New build vs. Second-hand homes in London: house price report reveals six-figure gap between new and resale flats

There’s a huge gulf between the average price of old and new-build flats in London. New builds can offer peace of mind while ex-councils flats are best for value so weigh up the pros and cons carefully before you buy.

Ex-council vs. new-build prices in every London borough

The six-figure price gulf between new and resale property, and between privately built and former council homes, is revealed in a new study focusing on London.

Research comparing the cost of one-bedroom flats in every borough shows pre-owned homes cost an average £542,715, while a new-build one-bedroom flat costs an average £679,671. That’s 22 percent — or almost £137,000 — more.

An ex-council one-bedroom flat is the best value of all at £396,317 on average, the Hamptons International study shows. This is more than £146,000 — or 31 percent — less than buying a privately built flat, and more than £283,000, or 52 percent, cheaper than a new-build flat.

New build is always the premium buy, for the peace of mind that comes with a modern, well-insulated home, often with such extras as communal gardens and sports facilities. In today’s tricky market some developers are offering good deals such as paying buyers’ stamp duty to stimulate sales, but the property will always come out more expensive with annual service charges on top.

0100

New — what £350,000 buys you: a flat at Leven Wharf, Poplar, with a terrace and city views but only one bedroom. For sale with My London Home (020 8012 5708)

Not long ago you could have said a new-build flat, bought off-plan, would make you a profit by the time you moved in. The direction of the current market is anybody’s guess because of stamp duty hikes and the fallout from the Brexit vote.

0101

Adrian Plant, director and head of new homes at estate agents Currell, says: “With the new build, you hope you know that for the first 10 years there will not be any major costs. You won’t need to pay for builders and plumbers, and many developments now come with a concierge to handle maintenance and sort out issues like arranging for parcel delivery or laundry, at a cost of service charges.”

Buyers of older homes pay less to purchase, but often then stump up for renovations and/or extensions. Of course, an older home may bring the bonus of period features such as cornicing, wide staircases, stained glass and Victorian tiled floors.

WITH GREAT VALUE COMES GREATER RISK

0102

Old — what £329,999 buys you: a second-floor ex-council flat with two double bedrooms in Clapton E5. Former council homes can be great value, but ask locals what life on the estate is like before you commit to buying

Ex-local authority homes are fantastic value but this is the riskiest sector to buy into. Generally, those built before the Sixties and Seventies are higher quality and larger than a more modern home. But on estates blighted by years of underinvestment, flats can be shabby, common areas depressing and getting a mortgage can be a pain.

However, Stephen Lovelady, sales manager at Foxtons’ Pimlico and Westminster branch, says ex-council homes on his patch are often well built, with good security and sometimes well managed. He says most lenders will offer mortgages on ex-local authority homes in central London, although some will not lend on buildings above six storeys, or of poor construction standards.

READ MORE

Beyond Zone 1, broadly speaking, lenders are happy with ex-council homes in desirable areas and less keen on run-down locations. Buyers must research whether there are any major repairs planned for the block or estate because they, unlike the council tenants, will have to pay a share of the cost. Request a work plan from the local council which will give a five-year list of any projects plus an estimated cost. Your solicitor should investigate any major works when conveyancing your sale.

Communal halls, lifts and walkways are often grim. Bad management, crime, drugs and gangs of teenagers making life a misery are all possibilities on a big estate. A safer bet is a small, low-rise block that’s well integrated into local streets, although this might be more expensive than average.

So before you buy, contact the tenants and residents association to discuss any major problems, knock on doors and chat with residents, talk to the local paper, study police crime statistics and visit the flat during the day and at night.

 

HOW TO ACCURATELY THEME/COLOUR MATCH YOUR HOME

0101 - Article #2

The task of decorating your new home can be quite daunting. If you’re like me and don’t have one specific theme or idea that you are going for then consider these points when decorating your space.

Group Inspirations/Ideas

The internet is a great tool when curating mood boards and also sourcing inspirations. Websites and applications such as Pinterest, We Heart It and Hometalk is great places for you to get ideas on how you want to decorate your living room to your bathroom.

List What You Like

Make a list of things you like. For instance, if you’re heavily into plants, then make a list of the different plants you like and the colours associated with them, that way you can select your colour scheme based on your likes.

Your Personal Style

In the times we live in, we currently have minimal restrictions on how we dress or what our personal styles are; so why not implement that into your home. If you’re into floral prints in your cardigans, skirts, tote bags or whatever, then you’ll more likely be drawn into having floral prints in your home.

Customise each room

Sometimes we really can’t choose one theme or one colour scheme for our home. But who said you have to stick to one theme? You don’t!

It may be an unconventional idea, but why not have various themes in your home, and they can all vary from room to room. After all, it is your home, so you have all the control on making it your comfortable place, and if it means having contrasting colours/themes on the top floor, then go for it.

———————————————————————————————————————–

Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘First Time Buyers’ series.

[Opening image sourced from Knight Partnership Cambridgeshire listing, check out the property now http://bit.ly/2jVWUjR]

How do I extend my lease?

In England and Wales, we have influential laws that allow you to extend your lease for reasonable prices. To help you extend your lease, we have put together some tips:

What is a lease?

The most common form of owning a flat or apartment in England and Wales is by leasehold. A leasehold means that you are essentially renting the property for a certain amount of time.

Who can extend?

The majority of flat owners can extend their lease and are entitle to get 90 years added to the lease under the 1993 Leasehold Reform Act. You have to have owned the flat for at least two years before you can extend the lease. You don’t necessarily have to live in the property, but rather just have owned it for 2 years. Bear in mind however that prices can soar for short leases.

Should you extend?

One of the most valuable reasons to extend a lease is that by adding a decent length of time onto the lease, the value of the property will inevitably be boosted. When people decide to extend their lease, it is typically by 90 years. Make sure to check how long is left on your lease as anything below 60 years will be unmortgageable and will likely have to be sold at an auction.

If you have more than 90 years left on the lease, then the value added to the property if extending will only be a tiny bit more than the costs occurred. However if you have over 90 years remaining on the lease, then you shouldn’t really in any rush to extend the lease. If you get to the 83 year mark, then this is a time to start considering extending.

If the lease 80 years or less

A major factor to remember is that when a lease gets down to 80 years, the price of extending will be greater so try to extend the lease before this mark. You can not rely on the freeholder to notify you when the lease drops to 80 years as they will make money from this due to you having to pay 50% of the property’s ‘marriage value’. Remember to start consider extending the lease once it has hit the 83 year mark, or better yet… extend the lease at the 83 year mark. If you are looking for a property, then you should check how much time is remaining on the lease and question it if it is 80 years or below.

How much will it cost?

This all depends on the property’s value, the length left on the lease and ground rent. Remember that costs can vary dramatically, so you might be best to ask a solicitor which you can find on the Law Society website. Another option is to ask neighbours in your building how much it cost them to extend their lease and what was left on the lease.

House Price Index – March 2013

House price increases down but inequality up, says the Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The Office of National Statistics today released the latest house price figures for March 2013, showing that the speed of house price inflation has slowed.

To give you an idea of the comparison at which the rise of prices has slowed, prices across the nation as a whole rose by 1.9% between February 2012 and February 2013.

That compares with a preceding yearly increase of 2.2% in the 12 months to January. Even though these statistics are based on a national coverage, there is however still areas in the UK that are not seeing this slower speed of house price inflation. The nationwide number reflected a broad inequality across different regions of the UK, which appears to be rising.

According to the Office of National Statistics, house prices in London are now rising at 5.9% year on year. Where as in Scotland and Northern Ireland, they have seen deeper house price falls then ever before.

Prices north of the border are declining by 1.2%, as those in Northern Ireland are down by a massive 7.7% over the last year. With stats not that off from London, Wales house prices are now at an increasing rate of 4.1%, up from just 0.9% in January.

Another region in the UK that is performing healthier than most is north-east England, where prices are up by 2.4%. Ernst and Young’s Item Club earlier this week predicted that house prices in the UK would actually stay almost at a standstill over the next two years.

Its prediction suggested that prices would rise to 2.1% in 2014, but recover to 5% in 2015.

National Statistics House price index 2013 (Download Here)

Future updates on the House Price index 2013

Monday 20th May 2013
Monday 15th June 2013
Monday 15th July 2013

With all this in mind, if you are thinking of moving, or buying your first or next property, why not start the search here.

 

How to deal with noisy neighbours

Struggling to sleep at night because next door like to have 12-hour rave parties in the wee hours of the morning? Rather than losing your cool, take a look at these tips to help you resolve the conflict.

While most people were ringing in the New Year for 2013, I was pounding my fist against my bedroom wall and wishing unpleasant things on my neighbours. A group of students moved in next door and host monthly parties that start at around 11pm and don’t end until 11am the next day. As can be expected, this results in very little sleep and a lot of frustration. So what’s the best way to deal with this without creating a ‘neighbours from hell’ scenario?

Your rights with noisy neighbours

According to the Noise Act 1996, any excessive noise between 11pm and 7am the next day are deemed to be causing a nuisance. The definition of ‘excessive noise’ is a bit hazy, so there is no hard and fast rule for this. As a general guide, any noise above 85 decibels (dB) is considered to be the level of noise that can cause damage after prolonged exposure, and anything above 50 dB at night could be considered noise pollution.

Don’t try to live with it, and don’t reciprocate

Trust me on this one – don’t try to live with the noise, because it won’t get easier. If you’re expecting the constant thrum of dubstep to become part of the background noise, you’ll be disappointed. Nip it in the bud as soon as it happens, otherwise you’ll only get angrier and more frustrated every time it occurs.

On the same note, don’t try to reciprocate their actions e.g. hammering the wall in annoyance, turning your music up even louder or deliberately making more noise than they are (I’ve been guilty of all three). This will only escalate things further, so don’t be tempted to vent your frustration elsewhere. Hammering the wall is also likely to leave a dent, leading to an expensive home insurance claim and a very awkward conversation with your landlord. Don’t try that.

Talk to them, but time it well

If you’re anything like me, telling your neighbours that they’re being too loud and rowdy is just about the most uncomfortable thing you can think of. That being said, about a third of all people with noisy neighbours found that actually communicating the problem to them resolved the issue straight away, according to the HomeOwners Alliance. If face-to-face interaction fills you with dread (as it does me), then leave them a polite note to explain the facts.

Timing is essential for this to be most effective. You don’t want to storm into a house full of drunken revellers during a party and start shouting at them; that’ll only lead to a bad situation. You’re better off catching them when they’re having a quiet moment so you can have a word without losing your temper.

Reporting noise pollution

This may vary depending on your local council, so check with them to ensure you’re following the best method. You can find your local authority on the Directgov website.

It’s the responsibility of your local authority to investigate any instances of noise pollution (this comes under ‘statutory nuisance’, which also covers light pollution, smoke and insect infestations). The government’s definition of what counts as a ‘statutory nuisance’ is anything that is ‘unreasonably interfering with the use or enjoyment of your premises’. So, if your next door neighbours are throwing wheelie bins at one another at 4am (this was the same New Year’s party that kept me awake all night) you’ll have good reason to initiate a complaint.

Depending on your local council, you might be provided with an email address, phone number or online form to register your complaint. Remember to stick to the facts and not to let your frustration influence what you say.

What happens next?

The noise pollution officer will visit the house and issue a ‘noise abatement’ order. This basically tells them to pipe down or they’ll face legal action. If they break this order, the noise officer is within their rights to confiscate any noise making equipment (stereos, TVs, or in my case, a set of professional, festival grade amplifiers that were brought in by a DJ) and fine them up to £5,000.

Suggest that your neighbours let you know in advance if they’re planning on having a get together. That way you can make plans to be away or be out while they’re making their noise. This shouldn’t mean that you’re forced to leave your home whenever your neighbours get a bit loud, but knowing in advance will ease the situation and allow you to keep your options open.

If things get out of hand …

Sometimes it’s not just noise that’s the problem. Where there’s a party, there’s usually alcohol, and that can bring with it a whole host of problems. If you hear any arguments or see the beginnings of a fight breaking out, then call the police straight away. If the party spills out into the street and the revellers are generally being disorderly, then that counts as a breach of the peace, and you should also call the police to deal with that.

Dealing with noisy neighbours in this way means that you’ll be able to deal with the problem quickly, maintain the moral high ground and minimise any conflict between you and your neighbours. Have a good night’s sleep!

How have you dealt with your noisy neighbours? Let me know in the comments below!

Jamie Gibbs is the lifestyle blogger for home insurance comparison site Confused.com. He keeps a pair of noise cancelling headphones and a copy of Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell by his bedside table ready for whenever next door have a party.

Chocolate Week: Why London is the Sweetest Place to Live

This week (October 8th-14th), it’s Chocolate Week; the UK’s biggest celebration of the sweet stuff, and an easy excuse for us to dive in to the lovely stuff. As well as being a nationwide celebration of the dark stuff (or white stuff, if that’s your thing) in homes and offices, you can bet there will lots to do in London including a choc-opera in Belgravia and tasting events in Piccadilly Circus.

That’s one of the great things about living in London; there is just so much to do. You’re only a tube ride away from some sort of event tied to national or international celebrations. As a resident, you can never have an excuse to not have anything to do; a quick skim of the weekend paper, search online or even wander around will bring you into contact with something fun and interesting to pass the time.Often you won’t even need to plan ahead or even actively look for things to pass the time, as you’re hit with options every time you go out through sings, billboards, posters etc. Some are more traditional or historical, whereas as others might be a bit more quirkier or “on-the-edge”.

Returning to chocolate, London has a great place in the history of the delicacy coming to these shores in the 17th century. It was in 1657 that the first chocolate house was opened in Bishopsgate by order of Charles II and it was Christopher Columbus who brought it over from his travels.

Even when it’s not Chocolate Week, you’ll be hard-pressed not to get your chocolate fix when in London. As well as the multitude of shops, both big and small you can find special chocolate tours which run regularly all year round, in the Mayfair and Chelsea areas. To cater to international residents and tourists who might be a bit homesick, you’ll also come across shops which import products from all around the world.

Some people complain about the average rent in London being more than anywhere else in the country (not that this is any different from most other countries and their largest cities). However, it’s times like these, in terms of options of entertainment and culture, when the benefits of living in a cosmopolitan city really reveal themselves.