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.

 

Properties Going Under Offer Much Faster Than Five Years Ago

Figures from Strutt & Parker actually suggest the time it takes properties to reach the accepted offer stage has improved in the past five years even though Government may want to speed up the home buying process.

Strutt & Parker analysed listings data for between August 2016 and August this year and compared it to the same period in 2012.Over that period, the time taken for a home to go from listing to under offer or SSTC dropped from 87 to 61 days.

Bristol was the fastest with properties listed as going under offer or SSTC in an average of 34 days, while Glasgow has seen the biggest improvement, from 93 to 37 days.

London sellers, on the other hand, are facing an above national average wait to see properties reaching the SSTC stage at 63 days, only two days faster than in 2012.

There are several cities that are now seen as alternatives to London. They offer career opportunities and a contemporary lifestyle, and appeal to people who have been priced out of the capital’s housing market,” said James Mackenzie, head of country houses at Strutt & Parker

Bristol is the perfect example: it has a booming tech hub, a broad range of housing stock and a fashionable harbour area. It is also commutable to London.As technology allows for more flexible working, the ability to commute for two or three days a week to the capital is having a significant effect on regional markets.”

Is your agency in one of the fastest selling property hotspots?

Days to “sold subject to contract” 2017
Bristol 34
Coventry 35
Edinburgh 36
Glasgow 37
Gloucester 39
Portsmouth 40
Southampton 40
Cambridge 40
Birmingham 42
Norwich 44
UK average                 61

 

3 THINGS ESTATE AGENTS DO IN YOUR INTEREST THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW OF

There has always been speculation and negative talk on Estate Agents, but we’re here to turn that around as we work closely with the agents on our portal. We’ve now curated a list of 5 things Estate Agents do in your interest that you may not be aware of:

TIP #1: Area Research

Estate Agents make sure that they have an in-depth understanding and appreciation for the community they are serving, as this will better their chances in assisting you in either selling your property or buying one. Either way, them having a closer understanding of the area benefits you in general.

TIP #2: Market Research

Estate Agents strive to be on top of the property market as this will aid them in negotiating prices with Landlords or vendors as well as helping you to understand when is the best time to make an investment in regards to anything property related.

TIP #3: Support other local businesses

Agents are always getting involved in local community events or supporting other local businesses in the area via sponsorships, campaigns and etc. Doing this allows Agents to have a close tie with the community and also, in turn, become your tour guide into the community.

So these are just things that Agents do in your interest!

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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 on Estate Agents and their services.

 

5 COOL THINGS FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO ENJOY IN THEIR NEW HOME

Parents, do your children complain that your home isn’t cool enough or that little Johnny’s room isn’t as nice as little Maxwell’s is his class. Well, we’ve got some tips for you on how you can make your home look super-duper cool for your kids.

TIP #1: Chalkboard walls

You either find it fascinating or annoying and that is; chalkboards. As a kid, you may remember drawing all over the walls of the house, even though there was paper somewhere in the house. I definitely did.

To prevent that but also encourage your children’s creative abilities, invest in some chalkboard paint. Whether you want to paint a panel, a strip or be adventurous and paint a whole wall; go for it. Make sure you actually have some chalk though and a chalk eraser, to clean it up after.

TIP #2: DIY cinema system

Have you tried having an at home cinema day, where you’ve put in some animated DVD’s for the kids, but the issue is the screen isn’t big enough? But the layout is cool, just the screen causing problems. Well for that final touch we recommend that you consider buying some ‘Projection Screen’ (preferably 100” inch 16:9 and portable), have it pinned up or stuck to your wall and get you a projector next. Then project your films on a BIGGER screen! Get some popcorn too, while you’re at it.

TIP #3: Dedicated space

Whether it’s an entire playroom, a small corner, or a reading nook. We believe that your child needs a space where they can have some chill me-time. But decorate it and make it look a bit fancy for them.

TIP #4: Cool scenery wallpaper

Have you ever been to the jungle? I haven’t, but you could take your kids there. And I don’t mean a real jungle; I mean that you could customise your little one’s room with some scenic wallpaper ranging from an animated jungle, a little princess castle, a tropical island or whatever takes their fancy. These are a really good way to drastically change the appearance of the kid’s room.

TIP #5: Cool storage systems

As a youth, cleaning wasn’t one of my biggest hobbies and I’m sure it isn’t your children’s either. Unless times have changed drastically. But in order to slowly nurture your kids into the art of home maintenance and also teach them good household skills, create a cool storage system where cleaning actually looks exciting. Having some hanging storage bins are quite good, as your children could practice basketball and represent our country in the Olympics.

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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 ‘Family’ series.

 

Manchester Property Prices Rising

Manchester has seen property values in the city have risen by 6.92 percent in the last 12 months, with the average home now worth around £162,000. However, across the whole of the UK, house prices rose by 5.14 pc in the year to July seeing the average move up to £226,185. According to the report, the total value of all homes in the UK is £3 trillion, with two-thirds of the total in the capital.

According to a new study, Manchester’s property market is the third most valuable in the country. Hometrack research found that houses in the city are worth a total of £133bn, behind London and Birmingham, which with housing markets worth £1.99 trillion and £152bn respectively.

Estate agent Ged McPartlin, from Ascend Properties, says news of Manchester’s housing boom comes as no surprise.He said: “The north is certainly booming as the latest Hometrack report has revealed that Manchester is the best city for growth – experiencing a strong increase in house prices.This, along with the total value of homes being worth a huge £133bn creates a truly thriving property market which is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.From an agent’s point of view, these figures truly reflect what we’re seeing in the marketplace.Buyers understand that the market is moving fast, competition is rife and it’s generally fastest fingers first. The demand has continued to push prices up and the lack of stock has created marketplace urgency.There’s also been an increase in landlords snapping properties up in the city, particularly throughout June, July and August, as the new university year creates a rush of tenants desperate to secure a decent property before the term starts.It’s been a very busy summer and the growth reported today clearly reflects this.”

The study also showed that mortgage debt in Manchester came to a total of £32bn, while housing equity – the difference between the home’s market value and the outstanding balance of mortgage payments – came to £100bn.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Hometrack, said: “House prices continue to rise on the back of sustained price inflation in large regional cities as unemployment falls and mortgage rates remain low.”