Downsizer scheme, Quadra

Quadra, is a new Hackney development designed solely for the downsizer market over the age of 55

Currell are delighted to announce that we have been appointed as sole agent to sell Quadra – a unique, age-exclusive downsizer development in Hackney. The project is a joint venture between Hanover Housing Association and award-winning housebuilder Hill.

Comprising a collection of 29 spacious one and two bedroom apartments overlooking London Fields, Quadra is designed for over 55s who want to enjoy all that this vibrant and sought after pocket of east London has to offer. Carefully arranged around a landscaped courtyard, the architecturally striking development comprises two blocks, designed so that most lounge and dining areas have a view of the park.

Benjamin Hobart, Associate Director of New Homes, comments: “This is a highly unique project that Currell had been following closely for a number of years – and we are looking forward to the launch. This is a prime example of a meticulously planned development, which will give purchasers the opportunity to have one of east London’s most iconic open spaces on their doorstep and in many cases, visible from their own living rooms.”

Claire Anderson, Deputy Director of Development at Hanover, adds: “Quadra is the latest offering in our Downsizer Homes portfolio, creating a truly appealing, age exclusive development. We are delighted to be working with Currell as they have a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Hackney area that will bring the creativity and experience needed to market this exclusive new development.”

Sales will officially launch in Q2, with prices to be confirmed.

Visit www.currell.com/new-homes for more information.

Make the ultimate romantic gesture and find the perfect love nest to share with your partner this Valentine’s Day. These small but perfectly formed properties are the perfect place to make a home together. Some even have an extra bedroom (just in case).

Clerkenwell

Wyclif Court

St John Street, EC1V, £435 per week (tenant fees apply)

This beautifully refurbished, one double bedroom apartment sits in the heart of Clerkenwell, close to Farringdon and Angel. The apartment features wood flooring throughout, has an open plan layout and is positioned on the fifth floor of the Wyclif Court development. The charming Exmouth Market, with its array of bars and restaurants, is just a short walk away. Date nights are all sorted.

Hackney

Gosse Court

Downham Road, N1, £525,000 Leasehold

Located on Kingsland Basin, close to Haggerston overground, this one double bedroom apartment is within a popular and secure block. The apartment has spectacular views over the Kingsland Basin and London skyline, which can be enjoyed from the south facing winter garden and balcony. A perfect setting for a romantic meal for two. Other perks include a communal roof terrace and bike storage.

Enfield Road

Enfield Road, N1 £565,000 Leasehold

This gated development is perfect for those who want their conveniences close at hand, with an on-site gym and concierge. Located on the first floor, the apartment has two double bedrooms (one en-suite) and bright, modern living space. Enfield Road is close to Haggerston station and a short stroll from Regent’s Canal. It’s also got growing room…just in case.

Shoreditch

Weymouth Court

Weymouth Terrace, E2 £450,000 Leasehold

A two bedroom, second floor ex-local authority apartment positioned within easy reach of buzzing areas such as Hoxton, Shoreditch and Hackney. The apartment has been refurbished to a high standard with high quality wooden flooring and underfloor heating keeping you cosy on the long winter nights. Both bedrooms are well-sized doubles and the living space has a south facing balcony. The nearby Columbia Road market is the perfect spot for a romantic Sunday stroll.

Islington

Mortimer Road

Mortimer Road, N1 £525,000 Leasehold

A charming one bedroom apartment set on the raised ground floor of a converted Victorian house in the heart of De Beauvoir. The property comprises a wonderful reception room with an impressive floor to ceiling window, separate kitchen and bathroom. The well proportioned double bedroom is situated to the rear of the property, providing some the perfect spot for a peaceful escape from city life.

 

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Head of Research, Nicola Almond, discusses yesterday’s White Paper

Yesterday’s housing White Paper signalled an acceptance of the reality that home ownership is not for everyone, and that the rental sector needs to play an increasingly important role. Building homes faster and providing more homes for rent appear to be the government’s main fixes for what it acknowledges is the ‘broken housing market’.

The government recognises that measures to boost supply are essential if the target of 250,000 additional homes per year is to be achieved, and the White Paper is looking mainly to planning reform to achieve this with a combination of higher local targets for numbers of homes and speedier construction. Although the government recognises a shortage of available land there are no plans to relax green belt rules, with the focus for land provision remaining on brownfield sites. The government repeated its commitment to releasing surplus public land with a capacity for 160,000 homes during this Parliament.

According to the government, 40% of local planning authorities do not have an up to date plan that meets projected needs, so councils will be forced to plan for more homes by producing ‘realistic’ and regularly updated Local Plans, with higher density developments (including mansion blocks, mews houses and terraced streets) where appropriate. Councils will also be helped to build more homes, although details of this are yet to be disclosed; many are hoping that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) borrowing cap will be lifted.

Planning rules will be amended to allow more homes for rent, in both the private (BtR) and affordable sectors. The government is aiming to improve the quality of rental properties and lengthen tenancy terms by professionalising the private rented sector, encouraging institutional investment in Build to Rent (BtR) properties and in effect leaving the Buy-to-Let market to wither on the vine as increased taxes continue to take effect.

Once construction is underway developers will be forced to build faster, with completion notices imposing a deadline of two years rather than three between planning consent and completion.

The government is hoping to encourage more construction companies into the market, and the white Paper reiterated its commitment to use the £3bn Home Building Fund previously announced to encourage SMEs into the sector. Many of these exited the market during the last recession, and 60% of new homes are built by only 10 companies.

Measures to help home buyers at the bottom of the property ladder were announced, including Lifetime ISAs (helping first-time buyers save for a deposit) and further restrictions on the purchase of starter homes. These homes, currently sold at least 20% below market value to first time buyers aged 23-40, will be available only to households with combined incomes of less than £80,000 (or £90,000 in London) who are buying with a mortgage. The planned number of starter homes is likely to fall however, as the requirement for 20% of larger developments to be starter homes is to be dropped in favour of at least 10% of these schemes being ‘affordable home ownership units’.

Affordable housing initiatives announced previously were reiterated in the White Paper, such as the £1.4bn of extra funding for the Affordable Homes Programme, and the extension of Right to Buy to include housing association tenants.

The White Paper has generally had a lukewarm reception, with many seeing it as papering over the cracks of the ‘broken housing market’ rather than engendering the radical reform needed. Whilst the emergent Build to Rent sector undoubtedly has an important role to play, it is unlikely to prove a panacea, and there are increasing expectations that councils will have to start building again to rectify the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand.

Head of Research Nicola Almond considers tomorrow’s housing White Paper

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell is expected to announce several measures to speed up house building in tomorrow’s housing White Paper, which it is hoped will help the government meet its own objective of building 1 million new homes by 2020. This aim, announced in 2015, is already looking challenging, with the 167,920 completions in 2015/16 way short of the 250,000 annual target. Not surprisingly, the government is focusing instead on the figure for net additions to housing stock, which reached 190,000 in 2015/16.

The long awaited White Paper is expected to provide a package of measures to encourage the institutional investors into the Build to Rent (BtR) sector, including amending planning rules so more homes can be built specifically for rent. The government says it is not giving up on its dream of a property-owning democracy, but that it needs to provide for people who want to rent as well as those who want to buy. BtR homes can offer longer tenancies, which are especially important to young families.

Measures are also expected to encourage smaller developers back into the market to reduce what the government regards as the sector’s reliance on a small number of large developers.

Freeing up more land for development is expected to be a key objective. Currently only 3% of land on England is built on, with an estimated additional 0.5% of brownfield land potentially available. Compare to this the 13% designated as green belt, and it’s easy to understand the demands for new rules for building on this land. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has previously said that councils should not stand in the way of development provided all other options have been considered.

Land banking is also expected to be targeted, with the suggestions that developers may see planning permission withdrawn if they sit on parcels of land without building homes. The land around railway stations has been identified as a target for homes, and moves are expected to relocate station car parks underground to free up development land. Height restrictions on tall buildings are also expected to be relaxed, with the suggestion that home owners and developers may be allowed to build to the height of the ‘tallest building on the block’ without needing to seek planning permission.

Further measures are expected to include incentives for older people to downsize to smaller properties, thus releasing a supply of larger homes. This may include more housing for over 55s but is not expected to include the previously mooted idea of exempting older people from stamp duty to incentivise them to vacate under-used homes.

With 220,000 homes needed per year just to keep up with projected population growth, the government needs to find an answer to the question of how to increase house building. With the structural imbalance between supply and demand continuing to fuel price growth and challenge affordability for many, a range of effective measures is long overdue.

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Director of Shared Ownership at Currell, Martin Fillery, discusses how the industry is changing and how sales negotiators need to have more skills than ever before

Shared ownership has grown steadily over the last 25 years, as successive governments sought to facilitate home ownership in the face of rising property prices and deteriorating affordability.

The imbalance between supply and demand remains constant with many more homes sought than available, bringing a need to ration the opportunity to buy.

This meant that for negotiators selling shared ownership homes, there was not so much a need to ‘sell’ as to allocate to those most in need or comply with eligibility rules. These rules were designed to ensure the public purse was used wisely.

Tellingly, in the early days negotiators were often referred to as ‘sales coordinators’. The sales coordinator acted as a gatekeeper and form filler, assessing eligibility and ensuring correct processes were followed. There were similarities to dealing with a council waiting list, and many early shared ownership buyers were moving from social rental homes.

The sector has changed considerably; property prices have far outstripped wage growth, making shared ownership the only viable route to home ownership for many. In 1997 the average London house price was 3.7 times the average annual wage – today it is nine times average incomes.

To reflect this, income thresholds were increased (to £90k in London and £80k outside of London) and consequently, most shared ownership buyers today are young professionals exiting the private rental sector. The main target group is young professionals. Demand from this demographic is growing – driven by rising prices and increasing awareness of the shared ownership product.

On the supply side, there is more product and the market place has become competitive. HAs are increasingly commercially aware and constantly raising design and specification standards.

More HAs are developing shared ownership homes for sale, including developing larger sites in-house rather than relying on Section 106 supply. In addition to this increased supply and competition within the shared ownership sector, government initiatives such as Help to Buy are targeting the same purchaser pool.

Prospective buyers have a much wider range of homes to choose from, and the shared ownership sales negotiator needs to help them make an informed decision. This includes not only educating the buyer about shared ownership (still a necessity), but also having a thorough knowledge of the development they are selling and competing schemes.

Once committed to the scheme, the sales negotiator needs to manage the expectations of increasingly discerning and well-informed purchasers; this requires a complete understanding of the product they are offering (including detailed specifications such as heating, appliances and materials).

Consequently, the ability to sell the scheme and close the deal are becoming essential in a market where rising prices are restricting the number of potential purchasers, and supply is increasing. Whilst the supply/demand dynamics are different from the market for private sale new homes, the shift in shared ownership is narrowing this gap, and the difference between selling shared ownership or private sale new homes is being eroded.

The shared ownership sales negotiator increasingly needs to have a broad skill set, with a thorough understanding of the sector and product. This needs to be complemented by knowledge of the local market and competing schemes, plus a keen commercial awareness and the ability to ‘seal the deal’ and see it through to completion. Many now working in the sector have experienced this evolution, and are keen to embrace further change.

With HAs increasing their supply of properties for sale on the open market, and shared ownership homes increasingly seen as part of the continuum of property for purchase, the logical next step is for crossover, with negotiators selling both products, finding the best match for buyers and vendors.

‘I think the main change I have seen over the 17 years I have worked in this sector is the supply/demand of affordable home ownership. When I started out at Tower back in 2000 it was more a case of selection and eligibility as demand far outstripped supply of shared ownership homes. The role of the sales negotiator was to ensure the right person was prioritised according to LA and Government criteria. Now we have a more competitive market with shared ownership competing with Help to Buy. The role of the sales negotiator is now more about effective sales & marketing techniques and being able to close the deal with the buyer. There is still an element of selection and eligibility required, especially in rural locations where local parishes with restrictive covenants still apply, but overall the role is now identical to that of any sales negotiator in a property environment.

The buyer profile has also changed significantly. Whereas 17 years ago a high percentage of sales were to those releasing a social rented home, we have seen this reduce to almost zero and the young professional taking over as the main target group for shared ownership, especially in high value London locations.’ Debbie Small, Sales & Marketing Director, Hyde New Homes

It might sound like an old cliché but the new year is always a good time to start thinking about your next move. Not only do lots more properties hit the market, motivated buyers do too which could make your onward chain quicker. If you are thinking about taking that big leap in 2017, take a look at our round up of some of the best properties on the market right now to give you some inspiration.

Shepherdess Walk, N1 £2,600,000

This open plan living space shows off the original industrial features of the building.

This large converted loft apartment, situated close to Old Street is a stylish and spacious residence. Complete with its own private roof terrace, three bedrooms and secure underground parking this apartment is the perfect space to unwind after a long day in the City. If that’s not enough space however, the apartment next door is also for sale and could be converted to make one super sized penthouse and roof terrace.

Victoria Park Road, E9 £585,000

This maisonette is completed by stylish, cosy interiors

This well presented duplex maisonette is perfectly located to enjoy all the best that Hackney has to offer, with London Fields and Regent’s Canal only a short distance away. It has two bedrooms, a small decked garden to the rear and off street parking. Cambridge Heath station and Bethnal Green underground are both within walking distance.

Albion Square, E8 £2,350,000

A beautiful end of terrace property on one of Hackney's most exclusive squares

Albion Square dates back to the 1800’s and is one of the most sought after residential squares in the area. This property sits across four floors and offers four bedrooms, a landscaped garden and a double garage, and is within a short walking distance to Haggerston Overground. It would make the perfect home for a growing family who need access to local transport links.

Tilney Gardens, N1 £950,000

A bright and spacious living area is the showpiece of this three bedroom property

This purpose built three bedroom property has been finished in an immaculate contemporary style and also boasts an attractive patio garden, accessible from the kitchen. It sits within easy reach of Highbury & Islington and Angel stations. The property is also chain free.

Goswell Road, EC1V £899.950

This modern development provides the perfect City base

A two double bedroom apartment located on the third floor of The Courtyard development in Clerkenwell. The apartment boasts two balconies, one leading off the main living area and the other from the master bedroom, as well as a secure underground parking space. It is within walking distance to the many amenities surrounding Old Street and Clerkenwell’s plethora of restaurants, pubs and independent shops.

New homes for a new year

Head of Research, Nicola Almond, discusses the Autumn Statement

Image result for philip hammond speaking in parliament

Whilst the Autumn Statement failed to deliver the cuts in Stamp Duty many were hoping for, Philips Hammond’s aim of improving life for the JAMs (people who are Just About Managing) included measures to cut costs for tenants and to increase the supply of affordable homes.

The government heralded a step change in its ambitions for addressing the housing supply shortage, pledging £1.4bn to build 40,000 additional affordable homes, an extra £2.3bn housing infrastructure, and a relaxation of financing restrictions on government grants. (to permit the financing of affordable rented housing).

There was little succour for Buy-to-Let landlords, as a ban on letting fees to tenants will doubtless see these costs passed on to landlords. This may be counterproductive in the longer term as it could translate into higher rents and may also lead to an increasing number of Buy-to-Let landlords exiting the market. The extension of the Right to Buy programme will also reduce rental stock. These measures may therefore cause further upward pressure on rents, which in London are already expected to grow faster than property prices over the next 5 years.

The government is however aiming to significantly increase the supply of affordable homes, including affordable rental housing, and anticipates that this will more than offset any reduction in supply at the lower end of the rental market. The relaxation of financing restrictions will permit the construction of more affordable rented homes.

The rental sector is expected to provide an increasing percentage of housing supply over the next decade, as much of ‘generation rent’ are unable to afford to buy a property, especially in London. The moves today to boost the supply of affordable rented homes, coupled with previous initiatives regarding the emergent Build to Rent sector, signal that the government is committed to supporting the rental market, and increasingly regards it as playing key part in addressing the housing shortage.

Group CEO Anne Currell welcomes these moves to improve the rental sector, stating that ‘Renting must become an acceptable alternative tenure and Currell will work positively to implement these changes without compromise’ .

The Telegraph declared last week that stamp duty reforms announced in December 2014 are damaging the property marketing and cutting tax intakes.

The article was published just one week before the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond delivers his Autumn Statement, which is expected to discuss stamp duty.

According to new research obtained by The Telegraph, the Exchequer ‘received £370 million less in stamp duty than the £700 million it expected following major changes made by George Osborne.’

It has also, according to new analysis, had a knock on effect on other parts of the economy because the number of people selling their homes has fallen. Potentially £1 billion has been lost due to a deficit of spending on property related transactions such as removals or renovations.

A number of MP’s, housebuilders and other organisations have now called for changes to be made.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Taxation ought to be about raising the revenue governments need – not the politics of envy. Punitive stamp duty rates seem, unsurprisingly, to have failed.”

This was followed by Rob Perrins, chief executive of Berkeley Homes who believes that the current stamp duty system “is stopping social mobility and will result in lower GDP and fewer homes getting built.”

Responding to the criticism a spokesman from the Treasury said: “The overwhelming majority of those who pay stamp duty – 98 per cent – are saving money thanks to our reform, which has done away with the unfair old system.

“Over 780,000 homebuyers saved an estimated £657 million on stamp duty in the year since tax was reformed.”

The Autumn Statement will be announced on Wednesday 23 November.

To read the full article in The Telegraph please click here

Image result for donald trump american flag

Brexit worries Trumped: Currell’s Head of Research Nicola Almond discusses the possible effect Donald Trump’s election may have on the UK property market. 

Worries over Brexit have been ‘Trumped’ and we are starting to consider the implications of the US election result for the UK property market. Emerging reports of increased web traffic for prime London property searches suggests that some North Americans are already seeking a more secure home for their capital, or perhaps themselves. Political and financial crises generally result in a flight to safe haven assets, such as gold and property, but in London this is likely to be limited to the prime market. This market had already seen increased interest from overseas due to the 18% post-Brexit decline of sterling, and any weakness in the dollar arising from the Trump victory is unlikely to make much of a dent in this currency depreciation.

For the moment financial markets remain relatively stable, meaning that US interest rate hike is back on the cards for December. UK rates are expected to remain at the current level for some time, as the Bank of England recently ditched plans for a post-Brexit cut due to better than expected economic conditions. Whilst higher inflation in 2017 could result in an increase in rates, the Bank has indicated that it will ‘look through’ short-term inflation, and try to avoid increasing rates.

Attention will soon be turning to the Autumn Statement (23 Nov), with the government under pressure to reverse the 3% stamp duty surcharge for additional properties (second homes and buy-to-lets). This policy is having a much greater impact on the property market than Brexit, and arguably is not achieving the desired objective of helping those at or trying to get onto the bottom of the property ladder. With the supply/demand imbalance in the rental market worsened by the exit of many small landlords, and consequent upward pressure on rents, the latter are now expected to grow at a faster rate than property prices over the next five years in London (c.25% vs c.20%).

Build to Rent is a hot topic of conversation in the London property market, as developers look to expand their offering with this rental model. While fairly new to the UK Build to Rent has proved successful elsewhere, most notably in the US and it is hoped that the Build to Rent model can help London’s struggling ‘Generation Rent’.

This morning Currell hosted its latest breakfast seminar, discussing the topic ‘Build to Rent – A Viable Option?’. We were lucky enough to be joined by two experts in the area, to discuss their experiences working in this expanding sector.

buildtorent breakfast seminar

Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture is an experienced architect specialising in urban regeneration, master planning and large-scale mixed-use projects. She joined us to share her experience being involved with Build to Rent projects across the UK. Assael has been closely involved in the evolution of Build to Rent in the Private Rented Sector in the UK since 2008. Through researching foreign multi-family models in-depth, particularly in America, producing several design guides and advising clients, investors and government institutions, Assael now have several Build to Rent projects throughout the country, some under construction and many more in the pipeline.

Félicie discussed the particular importance of planning the back of house element of a Build to Rent development very carefully, so that residents are not disturbed by the daily management required to keep the property running smoothly. This includes carefully located goods entrances and plant locations.

Félicie also drew attention to the need for units within Build to Rent developments to be carefully thought out, so that when one tenant moves out costs can be kept low due to minimal damage and easy redecoration. This extends down to small factors such as light switches that are easily removed from the wall for painting, and hanging wardrobes without cupboard doors to minimise the chance of damage and the need for replacement.

build to rent breakfast seminar

Felicie discusses the importance of carefully thought out service space

The second speaker of the morning was Tim Lewis, Client Strategy Director at branding agency Small Back Room. Tim has been an integral part of the team developing the brand for East Village and Get Living London for over five years along with a number of other high profile Build to Rent schemes.

Tim’s talk focused on the importance of relationship management in the Build to Rent sector and the need for property companies to reassess how they interact with their customers, how they appeal to them and how they reach them. The process of understanding this customer should be in depth like in the FMCG market, not just based on demographics. Unlike a traditional property transaction the decision to rent in one of these developments is a long term one which will require trust built through quality service.

Build to Rent developers and agents must also, Tim said, take into account the change in the way the generation under 30 communicates with one another and with companies through social media and other online channels. Word of mouth and friendly recommendations are incredibly important in this market. By monitoring these channels and producing quality content for them, you can ensure that you have some influence in that conversation.

breakfast seminar build to rent 3

Tim believes it is time for the property industry to change the way it communicates with its customers

A very big thank you to both our speakers for informed, interesting discussion which was greatly enjoyed by everyone in attendance. We look forward to seeing you all again at our next seminar.

For more information on our speakers please visit their websites:

www.assael.co.uk

www.smallbackroom.com