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They’re lockdown-friendly, shared ownership overhaul, cladding red tape, BTL hotspots, and more

Male Realtor Looking At House Details In Property 26NJK8R

From suggestions on the best places to spend your next lockdown to shared ownership for first-time buyers; from building cladding woes to buy to let hotspots; the property market is bursting with news.

Here are some of our carefully selected tidbits.

The most lockdown-friendly place revealed

Did the recent lockdown prepare you for yet another just around the corner? Or perhaps it gave you a taste for a different kind of lifestyle?

Either way, a story by the Property Reporter last week highlighted that quality which appears to have made some places more lockdown-friendly than others.

Far and away the most sought-after amenity for a home in lockdown, for example, is the garden or green space outside. So, the Property Reporter took a look at estate agents’ listings to discover that Chesterfield, in the East Midlands, probably qualifies as the UK’s greenest place since 90.6% of homes currently on sale have a garden.

Although around a third of towns and cities in the UK do not have a garden, that still leaves a generous 66% that do – and others that have shared or communal access to an outside space.

Shared ownership scheme overhauled

The government is looking to encourage the efforts of young first-time buyers to get that critical first step on the housing ladder by easing eligibility for its shared ownership schemes, reported online listings site Zoopla recently.

Instead of the minimum 25% share that buyers previously needed to buy, they may now start by purchasing just a 10% stake in their first home. Staircasing – the purchase of additional shares – is also made easier by being available in just 1% instalments instead of the previous requirement to buy extra shares in 5% or 10% instalments.

Qualifying properties in the scheme are all leasehold but landlords have agreed to pay for all repair and maintenance costs on the shared ownership properties for the first ten years.

Cladding red tape is stopping people selling

Fallout from the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower blaze continues to dog the safety of cladding used on buildings. And vain attempts to prove the safety of cladding material that has been used is currently blocking “thousands” of homeowners from potential sales, said the BBC in a report on the 16th of September.

The affected homeowners are leaseholders who are finding it difficult to secure the form EWS1 increasingly required by mortgage lenders to confirm the safety of any external wall cladding. The form is published jointly by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Building Society Association (BSA) and provides confirmation of the completion of an “External Wall Fire Review”.

There is confusion about the type of buildings – high-rise or low-rise – that may have such fire safety risks and there are apparently only 291 individuals in the UK who are qualified to conduct the tests necessary to complete form EWS1.

What is the future for house prices?

As with the course of the novel coronavirus itself, market reactions are extremely difficult to predict. The future of house prices is a case in point, according to an item from inews on the 24th of September.

The story noted that the market’s immediate reaction to the recent lifting of controls was a surge in house prices as buyers leapt to release pent up demand. It noted reports from building society Nationwide that house prices in the UK during August had seen their highest monthly increase for some 16 years.

By the end of this year and into next year, however, market analysts foresee the effects of a troubled economic recovery and rising rates of unemployment. If this leads to more homeowners having to sell their homes because they can no longer afford the mortgage, the increased housing supply will inevitably deflate prices. The impact could be significant, with average house prices in the first half of 2021 potentially plunging by 13.8% of the previous year’s average.

The UK’s most profitable cities for BTL landlords unveiled

Want to know those cities in the UK that are likely to prove most profitable for property investors – the current hotspots for buy to let (BTL) landlords? Landlord Today on the 23rd of September provided some clues:

  • Salford in the northwest of England offers an average house price of just £173,311, yet an average monthly rental income £1,052;
  • Second in line is Greater Manchester, where average house prices are £193,681 and monthly rental incomes £1,141;
  • Belfast, Leeds, and Portsmouth make up the remaining top five BTL hotspots.

Canny investors are likely to avoid High Wycombe, in Buckinghamshire, since it comes in at the bottom of the rankings, thanks to average house prices of £430,891 yet rental incomes barely achieving an average of £945 per month.