Now is the best time to work on your home

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Covid-19: UK property market to be suspended as sales drop significantly

UK house buyer interest has slumped as people stay at home to try to limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to property listings websites.

Zoopla predicts housing transactions will drop by up to 60% over the next three months.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of sales that had been agreed before the lockdown are falling through.

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The government has advised homebuyers and renters to delay moving as much as they can.

“Would-be homebuyers paused major decisions and took stock of the unfolding events in the UK and around the world, even before [restrictions] announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson,” Zoopla said.

Demand in the week to 22 March slumped 40% on a week earlier, its figures suggest.

The property listings site said the UK housing market had a strong start to the year before the coronavirus outbreak crushed demand.

The pandemic has since led to a “rapidly increasing” proportion of sales falling through, as would-be buyers “reassess whether to make a big financial decision in these shifting times”.

Sales were still being agreed, it found, but at a 4% slower rate than at the same time a year earlier.

The Financial Times has reported that bankers have been urging government ministers to suspend the housing market.

They are concerned about the impact of the pandemic on valuations but they are also worried about issuing loans due to uncertainty about the effect the virus will have on the economy, the paper reported.

In response to the crisis, UK Finance, which was formerly known as the British Bankers Association, said lenders would extend mortgage offers for people who were due to move house during the lockdown.

“Current social distancing measures mean many house moves will need to be delayed,” Stephen Jones, who runs the group, said in a statement.

“Where people have already exchanged contracts for house purchases and set dates for completion this is likely to be particularly stressful,” he said.

“To support these customers at this time, all mortgage lenders are working to find ways to enable customers who have exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.”

The government has told people “there is no need to pull out of transactions”, instead encouraging them to “amicably agree alternative dates to move”.

The sentiments identified by Zoopla echo a previous announcement from rival Rightmove, which said the slowdown in the UK housing market had been “significant”.

“The number of property transactions failing to complete in recent days and likely changes in tenant behaviour following the announcement of the renters’ protections by the government may put further pressure on estate and lettings agents,” it said, referring to the recent ban on evictions.

The government said on Wednesday that home buyers and renters should delay moving if possible while emergency measures are in place to fight coronavirus.

“If moving is unavoidable for contractual reasons and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, people must follow advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus,” a housing ministry spokesperson said.

“Anyone with symptoms, self-isolating or shielding from the virus, should follow medical advice and not move house for the time being.”

Meanwhile, there were reports on Thursday that mortgage lenders had started to temporarily restrict some products for certain customers.

Source: BBC News

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

What must a mortgage lender do if a borrower is in arrears

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) considers that a reasonable period for repayment of arrears or a shortfall will depend on the borrower’s circumstances. In some cases, it can mean spreading the payments over the remaining mortgage term.

The lender must not attempt to process more than two direct debit requests in any one calendar month

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A mortgage lender must also establish and implement clear, effective and appropriate policies and procedures to ensure the fair treatment of customers whom the lender understands, or reasonably suspects, to be particularly vulnerable.

If a borrower is in arrears, the lender must consider whether one or more of the following actions would be suitable to help resolve the problem

  • extend the mortgage term;
  • change the mortgage type;
  • defer payment of interest due on the mortgage or sums due under a home purchase plan;
  • treat the payment shortfall as if it was part of the original amount – know as capitalisation and effectively adding the shortfall to the capital owing;
  • make use of any government forbearance schemes to help borrowers with problems.

Please contact your lender as soon as possible if you’re experiencing financial difficulties to get a suitable solution.

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

 

Property Ombudsman conference postponed due to COVID 19

The Property Ombudsman has announced that it will postpone its annual conference, which was to have been on June 18, until next year.

In its place, TPO will be holding a Rightmove Webinar on the same morning.

Katrine Sporle, who retires as TPO later this year, says: “Given the circumstances affecting us all, we have decided to convert the conference in Solihull to a Rightmove Webinar to take place on the morning of June 18. We will provide updates, advice and interactive sessions to respond to agents’ questions and concerns.”

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TPO’s office says tickets already purchased will be credited towards the 2021 conference “when normal business resumes.”

Meanwhile a statement from the organisation says it’s business as normal at The Property Ombudsman, with many of its staff managing to work remotely to provide a normal service.

However, TPO says that the priority for agents is of course to ensure the welfare of their employees and advises: “Therefore, if services have to change and complaints cannot be dealt with in the usual way, agents should ensure this is communicated to complainants in writing.”

Should a complaint then be subsequently escalated to TPO, this will be taken into account.

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

How to protect your identity

CIFAS (the UK’s fraud prevention service) warns of the danger of identity theft if house owners are not scrupulously careful about securing all personal data in their home effectively and when moving home. It cites the case of a man who took himself off the electoral register in his old home and redirected his post through Royal Mail only to find himself targeted by identity thieves six months after the move.

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The fraudsters had re-registered the homeowner onto the electoral roll, set up a company in his name and run up large utilities debts and other bills. The fraud only came to light after his application for a credit card was refused.

What is identity theft?

Identity theft is when a person’s personal details are stolen, and can happen whether that person is alive or dead.

Identity thieves can steal your personal information in a number of ways, including going through your post or rubbish to find bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit offers or tax information.

They could steal personal information from your wallet or purse by taking a driving licence, or credit or bank cards, or could obtain your credit report by posing as someone who has a lawful right to the information.

Some individuals may use the internet to acquire the personal information you share on unsecured sites. They may also use

Your information could even be stolen while you shop. In some cases, fraudsters may even ‘skim’ your credit card information when you make a purchase, leading to card cloning or card-not-present fraud.

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The following are ways to help prevent you from identity theft:

  • Keep all personal document secure and ensure there are no personal documents or other papers carrying your name and details anywhere in the house when you leave
  • Protect your internet-connected devices with up-to-date security software, and make sure you install all official software updates and security fixes on such devices
  • Don’t throw out anything containing your name, address or financial details without shredding it
  • Keep checks on your credit records regularly
  • If you are moving home, make sure you redirect your mail, register with the Mail Preference Service and make sure to inform your utilities, service providers and everyone of your new address in good time to avoid any mail going to your old address
  • End utility and landline telephone contracts before you move out of the home
  • If any of your things are going into storage, make sure there’s nothing personally identifiable from the boxes
  • Be careful when using public wi-fi networks. Never use them to access sensitive apps or sites, such as mobile banking

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

Mystery property with no access sold for £1

Previously published on my blog to be sold on auction for a guide price of £100, this mystery town centre property with river frontage and far-reaching views has been snapped for a cool £1 at auction.

Although it might seem like a bargain, the drawback is there is no way to get into the 12sq m first-floor space.

Property in Wisbech

However, the room, wedged between two properties and suspended over an alleyway in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, appealed to one bidder whose hand shot up when the £1 price tag was announced.

The guide price of £100+ was dropped to £1 at the last minute.

The unusual property is in a terrace of old buildings, believed to have been built as granaries or shops in the 16th Century on Nene Quay.

It is bricked up from both sides and even the auctioneer had not been in to see it.

Fenland District Council, which has owned it since 1966, put it up for sale alongside other “surplus properties” with Norwich-based auctioneers William H Brown

There is no record of anyone ever having used the room and the contents and condition remain a mystery.

Property for sale in Wisbech

When it first went on their books, auctions partner Victoria Reek described it as “certainly one of the weirdest ones we’ve had at auction” and admitted it was “probably just full of cobwebs”.

She said the vendor instructed the auctioneer to remove the £100 guide price just before the auction opened.

“So we told bidders the first one to offer £1 could have it – one gentleman put up his hand and it was gone – all done and dusted,” she said.

It is not yet known who bought the inaccessible room.

Source: BBC News

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk

What is the first thing people do after moving into a new home?

Moving into your first property can be a long, complex and emotional process. For some, it can take a while to finally settle into their new home.

According to a recent Zoopla survey, the majority of people need from one week to a month after they’ve moved in to feel like they’re in a place they can call home:

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First things first

When it comes to settling into their new homes, people divide their time between the practical and the fun.

More than a third of respondents (37%) gave their property a deep clean on the day they moved in, while a fifth (19%) decided to set up council tax and utilities. Impressive organisational skills.

However, it’s not all work and no play. One in five respondents (20%) skipped cooking and ordered takeaway on their first day and another one in four (25%) got intimate with their partners:

Zoopla asked over 2,000 people, both existing homeowners and first-time buyers, to find out

What do people do on move-in day? 

  • Give the property a deep clean – 37%
  • Get intimate with a partner – 25%
  • Order a takeaway – 20%
  • Set-up council tax or utilities – 19%
  • Have your first argument – 10%
  • Entertain family – 7%
  • Make home improvements – 7%
  • Entertain friends – 4%

Source: Zoopla Property News

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Thinking of buying a property?

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk