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

Voice Of EU

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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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Coronavirus rules for driving tests spark complaints

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Claims of rude testers, of not being allowed to cough and having to drive with windows open due to Covid-19 were among the complaints received from people who failed driving tests recently.

The Road Safety Authority (RSA), which oversees driving tests nationally, released a sample of the 1,505 complaints received since the start of last year under the Freedom of Information Act.

New figures show the driving test centre in Cork had the highest pass rate with 75 per cent of people passing, while the lowest was Charlestown in Dublin with a 42 per cent pass rate.

One person complained he had told his tester he had asthma and might need to cough because he had recently changed inhalers, causing irritation to his throat.

“I was advised that if I coughed at any stage, the test would be over immediately. This was difficult to control while under exam pressure and added a huge amount of unnecessary stress and pressure,” the individual complained.

Another individual complained their tester said if their face mask slipped “a little bit from my nose” while driving, the test would be ended.

“I’m in shock how he treated me that day,” said the complainant.

Another learner driver who failed said their car was hot and “very uncomfortable” because the tester said the hot air de-misters had to be kept on to prevent the windows fogging up because the back windows had to be kept open due to Covid-19.

One complainant said the tester seemed to have prejudged the test when they spotted a small stain on the driver’s seat as the car was supposed to be “spotless”.

‘Anxious’

“The tester was clearly taking it too far. I was complying with all Covid precautions as I had just Hoovered and sanitised the car and it was simply a mark on the seat.”

There were general complaints beyond Covid-19 issues. One person complained about feeling “anxious” because the tester was “sitting there shaking his head”.

Another said their tester repeatedly shook his head and sighed several times, and then made notes on the score sheet, which was “extremely off-putting and really unfair”.

Another driver said the tester was “extremely condescending and patronising” and mocked their answer to a signpost theory question about an “unguarded cliff edge”.

“We don’t drive along cliff edges in this country,” the tester was quoted as saying.

The RSA has been dealing with a backlog of driving tests due to the pandemic.

The centres with the next highest pass rates were Clifden (71 per cent), Killester in Dublin (70 per cent), Birr, Co Offaly (70 per cent) and Cavan (69 per cent).

The test centres with the next lowest pass rates were Dublin’s Churchtown, since closed (44 per cent), Nenagh, Co Tipperary (44 per cent) and Mulhuddart (45 per cent) and Raheny (46 per cent), both in Dublin.


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Former US presidential candidate Bob Dole dies aged 98

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Bob Dole, the long-time Kansas senator who was the Republican nominee for president in 1996, has died from lung cancer. In a statement, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, founded by Dole’s wife, said: “It is with heavy hearts we announced that Senator Robert Joseph Dole died earlier this morning in his sleep. At his death at age 98 he had served the United States of America faithfully for 79 years.”

In late February, Dole announced that he had advanced lung cancer and would begin treatment. Visiting him, President Joe Biden called Dole his “close friend”.

On Sunday the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, like Biden a Democrat, ordered flags at the Capitol to be flown at half-staff.

Born in Russell, Kansas in 1923, Dole served in the US infantry in the second world war, suffering serious wounds in Italy and winning a medal for bravery.

His wounds cost him use of his right arm but he entered state politics and soon became a longtime Republican power-broker, representing Kansas in the US House of Representatives from 1961 to 1969 and in the Senate until 1996. He had spells as chairman of the Republican National Committee and as Senate minority and majority leader.

In 1976 he was the Republican nominee for vice-president to Gerald Ford, in an election the sitting president lost to Jimmy Carter. Two decades later, aged 73, Dole won the nod to take on Bill Clinton.

Against the backdrop of a booming economy, the Democrat won a second term with ease, by 379 – 159 in the electoral college and by nine points in the popular vote, the third-party candidate Ross Perot costing Dole support on the right.

Dole received both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest US civilian honours.

In the Trump years and after, Dole came widely to be seen as a figure from another time in Republican politics.

On Sunday, the political consultant Tara Setmeyer, a member of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, tweeted: “I cast my first ever vote for president for Bob Dole in 1996. A war hero with a sharp sense of humor ? another piece of a once respectable GOP gone.”

However, Dole remained a loyal Republican soldier, telling USA Today this summer that though Donald Trump “lost the election, and I regret that he did, but they did”, and though he himself was “sort of Trumped out”, he still considered himself “a Trumper”.

Dole called Biden “a great, kind, upstanding, decent person”, though he said he leaned too far left.

He also said: “I do believe [America has]lost something. I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”

On Sunday, Jaime Harrison, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, said: “Sending heartfelt condolences and prayers to the family of Senator Bob Dole. We honor his service and dedication to the nation. May he Rest In Peace.”

– Guardian

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Bournemouth is the most popular coastal town for buyers, says Rightmove

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The most popular seaside location for house hunters this year has been Bournemouth, new research has revealed.   

Rightmove identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain, based on the highest number of buyer enquiries via its website.

The Dorset resort is the most popular, followed by Southampton, Hampshire and Brighton, East Sussex, with the South coast dominating the list. 

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Rightmove has identified the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

The top ten list also includes Blackpool, Lancashire – a coastal resort known for its amusement arcades and donkey rides – where prices have increased 8 per cent in the past year to £137,301.

It compares to the average house price in the top 10 locations, which rose 6 per cent this year. 

It is just ahead of the national average rise of 5 per cent, from £318,188, to £333,037. These figures are based on an average between January and November 2020 compared to January-November 2021. 

At the same time, Rightmove provided a list of coastal locations that have seen the biggest increases in house prices this year.

Padstow in Cornwall topped that list of coastal hotspots, with prices rising 20 per cent this year, from from £548,382, to £658,588.

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

The most popular seaside location for house hunters is Bournemouth (pictured), according to Rightmove

AVERAGE ASKING PRICES IN COASTAL HOTSPOTS 2021
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average asking price 2020 Average asking price increase 2021 vs 2020
1 Padstow, Cornwall £658,588 £548,382 20%
2 Whitby, North Yorkshire £254,218 £217,620 17%
3 St. Ives, Cornwall £473,161 £411,484 15%
4 Porthcawl, South Glamorgan, Bridgend (County of) £307,051 £270,505 14%
5 Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire £173,612 £153,140 13%
6 Newquay, Cornwall £317,846 £281,204 13%
7 Filey, North Yorkshire £214,617 £189,914 13%
8 Pwllheli, Gwynedd £222,607 £197,213 13%
9 Brixham, Devon £299,127 £266,604 12%
10 Preston, Paignton, Devon £303,684 £272,029 12%
Source: Rightmove       

It was followed by Whitby, in North Yorkshire, which came second, with prices rising 17 per cent from £217,620, to £254,218. 

Cornwall’s St. Ives is in third place, with average values rising 15 per cent from £411,484 to £473,161.

A house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more.

Robin Gould – Prime Purchase 

Robin Gould, director of buying agency Prime Purchase, says: ‘Many people love the idea of living beside the sea, even more so since the pandemic struck and we have all been spending more time outside. 

‘However, a house with a good sea view and location will cost you, as it will probably be worth at least 40 per cent more than the equivalent inland, if not more. 

‘A frontline house is arguably worth 30 per cent more than one immediately behind it.

‘I recently bought a “frontline” house near Polzeath in north Cornwall for a client, which was right on the cliff top with stunning coastal and sea views.  

‘Although the house itself was very “vanilla”, most people would have forgiven it anything to have that ever-changing, interesting view.’

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

Also among the most popular coastal locations for homebuyers is Brighton (pictured)

QUICKEST COASTAL MARKETS TO FIND A BUYER
Rank Location Average asking price 2021 Average time to find a buyer 2021 (days) Change in time to find a buyer 2021 vs 2020 (days)
1 Saltcoats, Ayrshire £111,419 19 -35
2 Troon, Ayrshire £178,666 22 -8
3 Westward Ho, Bideford, Devon £297,138 24 -46
4 Ayr, Ayrshire £161,301 25 -15
5 Kessingland, Lowestoft, Suffolk £219,538 25 -22
6 Littlehampton, West Sussex £364,180 26 -28
7 Goring-By-Sea, Worthing, West Sussex £396,078 26 -23
8 Marske-By-The-Sea, Redcar, Cleveland £181,882 28 -15
9 Canvey Island, Essex £308,261 28 -23
10 Weymouth, Dorset £283,585 29 -25
Source: Rightmove       

The red hot property market this year has translated into the time it takes to find a buyer hitting a record low number of days.

The average time find a buyer across the whole of 2021 is 44 days, 15 days quicker than the average in 2020.

Saltcoats in Ayrshire is this year’s quickest coastal location to find a buyer, at 19 days on average.

Troon in Ayrshire came second at 22 days, and Westward Ho, in Bideford, Devon was third at 24 days.

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

Calshot beach was included as Southampton, which features in the top ten most in-demand coastal areas in Britain

THE INCREASE IN COASTAL SEARCHES IN 2021
Rank Location Average asking price Increase in searches 2021 vs 2020
1 Morecambe, Lancashire £164,424 32%
2 Blackpool, Lancashire £137,301 21%
3 Great Yarmouth, Norfolk £194,066 15%
4 Swansea, Wales £180,603 15%
5 Saltburn-By-The-Sea, Cleveland £227,611 15%
6 Southampton, Hampshire £249,053 14%
7 Llandudno, Conwy (County of) £235,316 13%
8 Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, South West Wales £319,587 12%
9 Southport, Merseyside £215,838 12%
10 Scarborough, North Yorkshire £191,879 12%
Source: Rightmove     

Meanwhile, Morecambe, Lancashire saw the biggest jump in coastal buyer searches compared to last year, up 32 per cent, followed by Blackpool, up 21 per cent, and Great Yarmouth, up 15 per cent.

Tim Bannister, of Rightmove, said: ‘After a year where coastal locations really captured the imagination of British buyers, it’s interesting to reflect on how the overall picture looks at the end of the year.

‘In terms of average asking price growth, homeowners in Cornwall and Devon are the real winners this year, with properties in some areas outpacing the national average, though this does mean that it is increasingly difficult for some locals to get onto the ladder.

‘The speed of this year’s market really is astounding, seen in the time to find a buyer in some areas, particularly in Scotland.

‘Overall, this has been the year that either through changed lifestyle priorities, or the ability to work remotely, living in coastal areas has become possible for more buyers, which is reflected in the data we’re seeing in this study.’

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