The average bills will fall around 5% for water and waterwaste for customers across England and Wales.

The Water Services Regulation Authority Ofwat has finalised decisions that means the average bills for water and wastewater customers across England and Wales will fall by around 5%, before adjustments for inflation, between 2015 and 2020. This would see average bills fall by around £20 from £396 to £376.

Over the next five years, customers will benefit not only in lower water bills but also have improved levels of service. As companies are set to spend around £2000 for every household across England and Wales.

By 2020 customers will benefit from significant improvements in areas of service that really matter to them, such as by tackling leakage and promote water efficiency, there will be more than 370 million liters a day of water saved – enough water saved to serve all of the homes in Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds. With a reduction in the time lost to supply interruptions -down on average 32%. 4,700 fewer properties flooded by sewer water and cleaner water at more than 50 beaches.

With around 760,000 people benefit from some form of financial support from their water company this figure will more than double to around 1.8 million by 2020. Companies are putting in place measures, such as social tariffs, which are forecast to help an additional one million people over the next five years.

The announcement from Ofwat includes the decision to lower further the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), which is the minimum rate of return that lenders or investors require to support investment in the sector. Since its initial proposal of a WACC of 3.85%, Ofwat has updated its decision to reflect current market evidence on required returns, resulting in a WACC of 3.74%.

Jonson Cox, Chairman of Ofwat said:

“This is an important step in maintaining customers’ trust and confidence in the water sector. We set out to deliver a challenging but fair outcome. We are requiring companies to meet higher service standards and deliver on their promises to customers. We are bringing down bills so customers can expect value for money, while investors can earn a fair return. Companies will need to stretch themselves to deliver much more with the same level of funding as in previous years. We will achieve more resilient infrastructure and better service as a result.”

Cathryn Ross, Chief Executive of Ofwat said:

“With bills held down by five percent and service driven up over the next five years, customers will get more and pay less. Where companies stepped up to do the best they could for their customers we did not need to intervene. But where companies fell short we stepped in to make sure customers get a good deal. Now the hard work begins. Companies will only build trust and confidence with their customers if they deliver. Those who do can look forward to fair returns, while those that don’t will be hit in the pocket and face a tough five years ahead.”

These new charges will come into effect in April 2015. Companies have two months in which to accept Ofwat’s final determination or seek a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Final determination: average bill changes (excluding inflation)

All figures are in 2014/15 prices. Figures may not add up due to rounding

Changes to average annual combined bill for water and sewerage companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

National average bill (England and Wales)

£396

£376

-5%

-2%

Anglian

£431

£390

-10%

-8%

Dŵr Cymru

£440

£416

-5%

-4%

Northumbrian
(including Essex & Suffolk)

£388

£382

-1%

0%

Severn Trent

£333

£316

-5%

-4%

Southern

£437

£403

-8%

-2%

South West*

£545

£506

-7%

-4%

Thames**

£370

£353

-5%

3%

United Utilities

£410

£398

-3%

0%

Wessex

£485

£442

-9%

-4%

Yorkshire

£373

£361

-3%

-1%

 

Changes to average annual water bill for water only companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

 

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

Affinity

£176

£163

-7%

-4%

Bristol

£202

£160

-21%

1%

Dee Valley

£152

£149

-2%

8%

Portsmouth

£97

£96

-1%

-1%

SembCorp Bournemouth

£153

£134

-12%

-6%

South East

£201

£194

-3%

3%

South Staffs
(including Cambridge)

£141

£135

-4%

2%

Sutton and East Surrey

£186

£180

-3%

-5%

* The average combined customer bill for South West does not reflect the £50 per customer Government contribution towards household bills. This addresses the significant investment needed in the infrastructure which was inherited by the company at privatisation to meet environmental and drinking water quality standards.

** Thames Water’s figures includes the costs for the preparatory works to build the Thames Tideway Tunnel – a 25km sewer to deal with the problem of too much sewage overflowing into the River Thames. However, it does not include costs for the construction of the tunnel. This is because the project will be financed and delivered by an independent infrastructure provider (IP). The IP is due to be appointed in 2015.

 

#PROPERTYOFTHEDAY #10: 5 Bedroom Terraced House – West Brompton

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On propertypropertyproperty.co.uk/blog we are introducing the #PropertyofTheDay segment, which will highlight properties across the UK that are currently available for sale or rent on the portal. Today we are highlighting FiveSevenTen in London and their lovely 5-bedroom terraced house, property … Continue reading

The UKs Top 10 Property Blogs

When it comes to the property market and tips on the property, we have curated a list of the UK’s top 10 Property blogs you can check out now!

  1. Home truths
  2. The rat and mouse
  3. Property owl
  4. Urban Splash
  5. Letting Focus
  6. Addicted to property.co.uk
  7. Property Hawk
  8. Property Industry eye
  9. My first home
  10. Land Lord Law

UK properties rise by five percent in the last year and adds more value on average home

HM Land Registry New figures show a typical property sold for £225,956 in August, up from £215,143 in the same month in 2016.

Increases over the last 12 months have been largest in the north-west, where house prices have risen by 6.5 percent. This was followed by gains of 6.4 percent recorded in the East Midlands, East of England and the south-west.

“The strength and prosperous nature of the country’s property market has once again been shown in these new statistics.” Kevin Shaw, national sales director at Leaders, explained

“The fact every single region across the UK experienced an increase of at least 2.6 percent in house prices over the last year, shows the market’s resilience despite the uncertainty of Brexit and gives sellers and buyers great confidence to make their next move.

“A significant rise in house prices is good news not only for homeowners who now have more options open to them when it comes to either moving or releasing equity in their property but also for landlords whose rental return is topped up by substantial capital growth that is realised when selling.”

Yet he acknowledges the challenge this presents for first-time buyers.

“Rising house prices are not good news for everybody and can make getting on the ladder less affordable for some.

“This week’s Budget is the ideal opportunity for the government to show it is on the side of prospective first-time buyers by reducing or even abolishing stamp duty for this group,” Kevin said.

The data shows that while the average property is worth £225,956, first-time buyers actually pay an average of £190,792 while those who have previously owned a property typically spend £262,156.

Kevin adds: “Looking ahead to the next 12 months, the outlook for the property market remains extremely positive. With the exception of the prime central London sector, further rises in house prices are expected across the country.

“Demand for all types of homes remains high and supply in many areas is not great enough, so we anticipate a busy and booming market for some time to come.”

 

Delays in the Crossrail 2 route could possibly effect investments

The Crossrail 2 route was announced in early 2013, but could delay to the building of the line impact those who have already invested?

The “Crossrail effect” on property near the new Elizabeth Line has produced huge gains for homeowners and investors in the decade since the project was announced.

Prices around all 40 stations on the new 60-mile railway from Reading and Heathrow to Essex, which opens in December next year, have risen by more than 41pc in 10 years, according to the analysis by the crowdfunding platform Property Partner.

But news that the £31bn Crossrail 2 line, which would cut through prime Surrey commuter belt and central London to Hertfordshire, may be delayed by up to a decade because of a funding shortfall could impact those who have invested in these areas in anticipation of rising rents and imminent growth.

Since the Crossrail 2 route was announced in early 2013, tenant demand has spiked in the areas along the proposed line, pushing up rents in 13 of the 15 local authorities. The biggest rises have been in the northern and north-western stretches, notably Broxbourne, the northern terminus, where rents have increased by 21.5pc (according to the latest Rental Index by the property investment platform Landbay).

Before the 2013 announcement, rents were falling in seven of the authorities. And the recent admission that the project is likely to be delayed until the 2040s has coincided with rents falling again – including by 1.75pc in Broxbourne – as tenant demand dwindles.

John Goodall, chief executive of Landbay, says: “Planned infrastructure is a key driver of tenant demand, so rents and property prices along the planned line quickly followed suit. But news that the line may now be delayed by a decade is nothing short of a hammer blow to all those that have had the foresight to plan that far ahead.

“What’s needed by tenants, landlords, buyers, business and builders is a clear commitment from the Government that the project will be delivered in 2033 as expected – not only to help people and businesses plan their lives, but also to allow adequate time for local authorities to plug housing shortfalls before demand spirals out of control.”

In a political and economic climate where so much already feels in difficulty, some observers think the announced delays to Crossrail 2 send a further negative message about London’s future potential. Charles Holland, head of new homes at Marsh & Parsons estate agents, says: “Major infrastructure upgrades like Crossrail 2 improve the connectivity of areas ripe for regeneration that otherwise do not fulfill their potential.

“One of the major benefits of this will be vastly improved levels and quality of housing stock, including affordable housing. It is important for London and the UK to send a message that we are open for business and an attractive place to live and work, and that key infrastructure investments will be sanctioned as we look forward.”

But Chris Lloyd, associate director at the independent mortgage brokerage Enness, believes the changes to the timetable may be an opportunity for investors. He says: “The delay will, I’m sure, slow price growth along the route, so it’s worth buyers and investors considering these locations as they will probably start to creep up again as the end date gets closer.”

Rob Bence, co-founder of The Property Hub, is similarly optimistic. He says: “The opportunities for landlords are huge, regardless of the delay.

“When it comes to property prices and major infrastructure, there are usually two spikes – one after the initial announcement and one on completion. The first is led by investors. Landlords who own properties along the Crossrail 2 route will reap the benefits long before the line is finished.”

Remember that home insurance isn’t designed for rental properties – you need specialist insurance for landlords.

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#PROPERTYOFTHEDAY #4: 3 Bedroom Flat – Ivy Cresent, Chiswick

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On propertypropertyproperty.co.uk/blog we are introducing the #PropertyofTheDay segment, which will highlight properties across the UK that are currently available for sale or rent on the portal. Today we are highlighting Borthwicks in Chiswick, London and their lovely 3-bedroom, flat property … Continue reading

Benefits of having a property management company assist you with your lettings

If you are considering letting a room, studio flat, house or even an estate, a property management agent can be very valuable in taking care of the whole process for you.

Property management agents are able to provide a variety of services; from the collecting of rent, the day-to-day management of the property and also dealing with any legal aspects of the property and the let on your behalf. So we have highlighted some points below that property management agents can offer you and which ones you should look for when selecting the right agent for your property?

What’s the right time to use a management agent?

Whether you are an active landlord or you are managing the property yourself, the choice as to whether you would like a property management company to undertake the tasks on your behalf is down to you and your circumstances/experience. Another thing that can determine this is if you own several properties, letting out to several people or own a large area of land, then you may not be able to handle all the logistics of keeping the properties maintained, so that’s where a property management company could come in and assist you.

Also, you may not want to deal with all the financial and legal aspects of the letting the property directly with your tenants and prefer to have it all dealt with by experienced professionals. Whatever your circumstances, a property manager can provide you with a wide range of services designed to make the process easy and relatively painless for you as a landlord.

What services do a property management companies offer?

A property management company will provide you with the full range of management services for your properties. In certain circumstances, the property owner will only hand over a selected few tasks to a management company and choose to handle some aspects themselves, but if you choose, you can pass full responsibility to the company. So what are the services a typical property management company offer?

The property management company will act as the middleman between the owner of the property and the tenants who are renting it and are often responsible for the following:

  • Advertising/Marketing your property to potential tenants

  • Sourcing suitable and reliable tenants for the property

  • Accompanying potential tenants to view the property

  • Obtaining references and conducting credit checks on potential tenants

  • Providing you with all information on the latest safety regulations

  • Preparing the tenancy agreements on your behalf

  • Organising and managing the collection of the tenant’s deposit

  • Preparing the inventory and conducting a state of repair assessment on the property

  • Checking in the tenant and agreeing on the inventory

  • Collecting the rent from the tenant

  • Transferring the rental income to your account and providing you with statements of account

  • Managing and arranging any necessary repairs

  • Inspecting the property periodically and feeding back any comments to you

  • Providing tenants with notice at the end of the tenancy

  • Re-letting the property as quickly as possible and minimising any breaks in income

Dealing with legal aspects of the tenancy and property, including evictions, non-payment, harassment or problems with squatters is also another service property management companies provide.

What do I look for in a property management company?

One of the most important things to look for in a management agent is their qualifications and credentials. Check to see if the management company is a member of the Association of Rental Letting Agents. ARLA has recently introduced an award called the Technical Award in Residential Lettings and Property Management. Look out for this accreditation when selecting a property management company. ARLA lists qualified management agents on their website, so it’s a great place to start looking for one that lives near you.

A good recommendation can go a long way. Check with friends or acquaintances that also employ a property management service to understand what their experience has been with their agent.

The majority of property letting agents will offer both letting and full management services, but talk to several and negotiate and understand their terms before deciding which to the agent to instruct. Make sure you know which services you are getting and what you’re paying for, either as part of a package or as extras. Ask about ‘To Let’ boards, newspaper adverts, websites, magazines and their own marketing ideas.

How much does a property management company cost?

The cost of instructing a management agent will depend on which services you buy into. The majority of management agents will ask for a percentage of the gross rental income, rather like a commission. Don’t always be tempted by the cheapest fee, however. You want your agent to be motivated to keep the property occupied and the tenants happy at all times, so negotiate a mutually rewarding deal where you can. Fees can range from anywhere between 5 and 10 percent of your gross rental income for a basic service to 15 percent or more for a full management service.

 

What are the advantages of renting a property?

Due to the notable increase in the sales market and the sudden surge in property prices, a lot of people has turned to the cheaper alternative, renting.

For many people, renting is the only option they are looking to in housing as the prices of homes look to be increasing and increasing. This has reportedly had a major effect on the lettings market as up to a third of the population are renting or are being housed in urban centers and are compact in the inner cities.

So we have listed some reasons why renting is of great advantage to a multitude of people:

1. Short Term/Long Term Stays

You are not solely confined to one space, as a long-term tenancy can start from as little as 6 months and then after you have the choice on whether you would like to stay or move, and it all depends on your preference.

2. Flexible Housing

Due to the high costs of living, a lot of people are changing jobs and are also changing their locations. So renting allows for working professionals to frequently move to locations that offer excellent transportation links and are generally closer to their new job.

3. Less Maintenance

As a lot of Landlords rely on property management companies to manage the homes and also take care of maintenance, this means you can worry less about resolving issues within the property you are staying. As the property management company will be the ones to look for contractors and oversee any works.

4. Getting on the Property Ladder

A majority of people only dream of getting onto the property ladder, and that’s the sales property ladder. But the rental property ladder is significantly cheaper than purchasing a property.

5. Exploring different ideas

If there is a specific area you would like to reside in, property sharing decreases the cost per person and also allows you to stay in locations that would normally be out of your budget.

6. Your safety

All rental properties must abide by the law on health and safety, and are only given approval as rentals if the property passes the safety standards and checks.

7. Landlords pay

Any continuous maintenance, building works and any additional costs for the property are covered by the landlord. So you will have less to pay/worry about.

Also, you are most likely to find one bed or two-bed apartments in a city center that will most likely be already furnished and are cheaper than you buying and decorating the place. Landlords used to be able to claim tax relief against furnished properties.  This tax break has now been removed and so there is no financial benefit to a landlord in providing a furnished property other than it making the property more desirable in certain circumstances.

 

The property market in London has been hit harder than any other region in the country by the sharp slowdown since Brexit, official figures reveal today.

The average value of a home in the capital dropped 0.2 percent in September to £483,568, making London the only place in England where prices went into reverse.

Prices in six out of the 33 local authority areas in the capital.Brent, The City, Westminster, Enfield, Kensington & Chelsea, and Lambeth fell year on year. Across London, prices rose just 2.5 percent, less half the national rate of 5.7 percent.

Just outside London, in the South-East region, prices are going up at 5.5 percent a year, suggesting that growing numbers of buyers are giving up on London and looking at locations in the Home Counties instead. Today’s figures do not include the impact of the Bank of England’s interest rate rise this month, the first for a decade. When the benchmark cost of borrowing doubled from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent.

Jonathan Hopper, managing director of home buying agency Garrington Property Finders, said: “Winter has come early to the London property market. What began as a freezing of prices in the capital’s most exclusive postcodes is turning into a harder frost on both activity and prices.

London is now not just the worst performing English region, it’s a serial laggard. In the 12 months to September, prices in the capital rose at barely a third of the pace of those in the fastest-growing region. This shift is being driven by a steady flight of equity from London — and other previously overheated regions — to areas with greater affordability.

“It’s far too early to talk of the market seizing up, as demand remains relatively robust. But falling real wages and the ongoing problems of affordability are starting to have a noticeable chilling effect.”

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: “Although, of course, there is no average UK price and the UK market reflects all different areas working at various paces, the trend in London is quite different where an excess of supply and weak demand are combining to reduce prices consistently with no real prospect of an increase until early next year at the soonest.”

At the time of the Brexit referendum in June 2016, prices in London were rising at 11.6 percent a year, but they have slowed down dramatically as uncertainty over the withdrawal process from the EU has alarmed buyers. Agents have also blamed higher stamp duty rates for slowing down demand at the top end of the market.

Today’s figures also show that the number of home sales is still plummeting. There were just 6,639 transactions in London in July, down 24 percent on last year. In Tower Hamlets, they fell by two thirds, from 463 to just 160, in an area with a population of more than 300,000.

 

How to showcase your property in preparation of viewings

 

When selling or renting out your home one of the most important things to consider would be the presentation of your home, especially as it’s well appreciated when a homeowner has put time and effort into making a good first impression on their homes.

Preparing your home for viewings is definitely an important step in the current buyer’s market. Why is that? Well, it’s because your buyer audience will decide within just a few minutes of viewing whether or not your property is an ideal for them: an unkempt garden or peeling paintwork is often all it takes to secure a lousy review and send them house hunting somewhere else. Giving your house kerb appeal however, isn’t just about dressing for effect. Rather what you should be targetting is encouraging potential buyers to make an emotional connection to your property, to see how easy it will be to live there, rather than spend time imagining how the place might look and how hard it might be to whip it into shape. So how exactly do you go about showcasing your home to the best it can be?

Make an entrance

The exterior of your home is the very first thing potential buyers see and probably make the judgement on. So take note of the property across the road – and make sure your front garden frames the house with a design that gives it good character, but which also complements the street and also the uniqueness of your own home. Keep garden paths wide and weed-free to emphasise the feeling of arrival and separate any driveway with small trees and hedging plants or neat garden ornaments/decorations. Give your front door a fresh coat of paint and stick with quality door furniture that suits the age and style of the property.

Get snappy happy

It’s human nature to overlook what we see every day, but when you see things on the screen, you get a much-needed ‘other view’. So take photographs of your property and analyse them on the computer. This will allow you to critique each room in sequence and make improvements accordingly and also make sure the theme of your home coincides. 

Clean up the clutter

An excess amount of clutter makes it difficult to concentrate on what you’re actually viewing; the more we see in a room, the less we process naturally. Clutter also has the knack for making everything look smaller, so strip back rooms and detox them of unnecessary items. Put large items of furniture, knickknacks, and books into storage or get rid of them if they are currently in use. Prune furniture – people tend to line their walls with chairs and tables – floating furniture away from walls into cosy groups makes the traffic flow more obvious and the perimeters clear.

Lose the ‘me, myself, I’

Your home is no longer yours once that “for sale” or “for rent” sign goes up, but you still need to prepare it so potential new owners pick up on the positive undercurrents of your efforts. Start by depersonalising and neutralising spaces – remove photos, clothing, and personal items and replace them with more generic alternatives and items that are only fit for yourself/your family. You can still give your home personality with carefully chosen items such as decorative mirrors or scatter cushions; just keep the family heirlooms and kiddie art to a minimum, or store them away.

Light the way

The atmosphere is best created by having a variety of light levels according to your mood and the time of day, so install dimmers if you want to especially showcase this feature of your home. Remedy bad lighting by increasing the wattage of your lamps and fittings. Aim for a combination of floor, table and overhead lighting in key rooms to create contrast and highlight eye-catching objects.