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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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Social Democrats activists consider deferring request on leadership contest

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A group of Social Democrats activists who want to see a leadership election in the party is looking at deferring their request to consider such a contest until after a new general secretary is appointed to the party.

A draft letter to the party’s national executive, signed by two councillors and 14 others, seeking the leadership contest emerged on Friday evening.

The letter, which has not been sent to party authorities, requested the national executive meet to hold a vote to call a leadership election.

It pays tribute to the party’s current co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall, who it states “have done exceptional work”, but adds that “it is now time to move to the next stage”.

The party released a statement later the same evening saying its TDs are “united behind co-leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall”. This statement was shared on Twitter by all six of the party’s Dáil Deputies.

One of the councillors who signed the draft letter, Kildare representative Chris Pender, responded with his own social media post saying: “Anyone who’s read the letter will know it states we don’t have an issue with the leaders, but we believe in the democratic right to vote for that/those leaders.

“A leadership contest would give members the opportunity to show support for the current leaders, if that’s what they want.”

Cllr Cat O’Driscoll, who sits on Dublin City Council, was the other public representative who signed the draft letter.

Motivations

Sources insisted the motivations behind seeking a contest include giving the Social Democrats’ membership a say in who leads the party, as well as an issue of timing. They say with no general election expected imminently, it would give the next leader time to prepare.

It was also revealed on Friday that Brian Sheehan, a former director of the Yes Equality campaign, is to step down from his role as Social Democrats general secretary in early September. The decision is not connected with the call for a leadership election and those behind the draft letter were unaware of Mr Sheehan’s decision to leave the job.

However, it has prompted a rethink of the request for a leadership contest.

The Irish Times understands the activists are considering a new version of the letter that takes Mr Sheehan’s departure into account and would not seek a discussion about a leadership contest until after his successor is in place and has had some time in the job. A source suggested the approach with any new letter would be “a bit more cautious”.

On Monday, a party spokeswoman ruled out any contest for the leadership, either before or after the appointment of a new general secretary.

“The rules of the party state any leader must be a TD and all of our TDs are united in their support for the party leadership. The general secretary position is entirely unrelated to the party leadership,” she said.

Ms Murphy and Ms Shortall have jointly led the Social Democrats since its establishment in 2015.


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Instagrammer captures abandoned Welsh property in series of eerie photographs

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Who would live in a house like this? Instagrammer photographs abandoned Welsh property – complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday, dishes still in the sink and a newspaper dating back to 1956

  • Photographs reveal the rooms have been untouched for decades and house opened bottle of Champagne  
  • Discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales 
  • Kyle said: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory’ 
  • ***Do YOU know who lived in the abandoned house? Contact izzy.nikolic@mailonline.co.uk*** 

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An abandoned Welsh house has been captured in a series of eerie photographs complete with a bottle of Champagne for ‘Grandad’s’ 90th birthday and dishes still in the sink.  

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx.’  

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. 

A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up and dishes still in the sink.

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: 'Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can't be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx'

Pictured: A piano can also be seen with sheet music still in place along with clothes hanging up

Photographs reveal rooms that have been untouched for decades and reveal a bottle of bubbly with a sticker which reads: ‘Happy 90th Birthday. Sorry I can’t be there to drink this with you! Lots of love James xxx’

The property has been dubbed 'Granddad's abandoned house' after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property

The property has been dubbed ‘Granddad’s abandoned house’ after it was discovered tucked away in the woods. Pictured: The exterior of the property 

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex (pictured) while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales

Random debris including a broken bicycle, piping, empty tins and folding tables and chairs were left strewn throughout the house

Mr Urbex said: 'I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn't too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open'

Mr Urbex said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open’

The discovery was made by Instagrammer Kyle Urbex while he was exploring the countryside in Flintshire, North Wales.

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home.’

He said: ‘I visited the property just over four weeks ago and getting to the actual location wasn’t too bad, just a walk up a small hill and the door was wide open.

‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many.

‘The porch area had been trashed, however the seating still remained intact and of course the champagne bottle for his 90th birthday still left on the fireplace.

He added: 'Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many'

Dishes are left undone in the sink in the kitchen

He added: ‘Once inside I instantly saw the whole location was eerie because it was a house full to the brim of memories, ranging from clothes in the bedroom to old decaying pianos which once may have entertained many’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house. He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was’

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone's 'dream family home'

Kyle also spotted a newspaper dating back to 1956 in what he believes was once someone’s ‘dream family home’

Mr Urbex added: 'Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind'

Mr Urbex added: ‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind’

‘I found it quite sad really given all the memories just left to be forgotten about. As well as the house there was a caravan hidden at the back in all the overgrowth which had more memories inside, old books and so on.

‘I managed to uncover an old bike in the shed which looked like it had been there quite a while.

‘Alongside all of these findings I came across a newspaper dated from November 3 1956.’

Kyle says he has now been left wondering about the story behind the house.

He added: ‘While the place appears to have been ransacked by vandals, clothes still hang in wardrobes; one of the few signs of the home it once was.

‘Overall the whole exploration just left me wondering the whole backstory and how somebody could just leave so much memories and cherished possessions behind.’

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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