Buy to let boom continues with new mortgage highs

images[10]The buy to let sector is at its strongest for six years according to data released by the Bank of England.

Lending for buy to let mortgages jumped to a whopping £8 billion in the third quarter of this year – the highest quarterly lending volume since 2008 and up from £5.9 billion in the same period of 2013.

These are just the latest figures to show the private rental sector going through a boom.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders lending in September – its most recent data – is 24 per cent higher by volume than in the same month last year, and 32 per cent by value. Paragon, one of the country’s chief buy to let lenders, says it has this year seen an 82 per cent rise in completions by investment purchasers.

Article by Graham Norwood – Letting Agent Today

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Seven great property ideas that never caught on

imagesCAVRADO4A few innovations that have belly-flopped, delivering something less than their publicists promised at the outset.

Good on the property industry for trying new things but here are seven reminders that this year’s heavily-funded great idea might just be next year’s embarrassing turkey.

1. City Centre Living: It’s over a decade since the property industry forecast that so many people would want to rent in regenerated city centres that an infinite number of buy-to-let apartments could be built (almost all of them, it seems, in Leeds and Manchester). It’s great living in a city centre, of course…it’s just not for as many as some agents told us.

2. Online Auctions: Do you remember websites where you could see rival bids, allegedly from investors snapping up buy-to-lets without even bothering to visit them first? I wrote many online auction stories over the years – possibly more than the number of homes sold this way. Of course online bids are a valuable part of the auction process but the ‘promise’ that one day we would spend £250k through a click and without a visit never materialised.

3. Gated Estates: After some years of data showing declining crime in most areas of Britain, a few PRs still try to sell what’s left of the new-build gated concept – even though planners these days tend to avoid actually using gates and instead designing walkways to create the illusion of privacy. But these schemes are now considered socially divisive, which most come as a blow to those who like keeping poor people at bay.

4. 3D Floorplans: Just last year I was told by one of Britain’s poshest estate agencies that this was the way forward. I heard that soon no agency would be describing a property by using only the number of bedrooms and certainly not by saying how many square feet it had. Instead, cubic feet and cubic metres were the way forward. I’ve just checked that same agent’s website – 3D floorplans and cubic measurements are nowhere to be seen.

5. Fly-throughs: These were the 3D floorplans of their day, promising to transform our house-buying process online with CGI footage of how new homes would appear (but which somehow never conveyed the smallness of the rooms). Some are still about but most have flown away, replaced by far superior videos.

6. Tepilo: It’s still going but this website, which caused waves in 2009 and led to sexist abuse against Sarah Beeny by a few male estate agents, has hardly caught the public’s imagination. It’s changed, Dr-Who like, from a sale-by-owner platform to an online estate agency. But despite celebrity ownership and high levels of publicity, it seems a poor relation even within the online agency niche. It’s also got a small inventory: try scouring for homes in my postcode, EX3 …. there aren’t any.

7. Iraq: Yes, I said Iraq. The head of one high-end agency’s international department promised me back in 2003 that within five years there would be holiday homes widely sold in what was then the planet’s major troublespot. Well, five years on (and now, 12 years on) Iraq is still a tragedy for its residents, who do not include second-homers. That senior industry figure wins the Tony Blair Prize for Getting Things Right In The Middle East.

Article written by Graham Norwood – Estate Agent Today

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Sellers! Don’t Wait for the New Year

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Many think buyers stop looking at houses during the Christmas period and as such, would-be sellers often choose to put their property on the market in the New Year. However, 89% of Relocation Agent Network member estate agents, who responded to a December survey, recommend that prospective sellers go to market before the Christmas break…

Why? Well the Relocation Agent Network survey found two key reasons:

1. 41% of Relocation Agent Network agents said that it was the increased activity in online portal searches during the Christmas period. Once the turkey has been eaten and the tin of biscuits has been emptied, many spend their free time searching for their dream home online.

2. A further 51% indicated that having a house on the market before Christmas allowed sellers to catch early New Year buyers. And with the majority* of survey respondents predicting an increase in buyer activity in January 2015, sellers won’t want to miss out. Indeed, nearly half** of estate agents surveyed expect up to a 10% increase in the number of buyers entering the market in January.

Thinking of selling in 2014?
As a selected member of Relocation Agent Network, we’ve already proven that our customer service is deemed to be the best in East Northants (in the Network’s opinion). But if that isn’t enough, through our membership, we can offer sellers a completely unique channel of buyer that no other estate agent in East Northants can provide. Visit www.relocation-agent-network.co.uk/how-we-can-help-you.aspx to find out more. Contact us today to find out more.

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Stamp Duty Reformed

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It has been needed for many years, but today the chancellor George Osborne has announced in the Autumn Statement that Stamp Duty is to be reformed from midnight tonight. The old stamp duty created problems with sale prices close to the thresholds of 1% and 3%. The new rules are as follows:

  • Stamp duty to be reformed. The “single-slab” rate will go, and instead it will be levied at a more gradual rate.
  • 98% of buyers will benefit.
  • The reform will cost £800m he says.
  • The new rates will be: nothing on the first £125,000, 2% on the share above that up to £250,000; then 5% on the next slice up to £925,000; then 10% on the next slice up to £1.5m; then 12% on everything above that.
  • People buying an average house, worth £275,000, will save £4,500.
  • New rates to come into force from midnight tonight.

Under the old rules, you would have paid tax at a single rate on the entire property price. Now you will only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band – like income tax. Under the old rules if you bought a house for £185,000, you would have had to pay 1% tax on the full amount – a total of £1,850. Under the new rules, for the same property you’ll pay nothing on the first £125,000 and 2% on the remaining £60,000. This works out as £1,200, a saving of £650.

You can find a really helpful ‘Stamp Duty Calculator’ from the HMRC right here. If you have any further questions please contact your local experts on 01933 651010 (Irthlingborough office) or 01933 224400 (Wellingborough office).

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Which homes are exempt from council tax?

Council-Tax---ALAMYDepending on circumstances, some homes are exempt from council tax.  This can be homes that are either occupied or unoccupied. Whilst the property is classed as exempt there will be no council tax bill to pay.

Which homes will be exempt from council tax?

The classes of exempt homes and the exempt periods are shown below.

Class B 

A home which is unoccupied and owned by a charity will be exempt for 6 months from the day it was last occupied.

Class D

A home which is unoccupied and owned or leased by a person in prison will be exempt for as long as that person remains unable to occupy the home.

Class E
A home which is unoccupied because the liable person is resident in a hospital or care home will be exempt for as long as that person remains unable to occupy the home.

Class F
A home which is unoccupied, where the liable person is a personal representative of a deceased person will be exempt for the period before Grant of Probate and for 6 months, where appropriate,  after probate or letter of administration.

Class G
A home which is unoccupied and prohibited by law from being occupied will be exempt for as long as the home is legally prohibited from being occupied.

Class H
A home which is unoccupied and held for occupation by a Minister of Religion will be exempt whilst remaining unoccupied.

Class I
A home which is unoccupied, where the liable person resides elsewhere to receive personal care will be exempt whilst remaining unoccupied.

Class J
A home which is unoccupied, where the liable person resides elsewhere to provide personal care will be exempt whilst remaining unoccupied.

Class K
A home which is unoccupied, where the liable person is a student and the home was previously owned/occupied by students will be exempt whilst remaining unoccupied.

Class L
A home which is unoccupied, having been repossessed by a mortgagee will be exempt as long as the mortgagee retains possession of the home.

Class M
A home which is a hall of residence will be exempt.

Class N
A home which is occupied only by students (and their non-British spouses or dependents) will be exempt for as long as occupied by students. Includes vacations if the liable person is a student who resides there during term-time.

Class O
A home which is owned by the Secretary of State for Defence and used as UK Armed Forces accommodation will be exempt.

Class P
A home which is occupied by or owned/leased by a member of a visiting force will be exempt.

Class Q
A home which is unoccupied and in the hands of a trustee in bankruptcy will be exempt.

Class R
A home which is an unoccupied residential caravan pitch or residential boat mooring will be exempt.

Class S
A home which is occupied only by persons aged under 18 will be exempt.

Class T
A home which is an unoccupied annexe to a main home will be exempt as long as it may not be let separately from the main home without breaching planning control legislation.

Class U
A home which is occupied only by severely mentally impaired persons will be exempt.

Class V
A home which is occupied by a foreign diplomat will be exempt.

Class W
A home which is a granny annexe occupied by a dependent relative will be exempt.

Source: East Northants District Council

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Richard James Named Best Agent In Central Region By Relocation Agent Network!

Richard James - Regional AwardWe are delighted to announce we have won Relocation Agent Network’s prestigious 2014 Best Agent Central Regional Award at the Network’s annual National Conference, held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday 14 November. This is the fourth successive year we have won this acclaimed award.

The annual prize gives the winning Network member the title of ‘Best Agent in the Central Region’ and is awarded on a number of criteria measuring the agent’s overall contribution to Relocation Agent Network, their ability to achieve customer satisfaction, a strong market share locally and a proven record of helping relocating buyers move both in and out of the area.

The National Conference culminated in an evening black tie Awards Dinner hosted by acclaimed comedy actor, Stephen Mangan, best known for his role as the delusional and arrogant anaesthetist, Guy Secretan in the hit Channel 4 hospital sitcom, Green Wing. Currently he stars in the BBC 2 comedy, Episodes with Matt LeBlanc. Stephen announced Richard James’ award win.

We are really proud to be named the region’s best Relocation Agent Network member as it recognises the hard work and combined effort of everyone here at Richard James. The award win clearly demonstrates to our buying and selling customers that we are one of the area’s leading estate agents.”

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director said, “Richard James’ outstanding customer service, independent business initiatives, local market share and commitment to our Network principles means that this award is thoroughly deserved. Congratulations to all the team at Richard James and especially on their fourth successive win”

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We Return From National Estate Agency Conference

Conference GuideThe Richard James team have just returned from another fantastic and informative Relocation Agent Network National Conference. The day was packed with top tips, business recommendations and innovative ideas that we can’t wait to put into practice here in Wellingborough & Irthlingborough.

Taking place on 14 November at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, we heard from business experts including, digital media expert, Andrew Davis; one of few who predicted the economic crisis, Roger Martin-Fagg; and Jamil Qureshi, a top motivational speaker who has worked with Derren Brown and some of the world’s top sports performers including Darren Clarke and David Coulthard.

Relocation Agent Network also introduced a brand new Conference App at this year’s event, which allowed us and other members in the audience, to take part in ‘live’ polling during Conference sessions. These interactive sessions produced results shown instantly on stage, providing real insight into how attending Relocation Agent Network members viewed key industry topics.

The event culminated in a black tie Awards Dinner hosted by acclaimed comedy actor, Stephen Mangan, best known for his role as the delusional and arrogant anaesthetist, Guy Secretan in the hit Channel 4 hospital sitcom, Green Wing. Currently he stars in the BBC 2 comedy, Episodes with Matt LeBlanc. Stephen presented awards to the night’s winning estate agents, including the most coveted Agent of the Year accolade.

What does OUR Network membership mean to YOU?
The Relocation Agent Network team search every local market across England, Scotland and Wales, looking for the best independent estate agents to represent them. To be exclusively invited to join the Network, we had to be the area’s leading agent in quality of service, local knowledge and professionalism.

Through our membership and our affiliation to Cartus, the premier provider of global relocation services, Relocation Agent Network members help Cartus move relocating families in and out of areas across England, Scotland and Wales. This offers Richard James customers an additional channel of buyers when selling their property.

So Relocation Agent Network has chosen us, why wouldn’t you?

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Does your estate agent really know your home?

imagesCAK5F5C0An interesting article written by J D Gallagher Estate Agents based in Lancashire.

Just recently I got engaged. It happened in New York which unknown to me at the time is the diamond capital of America. Having burst into tears (and of course saying yes), John and I went in search of the perfect engagement ring. I’m not going to bore you with my full story however some rather interesting events happened which I can relate to in the world of the property. I’ve broken them down into three points. Which all come down to three things. Trust. Confidence and knowledge!

The Department Store ( the large retailer )

Despite the fact we were looking in the fine jewellery department (remember it’s an engagement ring), the shop assistant was totally uninterested us. When asked about a beautiful looking ring, she knew nothing about it other than the price and size which was on the tag. I’m sure it was high quality. I’m sure it was great. However the lack of interest in me and knowledge in jewellery made me walk away. How often does this happen in the property world? How many agents know what they are really selling?

The Diamond District ( the discount guys)

This area scared me. I looked in a window and the diamond sellers were out on the street in seconds with promises of low-cost diamonds, fantastic discounts and today only offers. A diamond ring is a huge investment. It’s a symbol of our future. Did I really want such a special moment ruined in such a way? I appreciate there is huge competition in the area just like there is in the property market. These people did not inspire me with trust or confidence. How did I know what I was really getting? Like in the property world, trust and confidence is essential. A diamond ring is a huge purchase. A house purchase is even bigger. You can’t base a huge decision purely on price! There is so much more to it than that.

The independent jeweller ( a bit like us really, except we sell houses )

We found a great small jewellers. As I looked in the window, they looked up and smiled at me making eye contact. We ventured in. The man asked if he could help and what were we looking for and why? As I told him our story he made a fuss. He brought out a selection of stones and asked me what I knew about diamonds. I admitted very little. He gave me a lesson. And then within our budget proceeded to explain about potential diamonds in terms of their size, their cut, their clarity and colour. I liked him. More importantly with the extra information he gave me, I trusted him. He listened. He cared. He found out with careful questioning what we wanted, what we liked. I chose my ring here. He allowed me to watch it being made. This simple action now makes me want to go back to him for our wedding bands. I trusted this man and his company. Trust is so important. So is knowledge for that inspired my confidence.

So how do all of this relate to property. It’s quite simple really. When you interview your estate agents next, I want you to forget about the price in terms of fee’s and temporarily house value. Ask yourself these 3 questions instead.

1. Do you like the agent sat in front of you?

You will have to deal with them for some time so this really is essential. If you don’t like the estate agent, you’ll never have trust or confidence.

2. Do you trust them?

It is highly likely you’ll be giving them a key to your home. But you also need to trust and believe they’ll deliver what they say. Selling a house is so much more than taking some photos and putting it on the internet. Like diamonds, it’s about knowledge. And this comes from experience.

3. Do you have the confidence in their abilities?

If you don’t have any confidence in the agent sat in front of you, they are not the agent for you. If their pitch is that all agents do the same job but they do it cheaper, walk a way now. It’s simply not true and this is the case in most industries, including service, retail and entertainment. You need an agent you are confident in. An agent who listens to you and understands your needs. You need to feel you can pick up the phone, call into their office and they are there for you. Moving house is such a life changing event.

Once you have interviewed your agents ask yourself this final question. I’m going to cover it in more depth next time, but how much interest was shown in you? Do you believe they know your home? Why you actually bought it? What you like best about it and most importantly what makes it different to other homes for sale that you are competing against?

To sell your home. Your agent needs to know your home. Do they? Are they really interested?

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Richard James Looks Forward To National Estate Agency Conference

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The Richard James team will join fellow estate agents from across England, Scotland and Wales on 14 November to attend a National Conference in London. Hosted by Relocation Agent Network, the event is exclusively for its members (including us!) and a great opportunity to find out the very latest innovations and industry recommendations.

Taking place at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, the Conference will include a trade exhibition and expert keynote speakers including… digital media expert, Andrew Davis; one of few people who predicted the economic crisis, Roger Martin-Fagg; and Jamil Qureshi, a top motivational speaker who has worked with Derren Brown and some of the world’s top performers including Darren Clarke and David Coulthard.

We love to embrace all-things technology, so we can’t wait to use Relocation Agent Network’s Conference App. Brand new for this year, the App will allow delegates to take part in ‘live’ polling during Conference sessions. Designed to enhance the ‘delegate experience’ these interactive sessions will produce results shown instantly on stage, providing real insight into how attending Relocation Agent Network members, like Richard James view key industry topics.

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Richard James Shortlisted For 2014 Best Agent In Central Region Award

images[5]We are pleased to announce we have been shortlisted by Relocation Agent Network, a national network of independent estate agents, for the 2014 Best Agent Central Region Award.

The winner will be announced at a black tie evening Awards Dinner held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday 14 November. The Awards Dinner closes Relocation Agent Network’s annual National Conference, which this year is hosted by acclaimed comedy actor, Stephen Mangan.

Relocation Agent Network’s 2014 Best Agent Central Region Award is an annual prize for the agent that has consistently made the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year and offers nominees the chance to become the Network’s ‘Best Network Agent in the Central Region’. To reach this stage of the award programme, agents must demonstrate excellent customer service, independent business initiatives, local market share and a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles.

We are thrilled to be shortlisted for Relocation Agent Network’s Best Agent Regional Award, especially as it recognises the hard work and combined effort, commitment and enthusiasm of our entire team. Fingers crossed for a win on the night!.

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director commented, “As a network of independent estate agents, made up of 16 regions across England, Scotland and Wales, our regional awards recognise the agents that have most successfully demonstrated outstanding independent business initiatives and embraced the Network principles. Congratulations to Richard James for their well deserved nomination.”

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