TPO looking for a new Property Ombudsman

The current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, is giving up the role in November after five years in the post.

The closing date for applicants is February 18

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Established in 1990, the Property Ombudsman (TPO) is a government approved scheme providing fair, free and independent redress in relation to disputes between consumers and property agents. Responding last year to nearly 30,000 enquiries, and instructing agents to pay over £2 million of awards, TPO is the primary source of industry standards and consumer redress in an industry with widespread consumer impact. 

TPO is proud of its reputation, its strong connections with policy makers and its focus on quality, rigour and reach. However, operating in a competitive landscape, and in a sector which touches the lives of millions of people, means that TPO is not an organisation that can ever afford to stand still.  The head of the current Ombudsman, Katrine Sporle, stepping down in 2020 after 5 years outstanding service, TPO are looking for an outstanding leader to fulfil this key leadership role, and continue to take the organisation forward.   

TPO’s new Ombudsman will play a critical role in raising the profile of the organisation and its work, improving its performance, impact and influence, and ensuring that it has the culture, partnerships and resources in place to be sustainable over the long term. They will nurture, develop and inspire TPO’s staff team, based predominantly at the Head Office in Salisbury, and represent TPO externally, including to sector leaders, policy makers, the media and a range of other cross-sector audiences.  

TPO would welcome applications for this role from people with strategic and operational leadership credentials, and a strong track record in external engagement roles and influencing policy. We need an Ombudsman with a confident and sensitive leadership style, who can motivate and energise our people and stakeholders. An understanding of redress and ombudsman services and/or of the property sector is highly desirable.  

Saxton Bampfylde Ltd is acting as an employment agency advisor to the Property Ombudsman on this appointment.  For further information about the role, including details about how to apply, please visit www.saxbam.com/appointments using reference QAQDB.  Alternatively telephone +44 (0)20 7227 0880(during office hours).  Applications should be received by noon on Tuesday 18 February 2020.

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Property funds remains closed despite M&G raising £70m

M&G has extended the suspension to dealing in its £2.5 billion Property Portfolio fund, which blocked investors from withdrawing their cash last month.

The fund group said it had raised £70 million after completing the sale of the Ravenside Retail Park in Edmonton and exchange contracts on the disposal of an office block in Staines. A further £67 million is in the pipeline from properties ‘either under offer or in solicitors’ hands’, the fund group said.

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‘The immediate priority is to raise cash levels in a controlled manner,’ the fund group said in an update to investors. ‘The fund managers and associated teams are working hard to increase the fund’s cash position.’

The total £138 million of sales would more than double the cash level in the fund, which stood at 4.8% of the fund at the end of November, or around £120 million.

But that would still be well below the heavy holdings of a number of rival property funds, of which some have more than a quarter of their assets in cash.

The Ravenside Retail Park sale will meanwhile chip away at the fund’s large weighting to the under-pressure retail sector, which amounted to 34% of the fund’s assets at the end of November, higher than that of most rivals.

M&G was forced to suspend dealing last month after suffering nearly £1 billion of withdrawals in the space of 12 months. The fund fell 8% over the last year and is kept off the bottom of the Investment Association’s UK Direct Property sector only by the Aberdeen UK Property fund.

Source: Citywire Funds insider

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UK biggest property investment firm M&G suspends fund withdrawals

Investors in the UK’s biggest commercial property fund – worth £2.5bn – have been temporarily prevented from taking out their money.

Investment firm M&G said withdrawals from its property portfolio fund had been suspended after investors consistently withdrew their savings.

The firm blamed “Brexit-related political uncertainty” and difficulties in the retail sector for the situation.

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The fund has shrunk by £1.1bn so far this year.

“Given these circumstances, we have now reached a point where M&G believes it will best protect the interests of the funds’ customers by applying a temporary suspension in dealing,” M&G said in a statement.

It has waived 30% of its annual charge to investors, as they were unable to access their money, although some have called for action from the regulator on such charges.

The M&G Property Portfolio has invested in 91 UK commercial properties across shopping centres, other retail, industrial and office sectors on behalf of UK investors.

The same fund was suspended in July 2016 for four months following the UK’s EU referendum when money flooded out of such funds.

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Investors range from armchair, retail investors to institutional investors, dealing with millions of pounds.

M&G has been unable to sell properties fast enough, particularly given its concentration on the retail sector, to meet the demands of investors who wanted to cash out.

The decision to suspend the fund, and its feeder fund, was taken by its official monitor – its authorised corporate director – and the City watchdog has been informed.

“The FCA is working closely with the firms involved to ensure that timely actions are undertaken in the best interests of all the fund’s investors,” a spokesman for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

M&G said the suspension would be monitored daily, formally reviewed every 28 days, and would only continue “as long as it is in the best interests of our customers”.

This will allow assets to be sold over time, rather than as a fire sale, in order to meet investors’ withdrawal demands. The firm has written to investors to explain the current situation.

Source: BBC News

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Brexit continue to slow down UK housing market

The number of homes being put up for sale fell to a three-year low in September as Brexit uncertainty continued to hit consumer confidence.

Inquiries from potential buyers also dropped during the month, while agreed sales fell too, with activity slipping in nearly all parts of the UK, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The subdued market left the level of properties estate agents had on their books close to record lows, while they also reported that appraisals were lower than a year earlier, suggesting little prospect of a pick-up in the immediate future.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer enquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the October 31 deadline approaches.

“Unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse it does seem inevitable that the standoff between purchasers and sellers will deepen making it harder to complete transactions.”

Source: Zoopla Property News

 

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Property Purchase: At what point am I committed and cannot pull out?

In UK property purchase, the key point is when contracts are exchanged – right up until that point any party in the chain can withdraw with no penalty. This can lead to financial lost, tears, anger and lots of frustration.

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Once contracts are exchanged everyone is bound by the terms of the contract – if anyone wants to pull out after that point it will cost them many thousands of pounds, as a starting point it is usually 10 per cent of the purchase price and then any damages that flow from their actions. Because of this, generally the best advice is to buy the property and put it on the market as soon as you can. Depending on the market at that time you may lose a little money, but potentially considerably less than if you’d withdrawn from the sale.

 

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Property Purchase: What exactly is gazumping

The term gazumping is often use by the media but generally don’t paint a full picture of what actually happens and as such many often find it surprising and confusing to understand.

Gazumping is where a property sale has been agreed but contract not yet exchanged and a third party comes along and offers more – where a third party ‘gazumps’ the original buyer. Gazumping is a nightmare for the original buyer as they’ve no comeback against (even if a survey has been done) either of the other two parties. In other for it to happen the seller must have to accept the higher offer, although they don’t have to.

I have worked for  clients on cases where a seller received higher offers but stuck to the original because they felt it was the honourable thing to do or preferred the original buyer. Also I have worked on cases where gazumping saved the chain – the original buyer was not taking it seriously or experiencing delays in securing mortgage and the chain was about to fall through – the new buyer moved ahead quickly and the whole chain completed. Gazumping normally occurs more often in a rising housing market, but probably not as much as the media would have you believe.

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

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£1.3m UK house for Sale with multiple plug sockets trending on twitter

post  on Twitter from Toby Davis, which has since had more than 6,000 likes and 2,000 retweets, first picked up on the excessive socket placement.

He wrote: “Thinking about buying this house, but I’m not sure it has enough plug sockets,” and later added “or downlighters”.

Photos of the inside of a £1.3 million house on Rightmove have left people on Twitter feeling unwell and wondering what the property was used for by the previous owners.

The five-bedroom detached home in Middlesex promises a family-friendly location, bright spaces and a conservatory leading to a patio area and spacious garden behind.

Almost every single room seems to be inexplicably covered with plug sockets.

Sockets stacked on top of each other plaster the walls and line the windows – and some of them don’t even line up.

The previous owner must have been operating a call centre or media company from his home. What do you think?

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

TA DenEco Consultancy – www.deneco.co.uk