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CAMPAIGN LAUNCHES TO CONTROL VIEWINGS, AND SDLT HOLIDAYS

There has recently been a campaign launched asking the government to introduce what has been described as a ‘Property Sector Support Package’. The aim of the package is to kick start the property market since lock down.

The main points detailed in this campaign are

  1. Contactless viewings
  2. A loan of £1,500 for buyer who complete a purchase
  3. A SDLT (Stamp Duty Land Tax) Holiday

The campaign identifies all the following measure will be adhered to with regards to contactless viewings, ensuring people are protected from coming into contact with people.

  1. Back to Back viewings will not take place
  2. Viewings will not take place in a property where one of the residents have symptoms of covid-19
  3. Viewers will wait in their cars until they are told they can enter the property
  4. All vendors will ensure all cupboards are open, lights on, and no direct contact is made with anyone hosting or attending the viewing

The document then goes onto explain what the government could also consider to kick-start the market, these are

  1. A six-month holiday break on all SDLT transactions and any other tax’s involved in a residential property transaction. This element would have a huge effect on the market especially with people wanting to upsize and therefore introducing to the market more first-time buyer properties.
  • A cash of incentive of £1,500 to any homebuyer in the form of an interest-free loan, which has to be paid when the buyer sells the property. Therefore, this is not a grant as the money will come eventually come back into the system.

The campaign goes onto state that more than 1 million homes are bought and sold every year in the UK.

People have to consider its not just the estate agents, solicitors and mortgage brokers who will be affected by a significant drop in property transactions. There are figures which state the impact on DIY and home removals could be in excess of £8 Billion.

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HOW CAN I SELL MY HOUSE DURING LOCKDOWN?

We are fully aware we are all in circumstances which very few of us have experienced before. Only those who were brave enough to live through the war will have experienced what we are all living through at the moment.

The best way to summarise things today is your life is on pause, the most frustrating thing I suppose is we do not know how long this will last. The 3-week lock down expires on Monday however there are strong rumours suggesting this will be extended.

Some people will be finding the level of uncertainty hard to comprehend and that will probably include those people who want to sell their property, whatever stage you are at in the process.

You may be thinking about putting your property on the market, if this is the case it maybe worthwhile waiting till lockdown is relaxed as people are not physically allowed to view properties. However, there are ways round this, for example virtual tours which we have offered numerous times already with some been successful. So, if your property has an EPC already please check the EPC register for clarification here              or ask your estate agent there is nothing to stop you listing your property. Granted the levels of attention won’t be at their highest but there is still chance a buyer maybe found.

Alternatively, you maybe in a position where you have found a buyer. If the buyer requires a mortgage, we would strongly suggest speaking to your estate agent to see if the buyer can use a lender who will work from a desktop valuation. Similar to a virtual viewing the lender will run extensive reports on the property and make a decision on the value without having to send a valuer into the property because again this is permitted.

You me even be further into the process where the buyers have their finance, solicitors have finished their work and the sale is ready to complete. Unfortunately, this is where it gets slightly tricky. Last night it was announced by the law society that solicitors should only work on simultaneous exchange and completions. With the government not allowing anyone out of their house apart for medical reasons, work if necessary and shopping this is where things grind to a halt.

Its times like this where your estate agent needs to show their true value as communication is going to be so, so important to keep your sale going. There is a large percentage of sellers who are going to hit a wall. What I mean by this is their sale will get to a stage where everything is complete but unfortunately the solicitors will not be able to complete the transaction. Therefore, its imperative your agent stays in regular contact reassuring them you still want to sell the property once lockdown is relaxed. This may be ok for some but if you are relying on the funds from the sale things become slightly more stressful.

In these instances, there are other avenues you could explore. For example, there is the we buy any house industry. This industry is made up of companies who buy properties for cash. From our research we believe a large percentage of them have stopped buying due to the uncertainty. However, there are some sill offering their services. Better still they are buying properties without the need of a survey, inspection or valuation allowing them to complete on agreed deals today. So, if you need to sell a property fast and require it to complete asap this maybe the option for you. To help here is a number for you 03333 232 199. They will offer you a free no obligation valuation.

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THE NEW YEAR IS HERE

No, we don’t mean the New Year as far as the calendar is concerned, we mean it’s the start of the new tax year.

This article will identify a number of changes that may affect your finances. Some of the areas you will see changes are in pensions and ISA’s of which a large percentage of the population have one of these or both so its worth discussing. There are a few things you can do to hopefully save yourself some money this year and with what’s going on with the world at the moment there is no better time to save a penny or two.

If you would like to speak to someone please contact us on 03333 232 199 and we will point you in the right direction.

INCOME TAX

The amount of personal income you can make before any tax is due is £12,500 and this has remained the same for 2020. However, what has changed is the age allowance where everybody now has the same personal allowance. For people earning over £100,000 your allowance will reduce significantly irrespective of your age. Basically, it reduces £1 for every £2 you earn over £100,000. Therefore, for everyone earning over £125,000 now personal allowance will be £0.

DIVIDENDS TAX

Like Income Tax the Dividend Tax allowance will remain the same for this year. After you have had your personal allowance the tax due will be as follows. For base rate tax payers the level is 7.5% and for higher rate 32.5%.

Capital Gains Tax

For this tax year there has been a slight rise in allowance for capital gains from £12,000 to £12,300. Once this has been exhausted lower rate tax payers will have to pay 10% on any profits over the £12,300 threshold with higher rate paying 20%. However, when we talk about investment properties the levels of tax increases with lower rate at 18% and higher 28%

Inheritance Tax

The tax threshold for inheritance is £325,000 anything over that is taxable at a rate of 40%. However, to allow people to pass on their family homes to their loved ones a home allowance threshold is applied separately.

Pensions

The majority of people are allowed to put £40,000 into their pension for the next year. The main difference this year for pensions is previously when people earned £110,000 the allowance of £40,000 started to reduce. However that has now been increased to £240,000 a significant change allowing a lot more people to place the full £40,000 into their pension pot.

ISA’s

Finally, we discuss ISA’s (Interest Free Saving Accounts). The amount people can place in an ISA tax free has remained the same at £20,000.

There is also the lifetime ISA which is something so many people use who are looking to buy a new home. The Lifetime ISA allows people to save £4,000 per year tax free.

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How Is The Coronavirus Affecting The Mortgage Market

How is Coronavirus Affecting The Mortgage Market  

To say the mortgage market is volatile at the moment is an understatement. The market is basically changing every hour as the Country starts to feel the real impact of Covid- 19. Certain lenders pulled all their products from the mortgage market last week, with some re-introducing certain options this week whilst others are still not in the market for business. Furthermore, interest rates are at 0.1% the lowest in history and banks and building societies have also offered lenders a 3- month payment holiday. The industry is seeing levels of activity and change like never before. Obviously, with all these changes happening in such a short space of time the market does seem to lack a lot of transparency, furthermore with the government implementing the strict guidelines in place leaves the whole situation with so many unanswered questions. If you do have any questions we are here to listen and hopefully point you in the right direction. This article will hopefully answer the most common questions we have been asked. However, if we don’t answer yours, we can only apologise but please call us on 03333 232 199 and we will point you in the right direction.  

I have exchanged contracts, but the government says we can’t move what should I do?  

Although the government have made it quite clear in all their correspondence you shouldn’t complete a house sale. However, if you have exchanged contracts I would suggest speaking to your solicitor as this could be classed as an exceptional circumstance. If you breach the contract and don’t complete there maybe huge financial consequences. Therefore, completion may still be possible as planned but moving into your new home still might not happen until rules are relaxed.  

Will I qualify for a payment holiday?  

The government has asked all lenders to offer customers a 3 month payment holiday. Payment breaks apply to all types of borrowers i.e. homeowners, landlords and anyone else. There is one exception where a payment holiday may not apply, that is if your mortgage is already in arrears. If you are in arrears it still maybe possible for the holiday to be granted.  

How do I apply for a payment holiday?  

Firstly, one thing to consider is lenders are under extreme pressure at the moment due to the amount of people applying for payment holidays. Furthermore, they may have furloughed some of the staff, making things even harder for the lenders. A large percentage of the banks/building societies have the option to apply for payment holidays through their website. For the ones that don’t I would advise to call them as soon as they open in a morning. Check their website for their opening hours.

My mortgage term is coming to an end should I look to Re-mortgage?

As mentioned earlier in this article some lenders have pulled out of the market completely whilst others only have products on offer with a low loan to value. However, there are still a large number of banks/building societies offering deals with a LTV of 90% for example and with interest rates at 0.1% now might be the time to at least speak to someone about a re-mortgage. You also have to consider that the mortgage market will probably ger harder before it gets better over the coming months, making a discussion now even more important.  

We are here to help  

I hope we have answered the majority of your questions. However, if you have any further questions or would like to speak to someone about a Re-mortgage please call us on 03333 232 199 and we will point you in the right direction.            

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WILL MY PROTECTION POLICY COVER ME AGAINST CORONA-VIRUS

A large proportion of us at some point in our lives take out life assurance or critical illness cover to offer some form of protection for themselves and our loved ones.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus there has never been a time with such a level of uncertainty. The recent pandemic is having a massive effect on all our mindsets, with things been so worrying for everyone.

Unfortunately, it goes without saying during this time those with policies in place will naturally be thinking will it cover this deadly virus? This opinion is backed up with the amount of people typing phrases into search engines such as ‘will my life assurance policy cover Coronavirus?’

Fingers crossed you are able to find the information you require but if not please give us a call on 03333 232 199, we will be delighted to listen to any questions you have and will point you in the right direction.

In this article we will try and answer some of the generic questions to try and appease any anxieties as quickly as possible.

PLEASE NOTE THE INFORMATION PROVIDED WAS BASED ON KNOWLEDGE FROM 30TH MARCH. HOWEVER, DUE TO RAPID SPREAD OF THE CORONAVIRUS INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE CHANGING THINGS ON AN HOURLY BASIS. THEREFORE, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND TO CHECK WITH YOUR INIDIVIDUAL INSURANCERS TO CONFIRM ANY DETAILS

Will I Be Covered?

Providing you have paid your monthly payments and are not in arrears generally insurers will include the coronavirus in your policy. This is obviously assuming that all the information you provided the insurer at inception or renewal of your policy is correct.

However, every insurer is different and there is no guarantee yours will cover the virus. If you are in arrears with your insurer you need to act as quickly as possible. Please give us a call and we will be delighted to look into this for you?

How can this policy help if I cannot work?

This will really depend on what the consequences of Coronavirus is to you. If the virus leads you to disability in some form, there is a strong possibility the policy will pay out. However, each insurer will be different, so it is worth checking with your respective company.

Is there an option for a payment holiday?

Many of you may have seen the majority of mortgage lenders are currently offering their customers a three-month payment holiday. However, at the moment there isn’t signs of insurers doing the same, but we would advise to keep your eye on the website of your insurers as things are changing by the day.

HOWEVER WE CANNOT EMPHASISE THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING YOUR EXISTING POLICY ACTIVE BEFORE DOING ANYTHING.

What about if I recently cancelled my policy?

If you have recently cancelled your policy there maybe the option to get this up and running. Granted there is no guarantee but there is a chance, every insurer will have different rules. However, like anything everything is worth a try. Yet again if you would like help to see if this is an option for you please call us on 03333 232 199 and we will be delighted to help.

If you are concerned you are unable to make your payments please get in touch and we will point you in the right direction to offer you the best solution by exploring all the options available.

Can I take out extra cover on my policy mid-term?

If you would like to increase the level of cover on your existing policy please get in touch. Many insurers as you can imagine are tightening their underwriting by the day and it is going to get tighter before it relaxes. Therefore, it maybe a good idea to at least speak to someone so why not give us a call. If you haven’t got any form of policy in place it is still possible to put one in place. We can put you in touch with insurers who can definitely help and are still offering new policies even in these hard times.

Interested in speaking to someone

If you would like to speak to someone please call us on 03333 232 199. There are policies currently available from £5 a month and we are offering up to £100 Morrisson’s vouchers for any policy taken out.

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Properties Still Selling During Lockdown.

Don’t think your property won’t sell during lock down, it is still possible. Here at FastMove we know its going to be hard to sell properties during lockdown, mainly because people cannot get out to view the respective homes. However, we are pleased to announce we have sold three properties since lock down with the use of a video tour taken by the vendor. Our Managing Director Christian Armitage recently stated, in times like this you just need to think outside the box.

The process was pretty simple the interested parties registered interest in the properties. On all occasions the buyers new the areas concerned so just needed to see the internal elements of the property to satisfy them. All it took was to put the vendor and buyer in touch with each other allowing the to Face-time each other. On all occasions they were happy with the content and made an offer which was accepted.

One of our vendors said ‘We had resorted to the fact our property was not going to sell until the government had relaxed the lock down rules. However, due to the initiative and never lie down attitude of my estate agent we are in a position now we are Sold Subject To Contract.’

Obviously, it’s in the early stages of the process and all buyers have confirmed they want to view the property once the rules are relaxed but at least we can instruct solicitors to generate some momentum. Furthermore, it gives the public hope that

  1. If their property is currently on the market it still may sell
  • If you are looking to sell your property it still maybe worthwhile listing your property as this has proved people are still looking for properties.

Here at FastMove we strongly feel if you have a property to sell and would like to sell it relatively quickly to market the property now. We think this for two reasons

  1. We have already illustrated people are still looking at properties they may want to purchase
  • Given the current crisis the Country is in, there is the chance there maybe a drop in the market. Granted it will recover but we don’t know how long this will take and if you would like to sell quickly by advertising your property now you are giving yourself the best chance to meet your objective.

Stay Safe.

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Customers Should Still Be The Priority

It is reported that thousands of agents across the Country have been sent home due to Covid 19 like a large percentage of people across all industries. A few agents are still working however, the majority have been furloughed under the scheme set up by the government, meaning branches all across Britain have been closed. However, the main question at the moment given the uncertainty is how many will re-open?

The terminology furloughed basically means that staff are at home but not working and that’s the main difference from been made redundant as they are able to return to their job. Under the scheme individuals are able to claim 80% of their normal salary from the government, up to £2,500 a month and this as it stands does not have to be paid back at anytime.  

Although you can understand why estate agents have taken this measure to reduce their overheads as much as possible during these times, have many acted too rationally leaving their businesses exposed to offering bad service.

Granted there isn’t going to be many people wanting to place their house on the market at the moment and viewings can also only be done virtually so will be significantly lower to normal. However, there are those customers who have agreed a sale on their property and therefore require a high level of customer service, probably more than normal.

The government recently announced that people should put any move on hold unless they have exchanged contracts. I believe people who have agreed a sale will require more attention than they normally would. We all know 99% of the articles we read at the moment is negative news so surely it is imperative that agents try to keep both vendor and their respective buyers as positive as possible. If one of the parties allow the negativity to take over their mind there is a strong chance they pull out of the transaction. Furthermore, banks are under an enormous amount of pressure at the moment so having an agent on hand on completion date may also be more important than normal in case there are issues with the lender releasing the funds.

Here at FastMove we can tell you first-hand this has happened once already within our business. We had a completion set for last Friday, with all parties packed up vans booked etc. However, the monies for one of the buyers never arrived from the bank leaving everyone immensely anxious and frustrated. As we are still operating with a high percentage of staff, we were able to speak to everyone concerned to put plans in place and get over the issues. However, we cannot say the same for some of the other estate agents and solicitors in the chain. There respective vendors ended up calling us for updates and guidance as they were unable to get through to their agent or solicitor. We will not mention their names for professional reasons but would gladly clarify if you want to call us.

It’s because of the above agents may find they have reacted too quickly by furloughing too many of the staff leaving their business in a vulnerable position. It only takes one transaction to go wrong to have a huge impact on the agent’s reputation. Therefore, before agents decide on their structure during these hard times they may want to sit down a spend sometime as to how many staff they are going to need to ensure their service standards are maintained.

At the moment the scheme lasts until the end of May but I am sure the government will re-address this if things take longer to return to normal.

Let’s hope whatever the agents put into place they are all able to re-open their doors in whatever level of capacity.

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House Market Suspended?

We all know things are hugely uncertain at the moment, this article is going to explain how it is this affecting the property market at the moment?

Many people are stating the best way to describe the market as been currently suspended, the main reason been lenders are unable to obtain valuations. However, I feel this is not 100% correct. Yes, you are right to think lenders cannot send physical valuers into the respective properties but there are alternative options.

Lenders do have the option of running a desktop valuation, or alternatively there are rumours circulating that some lenders will ask the vendor to take photos or even a video of the property to work from.

Granted they will not adopt these strategies to mortgage applications where the applicant requires a 95% loan to value product because the risk to the lender is too high. However, if the applicant has a 50% deposit the risk is a lot less to the bank, this is where these alternative methods may prove beneficial. So in summary mortgages on purchases have not paused but have slowed down significantly with even some lenders removing themselves completely from the market.

Then we have to think about the viewings. It’s quite clear from the government guidelines physical viewings at properties is an absolute no, no. However, lots of agents have reacted accordingly and are offering virtual tours of properties allowing prospective buyers the opportunity to see inside. This again comes with risk and is another reason why the property market has slowed.

There is also the investors to consider. A large proportion of these are the cash buyers and will often buy the property without viewing it. All they are interested in is the balance sheet and as long as the works for them they will not be bothered about anything else.

The one thing that will have a huge impact on the market is the media. Once negativity about the market hits the media the industry will basically pause and this has already started to happen.

Yesterday the Daily Mail’s front page splash headline is “Don’t move home” and yesterday The Telegraph’s business section reports “Government suspends the housing market”. 

 I also feel that buyers will take advantage of how volatile the market is at the moment. I feel if people do still want to make an offer on a property they will offer a lower price than what they would have done two weeks ago. They will be hoping the seller(s) are in a position where they don’t have a choice but to accept or they feel the property market is going to drop significantly.  

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Why You Shouldn’t Let Covid-19 Stop You From Buying Your Forever Home?

You switch on the TV, you load up Facebook, you start a conversation with your partner, I guarantee the first word you will see or say is ‘Corona’ and it won’t relating to the lager.

Yes, Coronavirus is all people seem to be talking about at the moment, it has literally taken over the world.

It is also having a huge impact on people looking to buy a new home or even their first home which in turn is having an impact on all sellers.

A lot of the anxiety rests with people who have already committed to purchasing a property. For example, if the Prime Minister locks the Country down completely where is that going to leave people, especially the ones who have agreed dates, removals etc. Even worse the ones who exchanged contracts a couple of weeks ago with a completion date imminent.

It’s because of this, solicitors have been advised by the law society to be very careful when setting dates. They have emphasised the importance of ensuring exchange and completion occurs on the same day when there are only two parties in the chain and only have a day between the two events with chains slightly longer. This is reducing the risk of people been locked into a contract they cannot adhere too if the Country was to be put on lockdown or the possibility of a party in the chain contracting the virus and thus have to go into self-isolation.

As well as the above causing disruption in the industry due to the aforementioned reasons there is no doubt people are going to be scared about the market in general. For example, are property prices going to crash or at least how far are prices going to drop?

If you are in the purchase for the short-term i.e. you plan to sell in two years or it’s an investment where the plan is to renovate and sell for profit, then I can totally understand the anxiety. However, if you are buying your next family home and plan to be there for a while then you have less to worry about. Yes there is a chance property prices will drop over the next month’s but one thing is for sure, they will climb back and if you take a 10 year view the property you are looking to purchase will more than likely be worth more than what you have agreed to pay for it today.

Furthermore, the interest rate currently stands 0.1%, the lowest rates have ever been. Granted lenders have not yet made changes to their fixed rate products to reflect this but this will probably be only a few days away. Therefore, if your purchase is a long-term view now is the time to borrow money and fix the rate for as long as possible.

Obviously there maybe the uncertainty with your jobs at the moment. However, there is help at hand from the mortgage companies who are generally granting three-month holiday periods, which you can use to your advantage.        

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Mortgage Approvals Hit Four Year High

Estate Agents irrespective of where they are in the Country should be prepared for a busy few months according to the date released by the Bank Of England. The Bank Of England confirmed that the amount mortgage approvals related to house purchases have hit a four year high. If this is correct it is obviously illustrating the amount of house buyers looking to purchase a new home is on the rise.

It has been well documented that pre-election and pre-Brexit there was so much uncertainty in people’s mindsets. People felt both their lives and the Country were at a crossroads and because of this were not willing to commit to buying a new property.

Christian Armitage Managing Director of the online estate agent FastMove recently commented. ‘Towards the end of November and throughout the whole of December the market was really slow. Everything was down

  1. The amount of instructions
  2. The amount of viewings
  3. The amount of offers
  4. The amount of sales agreed

He goes onto say

‘Granted the industry is generally slow that time of year. However, this year was extra slow and there is no doubt this was down to the two main elements of the election and Brexit.  Since Borris Johnsons landslide win at the election and the closure on Brexit final looming there is no doubt people a lot more motivated to look for a new home.’

With the market getting stronger house buyers will soon beware of future house price rises and therefore will look to make the move probably faster than they first thought before the market moves against them.

As well as looking to secure their new home people are also looking at securing the best long-term fix rate to take full advantage of the low interest rates been offered.

However, the question we all need to answer is how long will the ‘Borris bounce back’ last? There is no doubt there is a lot of confidence and positivity about the housing market at the moment. However, this could fade very fast if trade negotiations re Brexit don’t go to plan.