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Race for WFH retreats puts 30% on property prices leaving locals unable to get foot on ladder

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House prices in the countryside are continuing to surge as an increasing number of city-dwellers flee to rural areas across the UK amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As the demand for rural properties continues to soar, prices in countryside locations have risen by an average of 14.2 per cent across the nation.

The biggest increases were seen in Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire, which saw house prices rise by 30 per cent, and Lancaster, Lancashire, which saw a price increase of 29 per cent, figures analysed by the estate agent Hamptons show.

The figures come after data showed that house prices have soared by almost 10 per cent over the past year as the pandemic boosts demand for larger properties and gardens.

According to the latest figures by Hamptons, the average property in Lancaster has increased from £219,760 to £283,560 while Broxtowe has seen its properties rise from an average of £234,150 to £303,780.

Also among the rural property hotspots that have seen their property prices increase are Tameside, Newport, Cheltenham, Harrogate, Bromsgrove in Worcestershire and Tunbridge Wells in Kent. 

Figures from the estate agents Hamptons have shown the house prices in the countryside are continuing to surge amid the pandemic, with Lancaster, Tameside, Newport, Broxtowe, Arundel and Harrogate among the hotspots

Figures from the estate agents Hamptons have shown the house prices in the countryside are continuing to surge amid the pandemic, with Lancaster, Tameside, Newport, Broxtowe, Arundel and Harrogate among the hotspots

This three-bedroom property in Lancaster comes with a large living room, modern decor and is currently on the market for £285,000.  Last year house prices in Lancaster cost an average £219,760 but houses have since seen a 29 per cent increase in the average cost and are now an average of £283,560

 This three-bedroom property in Lancaster comes with a large living room, modern decor and is currently on the market for £285,000.  Last year house prices in Lancaster cost an average £219,760 but houses have since seen a 29 per cent increase in the average cost and are now an average of £283,560

The property comes with a stylish interior decor, high end finishes and a living room that comes with a wooden floor and large windows that allow natural light to flood through into the room

The property comes with a stylish interior decor, high end finishes and a living room that comes with a wooden floor and large windows that allow natural light to flood through into the room

The three-bedroom home also comes with a spacious open plan dining area that comes with wooden flooring and a view of the garden

The three-bedroom home also comes with a spacious open plan dining area that comes with wooden flooring and a view of the garden

A Hamptons analyst told MailOnline: ‘We have run Land Registry price paid data against the ONS’s BUA definition (Built up Areas). This allows us to determine whether each sale is in an urban, suburban or rural area. It lets us measure house price growth rates across all three types of area within the same local authority.

‘While prices are undoubtedly rising right across the country, an element of this growth has been driven by larger homes being sold by affluent vendors.

‘This has serviced to push up average prices with fewer cheaper homes changing hands.’

According to figures, Tameside saw their average property prices increase by 29 per cent while Newport saw property prices increase by 27.8 per cent in the region.

Harrogate saw property prices increase by 27.1 per cent and Cheltenham also noted a rise in prices by 28.3 per cent. 

Meanwhile Bromsgrove in Worcestershire saw its property prices rise by an average of 27 per cent and Tunbridge Wells in Kent saw a 24 per cent in its average property price.

Data provided by Hamptons also showed the number of people registering to buy in their rural offices was up 50 per cent on May 2019, while city buyer registrations were up by just nine per cent over the same period. 

The figures also revealed that house price growth in rural areas was running nearly twice as fast as it was in urban areas (14.2 per cent compared to 6.8 per cent). 

Chris Morgan, 46, a sales manager who rents in Arun, said people moving from London had driven house prices further out of reach for those in the local area. 

He told The Guardian: ‘The only way I will get on the housing ladder is when my parents are no longer alive and I inherit their house. I could be in my sixties by then.’

Meanwhile Merryn Voysey, 32, from Cornwall, where prices have increased another 12 per cent, added: ‘I saw a bedroom in a shared house for £650 per month, but that wouldn’t be affordable for me at the moment

‘I could probably afford housing if I worked every day of every week but I want to enjoy my life.’

This three-bedroom property in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, where properties have seen a surge in demand, is currently on the market for £430,000. Average house prices in the area last year were £331,580 and the area overall has seen a 27 per cent increase in house prices. The average house price for properties in the area is now £421,300

This three-bedroom property in Harrogate in North Yorkshire, where properties have seen a surge in demand, is currently on the market for £430,000. Average house prices in the area last year were £331,580 and the area overall has seen a 27 per cent increase in house prices. The average house price for properties in the area is now £421,300

The property comes with a large living room that comes with a fireplace and large windows that allow plenty of daylight to flood through the room

The property comes with a large living room that comes with a fireplace and large windows that allow plenty of daylight to flood through the room

This property in Arundel, which is located in West Sussex, is also currently on the market for £400,000. The average house price for properties in the area last year was £300,220 but prices have now risen by 29 per cent, with the average price now costing £387,510

This property in Arundel, which is located in West Sussex, is also currently on the market for £400,000. The average house price for properties in the area last year was £300,220 but prices have now risen by 29 per cent, with the average price now costing £387,510

The three-bedroom property comes with wonderful views of the surrounding area and a spacious kitchen which comes with a fitted oven and stove

The three-bedroom property comes with wonderful views of the surrounding area and a spacious kitchen which comes with a fitted oven and stove

This three-bedroom house in Tameside, Greater Manchester, is currently on the market for £220,000. The average house price in the area for 2020 was £166,410 and the area overall has seen its house prices rise by 29.1 per cent. Average property prices now cost £214,840

This three-bedroom house in Tameside, Greater Manchester, is currently on the market for £220,000. The average house price in the area for 2020 was £166,410 and the area overall has seen its house prices rise by 29.1 per cent. Average property prices now cost £214,840

The semi-detached property comes with a an entrance hall, an open plan living room, three bedrooms and a bathroom

The semi-detached property comes with a an entrance hall, an open plan living room, three bedrooms and a bathroom

This property in Broxtowe, Nottingham, is currently on the market for £295,000. Last year the average home in Broxtowe cost  £234,150 but the area has since seen a 30 per cent increase in its average house price. Average property prices now cost £303,780

This property in Broxtowe, Nottingham, is currently on the market for £295,000. Last year the average home in Broxtowe cost  £234,150 but the area has since seen a 30 per cent increase in its average house price. Average property prices now cost £303,780

The house comes double glazing, off-street parking, an enclosed garden, fitted kitchen appliances and a spacious lounge area

The house comes double glazing, off-street parking, an enclosed garden, fitted kitchen appliances and a spacious lounge area

This property in Newport, South Wales, where the average house price last year was £234,310, is on the market for £299,950 on Rightmove. The area has seen its average house prices increase by 27.8 per cent in the last year and average home prices are now £299,550

This property in Newport, South Wales, where the average house price last year was £234,310, is on the market for £299,950 on Rightmove. The area has seen its average house prices increase by 27.8 per cent in the last year and average home prices are now £299,550

The country property comes with three-bedrooms, a renovated kitchen and a spacious living room that features wooden flooring

The country property comes with three-bedrooms, a renovated kitchen and a spacious living room that features wooden flooring

Earlier this month it was revealed that house prices had soared by almost 10 per cent over the past year as the pandemic boosted demand for larger properties.

The average home now costs £261,743, according to the Halifax bank’s May House Price Index – a new record high.

This was a rise of 9.5 per cent over the past year, meaning the average home will now fetch £22,000 more than it would have in May 2020.   

According to Halifax, Wales has seen the fastest rate of growth over the past 12 months. This is closely followed by the North West and the Yorkshire and Humber region as locked-down homeowners hunted for more space and outdoor access.

This property in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, comes with three bedrooms, first floor bathroom and rear garden. It is currently up for sale for £675,000. Last year the average property price in the area was £513,220 but properties in the area have now seen an average increase of 24 per cent and the average home in the area now costs £638,100

This property in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, comes with three bedrooms, first floor bathroom and rear garden. It is currently up for sale for £675,000. Last year the average property price in the area was £513,220 but properties in the area have now seen an average increase of 24 per cent and the average home in the area now costs £638,100

A step inside the property reveals a spacious living room on the ground floor that comes with windows that allow natural daylight to flood through the room

A step inside the property reveals a spacious living room on the ground floor that comes with windows that allow natural daylight to flood through the room

This three-bedroom property in Bromsgrove, which is among the areas that has seen a surge in property interest, is now on the market for £595,000. Data shows property prices in the area have increased by an average 27 per cent in the past year and are now an average of £516,860. Last year homes in the area cost an average of  £406,980

This three-bedroom property in Bromsgrove, which is among the areas that has seen a surge in property interest, is now on the market for £595,000. Data shows property prices in the area have increased by an average 27 per cent in the past year and are now an average of £516,860. Last year homes in the area cost an average of  £406,980

The stylish property features a large dining room, two bathrooms, a study, a cloakroom, a utility room and a living room on the ground floor

The stylish property features a large dining room, two bathrooms, a study, a cloakroom, a utility room and a living room on the ground floor

This three-bedroom house in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is currently up for sale for £400,000. Properties in the area have seen an average house price increase of 28.3 per cent in the past year, with the current home in the region selling for an average price of £402,700. In 2020, the average home sold for £313,860

This three-bedroom house in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, is currently up for sale for £400,000. Properties in the area have seen an average house price increase of 28.3 per cent in the past year, with the current home in the region selling for an average price of £402,700. In 2020, the average home sold for £313,860

The property comes with a spacious kitchen that leads into the garden, double-glazed windows and a summer house

The property comes with a spacious kitchen that leads into the garden, double-glazed windows and a summer house

The Government’s stamp duty holiday, introduced when the pandemic hit last year, has also fuelled the rapid rise in prices.

Buyers will now be rushing to take advantage of the tax break before it begins to taper off at the end of this month, ending entirely on September 30.

 But the South of England, which has traditionally been the growth engine of UK housing prices, is lagging behind – especially in Greater London where prices are up just 3.1 per cent.

In November last year, a Zoopla report also revealed that the average rents in London are now 5.2 per cent lower than they were a year ago – while those in Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh are also dropping.

The Zoopla report said: ‘The rental declines in the capital reflect the changing picture on working and commuting patterns and tourism.

‘At the start of lockdown there was a shift from short lets to long lets, especially in the centre of the city, pushing up supply in the sector which is still being absorbed.’

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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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