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UK house prices defy Brexit gloom, but slowdown intensifies down south

The annual rate of home price growth across 20 of the largest UK cities hit 8.5% in September, up from 8.2% in August, taking the 20 city average to £239,100, according to the latest Hometrack UK Cities Index.  

There was a pick-up in overall property prices despite a marked slowdown in the level of growth recorded in large cities across the south of England, especially in London.

In the three months to September, residential property prices across the 20 big cities increased by just 0.9% - the lowest level of quarterly growth since January 2015 when concerns of a potential housing bubble, more stringent mortgage lending conditions and fears over the potential introduction of a mansion tax as proposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats ahead of last year’s general election gripped the market. 

Despite the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, the steady rate of house price inflation continues to run more than three times faster than the growth in earnings, thanks largely to improved household confidence, earnings rising ahead of inflation and record-low mortgage borrowing rates.

Eleven of the 20 cities that form part of the index have seen house prices continue to accelerate over 2016, led by gains in large regional cities outside the South East, such as Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff, where prices are increasing off a low base.

Despite the slowdown, Bristol continues to register the fastest rate of annual growth at an average of 12.3%, although this is down from 13.1% in the 12 months to August.

In total, nine of the 20 cities monitored are now registering house price growth that is lower than it was at the start of 2016 with the greatest reduction seen in Cambridge, Oxford, London and Aberdeen. 

London, long considered to be the boiler room of the market, is no longer roaring, with market conditions continuing to cool as the supply of homes coming to the market grows faster than sales, which have fallen back in recent months as a consequence of stretched affordability levels and new taxes.

With the ratio of sales to new supply at its highest level for three years, the rate of house price growth in the capital looks almost certain to slow further in coming months.

Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack, commented: “In the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave the EU there was little obvious impact on the housing market and the rate of house price growth. Three months on and it is becoming clearer that households in large regional cities outside southern England continue to feel confident in buying homes and taking advantage of record low mortgage rates where affordability remains attractive for those with equity.

“In London market conditions are the opposite and new taxes are hitting investor demand while home owners face stretched affordability levels which are combining to slow the rate of house price growth.”

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Britain’s highest rental yields: the top 10 postcodes for buy-to-let

The huge rush to acquire buy-to-let property in the first quarter of the year ahead of the stamp duty change deadline at the start of April, after which a 3% surcharge was added for second homebuyers and buy-to-let investors, illustrated the growth in popularity of buy-to-let property as an attractive investment at a time of low interest rates and volatile stock markets.

The buy-to-let boom of recent years has fed the stereotype that Britons are obsessed with property. Ever since Margaret Thatcher declared her belief in a ‘property-owning democracy’ and introduced Right to Buy in 1980, the UK was converted into a country that saw houses as something to make money from, not just to live in.

Having long provided mega double-digit returns for investors, investment in buy-to-let has outperformed all major asset classes in recent years, with total annual returns from buy-to-let property hitting 12% in 2015 or £21,988 in absolute terms. But where are the best (and worst) rental yields currently achievable? 

The new TotallyMoney Buy-to-Let Yield Map highlights the UK’s buy-to-let hotspots providing both an interesting insight into the market and a useful tool for buy-to-let landlords.

The research, which analysed 137,955 rental properties and 303,822 properties that were marketed for sale online on the 1st of October 2016, reveals a clear geographical divide between the North and the South of the country with northern regions coming out on top and the South East showing particularly poorly.

Nine out of the 10 highest yielding postcode districts are in Scotland and the North/Midlands regions.

The 10 lowest yielding postcodes, with the exception of Edgbaston and Holland Park in Birmingham, are all in Greater London, the South East and the South Coast.

The winning postcodes:

  Postcode  Post Town  Coverage  Average Rent  Average House Price  Yield 
1 LS6 Leeds Beckett Park, Burley, Headingley, Hyde Park, Meanwood, Woodhouse £1,044 £116,115 10.79%
2 BD1 Bradford Bradford City Centre, Little Germany, Goitside, Longlands £552 £64,108 10.33%
3 YO1 York City Centre £1,876 £231,388 9.73%
4 PR1 Preston City Centre, Avenham, Broadgate, Deepdale £952 £125,810 9.08%
5 TS1 Middlesbrough Town Centre £523 £69,368 9.05%
6 L7 Liverpool City Centre, Edge Hill, Fairfield, Kensington £720 £99,114 8.72%
7 M3 Manchester City Centre, Deansgate, Castlefield £1,230 £177,546 8.31%
8 S1 Sheffield Sheffield City Centre £823 £118,861 8.31%
9 HD1 Huddersfield Huddersfield Town Centre, Hillhouse, Lockwood, Marsh £656 £101,536 7.75%
10 CF24 Cardiff Cardiff South, Rumney & Trowbridge £1,220 £192,548 7.60%


... and the losing postcodes:

  Postcode  Post Town  Coverage  Average Rent  Average House Price  Yield 
867 BR2 Bromley Hayes, Shortlands, Bickley, Bromley Common, Keston £1,300 £788,293 1.98%
868 N21 London Winchmore Hill, Bush Hill, Grange Park £1,339 £825,700 1.95%
869 HA6 Northwood Northwood, Northwood Hills, Moor Park £1,732 £1,103,645 1.88%
870 B15 Birmingham Edgbaston, Lee Bank £1,013 £656,412 1.85%
871 W8 London Kensington, Holland Park £4,920 £3,320,116 1.78%
872 RG8 Reading Goring, Streatley, Pangbourne, Whitchurch-on-Thames £1,225 £865,454 1.70%
873 N2 London East Finchley, Fortis Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb £3,764 £2,733,640 1.65%
874 BH14 Poole Lower Parkstone, Lilliput, Penn Hill £1,288 £1,000,795 1.54%
875 N6 London Highgate, Hampstead Heath £2,779 £2,418,305 1.38%
876 BH13 Poole Canford Cliffs, Sandbanks, Branksome Park £1,574 £1,668,641 1.13%


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The UK housing market is ‘continuing to hold strong’

The UK housing market remains resilient post-Brexit, as illustrated by the latest house price index which shows a housing market that is “continuing to hold strong”, according to the CEO of one of the UK’s leading estate agents.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this week revealed that the annual rise in UK property prices accelerated to 8.4% in August, and Paul Smith at haart estate agents believes that this definitive data “defies the grim forecasts of a housing collapse, and tumbling prices”.

The average price of a home in the UK hit almost £219,000 in August, up £17,000 on the same month last year, led by a 13.3% rise in the East of England, followed by increases of 12.2% in the South East of England and 12.1% in London.

The fact that London for the third month running is not the region with the highest rate of house price growth reflects the fact that the rise in stamp duty continues to have an adverse impact at the upper end of the market, according to Smith (right). 

“This (the market slowdown in the capital) comes as buy-to-let landlords and overseas buyers continue to venture out of the capital and into regions where they are now more likely to see more lucrative returns on their investment,” he said.

However, Smith believes that the continued lack of housing supply will “always hold the market up in our resilient capital” and as a consequence this is “unlikely to see a too damaging effect on growth” moving forward.

With housing market indicators, including mortgage lending and new buyer activity, continuing to slow and inflationary pressure set to possibly squeeze household incomes and spending as we head into 2017, Smith would like to see the government put “incentives” in place to encourage homeownership.

He added: “This (any uncertainty that continues to constrain the market) is particularly important in the face of the Help to Buy Mortgage Guarantee Scheme coming to an end for first-time-buyers, placing further obstacles in generation rent’s way to stepping onto the property ladder.”  

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Around 440,000 landlords will be pushed into higher tax bracket from April 2017

Some 440,000 basic-rate tax payers will be forced into a higher tax bracket from April next year once planned changes to landlord taxation comes in to force, according to the National Landlord Association (NLA).

The existing rules that permit landlords to offset all of their mortgage interest against tax will, from April 2017, be phased out, restricting the amount of mortgage interest landlords can offset against tax on their property investments.

By April 2020, once they have been withdrawn altogether, the disastrous consequences of Section 24 will mean that it is likely that higher-rate tax payers will only receive 50% of the relief that they currently get, which will eat into their rental returns as they will be required to pay significantly more income tax.

The NLA claims that while 440,000 basic-rate tax payers – 22% of approximately 2 million landlords in this country – will move up a tax bracket, all landlords could be at risk of seeing their tax liability increase regardless of their existing rate of tax, with landlords in central London (31%), the East of England (30%), and the West Midlands (28%) particularly hit.

The amount by which landlords will be affected will depend on their personal circumstances, including whether or not they generate income from any other sources.

NLA research shows that landlords’ tax liability will increase depending on their existing annual mortgage interest payments, which are broken down by portfolio size below:

Single property - £3,600

2-3 properties - £8,600

4-5 properties- £16,300

5-10 properties - £18,200

11-19 properties - £24,900

20+ properties - £38,000

Richard Lambert, chief executive officer at the NLA, said: “When the government announced these changes last year, it claimed they would only hit a small proportion of higher-rate tax payers.  We now know that is complete tosh.

“The government must look to amend these tax changes and minimise the impact on landlords and their tenants - something that could easily be achieved by applying the rules to only new loans written after April 2017.

“Unless this happens, landlords will face an impossible decision of whether to increase rents and cause misery for their tenants, or to sell-up, and force their tenants to find a new home.”  

Full regional breakdown: 


Will move up a tax bracket

(from basic to higher rate)



East England


East Midlands


London (central)


London (outer)


North East


North West




South East


South West




West Midlands


Yorkshire & Humber



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London’s top 10 new build investor hotspots

Traditionally and historically, homebuyers would expect to pay a premium for a brand new home. But in recent years, the cost of acquiring a brand new property has fallen more in line with resale property prices, helping to boost demand for new homes in the process. What’s more, new build homes are generally not a bad bet when it comes to investing in residential property.

Not only can new home owners expect to possess a property with a wide range of mod cons, but they could also expect to slash their annual energy bills, thanks to the fact that new build homes are built to current regulations making them significantly more energy efficient.

As more housebuilders transform to a more green-friendly approach and commit to innovation, quality and sustainability – those investing in new build homes can often expect to benefit from capital growth during both construction stage and upon completion.

Growing housing demand and a general shortage of new homes being developed, has helped to push up new homes prices across many parts of the country, particularly in London, but where in the capital is worth investing?

London based Portico estate agent’s has identified its top 10 new build property hotspots, selected with today’s tenant in mind, so they are generally based near a good transport link in desirable or up-and-coming areas that potentially offer good prospects for capital growth. 

1. Croydon

Croydon is a metropolitan area soon to benefit from a £5.25bn regeneration programme, which promises to transform the town centre. Westfield also have plans to build a luxury shopping centre in the area, which will likely push up property prices as we’ve seen previously in the boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham and Newham. Better still, residents can travel into Victoria in just 14 minutes, making this south London borough an easy choice for renters on a budget.

2. Nine Elms, Battersea

Another area that’s benefiting from a multi-billion pound investment programme is Nine Elms. Touted as the “next big luxury area”, it will soon be home to a new Tube station, a revamped high street and the American Embassy, which will drive more international workers to the area.

3. Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf is one the most established of the new build communities that have sprung up over the past decade, extremely popular with young professionals working in the business district. It also has one of London’s most sophisticated travel hubs, integrating the DLR, Tube and Thames Clipper river bus services. Moreover, when Crossrail is fully operational in 2018, the line will provide direct connections to Heathrow Airport and a number of east-west destinations - further enticing renters and investors to London’s financial centre.

4. Bermondsey

Bermondsey is another area that has undergone a positive revival, this time as a result of the regeneration of London Bridge, which has attracted large business such as News Corp into the area. It’s also quite the foodie mecca, attracting young professionals and business types who want a central location, a string of trendy amenities and contemporary, luxury accommodation.

5. King's Cross

King’s Cross, once an industrial wasteland known for its underground night life, is now a thriving cultural and business community, home to some of the biggest companies in the world as well as a string of new restaurants and bars, a huge Waitrose in Granary Square and the art installation Pond Club. Google are currently spending £1bn on a London HQ in this trendy part of town, which will no doubt attract a wave of tech professionals and continue pushing up prices.

6. Aldgate

Property prices have soared in east London over the last few years, thanks to the impact of the Olympics and the resulting gentrification. Aldgate is an area that is growing in popularity. It’s close to fashionable neighbourhoods like Shoreditch and within walking distance of the City, making it an ideal spot for trendy young professionals with a work hard, play hard mentality.

7. Bromley by Bow

Also within close proximity of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Bromley by Bow offers affordable accommodation, good transport links into London and an up-and-coming, trendy vibe. There’s a low supply of luxury rental homes in the area, meaning that landlords here tend to generate healthy returns as well as good prospects for capital growth.

8. Dalston

Investors have been queuing up to get their hands on the new developments dominating Dalston’s skyline ever since Boris Johnson re-opened the Overground station, Dalston Junction, in 2010 - which takes residents into Highbury & Islington Rail in under 5 minutes. The area ruled is by young renters and arty types, who are attracted to the area’s trendy eateries and cafes, cool rooftop bars and the delights of London Fields just to the east.

9. Stratford

Despite property price rises here outperforming most of London, Stratford still remains affordable for both buyers and tenants, making the area an extremely popular place to live. The near completion of Crossrail will no doubt drive further growth in this area of east London, so we believe Stratford has the most growth potential in the coming years. It's a key hub into the rest of east end.

10. Hayes

Crossrail will arrive at Hayes & Harlington station in 2018, which will be key for pulling in renters and homebuyers wanting affordable property but also access into central London. As well as good transport links, Hayes offers healthy rental yields, great schools and easy access to the M4, the M25 and Heathrow airport.

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Ireland’s decision to scrap buy-to-let tax is a warning to Britain

As the UK prepares to change the way landlords are taxed by scrapping the existing rules that permit them to offset all of their mortgage interest from property investments against tax, Ireland has announced that it is reversing its policy that prevented landlords from claiming full mortgage interest tax relief on rental income to help stop rents soaring out of control.

In his Budget statement made last week, Ireland’s minister for finance, Michael Noonan, said landlords would be able to claim 80% tax relief from next year, up from an existing level of 75%.

Tax relief will then increase by a further 5% a year until it reaches 100% again.

Noonan highlighted the fact that the policy, which is similar to the tax changes due to be introduced in the UK from April next year, was introduced in Ireland in 2009 to “rescue the public finances” but with investment in Ireland’s private rented sector falling now is an “appropriate time” to revisit it.

Around 440,000 basic-rate tax payers will be forced into a higher tax bracket from April next year once planned changes to landlord taxation comes in to force, according to the National Landlord Association (NLA).

The existing rules that permit landlords to offset all of their mortgage interest against tax will, from April 2017, be phased out, restricting the amount of mortgage interest landlords can offset against tax on their property investments.

By 2020, landlords will not be able to deduct any of their mortgage interest from their rental income before calculating their tax bill.

The changes to tax relief will make it harder to make a profit from letting property, which in turn could deter investment in the sector. 

Campaigners against the mortgage interest relief changes argue that Ireland’s change of policy demonstrates that the levy does not work.

Rents in Ireland have increased significantly since 2013, with recent figures from the Irish Residential Tenancies Board revealing that rents in Ireland have risen by almost 10% since last year.

Here in the UK, many landlords will have no alternative but to recoup their losses through higher rents, with tenants paying the price of the government’s tax-grab. 

Research conducted by Property118 earlier this year revealed how up to 4.6 million tenants could be affected by the now former chancellor George Osborne’s tax attacks on buy-to-let landlords.

Mark Alexander, founder of Property118, told the press this week: “Ireland has got a really big problem with reduced investment in property at the same time as rents have increased dramatically.” 

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Tory peer condemns government’s attack on buy-to-let

Lord Flight, a former Conservative Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, has once again slammed his own party’s buy-to-let tax changes, warning they could exacerbate the UK housing crisis.

He fears that the former Chancellor George Osborne’s tax grab on landlords could see thousand of buy-to-let landlords exit the market, reducing the supply of much needed homes in the private rented sector.

Lord Flight first criticised the government’s assault on private landlords at the start of the year, when he warned that the buy-to-let tax changes could destabilise the UK’s housing market by triggering “a sharp fall in prices, if not a crash”, while also threatening to “put thousands of tenants’ security at risk”.

In an article published on the Residential Landlords Association’ (RLA) website, Lord Flight said that the tax chances, including the recently introduced stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let homes, will inevitably drive up rental values.


From a landlord’s perspective, it has been a tough year, with a raft of changes designed to bring the booming housing market under control and create what the former chancellor George Osborne described as a “level playing field” between investors and homeowners, especially first-time buyers.


But in his article, Lord Flight points to evidence from the London School of Economics that undermines the previous government’s assertions that landlords are buying homes that first-time buyers could have purchased. He also highlights assertions by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that landlords are taxed more heavily than homeowners.


Lord Flight calls on landlords to lobby their local MPs to tell them about the damaging impact the tax changes will have on the supply of affordable homes to rent and encourage them to seek changes in the new Chancellor’s Autumn Statement next month.


Commenting on the article, RLA Chairman, Alan Ward, said: “Lord Flight’s analysis is correct. When we need almost two million more homes to rent by 2025, recent tax changes will choke off investment, increase rents and make it more difficult for tenants to save for a home of their own.


“The new Chancellor has an important opportunity next month to correct the previous Government’s changes to the way the rented sector is taxed. We call on him to seize this opportunity with both hands.”

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Around 2 million Brits use property to finance retirement

There are approximately 2 million people in the UK who have used their property to finance retirement, new research suggests.


A fresh study by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) looking at how 35-85 year olds currently use or plan to use property to fund their retirement found that downsizing was the most popular with 11% choosing this option to fund their retirement, while buy-to-let and letting holiday homes, at 4% each, came next. Re-mortgaging was the least common choice at 1%.


The study also revealed that 40% of this group have used property to fund luxury or non-essential expenditure, with 19% left feeling as though they had not alternative but to do so.


Younger people are more likely to think of their property as part of their retirement planning. Of the 6 million people in the UK who are not retired and home owners with a mortgage, 53% thought their home would play a part in financing retirement, even though 13% do not expect to pay off their mortgage before they retire.


Some 33% of 35-44 year olds feel they will have no choice but to use their property to finance retirement.


Across all age groups though, there was little support for the commonly-heard phrase ‘my house is my pension’. Only 18% of people agreed with this statement.

Almost three quarters - 73% - of those who had used their property to finance their retirement said that they felt they had made the right choice and 55% of those who released capital from their property told the PLSA that they had put it into savings.


Joanne Segars, chief executive at PLSA, said: “Retirement simply doesn’t look like it used to – the lines are blurring between work and retirement, between pensions and other forms of saving. Pensions, even great workplace pension schemes, don’t operate in isolation any more. They interact with other savings, and as an industry we need to adapt in order to help savers adequately prepare for retirement. That’s why we’ve done this research into how people use property in their retirement planning.


“We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘my house is my pension’ but these headlines from our research illustrate it’s not so straightforward. Some retired people have been happy to use their property to fund their retirement and feel confident about the decision they’ve made, whereas others felt they had no choice. We want to ensure everyone has a decent income in retirement. To help them achieve this we need to understand how people factor property into their plans and we’ll be releasing the full report in a few months’ time.”   

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Where are the Gulf’s wealthiest investors likely to invest next year?

The property markets in London, New York and Singapore have been among the most popular international destinations for the Gulf’s wealthiest investors in recent years, but a new report by Cluttons has found that the top choice for many of the GCC’s high-net-worth individuals next year is likely to be Dubai.

Weakening property prices was cited as the primary reason why more people are interested in investing in Dubai’s property market, along with the upcoming Expo 2020.

Murray Strang, head of Cluttons’ Dubai base, said that the Expo’s potential for capital growth and higher yields in the market means that “people now see really good value for money in Dubai”.

He commented: “I think that’s why some people are calling the bottom of the market in the near future, and I think we’re seeing a lot of GCC high net worth individuals who are now seriously looking at Dubai, given that prices have become more attractive over the past year or two.”

Cluttons’ third Middle East Private Capital survey ranked London in second place for GCC wealthiest investors next year alongside Paris and Doha, while Toronto came in at number three.

For this year, the UK capital remains the top destination outside the Middle East for Gulf investors, cited as a top three market by 17% of the 127 millionaires interviewed by Cluttons, ahead of New York at 16% and Singapore at 13%.

This is despite London property values reaching as much $4,000 (£3,230) sq ft, which is approximately three times the price of high-end apartments in Manhattan and Singapore’s Marina Bay.

Property in London

The housing market in London is slowing after witnessing capital growth of around 70% over the past seven years. But the slump in sterling’s value could help market activity in the city improve in the coming months, as international investors seek to take advantage of property price falls as a result of the weaker UK currency.

For example, London property is now 34% cheaper than it was nine years ago for those investors buying property in the UK with US dollar or pegged currencies such as the dirham, according to Cluttons head of research Faisal Durrani.

He commented: “If you look at the upper echelons of say £2m to £5m, your Brexit saving is close to half a million dollars. For buyers in the Gulf whose pegs maintain a fixed rate against the dollar, that is a very significant saving, which is why we have seen interest in markets such as Belgravia and Chelsea following Brexit with Kuwaiti and Emirati investors taking full advantage in the currency situation.

“The flipside is that other buyers are saying there’s a potential correction in the market in London and there is potential for sterling to fall further. So there are those who want to take the opportunity and enter the market and those who want to wait and see how it goes.”

Property in Doha

Demand for property in Doha is being fuelled by the football world cup which will take place in Qatar in 2018. Many property investors believe that the football competition will help boost long-term tourism levels in Qatar, which in turn may increase property prices and rents.

Property in Paris

A growing number of Qataris are attractive to Paris, thanks in part to a government tax treaty and the recent purchase by the Qatari Investment Authority of a luxury retail complex on the Champs Elysee.

Property in Toronto

Property investors cited Toronto’s high living standards and education institutions as factors in their choice. 

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Rental market records regional growth

Activity in the letting market continued to grow in September, new figures from Agency Express show.

Across the UK, the number of new listing ‘to let’ rose by 1.3% year-on-year, while the volume of properties ‘let’ increased by 4.4% during the same period.  

However, looking at data recorded over a three month rolling period, the number of properties let actually fell by -1% which is on par with figures recorded from the same period in 2015.

On a regional basis, seven of the 12 regions recorded by the Property Activity Index reported growth in both new listings to let and properties let.

Properties to let:

+ North East: 19.6%

+ Yorkshire & Humberside: 12.6%

+ East Midlands: 12.3%

+ Central England: 7.6%

Properties let by:

+ West Midlands: 17.7%

+ Wales: 13.8%

+ Central England: 11.4%

+ South East: 10.1%

Central England was the top performing region in September, recording increases in both new listings to let at 7.6% and properties let at 11.4%. Over a three month rolling period figures for new listings were down at -2.1%, and again on par with those recorded in 2015. 

The West Midlands reported a record month for properties let, up 17.7%, marking the region’s greatest rise for September since the index’s first records began more than four years ago.

The largest declines in September were recorded in East Anglia, where new listings sat at -11.2% and properties let at -1.4%.

Following suit, Scotland also recorded notable declines. Falling for a second consecutive month new listings sat at -4.2% and properties let at 3.3%, notably down on 2015’s ‘let’ figures of 3.6%.

Stephen Watson, managing director at Agency Express, said: “We have witnessed some growth across the UK lettings market. One or two regional pockets reported record bests, while others performed consistently. However, year-on-year figures are still recovering from the buy-to-let fallout.”

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