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Manchester has fastest growing house prices in the UK

Manchester has become the latest UK property hotspot, after it was revealed today that property values in the city increased faster than any other in the country.

Values in Manchester rose by 8.8% in February compared with the same month a year earlier thanks to a surge in transactions, while Portsmouth saw the second highest annual house price growth last month, with an increase of 8.1%, as buyers return to the market supported by an improving jobs market and record low mortgage rates.

According to the Hometrack UK cities house price index, which tracks price movements across the UK’s 20 biggest cities, Bristol also experienced high price growth, with an 8% increase in property value last month, although is down sharply from the annual house price increase of 12% in the 12 months to February 2016.

Another city that is seeing capital growth cool sharply is London, where the rate of annual price increase has dropped to 5.6% - the lowest level since 2013. London has now fallen to 10th in the list of the fastest growing cities, owed in part to weaker demand from property investors.

Slower growth in London is acting as a drag on the headline rate of growth for Hometrack’s UK Cities Index, which is now running at 6.4%, down from 6.9% a month earlier and 7.8% a year ago.

Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack, said: “Levels of housing turnover across UK cities are expected to remain broadly flat over 2017.


“There is some further upside for sales volume in regional cities but much depends upon how would be buyers respond to external factors, not least the impact of lower real wage growth, the potential for higher mortgage rates and whether demand will be impacted by the triggering of Article 50 at the end of the month.”


Although buyers are fully aware of the government’s plans and timescales for Brexit, Donnell insists that there remains “huge uncertainty” over what this means for the economy over the next couple of years and beyond.


He added: “In cities where affordability remains attractive we expect demand to hold up in the short term albeit with slower growth in sales volumes.


“Overall we continue to expect the rate of house price growth to moderate over the rest of 2017.”

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Trade body fears mass sell-off of buy-to-let properties

A growing number of buy-to-let landlords are planning to sell-off their properties as the government’s punitive new tax changes cause investors to quit the market, new research shows.

The pending removal of landlords’ mortgage interest tax relief from next month, coupled with the 3% surcharge on stamp duty introduced last year, is deterring many buy-to-let investors, according to the National Landlord Association (NLA).

The fact that the government is using landlords as scapegoats for problems faced by first-time buyers by tightening buy-to-let taxes has seen the proportion of landlords looking to sell in the next 12 months more than double since July 2015, from 7% to 16%, which would drastically reduce the supply of much needed private rented homes, the study by the NLA has revealed.

As well as selling up their existing properties, 84% of buy-to-let landlords now say they are no longer looking to add to their property portfolios.

Consequently, the NLA predict that there will be a net reduction in property transactions by 2018, adding to the supply-demand imbalance in the market, which is likely to drive rents up.

Richard Lambert, chief executive at the NLA, said: “There has been a clear correlation over the past year between our findings on what landlords have told us they intend to do in terms of buying and selling in the coming year and their actual transaction activity.

“If the trends keep moving in the same direction, then by 2018 we’ll have more experienced landlords selling than buying, contributing to a net reduction of private rented properties.” 

Article courtesy of Landlord Today | Sign up for Landlord Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!

Swansea Bay £1.3bn city deal to transform the region

Prime minister Theresa May this week signed off a deal that could trigger close to £1.3bn of investment in Swansea and south-west Wales, which will undoubtedly boost demand for residential and commercial property in the local area.

The Swansea Bay city region deal, which is set to create around 9,000 jobs over the next 15 years, will see the creation of 11 projects across the region in energy, smart manufacturing, innovation and life science.

The new schemes pave the way for major infrastructure investment in the local region, ranging from research centres, to a new waterfront ‘digital district’, which will feature 100,000 sq ft of new office space, a box village development from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a 6,000-seat indoor arena.

Insisting that she wants to see the region at the “forefront of science and innovation”, the prime minister said that the new deal was “important for this part of Wales”, ensuring fresh prosperity and growth for the region.

The redevelopment projects could very well lead to the biggest changes in the city’s landscape for around 70 years, helping to boosting the quality and range of the city centre’s shopping, dining, leisure, urban living, business, entertainment and recreational offer, according to Swansea council leader Rob Stewart.

Stewart said: “Swansea will soon be undergoing its biggest transformation in 70 years as we significantly improve the city for residents, open up thousands of new jobs and generate far more opportunities than ever before.

“Building on the success of Swansea University’s Bay Campus and the start of works on the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Innovation Precinct in SA1, this year will mark the start of an ambitious and confident package of regeneration projects that will benefit local people, support existing businesses and attract even more investment in future.” 

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Buy-to-let tycoon offers £10k purse to fight journalist

The UK’s largest private landlord Fergus Wilson has called out a local journalist over a prospective fight after being insulted by the reporter.

Fergus Wilson, who owns hundreds of properties in and around Kent, suggested the bout after becoming incensed by an error in a report about one of his race horses.

The 69-year-old, who is a 22-stone former professional boxer, has offered senior reporter Ed McConnell, of the Kent Messenger, £10,000 prize money if he can last one bare-knuckle round against him.

According to Kent Online, the argument started after 24-year old McConnell, who weights 15-stone and has never boxed, described Wilson’s three-year-old colt Maidstone Mixture as the worst race horse in history.

The controversial landlord, who earlier this year said that he would not accept ‘battered wives’ or ‘plumbers’ as tenants, also disagreed with McConnell over what he sees as the journalist’s left wing views.

Wilson said: “The long and the short of it is I look upon Ed as being a bit left wing and I think I have left wing tendencies myself but I mellow it with a bit of common sense which he doesn’t.

“Maidstone Mixture came first twice and netted £40,000, that would generally be seen as a good horse but Ed pooh-poohed it. He doesn't know much about horse racing, not many reporters do. I give him stories but all he does is belittle them.”

Wilson, who owns a multi-million pound property portfolio, added: “I made an offer to fight him and I'm quite happy to get in the ring with him. It should be bare-knuckles I think.

“I don't think it's a fair fight. I think it would be very unkind of me to do it as I’d hurt him very badly which I really would not want to do.

“If I set about his face in a fight I would really make a mess of it.”

Article courtesy of Landlord Today | Sign up for Landlord Today newsletter | Get this news on YOUR site!

Properties offering ‘guaranteed yields’ attract investors

Properties offering guaranteed yields proved particularly popular with investors last week at Cheffins’ first auction of 2017 in Cambridge.

Almost £4.2m worth of property was sold at last week’s sale, which saw more than 200 buyers in attendance.

The maximum prices paid were for commercial properties with solid investment incomes throughout the Eastern region.

The star lot of the day was a freehold mixed-use building in Biggleswade which achieved just over £1m against a guide of £900,000, making it the record hammer price ever recorded at a Cheffins property auction. Generating an annual income of £50,000 from established tenants, the property saw competitive bidding within the room, eventually selling to a local investor.

Similarly, a mixed-use building on Ramsey High Street in Cambridgeshire sold for £208,000 against a guide price of £140,000. The property also offered a solid investment and currently generates an annual rent of £19,500.

Over £1m-worth of land was sold in total across 12 lots.

Ian Kitson, director at Cheffins, said: “Investment properties offering guaranteed yields really set the room alight in our first sale of the year.

“With competitive bidding from both local and national buyers, the record price made at Biggleswade goes to show how auction really is the best forum to generate the most interest for these popular mixed-use properties.

“With guaranteed rental incomes, the investment properties within the sale were snapped up by local buyers who bid against investors from all over the UK. This is reflective of the increasing desirability of the region’s smaller towns which are seeing investment throughout both commercial and residential properties, especially as returns on wider investment types remain fragile.

“As prices are continuing to rise across all property types in the region, we are expecting to see ongoing inward investment with mixed-use offerings continue to sell at premium prices.”

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Council offers five-year tenancy agreements to house Syrian refugees

Landlords with family size homes in East Devon are being urged to rent their properties to vulnerable Syrian refugees after East Devon District Council (EDDC) accepted families from the war-torn country.

The first of several families have already been placed in Sidmouth and the council is now seeking more vacant homes.

The authority is offering five-year tenancy agreements and rent will be in line with the local housing allowance.

An EDDC spokesman said: “Housing that would be suitable for families is urgently needed, so properties with two bedrooms and upwards would be ideal.

“Obviously, any houses suggested to the council should be in good order and well maintained.

“Furnished and unfurnished accommodation will be equally welcome and both rural and urban locations will be considered.

“EDDC will manage any properties and will provide tenancy agreements lasting five years, as resettled refugees are being granted five years’ Humanitarian Protection status.

“The rent will be in line with the local housing allowance.”

Registered Landlords who are interested in finding out more should contact Andrew Mitchell either by phone on 01395 517469 or email on

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Property auction calendar: 27th–31st March

Property auctions are a good place for investors to pick up a bargain, and every week these events are taking place at venues across the UK, offering a wide range of properties for sale.

Here are details of the property auctions taking place next week. 

27/03/2017         Allsop Commercial           London

27/03/2017         Corporate Auction Solutions       County Tyrone

27/03/2017         Agents Property Auction              Tyne and Wear

28/03/2017         Auction House Manchester         Lancashire

28/03/2017         BRG Gibson        County Antrim

28/03/2017         David Plaister Ltd             Avon

28/03/2017         William H Brown (Leeds)               West Yorkshire

28/03/2017         Pattinson Property Auctions       Tyne and Wear

28/03/2017         Stags Launceston             Cornwall

28/03/2017         Fisher German Bromsgrove        Worcestershire

28/03/2017         Durrants              Great Yarmouth

29/03/2017         Country Property             Bristol

29/03/2017         SDL Bigwood Coventry  West Midlands

29/03/2017         Pattinson Property Auctions       Lancashire

29/03/2017         Strettons             London

29/03/2017         Auction House West Yorkshire   West Yorkshire

29/03/2017         Howkins & Harrison - Rugby        Leicestershire

29/03/2017         Auction House South Wales        South Glamorgan

29/03/2017         Auction House Pearsons               Hampshire

29/03/2017         Sutton Kersh Auctions   Merseyside

29/03/2017         Romans                Berkshire

29/03/2017         Dedman Gray    Essex

29/03/2017         Auction House Copelands            Derbyshire

29/03/2017         Savills (London - National)            London

30/03/2017         Lambert & Foster             Kent

30/03/2017         Wilsons (Northern Ireland)          County Antrim

30/03/2017         Fox & Sons (Southampton)         Hampshire

30/03/2017         Loveitts                West Midlands

30/03/2017         Moore Allen & Innocent               Gloucestershire

30/03/2017         Auction House Sussex   East Sussex

30/03/2017         Newland Rennie Wilkins Abergavenny   Gwent

30/03/2017         Brown & Co        Norfolk

30/03/2017         Strakers               Shropshire

30/03/2017         Allsop Residential            London

30/03/2017         Acuitus London

30/03/2017         Auction House South Yorkshire South Yorkshire

30/03/2017         Symonds & Sampson LLP              Dorset

30/03/2017         Osborne King     County Antrim

30/03/2017         Auction House Bristol & West     Bristol

31/03/2017         Lambert Smith Hampton (Belfast)            County Antrim

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New Street Mortgages reduces rental cover rates to 125%

New Street Mortgages has fresh buy-to-let criteria changes, including reducing its lowest rental cover rate from 145% to 125%.

From next Monday, the lender will tailor rental calculations to individual circumstances, taking into account a customer’s tax rate, property location, property price and if ground rent and service charges are payable.

An online calculator has been launched by the lender, while information is also presented in the infographic below, which explains the variations.

Jane Simpson, managing director of TBMC, said: “I am delighted a lender has listened to our feedback by giving buy-to-let customers leading edge criteria and great value for money deals. 

“Intermediaries and customers alike will welcome this comprehensive package of changes from New Street.”

New Street has also launched a £1 valuation fee across its mortgage range, saving consumers around £299.

Interest rates have also been reduced on the lender’s buy-to-let mortgages by up to 0.7%, with the two year fixed at 65% loan-to-value now available at 1.74%.

Steve Griffiths, sales and distribution director, The Northview Group, said: “Following the recent PRA changes in January which impacted Buy to Let mortgages, New Street has listened to a great deal of feedback from our intermediary partners on how we could improve our product offering to customers.

“We believe this extensive overhaul of our product range, offering bespoke lower rental calculations, price reductions of up to 0.7%, a new lower managed rate of 5% for five year fixed rates and £1 for all valuations will see our customers benefit from this great package.”

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Landlords urged to allow tenants to personalise their rental properties

Landlords should be more open-minded to tenants’ requests to make home improvements to their rental properties, according to the Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC).

The inventory provider says that a growing number of private tenants are increasingly keen to personalise their rental homes, as reflected by a recent study undertaken by Plentific, which found that 73% of tenants have carried out DIY jobs at their own expense.

The research, which included a survey of more than 2,000 renters, found that almost a quarter - 23% - of participants had spent in excess of £500 on home improvements in their rental property.

“It's clear that tenants are increasingly willing to spend their own money on improving their rental property and this is certainly something landlords should think about,” said Patricia Barber, chair of the AIIC.

Barber believes that landlords who permit tenants to make reasonable home improvements could reap the rewards in the long-term.

She added: “We’re seeing more long-term tenants and they’re clearly committed to living in a higher standard of property.

“Landlords who cautiously allow tenants to put their own stamp on a property could benefit from a lower turnover of tenants and an improved and well-maintained property at the end of the contract.”

Understandably, Barber advises all landlords to ensure that they have an accurate schedule of condition in place to log the condition of the condition of the property before and after the tenancy.

As well as being used as evidence in a potential dispute, a detailed and precise inventory completed at the start of the tenancy, and again when the tenancy ends, also underlines exactly what is expected of the tenant, while it can also help landlords avoid a disagreement in the first place.

“If rental properties are noticeably changing over the course of a tenancy, it’s vitally important that there is an inventory which comprehensively details the condition and contents of the property at the start of the tenancy,” added Barber. “This way any fair deposit deductions can be made by the landlord and the chances of a [tenancy] deposit dispute are minimised.”

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Investors ‘undeterred by the changing economic and political landscape’

There is nothing that markets dislike more than uncertainty and surprises, and the Brexit vote unleashed considerable forces of uncertainty. But despite claims that UK house prices would collapse if Britain voted to leave the European Union, the housing market has remained remarkably resilient.

Home sales remain stable, while property prices are holding firm, which largely explains why investor demand for property remains strong, as reflected by recent activity in the property auction market, according to Richard Adamson, a partner at Allsop, the UK’s largest property auction firm.

Allsop raised £62.8m at its first residential auction of 2017 last month, selling 80% of the 247 lots on offer.

A high number of property investors attended the auction, attracted by the wide array of properties on offer, both geographically and by property type, with the average lot size hitting £330,000, and Adamson expects to see equality strong demand from property investors ahead of the company’s March auction next week.

He said “There was a large turn-out at our first residential auction of 2017, with buyers undeterred by the changing economic and political landscape, and we expect to welcome similar crowds to this auction.”

Allsop’s upcoming residential auction will see 235 lots auctioned on 30 March at The Cumberland Hotel on Great Cumberland Place, London, W1H 7DL.

The catalogue, which is available here, includes a diverse mix of investment and development opportunities.

Adamson added: “Whilst there is the usual diverse offering in the catalogue, in particular there are some excellent lots in central London, as well as permitted development opportunities.  We are seeing considerable appetite for permitted development sites, including regionally.

“We have also noticed increased interest from investors in the student market. Student accommodation has outperformed other asset classes in recent years, providing strong rental growth, so investments such as Lots 167, 162, 163 and 95 are likely to attract competitive bidding.

“Overall, there is high demand from buyers in the auction room – our challenge is making sure we have sufficient stock to meet this demand.”

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