How did COVID-19 reshape London’s property market?

In a year when home became our entire world it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that we’ve seen some great shakes in the property market.

Yet some events have been truly staggering, not least the first house price rise during an economic recession seen in modern history.

Homes & Property takes a look back at the trends that emerged in the 12 months since Covid-19 hit Britain and asks what homeowners and tenants should expect next.

What do the new changes mean for homebuyers?

Property Stamp Duty UK

When the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced his budget on Wednesday, he talked about the government’s goal of turning generation rent into “generation buy”. The measures he outlined to help would-be homebuyers had been heavily trailed – an extension to the stamp duty holiday he launched last year for England and Northern Ireland, and a new UK scheme to bring back 95% mortgages. But the budget documents brought more detail. We have looked at the small print to see what the measures will mean for homebuyers.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the virtual disappearance of mortgages that only require a 5% deposit – there were only five 95% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgage products available last month compared with 391 in March 2020, and those were specialist deals, according to the financial data provider Moneyfacts.

The initiative aims to encourage banks and building societies to offer 95% mortgages again. It will do this by giving them the chance to buy a guarantee on the portion of the mortgage between 80% and 95%. If a borrower gets into financial difficulty and their property is repossessed, the government will cover that chunk of the lender’s losses.

The scheme will open for new mortgage applications in April and run until the end of 2022.

Several of the country’s largest lenders, including Lloyds, NatWest, Santander, Barclays and HSBC, will be offering these 95% mortgages from next month, with others including Virgin Money due to follow shortly after.

UK house prices: What will happen to property values in 2021?


The UK residential property market boomed in 2020, with house prices ending the year at a record high, despite the shutdown of the sector during the first coronavirus lockdown.

Government measures such as the stamp duty holiday helped revitalise the market, while the lifting of lockdown restrictions prompted a surge in demand.

Lockdown also inspired homeowners to consider moving house, as the shift to remote-working allowed city-dwellers to move further afield and hunt out properties with access to outdoor space.

However, the end of both the stamp duty holiday and Help to Buy this year, as well as the end of the furlough scheme – which is expected to cause a spike in unemployment – could lead to a more subdued housing market in 2021.

The latest nationwide lockdown and concerns over new variants of the virus are also expected to dent consumer confidence further – at least until the coronavirus vaccine roll out is complete.

Source: City AM

UK house prices reach new high but growth is slowing, says Halifax


The average price of a house in the UK reached a record high of £253,374 in December but growth is slowing and prices may fall over the year, according to Britain’s biggest mortgage lender.

Halifax said UK house prices ended 2020 on average 6% higher than in 2019 as pent-up demand after the first national lockdown and the government’s stamp duty holiday spurred a homebuying boom.

The average UK house was worth £14,295 more in December last year than the same month in 2019.

Eviction notice increased to six months


Landlords in England now need to give tenants six months’ notice to seek possession through the courts, up from three.

This will apply to all notices being served to both private and social tenancies from 29 August until March 2021, including Section 21s. However, there are some exceptions, as landlords can give four weeks’ notice to seek possession in cases of anti-social behaviour.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society of England and Wales said: “This notice period extension will provide relief for those tenants facing eviction, and will give vulnerable tenants the time they need to seek help and find a new place to live.”

These changes come after the government extended the stay on evictions by a further four weeks, now ending on 20 September, and changes to court rules to manage court backlogs and prevent a spike in homelessness.

“The stay extension means courts can continue to make the necessary arrangements to manage cases safely during Covid-19.

“The government and the courts have also passed new court rules and provided extra protections to vulnerable tenants and those who have been significantly impacted by the pandemic.

“However, more needs to be done, including resolving the legal aid deserts currently preventing tenants in some areas from receiving legal advice and making wider legislative changes to prevent a spike in homelessness.”

Source: PropertyWire

Stamp Duty Holiday Explained


The Chancellor has announced that from 8 July, the stamp duty threshold will be temporarily raised from £125,000 to £500,000.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed a major stamp duty cut in a bid to boost the housing market.

Speaking at the summer economic update, Sunak revealed plans to raise the stamp duty threshold from £125,000 to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland.

The stamp duty holiday will start immediately and run until 31 March 2021.

It means that nearly nine out of 10 transactions will no longer be subject to stamp duty.

Meanwhile, the average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500. And in London and the South East, home to more expensive properties, buyers could save up to £14,999 overnight.

Richard Donnell, research & insight director at Zoopla said: “The immediate increase in the stamp duty threshold will help sustain the rebound in housing market activity across England.

“The government will expect the change to stimulate more housing sales over the second half of the year and that savings made by buyers will be reinvested in home improvements, white goods and furniture, rather than bidding up the cost of housing.”

Here’s how the stamp duty holiday could impact you.

What is stamp duty?

Buyers must pay stamp duty when buying a home or piece of land worth £125,000 or more in England and Northern Ireland. It is charged on a tiered basis (so you only pay the higher rates on the slice above any threshold – the same as income tax).

These are the rates:

  • Up to £125,000: 0%
  • On the portion from £125,001 to £250,000: 2%
  • On the portion from £250,001 to £925,000: 5%
  • On the portion from £925,000 to £1.5m: 10%
  • Above £1.5m: 12%

There are exemptions available for first-time buyers, who don’t have to pay stamp duty on the first £300,000, so long as the home doesn’t cost more than £500,000.

Meanwhile, people buying additional property for £40,000 or more, such as second homes, pay an extra 3% of stamp duty on top of regular stamp duty rates. The surcharge effectively works as a slab tax. In other words, the 3% loading applies to the entire purchase price of the property.

It is worth noting that stamp duty is different if the property or land is in Scotland or Wales.

So how will the stamp duty holiday work?

Sunak’s new measure means that buyers will only start to pay stamp duty on property above £500,000.

This will be for people buying their first home, or moving up or down the housing ladder.

These are the new holiday rates:

  • Up to £500,000: 0%
  • On the portion from £500,001 to £925,000: 5%
  • On the portion from £925,001 to £1.5m: 10%
  • Above £1.5m: 12%

The 3% stamp duty surcharge will apply on top of the new holiday rates, so people buying additional homes will attract a 3% stamp duty bill on the first £500,000 of property.

This will still result in a saving, because the 3% rate previously applied on the first £125,000, with higher rates above that.

Source: Zoopla

Viewing Rise Post Lockdown Boosts Market Optimism


Hopes that the property market will survive the coronavirus pandemic without a major slump were raised today when one of Britain’s biggest housebuilders said it had seen dramatic surge in viewing appointments.

Taylor Wimpey said there had been a threefold increase in bookings in the final week of last month compared with the same time last year, as well as a 32 per cent rise in traffic on its website.

Since the start of the lockdown only 306 buyers have cancelled their purchases, lower than the 386 in the same nine-week period in 2019.

The company, which has major developments in London in Clerkenwell, the City, Mill Hill and Whetstone, said it had restarted construction “on the majority of its sites in England and Wales” and reopened most of its English sales centres and show homes.

All Taylor Wimpey’s furloughed staff have returned to work.

There was also brighter news from Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Halifax, which revealed that prices only fell 0.2 per cent last month, although it was the third successive monthly decline.

The average cost of a home in the UK dipped from £238,314 to £237,808, still 2.6 per cent higher than a year previously.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “We expect market activity to increase progressively as restrictions are eased further across the whole of the UK and we continue to have confidence in the underlying health of the housing market over the long-term.”

But the effect of the virus in the motor sector continued with car maker Bentley expected to announce up to 1,000 job losses at its plant in Crewe today.

It will bring the jobs cuts this week alone to 3,000 after Aston Martin said it would shed 500 posts, and dealership Lookers warned of 1,500 redundancies.

Source: Homes & Property

What support is available for landlords affected by Coronavirus?

Sheards Accountants has collated helpful advice on how landlords can put plans in place should the unfortunate and unexpected arise. 

Many landlords across the UK are facing the uncertainty of whether tenants will be able to keep up with rental payments as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Some support has been offered by the government, through extending the three-month mortgage payment holiday to buy-to-let mortgages.


Speak with your tenant

There is nothing worse than not knowing whether or not your rent fees will be hitting your bank account to meet your mortgage obligations, which is why the first thing you should do is contact your tenant to ask how they may have been impacted by COVID-19 and how that might impact their ability to pay their rent.

Compassion should be shown at this time, everyone is facing increased pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic so consider the way you approach the question. Showing compassion is likely to result in a better outcome all round if an amicable agreement can be reached.


Contact your mortgage lender

If you believe you may struggle to meet your mortgage repayments, or if your tenant has indicated that will struggle to pay, then contact your mortgage lender at the earliest opportunity to secure a mortgage payment holiday.

Most mortgage lenders are in the process of setting up the ability to make this request online in order to avoid lengthy call centre queues, so check online in the first instance.

Remember that interest will still accrue on the outstanding debt so you may end up paying more interest over the period of your loan, but with current interest rates, this should not have a significant impact.


Find a better mortgage deal

Following the announcement that the Bank of England has reduced its interest rates to a record low of just 0.1%, it may be the time to switch lender. However, if you need to take advantage of a mortgage holiday you will need to discuss this with them at the time of application to check it will be honoured.

Alternatively, if you’re out of your fixed term or are nearing the end, speak with your existing mortgage lender to see what better rates they could offer.


Act lawfully

New legislation prevents any new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the COVID-19 emergency. While this will come as a relief to the 4.4 million privately rented households in England, it will likely to be of concern to landlords who are limited in their ability to deal with bad debts, especially if these may have been in place for the past couple of months.

Outlining the new legislation, Sheards tax manager, Jane Senior explains: “This means that no action can be taken by the landlord if the tenants can no longer keep up to monthly payments due to being made redundant or becoming furloughed. The legislation includes advice for landlords to show compassion during this time, and to support those who rely on rent as a stream of income, buy to let mortgages are now included through the mortgage payment freeze, to help reduce their costs and take the burden off them.

“The guidance recommends that all tenants that are concerned about payments and have found themselves in unfortunate circumstances should speak to their landlord to arrange a plan moving forward, either with a more manageable monthly payment or a rent holiday”.


Set up a savings pot

If you’ve not done so already we recommend setting up a standing order to a savings account to ensure you have a pot of funds to revert to in times where extra spend might be required on your rental property, whether it be to cover mortgage repayments or essential repairs.

If you do take advantage of the three-month mortgage payment holiday, we would recommend putting that money into this account if you don’t need to use it for essential living costs, so that you have some longer-term financial protection should the tenant choose to move out during this period.

Source: PropertyWire

Uwa Ujam – The Simple Way to Appraise to Avoid Losing Money

Looking for a house

On Tuesday 4th February we have Uwa Ujam coming to the Co-Op. Uwa will be presenting a talk called ‘The Simple Way to Stack or Appraise your deals to avoid loosing Money’.

Uwa is a developer of both Property and Software. He has created numerous applications designed to empower people with low or no access to simple critical decision-making capabilities.

Having witnessed the colossal losses investors endure due to errors in their property appraisal processes, he co-founded an application to help make deal stacking and property appraisal more data driven, collaborative, simple and based on best practice.

Uwa, who has a Masters degree in Property Development & Planning, has been in the IT industry for twenty years whilst investing in the property industry for sixteen. He specialises in automation, data engineering, analytics, simplification and problem solving.

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 4th February.

Please book here:

Davin Poonwassie – P2P and Crowdfunding

Group of friends

On Tuesday 3rd December we have Davin Poonwassie coming to the Co-Op. Davin will be presenting a talk called ‘What you need to know about P2P and Crowdfunding (Yes they are different!)’.

Davin’s background is in IT and database design and implementation, providing global solutions to manage and protect customer and company data. With a background in data and information technology, Davin is well suited to this online property finance marketplace.

In 2013, Davin set up Simple Backing and started building this business alongside his database work.

Simple Crowdfunding is a property crowdfunding platform that connects Investors with property professionals looking to raise finance (Fundraisers). We offer both Peer to Peer Lending (loans) and Equity finance for projects in the UK.

In the talk Davin will be talking about:

  • Learn the difference between P2P and Equity Crowdfunding?
  • How can you use your Tax Free ISA and Pension money to invest
  • Financial Promotion, How to stay the right side of the law
  • The finance stack, risk and reward
  • Why Brand Awareness matters

We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday 3rd December.

Please book here: