The latest news

The latest news




10 virtual tours of the world’s most famous landmarks

They’re closed for now but you can still take an interactive online tour of 10 of the world’s most famous landmarks as pulled together here by The Guardian; the perfect opportunity to gaze over the edge of Machu Picchu or marvel at the Pyramids from every angle, all whilst being sat at home.

Click here to read 10 virtual tours of the world’s most famous landmarks.



Landlords - How To Avoid The Dreaded Void Periods

All landlords at some point will experience the unfortunate situation of having void periods, hopefully not for any protracted periods. Read a few our tips which could help you to avoid these situations, or at least reduce them to a minimum.

Do your research
One of the easiest ways to avoid long void periods for your property is to ensure that you have the right tenant in your property in the first place. Having a tenant in your property who is suitable and can afford the requisite rent will, of course, reduce any headaches for you later down the line. Ensure that you agent has properly referenced tenants, and if at all possible, try to meet prospective tenants to establish a good relationship from the outset.

Short term vs. long term
As well as researching your tenants, investigating the area that you are letting your property within to ensure that you are asking for a fair price will also help you to side-step any void periods. A keenly priced property will attract more applicants, giving you a greater choice of tenants. It is important to keep in mind here that offering a more competitive rental price could lead to longer tenancies, therefore finding the balance is imperative for any landlord.

Property inspections
Regularly inspecting your property can be a good way to build up further rapport with the tenant if you are managing a property yourself, and allows you to ensure that it is in a good condition. This can benefit you in multiple ways; firstly, it helps to ensure that your property is of a nice standard for the current tenant, as well as meaning you don’t have to waste any time should your tenant move out and you want to bring your property to market immediately.

Find the right agent
With the raft of new legislation which has come into place in the lettings industry, having a well-informed and proactive estate agent has never been more important. Employing an agent on a fully-managed service will take many of the responsibilities out of your hands as a landlord and with the superior marketing available, as well as pools of applicants who are tried and tested, the most straightforward way to reduce your void periods could be to choose your agent wisely.



Stamp Duty Holiday - What Has Changed?

In one of the biggest changes to the property market for some time, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has introduced a stamp duty holiday which is now in place and runs up until 31st March 2021. This £4bn stimulus to the property market has been launched with a single purpose – to stimulate the market and encourage potential buyers onto the property ladder. 

"The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500 and nearly nine out of 10 people buying a main home this year will pay no stamp duty at all," said Sunak in his summer statement. 

For first-time buyers and existing homeowners, stamp duty rates are now as follows; 

Property or lease premium or transfer value

SDLT rate

Up to £500,000

Zero

next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)

5%

next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

10%

remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

12%

 

For those who are buying a second home, or increasing their portfolio, stamp duty rates are now as follows;

Property or lease premium or transfer value

SDLT rate

Up to £500,000

3%

next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000)

8%

next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million)

13%

remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million)

15%


The stamp duty holiday has been analysed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which estimates that the change could encourage 216,000 home moves.
 

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Stamp duty is a terrible tax and this measure will help get Britain moving again, potentially unlocking hundreds of thousands of new moves. 

“The tax gums up the housing market and locks down homeowners, at a time when many more people are ready to move. We estimate this tax cut could have an impressive effect on the housing market this year." 

"The scale of these benefits show that the chancellor would be crazy to stop there. Raising the threshold further, or preferably just abolishing the tax completely, would build in huge benefits for homebuyers, productivity and the economy as a whole.”



Five Ways To Refresh Your Outdoor Space

Outdoor space has rarely been so prized as it is now, with searches for properties with gardens and patios now much higher than prior to the lockdown period. We have put together five simple and inexpensive ways that you can perk up your outdoor space, no matter how much (or indeed how little) you may have available.
  1. Create Specific Areas

An effective way to transform your outdoor space is to create specific areas within your available area. Creating a seating area with screens, a bedding area with planters and adding hanging baskets further down your garden will create real depth as well as encouraging the use of these spaces. If you have less space available, think about using furniture which can be also be used as storage as well as items which can be folded away or stacked.

  1. Lighting

Investing in lighting for your outdoor area will not only make it more attractive when the evenings set in, it will also encourage you to embrace the outdoors even when it is a little darker. Solar lighting is an affordable, effective and fuss-free way to add some ambience to your garden, patio, balcony or outdoor space – solar nets are particularly effective as the lights can be weaved through a trellis or on a fence.

  1. Pots and Planters

If your outdoor space is a small patio or balcony area then using pots and planters is a great way to add some fresh flowers and foliage, making your space much more inviting. If your property is rented, then pots and planters are also really useful as you can take them with you when you move to a new property and you do not need to dig up a garden which could cause potential disputes. If you have more space available, add some hanging baskets to create different levels of interest across your garden.

  1. Accessories

Although investing in soft furnishings and accessories can be a more pricey way to refresh your outdoor space, because the items are intended for outdoor use they tend to last longer and so can be a worthwhile investment. Bright pops of colour can be added to any size of space with cushions, beanbags, throws and adding candles to table areas will take your outdoor space to the next level.

  1. Planting

Very few things will bring the outdoors to life as much as fresh plants and flowers – over the span of summer they also work out to being fairly inexpensive. Lavender is a particularly good option due to its hard-wearing nature and the gentle scent that is emitted. You can also purchase bedding packs of plants from most supermarkets and DIY stores, making them easy to find and inexpensive.



What Does The Stamp Duty Cut Mean For Landlords?

The buy to let sector has seen a tremendous amount of change over the past few years in order to help rebalance the property market, with key pieces of legislation such as the Tenant Fees Act and the recent Electrical Safety Standards regulations. The changes to stamp duty will go some way to reigniting the buy-to-let market and offers landlords a tremendous opportunity to make the most of the tax changes.

With the temporary increase on the stamp duty threshold to £500,000 until 31st March next year, first-time buyers and existing homeowners are set to save up to £15,000. For additional and investment properties, stamp duty is also removed up to this value, however the 3% surcharge remains.

Charlotte Nixon, mortgage expert at Quilter, believes that the changes to stamp duty could have the consequence of more investors returning to the market;

“Buy-to-let investors have left the market in their droves over the last few years after tax changes have made it an untenable investment for many. The stamp duty holiday may serve to entice some of these investors back to the market."

“Not only will this cut help to reignite the property market but also improve the supply of rental properties, which has been dwindling over the last 12 months."

Nixon is supported in her opinion by David Whittaker, Chief Executive of Keystone Property Finance who believes;

“The Chancellor’s decision to cut stamp duty will have positive implications for homebuyers across the country and will certainly help to stimulate the housing market. Importantly, this latest cut will also go some way towards providing a much-needed boost for the buy-to-let sector.”

“As a result of this measure, many portfolio landlords across the UK will now be considering new buy-to-let purchases."
 
The numbers can be useful to bare out the extent of the potential savings for landlords looking to increase their portfolios – before the stamp duty holiday was introduced you would have paid £26,000 in stamp duty but now that is reduced almost by half to £13,500.

If you are thinking of investing in an additional property or looking to increase your property portfolio, then making the most of the stamp duty holiday is advised – contact us today to see how we can help you.