Nick Boles created headlines last month by suggesting that elderly people are to blame for the housing shortage but is this really the cause?

Mr Boles, who is the government planning minister said: “The majority – about two thirds – of the growth in population and in the number of households in the country has resulted not from immigration but from ageing.

“It used to be rare to have a great-grandparent or a great-grandchild in a family; it is now common, because people are living longer, and they do not all want to live in the same house.”

While this criticism of the elderly may seem extreme, new research has shown that 24% of current housing stock is not ‘efficiently’ occupied. The problem is most extreme in the south east where 760,000 properties fall into the category of being inefficiently occupied.

This is not to say that older homeowners should be forced to move, the problem arises if a household want to downsize and they can’t because there is no buyer available for a larger property.

As house prices increase younger families are finding it increasingly difficult to afford these larger homes, therefore the market is stalling and the turnover of upsizing and downsizing families isn’t happening.

So how might this situation be resolved? Only 115,340 new homes were built last year, according to the Office for National Statistics, compared with 176,650 in 2007 and a record 352,540 in 1968.

Paul Hudson, research director at Savills said: “New housing supply remains well below peak levels, and a large number of potential occupiers are unable to access the type of housing they need, let alone desire.

“By building new homes that appeal to the residents of inefficiently occupied homes, we can bring existing family homes back to the market while increasing new-build delivery levels.”

 

Last weekend’s inaugural Dame Dash in aid of St Joseph’s Hospital and Hackney Empire has so far raised a huge £7000.

Over 100 people joined in the race, to raise money for two well-loved Hackney institutions. Dressed in their pantomime best the runners put on a great display for onlookers on Mare Street.

Rod Bentley, Finance Director of the Hackney Empire said: “It was nice to be able to do something frontline at the Empire. A lot of people don’t realise it’s a charity so it’s good to raise awareness. We hope to see a lot more people next year.”

All the money raised will be split between the two charities and got towards helping local people in the borough.

Photos: Colin O’Brien

A new tax on cash rich foreign investors, who are seen to be fuelling the high-end London property market, is being considered by George Osborne.

The tax would be a method of plugging up a £1.2bn deficit and a way of funding two party conference commitments: the Liberal Democrats promise of providing free school meals to infants and the Tories’ plan to reward marriage through the tax system.

Currently, non-residents property owners benefit from paying no Capital Gains Tax, unlike domestic owners who pay CGT on all but their main home.

The idea of a new tax on rich foreign investors for expensive property is backed by Nick Clegg, who has long favoured increasing tax on expensive property.

David Cameron has so far avoided implementing taxes on expensive homes or rich foreign investors, including vetoing the annual levy on homes worth more than £2m, more commonly known as ‘mansion tax’.

Around £7bn of international money was invested in London last year.

Nearly three-quarters of new build homes in central London were purchased by international buyers last year. With such high levels of international investment, the general Tory party line is to welcome it.

“Lots of countries would love to have this problem,” said an aide to David Cameron.

However, some critics believe foreign investment is responsible for inflating house prices out of reach for ordinary Londoners. The new tax would be a way of cooling down this process.

Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, said a CGT change would be “a logical move to level the playing field” but said it would have little impact on prices at the top of the market.

If you missed it earlier this week Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, penned an article in The Telegraph that called for the panic over foreign buyers inflating UK house prices to be quelled.

Approaching the subject in his typical effusive style, the Mayor declared, “Foreign billionaires or foreign bludgers: it’s hard to decide which set of bloody foreigners is more resented, but the message is clear. Hop off, beat it, and scram.”

Mr Johnson challenges the viewpoint that wealthy foreigners buying residential property is disastrous for the city. Indeed without it, he claims, there would be no income stream for affordable housing projects and construction on brownfield sites. In short, Boris says, “We won’t get any of these schemes going if we are so demented as to tell foreign investors to bog off.”

While the Mayor acknowledges that tensions between us, the British, and immigrants to this country, lie in other areas such as employment and welfare, he begs for some perspective when it comes to foreign property purchasers.

Mr Johnson continues, “Before we all collapse in a xenophobic frenzy, let me ask: which European nation provides the most foreigners? It’s us! The British. We live abroad in greater numbers than any other country; we have been pushing up the prices in some European destinations for decades. Should we have a crazed exchange of populations – kicking the French out of Kensington in retribution for what they have done to house prices, while they kick us out of the Dordogne?”

Why Mr Johnson argues, penalise foreigners in this country for things our fellow countrymen emulate around the world?

With this Mr Johnson concludes, “We have our own share of irritating British rich people, pushing up house prices abroad and cheesing off the natives. We have our own share of bludgers, living off benefits in other countries. The Brits: we’re the biggest load of bloody foreigners on earth. It’s been good for us, and on the whole it’s been good for the world.”

To full article is here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/10392577/Its-mad-to-blame-our-housing-crisis-on-blooming-foreigners.html

Battersea Power Station’s reputation as one of the hottest residential spots in the city is set to increase, after the announcement that acclaimed architect Frank Gehry will be designing residential buildings as part of the £8bn redevelopment.

Gehry will be working with renowned firm Foster and Partners to create the ‘High Street’, of the development, a retail pedestrian zone that will provide access to the new Northern Line station.

Gehry will design the east side of the street and Foster and Partners will design the west side.

When the designs are complete, the combined team will have created 1,200 apartments, a 200 room hotel and 350,000 sq ft of retail and restaurant space.

While Gehry is famous the world over for his designs, which include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, this will be his first permanent London project. The only other work he has done in the city was a temporary structure for the Serpentine Gallery in 2008.

“Gehry Partners is honoured to have this wonderful opportunity to collaborate with our respected colleagues Foster and Partners on this seriously important project for the city of London,” said Gehry, 84.

“Our goal is to help create a neighbourhood and a place for people to live that respects the iconic Battersea Power Station while connecting it into the broader fabric of the city.”

On Wednesday this week our newly refurbished Hackney office played host to the opening of young artist James Irwin’s RGB Spectrum Exhibition.

James Irwin graduated from Goldsmith’s in 2010. His body of work on display is informed by Irwin’s on-going investigation into the space between physical and digital realities.

Having built a computer program to decode digital colour, James created a body of work that seeks to examine the language and mechanisms surrounding the process of deconstruction and translation of the world around us into digital forms.

We are lucky enough to have twelve of these pieces on display in our office for the next few weeks.

The evening was attended by friends and colleagues who were treated to champagne and canapés and everyone was hugely impressed with the art on display.

If you are interested in viewing James’s artwork then please feel free to visit our Hackney office at 311-313 Kingsland Road, as all the work is for sale.

Irwin

At 1pm on Sunday 27th October the first ever Dame Dash in aid of both St Joseph’s Hospice and the Hackney Empire will be taking place on Mare Street.

To take part contestants must don the most outlandish panto outfit they can find and dash the 1km track down Mare Street!

The Dame Dash is open to all ages, even babies in buggies!

As the name suggests, this event is all about the fancy dress. Men are invited to cake on the make-up and wear a wig like the Ugly Sisters and women can get in the spirit by dressing as pantomime heroes Buttons or Prince Charming. Children can dress as princesses, frogs and everything in between.

The event hopes to raise thousands of pounds for two great causes.  St Joseph’s Hospice offers support and medical care for families struggling with serious illness, while the Hackney Empire works to create a vibrant cultural programme that is accessible to the local community.

If you wish to take part you will need to register with the Dame Dash for a small fee and if you want to get official sponsorship for the event then you can download a free fundraising pack from the website.

For more information on the event please visit their website http://www.damedash.org/about.php

To keep posted on how our Currell team do in the Dame Dash follow us on twitter ( @currellproperty ) to see them in action!

Dame Dash

Key points of Help to Buy Part 2 include:

– Part 2 of the scheme is available to anyone e.g. first time buyers, movers or re-mortgagers, who wishes to buy a new or existing property, up to the value of £600,000.

– The scheme is not available for buy-to-let or second/holiday properties.

– The Government is guaranteeing up to 15% of your mortgage loan to the bank, in case of default on payments. This is to encourage mortgage lending across the board and decrease interest rates for buyers and stimulating the market.

– Some lenders will have their own rules as to properties they may not lend on, such as property above shops.

– Even though you only need a 5% deposit, you still have to be able to afford monthly mortgage payments so it is important to factor this in to your decisions.

– Credit checks for a Help to Buy mortgage will be just as stringent as regular mortgage checks. You will not be cleared for a loan if you have a county judgement against you in the three years prior to your application. You will need a very good credit history.

– So far banks including HSBC, Lloyds, RBS, Natwest and Virgin Money have signed up to the scheme. Others are expected to follow once the scheme is more established.

Things to think about before signing up to Help to Buy:

Is your income secure?

Remember you also have to pay stamp duty and legal fees as well as your deposit.

Can you afford monthly payments, even if interest increases?

Will you be happy in the property you are looking at for the foreseeable future if you cannot afford to move on? Is it ‘future proof’?

It may be worth paying more now to secure a longer lock in period at a fixed interest rate, if you think your financial situation could change.

Since the announcement of the government scheme ‘Help to Buy’ back in March, its effect on the market has been prominent in the news.

The scheme, designed to kick start the housing market and help first time buyers get a foot on the property ladder, has been both praised and criticised.

Some of the UK’s largest house builders have praised the scheme for boosting profits and homes sold. Barratt Developments said recently that the scheme accounted for a third of sales in a ten week period.

In opposition to this some critics are concerned that the ready availability of finance will boost house prices out of the reach of the people the scheme is designed to help, ramping house prices when there is not enough supply to meet demand.

The announcement at the Conservative Party Conference that the second phase of Help to Buy is being brought forward has heightened concern from some critics. The Government will guarantee up to 15% of your deposit allowing you to raise as little as a 5% deposit. By taking on this level of risk the Government hopes that mortgage lenders will free up their finance.

James Neilson, Sales Director of our Islington branch sees this second phase Help to Buy as a positive step forward for the market. He says, “The Government is supporting the building industry through supplying cheap finance. Cheap finance will, by virtue, influence the market as a whole.”

Neilson warns however to calculate the risk of taking a Government loan. He says, “It is important to work out what it will cost you in five years’ time and onwards when the interest on your loan will kick in.”

However if you are a first time buyer Help to Buy is an excellent option to help you secure your first home, especially when some of the UK’s largest house builders are signed up to the scheme.

It is important to fully understand the scheme before you sign up and to help you with this the Homes and Communities Agency has published a helpful guide. To view this guide click this link: http://www.helptobuy.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Help-to-Buy-equity-loan-buyers-guide.pdf

To contact James Neilson please visit our contact page, click here.

An estimated 60 million people in China have the means to invest in overseas property and many of those are focusing on the UK.

Investor activity in London has increased by 175% in the last year from Chinese buyers, according to Chinese property portal Juwai.

The trend in UK investment could be driven by the huge domestic inflation of property prices which is up 15% despite measures to slow it down.

London is not the only UK city benefitting from this trend, with Chinese investment in Manchester up a huge 460% so far this year.

These figures could be boosted even further when ‘Golden Week’, an extended Chinese holiday where many investors travel overseas, begins in the first week of October. With the number of Chinese travelling internationally estimated to be 94 million, Golden Week could see many Chinese nationals travel specifically to invest in property.

The Chinese see the UK as a safe investment, as well as benefitting from the lifestyle and the education that is on offer.