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Surge in equity release agreements, Gas Safety Week, prices of homes near you for first-time buyers, energy price freeze, landlords incorporate

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As winter approaches and inflationary pressures continue to build, reverberations in the property market continue to underlie UK property news headlines.

A peek into the main stories reveals a recent surge in equity release agreements, the launch of Gas Safety Week, a review of the prices for homes for first-time buyers in your area, the announcement of an energy price freeze, and the attractions to private sector landlords of incorporation as a limited liability company.

Equity release loans double in 7 years

Recent years have seen a surge in interest among older homeowners in equity release – a way of freeing the capital otherwise locked up in the property owned.

A story in the Daily Mail on the 8th of September reported that the number of equity release agreements reached in the past seven years has more than doubled. In 2015, this type of agreement was being made at the rate of around 2,000 a month; during the first quarter of this year, that rate has been around 4,500 a month.The rising cost of living is cited as one of the main reasons for this latest surge in interest in a financial product that allows borrowing against the stored-up value of your home by way of a so-called lifetime mortgage on which repayment of the principal is delayed until you die or move into long-term care and monthly interest payments can also be rolled over until that final date.

Guidance for landlords as Gas Safety Week goes ahead

The 12th in the annual series of Gas Safety Weeks was launched on the 12th of September, Landlord Today reminded its readers.

It is an especially important campaign as far as landlords are concerned since the law requires that every property in the private rented sector is inspected each year and a gas safety certificate issued – by a gas engineer registered by Gas Safe – before it can be let to tenants.

Propertymark – the organisation that represents lettings agents – has issued detailed guidance to landlords about the principal areas of focus of gas safety inspections and also encourages wider checks of the entire gas installation in any let property. This can be accessed in the link above.

How much are first-time buyer homes in your region?

Online listings website Rightmove keeps a careful eye on house prices and on the 7th of September released the results of its survey of movements in prices for homes most likely to be bought by first-time buyers. The survey results in a region-by-region table of the movement in such prices.

The northeast of England is likely to be one of the locations most favoured by first-time buyers since average prices here for starter homes are the least expensive in the country at £130,000. But the region’s ever-popular Whitley Bay has seen an increase in average prices of 51% in the past 12 months alone.

Scotland has the second least expensive homes – at an average of £134,299 – for first-time buyers while the northwest of England comes in at third place with homes for an average of as little as £165,929.

It will probably come as no surprise that the southeast of England and London have the most expensive average house prices for first-time buyers – £296,817 and £501,384 respectively.

Energy price freeze announced

Online listings website Zoopla on the 8th of September echoed the government’s announcement of a price freeze on energy bills.

Thanks to the intervention, domestic energy bills will be frozen at an annual average of £2,500 until October 2024. Although the average household is still likely to have to pay twice what they were paying at the beginning of this year, the price freeze is expected to save the typical family a little under £1,000 a year.

If you are using oil to heat your home, or your principal residence is a mobile park home, you may expect a similar level of help with your energy costs.

Tax benefits behind surge in landlords creating buy to let companies

An increasing number of landlords seem to be finding benefit in incorporating their buy to let businesses as limited liability companies, according to a story in Landlord Today on the 12th of September.

A recent survey has revealed that the number of landlords who have arranged for the formation of a company has increased by two and a half times the number just 12 months ago. On a month-by-month basis, there has been an 11% increase in the number of company formations since January this year.

An enterprise specialising in company formation for buy to let customers says that incorporation offers a way for landlords to optimise their business across a range of issues from personal liability to more efficient tax arrangements.