Loft conversions allow for beautifully bright spaces

Grange Hall is a bespoke collection of nine houses, beautifully converted from The West Hackney National School building, which dates back to 1837.  Mixing contemporary design with Victorian period features, this unique development has been carefully designed to provide ‘smart homes’ with the assistance of leading Islington technology company, Pinchpoint.

Each house has an individual name and identity which relate to specific features of the original building. The Grange, for example, is the grandest house in the development and occupies the entire front of the original Georgian school building, whereas The Folly refers to the schools original arched vestibule.

It’s also very well connected, just a three minute walk from Rectory Road station, and very close to the many shops, bars, restaurants and other local amenities of Stoke Newington.

Grange Hall is launching tomorrow, Wednesday 26th April, with prices ranging from £865,000 to £1,450,000. For more photos and information take a look at our website here.

Call us now on 020 7226 6611 to register or email newhomes@currell.com

Head of Research Nicola Almond comments on the surprise election on 8 June

 

Today MPs backed Theresa May’s call for a general election on 8 June. Theresa May appealed to the British public to ‘put their trust’ in her, and to provide a firm mandate to create unity in Westminster in order to deliver Brexit.

Theresa May previously said she wouldn’t call a snap election, but with a working majority of only 17, and polls showing an increasing lead over Labour, the temptation proved too great. The latest YouGov poll gives the Tories 44% of the popular vote – almost double Labour’s 23%. The result of the election is therefore fairly predictable, and some commentators are predicting that the Conservative majority will increase to 100 seats.

The most obvious outcome of the likely substantial Conservative win would be to improve dramatically May’s room for manoeuvre in the Commons and to strengthen her hand in Europe. The absence of an election looming in 2020 (soon after the March 2019 Brexit deadline) will also provide greater stability.

On balance, this unexpected early election is forecast to be positive for the sterling and the economy, providing a government which is stronger and in a much better to position to negotiate the best Brexit deal for the country.

In the context of increasing global destabilisation, we expect London property to remain a safe haven for investors, despite some appreciation in the pound.

CEO Anne Currell says ‘A stronger government operating from a united position of strength can only be good for the economy and the property market’.

The 25th Annual Quiz Evening for the NSPCC Islington branch took place on the 25th March at Islington Town Hall and was a brilliant success, raising £10,000.

Currell have been dedicated sponsors of the event for 20 years and this year saw 190 guests walk through the door, the best attendance since 2012.

Clive Anderson, award-winning broadcaster and comedy writer hosted the event and kept guests entertained through seven difficult rounds.

With Easter in sight, it wasn’t a surprise that the chocolate round was deemed most popular. It was clearly thirsty work, as over the course of the evening they managed to drink the bar dry… twice!

Overall it was a wonderful evening for a fantastic cause.

To find out more about NSPCC Islington and their work please visit their website here 

Head of Research Nicola Almond considers how the triggering of Article 50 will affect the London property market

Yesterday Theresa May triggered Article 50, starting two years of negotiations which will lead to Britain’s exit from the European Union.

What will this mean for the London property market?

On balance the triggering of Brexit should act as a fillip to the market, especially in London, where confidence and property prices are particularly sensitive to the Brexit issue. Sales volumes fell after last year’s vote to leave the EU, although the stamp duty increases were arguably more to blame for this decline.

This may not last however, because whilst in the short term some of the uncertainty arising from last June’s referendum will be dissipated, in the longer term the protracted negotiations may not run smoothly and uncertainty about the impact of Brexit on the economy and jobs is likely to persist for some time.

On the positive side, worries that economic growth will be dampened by the Brexit process are expected to deter the Bank of England from raising interest rates despite rising inflation. Continuing low interest rates will help prevent any further deterioration in affordability, which is especially an issue in London. Also, as sterling is unlikely to recover to pre-Brexit levels, the continuing relative weakness of the pound will continue to attract overseas investors by more than offsetting increases in stamp duty.

The main issue for the London housing market remains however the structural imbalance between supply and demand, and this is unlikely to be resolved any time soon, despite the various measures outlined in February’s Housing White Paper. So although yesterday’s move to start the Brexit process will provide a welcome boost to confidence in the market, it does not bring us any nearer to resolving the challenge of delivering housing in sufficient numbers that the ordinary Londoner can afford to buy.

Last Saturday was a busy and rewarding day for Currell’s shared ownership team at the London Home Show. Hundreds of new leads were generated and our team gave invaluable advice and assistance to prospective purchasers.

4,400 aspiring London homeowners passed through the doors of the QEII Conference Centre in Westminster.  The London Home Show is organised by Share to Buy, which is the Mayor of London’s route to affordable home ownership within the capital.

The Currell team was joined by Eric Cheatle, a financial advisor for TMP, The Mortgage People who helped advise on eligibility and affordability.

Head of Research Nicola Almond says UK interest rates are not expected to rise despite yesterday’s increase in the US 

The US Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate yesterday by 0.25% to 1%, as inflation rose to 2.2% in February – above the target of 2%.

Although inflation is also rising in the UK, the Bank of England is not expected to follow suit with a rate rise, due to fears of an adverse impact on the economy and concerns over Brexit.

UK inflation is facing upward pressure due to post-Brexit sterling weakness, rising from 1.6% in January to 1.8% in February. This quarter it is forecast to be 2%, rising further to 2.7% in early 2018 before falling to 2.6% in early 2019.

This is the second US rate rise in three months, and the first of three interest rate rises expected this year. Whilst rates are expected to climb steadily thereafter, some commentators expect rates to stick at around 2%, whilst others see them returning in the longer term to pre-crash levels of 4%-5%.

The UK benchmark rate was cut from to 0.5% to 0.25% last August. This was the first rate change in over 7 years. Most commentators expect the rate to remain unchanged at 0.25% in 2017 and 2018. This may change however if inflation rises faster than expected and economic growth exceeds expectations.

The US rate rise may put some upward pressure on UK mortgage rates, which have recently seen some increases in long term 10 year fixed deals from historic lows.

 

The Big House Gala fundraiser held on the evening of March 6th at Wringer and Mangle in Dalston, was a great success, surpassing all expectations. The event raised well over £40,000 which will help the charity to support care leavers who are at risk of social exclusion, to manage the transition to living independently.

Photograph by Dylan Nolte

Photograph by Dylan Nolte

Currell was the main sponsor of this event, alongside Enfield Construction, Four Communications, Joelson Law and Wringer and Mangle.

Maggie Norris, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, gave an inspirational talk on the work of the charity, which offers its members a programme of  life skill and employment skills sessions plus drama workshops  that culminate in  an original theatre show and four weeks of performances. It also provides access to opportunities, holistic support and long term mentoring.

This was followed by impressive testimonials from several young people who are currently benefitting from the charity  and from others who have participated in the programme and stayed on as mentors and as part of the growing community that The Big House fosters.

Guest speakers included Sir Lenny Henry and Game of Thrones actor and Patron of the charity Ed Skrein, (photographed below with Chris Currell CEO). Ed spoke about his involvement with the charity as a mentor and the invaluable work carried out by the Big House.

Photograph by Dylan Nolte

If you want to find out more about the work of the Big House visit http://thebighouse.uk.com/

Head of Research Nicola Almond comments on the lack of further action on housing in yesterday’s Spring Budget

As widely feared, Chancellor Philip Hammond did not announce any changes to Stamp Duty in yesterday’s budget. Nor did he announce any further incentives to fix what the government referred to less than a month ago as the ‘broken’ housing market.

Although It is widely accepted that changes to Stamp Duty since 2014 have dampened activity in the market, the government has given no indication that further changes will be made, despite increased lobbying from key players in the property sector. 

We now need to wait at least until November for any further measures. In the meantime expect the clamour for Stamp Duty reform to increase, with demands for help for first time buyers, small investors and downsizers, as well as a rationalisation and reduction of Stamp Duty bands and rates, which fall disproportionately on buyers in London due to the higher cost of properties. The average asking price in the capital is now close to £625,000, attracting a Stamp Duty payment of £21,250.

Currell supports these calls for reform. CEO Anne Currell says “Punitive levels of Stamp Duty act not only as a barrier to entry for first time buyers but also hinder those already on the property ladder who need to move to a larger or smaller home. This is not only frustrating for individuals but also means that we are not making the most efficient use of our housing stock.”

Head of Research Nicola Almond previews the Spring Budget and CEO Anne Currell voices support for stamp duty reform.

Next Wednesday’s spring budget will be Philip Hammond’s first and the UK’s last, as it will move to the autumn from this year.

Bumper tax receipts in January from self-assessment and capital gains tax have cut government borrowing to its lowest level in January for 17 years, giving the chancellor more room for manoeuvre than expected. There may be some modest giveaways, although these are likely to be limited as there is still much uncertainty around Brexit, with article 50 expected to be triggered around the 15th March.

The most likely move in the property sector is some mitigation of the impact of rising business rates. Business secretary Sajid Javid has already promised help worth ‘hundreds of millions’ for the many small businesses affected, many of which are facing rises in the region of 400%.

Lobbying continues to increase for reform of stamp duty, although the absence of any announcement in the Autumn Statement suggests this may be falling on deaf ears despite disappointing tax receipts following last April’s SDLT increases for buyers of additional properties. By November, these changes had brought in half as much money as the Treasury expected and were blamed for the steep fall in property sales volumes, costing the UK economy an estimated £1 billion.

With almost half of all SDLT raised in London and the South East, where just over a quarter of the population live, this tax falls disproportionately on areas with higher property prices. It represents not only a barrier to entry into the property market, but also an obstacle to those wishing or needing to move. Currell supports Property Week’s call to reform the SDLT system, which comprises five key demands:

1. Exempt first-time buyers from stamp duty
2. Exempt downsizers or give them a tax break to move home
3. Adjust the tax brackets to increase funding for affordable homes
4. Lower the top rates
5. Abolish the 3% surcharge on additional homes

CEO Anne Currell believes that if enacted, these bold moves would provide a welcome stimulus to the property market, commenting that

“Stamp duty reform has the potential to provide a much-needed boost to supply as well as improving affordability across the sector, especially for first time buyers in London”.

Head of Research Nicola Almond discusses increasing interest in Help to Buy London.

This week’s Homes and Property reports that an increasing number of developments in London are being registered for the Government’s Help to Buy initiative.

It’s just over a month since the Government increased the upper limit on this equity loan scheme from 20% to 40% for all London boroughs, and an increasing number of homes are being registered for the scheme, as developers face an uncertain market.

The new rules make it possible to buy a new build property for up to £600,000 with a minimum deposit of 5%, a Government equity loan of up to 40%, and a mortgage of 55%. No fees are charged on the loan for the first five years of owning the property.

The scheme is open to home movers as well as first time buyers, although the property you are buying must be the only property you own at the time of purchase, and homes can’t subsequently be sublet.

Martin Fillery, director and Head of Shared Ownership at Currell, believes the Government is putting pressure on developers to offer London Help to Buy more widely as it tries to increase the amount of affordable housing in the capital.

“If they have seen any sort of slowdown in their sales rates it is a great way to open things up to a different audience,” he says.

Developers appear to be overcoming their fear that registering eligible units for Help to Buy could detract either from the appeal of a scheme or from the more expensive units within a development.

Head of New Homes Adrian Plant welcomes the increase in the equity limit, saying,

“At Currell we encourage developers to register for Help to Buy, as this offers many buyers a route to purchase which would otherwise not be possible”

With the triggering of Article 50 looming there is an increasing awareness that the market may lack direction for some time. Affordability remains a pressing issue, and registering properties for Help to Buy optimises both the appeal and the number of potential buyers, so is an obvious choice for eligible properties.