult to sell and therefore reducing the value.’

Propertymark said that those living in older properties could be left with homes that they could not sell if buyers were unable to secure finance on them due to their lower energy efficiencies.

The effect would be likely to be felt more by less wealthy owners, as deep-pocketed buyers would be more able to overlook mortgage restrictions and high-end older homes would continue to be desirable.

Mr Douglas said: ‘The use of targets could distort the market and sway lenders towards preferential, newer homes in order to improve the rating of their portfolio.

‘Stopping a large portion of housing stock from being able to enter the market could cause havoc for home buying and selling as well as the wider economy.’ 

He added that improving the energy efficiency of homes should be reliant on consumer choice and not something enforced by mortgage lenders, with all the knock-on effects this could entail.

He said: ‘We would be concerned if lenders raise rates and limit products because fundamentally, improving the energy performance of a property is reliant on consumer choice and it is not the core business of mortgage lenders.’

Mark Harris, of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: ‘The green agenda is not new but there is increasing impetus behind it. There are more green mortgage products aimed at those purchasing more energy-efficient properties – A-C rated, and not just from specialist lenders but the high street banks too.

‘However, there is a real danger that green initiatives could create the next round of mortgage prisoners if homeowners are trapped in older homes that can’t be improved, so they can’t move because they can’t sell them on.

‘Without changes or improvements, lenders may restrict lending to lower loan-to-values, higher pricing, or not lend at all. This could penalise those who are unable to adapt to or adopt new efficient technologies economically.’

A UK Finance spokesperson said: ‘Greening our housing stock is vital if we are to meet our climate change obligations and banks and finance providers are committed to helping achieve this goal and making sure consumers are not left behind.’

Ways to boost energy efficiency  

Propertymark recommends three measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes without negatively impacting the housing market.

1. Improvements linked to an EPC

These include linking a plan for energy efficiency improvements to the recommendations on a property’s Energy Performance Certificate.

It could demonstrate the ‘most suitable route’ to a warmer home, regulatory compliance and zero carbon, according to Propertymark.

2. Tax breaks

It also recommends using tax breaks to incentivise homeowners to finance energy efficiency improvements.

For example, these could include making energy improvements exempt from VAT or offering lower rates of council tax for homes that have been made more energy efficient.

3. Adjustable tax rates

An adjustable rate of property tax that is tied to energy performance is also being recommended by Propertymark.

This could be done in two ways, it suggested. First, by applying the adjustment as a reduction on more energy-efficient properties. And second by offering rebates to buyers if energy efficiency improvements are made to less efficient properties within a certain time period after purchase.

Propertymark said that by linking energy performance with property taxes, this could help introduce increased saleability for more energy-efficient properties. In addition, it suggested that improvements would become standard for homeowners seeking costs and improve the desirability of their homes.

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Johnson rules out face masks as UK’s daily Covid cases rise above 50,000

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Daily coronavirus cases in Britain have risen above 50,000 for the first time since July, but Boris Johnson said he will not bring back compulsory face coverings or introduce vaccine passports.

Speaking in Northern Ireland, the prime minister said his government was holding firm to its policy of no legal restrictions introduced in July, but was watching the numbers carefully.

“The numbers of infections are high but we are within the parameters of what the predictions were,” he said. “We are sticking with our plan.”

Mr Johnson acknowledged the “patchiness” of Britain’s vaccination programme, urging people to come forward for their booster jabs as soon as they are invited to do so. But Labour leader Keir Starmer said the government should beef up the programme, ensure that more children were vaccinated and aim to deliver half a million jabs a day.

“The government said that the vaccine would be the security wall against the virus and now the government is letting that wall crumble,” he said.

“We’ve seen those that most need it not able to get the jab they need. Only, I think, 17 per cent of children have got the vaccine. And the booster programme has slowed down so much that at this rate we’re not going to complete it until spring of next year. So the government needs to change these, it needs to get a grip. I think it needs to drive those numbers up to at least 500,000 vaccines a day.”

Vaccine passports

The British Medical Association (BMA) accused the government of “wilful negligence” in not bringing back some restrictions, and of failing to learn the lessons of a parliamentary report last week about its handling of the pandemic. The association’s chairman, Chaand Nagpaul, said doctors could say categorically that it was time to bring back compulsory face masks and to introduce vaccine passports.

“By the health secretary’s own admission we could soon see 100,000 cases a day, and we now have the same number of weekly Covid deaths as we had during March, when the country was in lockdown,” he said.

“It is, therefore, incredibly concerning that he is not willing to take immediate action to save lives and protect the NHS. ”

Health secretary Sajid Javid warned this week that some restrictions could be introduced if the public failed to exercise caution and to take up vaccination offers. He acknowledged that Conservative MPs could show an example by wearing masks in the House of Commons, but house leader Jacob Rees-Mogg on Thursday rejected the suggestion.

Crowded spaces

“There is no advice to wear face masks in workplaces. The advice on crowded spaces is with crowded spaces with people that you don’t know. We on this side know each other,” he told the SNP’s Pete Wishart.

“Now, it may be that he doesn’t like mixing with his own side, wants to keep himself in his personal bubble. He may find the other members of the SNP – who I normally find extraordinarily charming…but we on this side have a more convivial fraternal spirit, and for our calling the guidance of her majesty’s government.”

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