HMRC: UK residential property transactions rise by over 6%

The number of residential property transactions rose by 6.2% from November to December, HMRC’s Property Transactions Statistics have shown.

There were 104,670 residential property transactions last month which is up 6.8% year-on-year.

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Similarly, the number of non-residential transactions increased by 13.4% from November and 0.8% from December 2018.

Gareth Lewis, commercial director or property lender MT Finance, said: “The back-end of the year saw an increase in activity and purchases after the general election as a lot of transactional flow held off until after the result was known.

“Estate agents and lenders were extremely busy as people were keen to get on with things.

“There is a positivity around transactions and market sentiment that we haven’t seen for a while – maybe we are seeing the green shoots of spring appear a little earlier than usual.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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BT pension scheme MEPC property developer sold to Hermes

Hermes Investment Management has acquired MEPC, the UK property developer owned by the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS).

Hermes, which was formerly owned by BTPS, and GE Real Estate took MEPC private in 2000 as each acquired 50% of the company. Three years later, Hermes bought GE’s stake.

 

In April 2018, Federated Investors acquired a majority interest in Hermes from BTPS.

Hermes said today it is acquiring MEPC in a deal that “enhances Hermes Real Estate’s proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise to its existing capabilities”.

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Chris Taylor, CEO of Hermes Real Estate, said: “There are many synergies between the two brands and an already long-lasting and successful relationship, which can now be built upon further.”

James Dipple, CEO of MEPC, said: “This is an exciting transaction for MEPC, allowing us to combine our long track record of success with a leading real estate investment manager.

“Our strategic ambitions for the future are fully aligned with those of Hermes and, therefore, a strong basis for the growth of MEPC.”

A spokesperson for Hermes and MEPC said: “Having Hermes as MEPC’s parent company provides a long-term basis for its future growth with little disruption to day-to-day business. Certain investments processes are already integrated with those of Hermes.

“This acquisition greatly enhances our real estate proposition by adding specialist asset and development management expertise.

“In particular, it supports our core strategy of creating urban regeneration schemes, which not only deliver attractive financial returns but will have a positive impact on the environment and communities in which they are located – a key market differentiator for the business ahead.”

Source: IPE Real Asset

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UK Property fraudster set to payback £5.3m

Edwin McLaren, of Bridge of Weir, was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine in 2017 for £1.6m fraud scheme.

Prosecutors are seeking more than £5 million from a fraudster who was convicted after Scotland’s longest ever criminal trial.

Edwin McLaren , 54, now faces the prospect of having to hand over more than £5.3 million to the Crown under proceeds of crime legislation.

Prosecutors previously sought £1 million and then £3 million from McLaren, of Bridge of Weir.

But now the Crown has revised the figure being sought from McLaren.

The dad of two, who was jailed alongside his wife Lorraine, accused prosecutors of incompetence during a hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday.

He said: “The figure has now reached £5 million.

“When I was convicted, it was £1 million.

“Then it was £3 million and it was £3 million a few weeks back.

“It’s now £5 million – the Crown seem to be in disarray.

“The people who are doing this don’t know what they’re doing.”

McLaren was jailed for 11 years in 2017 for his involvement in a £1.6 million property fraud scheme.

He was found guilty of 29 charges after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow that began in September 2015 and heard evidence over 320 days.

His 54-year-old wife Lorraine was found guilty of two charges involving a fraudulent mortgage application on their own home and money laundering involving a sum of £128,000.

During his trial, a court heard how McLaren preyed on vulnerable people by arranging for their title deeds of their homes to be transferred to his associates without the victims’ knowledge.

The estimated cost of the 20-month trial was £7.5 million.

Jurors heard of the couple’s lavish lifestyle which included luxury holidays in Dubai and spending £100,000 on a ring and private schools for their children.

McLaren, who drove a Bentley, was described by trial judge Lord Stewart as showing “breathtaking dishonesty”.

The fraudster left victims out of pocket and in some cases homeless.

At a hearing last month, McLaren told Lord Arthurson that prosecutors were seeking to seize his £800,000 home in Bridge of Weir.

Source: BBC News

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Home Improvement: Make the most of mirrors like a magician

Magicians aren’t alone in using mirrors to their advantage.  Adding mirrors to your home is one of the easiest ways to create the illusion of space.

The 3 major ways you can use mirror for home improvement

  1. Space – make a small room or a hallway feel larger by placing a mirror on the longest wall. This will help balance the space as the reflection of the light will make the room feel wider. See the source image
  2. Focal reflector – when choosing  where to hang your mirror, think about what will be reflected in it. Use it to reflect an interesting piece of art or featured wall covered in luxe wallpaper. See the source image
  3. Piece of art – mirrors can be a piece of art in their own right. With many different designs to suit all styles, a mirror can make a statement and provide a focal point to any room. See the source image

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

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Breakdown of Trafford Council property investment of over £200m in 2019

Trafford Council in Greater Manchester, UK spent £103.4 million on purchasing and investing in property in 2019 as part of its finance strategy.

The authority has spent the cash in the hope of bringing in greater returns for council tax payers through interest on loans and from profits on any future sales of property assets, as well as supporting ongoing regeneration across Trafford.

CIS Tower part of Trafford Council property investment

Some of the money used to make these investments has come from a central government borrowing fund which offers low interest rates for local authorities and encourages them to invest in property.

The rest has come from within the council’s budget using council tax.

In total, Trafford has purchased five properties this year for a total of £50.8 million and made loans as part of its property investment strategy totalling £102.6 million.

The council bought the following properties in 2019:

  • Lacey Street Royal Mail depot, Stretford (bought for £800,000)
  • Stretford Mall (bought as part of £50 million deal with developers Bruntwood: £25 million to cover the council’s half of the purchase, a further £25 million was loaned to Bruntwood to cover their half of the costs)
  • Stamford Quarter shopping centre, Altrincham (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Clarendon House (bought as part of above £50 million Bruntwood deal)
  • Sainsbury’s Altrincham (bought for £25million)
The old Kellogg’s site in Stretford – Trafford council property development 

 

The council loaned money to owners or developers for the following properties:

  • CIS Tower, Miller Street, Manchester city centre (loan of £60 million to owners for refinancing and refurbishing the building)
  • Four office buildings off Albert Square, Manchester city centre (loan of £17.6 million as property investment)
  • Stamford Quarter, Altrincham (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of £100million purchase deal)
  • Stretford Mall (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)
  • Clarendon House (£50 million loaned to Bruntwood developers as part of above deal)

The grand total of more than £203 million spent this year doesn’t include a further £2.5 million loaned to Trafford Leisure to support two leisure centres in Altrincham and Urmston.

The council made clear that the loan wasn’t part of the council’s investment strategy, but to support the centres and give staff their first pay increase in years.

Other ongoing development projects that the council has on its books include the former Kellogg’s factory site in Stretford that was bought for £12 million back in September 2017.

The site is expected to include 750 homes, an 100-bedroom hotel and a primary school once development work is finished.

Plans to merge two primary schools, knock down their 100-year-old building and replace it with a brand new 21-classroom school in Altrincham are also on the cards.

The council is still in talks with Stamford Park Infants and Junior Schools after an offer of £8 million to build a new school on the site was turned down twice.

Source: Manchester Evening News

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Meet the new Bank of England governor – Andrew Bailey

Andrew Bailey has been appointed as the next governor of the Bank of England.

Mr Bailey, aged 60, is currently chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the City watchdog.

He will become the 121st governor of the Bank of England on 16 March, taking over from Mark Carney, and will serve a full eight-year term.

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The search for the new governor began in April and Mr Bailey, who spent more than 30 years at the Bank, was seen as an early favourite for the job.

Who is Andrew Bailey?

Andrew John Bailey (born 30 March 1959) is a British central banker, who was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from April 2013 to July 2016.
He had previously served as the bank’s chief cashier from January 2004 until April 2011. He is currently the chief executive officer of the Financial Conduct Authority.

Bailey attended Wyggeston Boys’ Grammar School, Leicester from where he went to Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he gained a BA in History and a PhD.

After university, Bailey became a research officer at the London School of Economics, before joining the Bank of England in 1985.

He has worked at the bank in a number of areas, most recently as executive director for banking services and as chief cashier, as well as head of the bank’s Special Resolution Unit (SRU). Previous roles include Governor’s private secretary, and head of the International Economic Analysis Division in Monetary Analysis.

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Since the onset of the financial crisis in August 2007 and until April 2011, Bailey was responsible for the bank’s special operations to resolve problems in the banking sector, and in 2009 was chairman and chief executive of Dunfermline Building Society Bridge Bank Ltd.

On 1 April 2013 Bailey became the chief executive of the new Prudential Regulation Authority and the first deputy governor of the Bank of England for Prudential Regulation.

On 26 January 2016, it was announced that Andrew Bailey will take over as CEO of the UK Financial Conduct Authority. He replaced Tracey McDermott, who became acting CEO after Martin Wheatley resigned following a vote of no confidence by George Osborne in July 2015.

On 3 June 2019, it was reported in The Times that Bailey was the favourite to replace Mark Carney as the new Governor of the Bank of England.

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