Monthly Archives: November 2010

Landlords fear the specter of no direct housing benefit payments may linger

There is now much evidence that the end of direct payments of housing benefit to landlords has lead to rent arrears and increases in the number of people being evicted from their homes. The end to direct payments has in fact cause millions of pounds of hard earned tax payer?s money to be frittered away by wayward tenants. There are many who complain of greedy landlords using housing benefits to artificially inflate market rents. However if the balance of power swings to far the other way, they may well decide that benefit claimants are just too much trouble and they will be locked out of many private residential lets.

West Midlands Receive Construction Industry Boost

Construction firm Amey is set to provide a boost to the West Midlands region with the announcement of its new national Apprenticeship Academy. The company will create 100 new jobs in construction, predominantly in the rail industry, with its scheme of Civil Engineering partnerships.
Mel Ewell the Amey chief executive, effused about the new project which will provide opportunities for those looking for a career in construction: “The programme is designed specifically to help young people negotiate an extremely tough jobs market and learn practical skills that will give them real, long-term career prospects.”
Training will take place at The Network Rail centre in Walsall which features a ?mock rail environment?. Here experienced rail professionals will provide training and skills to apprentices seeking to work in engineering, a good alternative to those who wish to learn their trade in a vocational capacity. The firm is also looking beyond simply training apprentices though, with opportunities available to study National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs), undertake work placements, and complete the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Successful applicants on the scheme will be part of exciting projects such as CEFA – a national infrastructure project to examine every single bridge, signal box and tunnel owned and operated by Network Rail.

Property development funding pushed Irish banks into the red?

Ireland has had its finance package agreed and is looking forward to receiving a cool 85 billion euro?s in emergency financial assistance. Much of these funds will be placed with the countries battered banks, Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish and others are amongst the beneficiaries that will receive a share of the cash and have some placed on contingency for further draw down. Many in Ireland and around Europe have been critical of Irelands and other European banks for irresponsible lending to fund property development projects.

New mixed use developments for Derby

Derby is in the unusual position of looking forward to eight new mixed use development schemes in and around the city over the next few years. Most of these impressive schemes already benefit from planning consent. There does seem to be a continued acceptance in the UK to city living within mixed use developments. This type of living style and development is already popular in Europe and has many benefits. It is not just for the ?young and trendy city living types?, these mixed use developments are becoming increasingly popular with wealthy couples and single people in their 40?s and 50?s.

Homes & Communities Agency faces Millions in cuts

As the government faces difficult decisions on how to cut public spending various government organizations are facing cuts. The other organization that will be axed is the tenant?s services authority that many people did not even realise existed, let alone that they were paying taxes to fund these various organizations.

Two years fixed rate at less than 5% for buy to let

Are we starting to see the first returns of competition to the buy to let mortgage market? With all this extra money being printed the banks have to find a home for it somewhere. They are looking at the most sensible balance between risk and return. With the UK property market at bottom or near to bottom pumping their funds into low geared residential investment properties must be considered low risk. When we are seeing increasing rents and capital growth coupled with more lending for buy to let properties. Is the old guard of ?landlords?, quietly dipping their toes in back in the investment property pool? While the more recent buy to let landlords are more cautious about reinvesting after nursing recent depreciation in their property portfolios.

Sustainable homes standards are updated to meet new energy efficiency targets

The housing minister has stressed the importance of green homes and the need for the country to start building more sustainable housing. The minister also stated the importance of easy to understand guidelines for new sustainable homes. These updates have been made using recent lessons that have been learnt since the introduction of the code of sustainable homes back in 2007. The minister pledged to make it easier for green developers to start new green housing developments, as many green developers have complained of complexities that are hindering their ratings. There has even been talk of dropping the complex star rating system that has been criticized for its complexity and excesses paper pushing.

Mortgage lending continues its downward spiral

Gross mortgage lending is continuing to fall, it is estimated to now be below the twelve and a half billion figure for October, with no sign of relief in the near future. The figures are thought to represent the lowest mortgage lending figures for any October since the year 2000. It seems that many lenders are keen to put various obstacles in the path of borrowers and they strive to only lend on the safest of criteria. Many mortgage brokers are frustrated by the lack of mortgage offers they are often declined on the most minor of issues. They other issue facing home buyers and home sellers is the dreaded curse of the ?down valuation?. This is when a sale is agreed and the purchasers and vendors are both happy with the price but a surveyor will chose to down value the property. Many surveyors are now edging on the side of caution, they personally have nothing to gain by up valuing a property and have a lot to lose if the lender thinks they are over valuing. It may be the buyer who pays for the surveyor?s valuation but ultimately the surveyors answer to the banks. Many surveyors are now attending professional development training that is specifically aimed at residential property valuations to make sure they are protecting their position.

Average rents to break ?700 a month ceiling

The monthly rent achieved for residential properties is set to exceed ?700 per month as the current annual rent inflation continues at 4.5% per annum.
Rents are slowly but steadily increasing month on month as the basic economic fundamentals continue to mean that strong demand and a weaker supply will force rents to increase. The average rental yield of 4.9 percent has remained relatively constant as growth has also increased in capital values. So buy to let landlords are back enjoying both rental increases and capital growth. This is a feeling that many landlords have long since forgotten.

UK government confirms plans for abolition of 106 agreements in favour of local levy

The government has confirmed that it will indeed abolish 106 agreements in favour of a local infrastructure levy. The 106 agreement has been used by planners and developers as a bargaining tool to negotiate local improvements or funds from developers in exchange for an approval for the developers planning application. The planning, development and building industries have not welcomed further change and more fiddling with the already complex UK planning application system.