What's in store for 2015? Welcome to our January Newsletter...

05.01.2015 Share this post  Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google+

As December faded away and the calendar clicked slowly around to 2015 (so long, 2014!), there was a flurry of activity in the property sector. First of all, the Government announced a new starter home initiative, offering 100,000 first-time buyers new homes with a 20% discount; then it was revealed that the annual rise in UK house prices has slowed — yet prices have still gone up faster than the general cost of living. Banks, meanwhile, launched a flurry of mortgage deals fixed for 10 years at record low rates.

Plus, a big question remains concerning the Chancellor's Autumn Statement (apart from 'Hang on: it was delivered in December, so shouldn't it really be called the Winter Statement?') And that question is: what does George Osborne's Stamp Duty reform really mean for house buyers and landlords? Ask your estate agent for advice on this — and, also, see our answer, below...

Property: What's in store for 2015?

You don't need a crystal ball to realise that — at some point — interest rates are guaranteed to go one way: up. A small increase was mooted in the middle of 2014, but Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, quickly poured cold water on the idea to stave off panic. But hang on: despite early indications that interest rates would rise some time in 2015 — bad news for anyone on a variable rate mortgage — there might now be a stay of execution. Thanks to inflation, which fell to 1 per cent (its lowest point for 12 years), some economists are speculating that an interest rate rise may not happen until 2016.

Then there is uncertainty over the General Election in May. At the moment, some political forecasters think it's likely that no one party will win a majority, leading to another coalition. Who makes up that coalition is another question, however — so what their policies towards property will be is anyone's guess. There are also reports that the New Year could be good for landlords. New research shows that there is currently lots of confidence in the buy to let market, encouraging significant investment in the sector.

Stamp Duty Reform – a Win-Win?

“Stamp duty was one of the worst designed taxes and acted as a brake on aspiration for those who wanted to get on or move up the housing ladder.” It wasn't just anyone who said that: it was George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer. In his Autumn Statement, the Chancellor announced he was scrapping the residential 'slab' system which charges homebuyers a percentage of the full price as soon as it hits certain thresholds — which means a tax cut for 98% of homebuyers who pay stamp duty. For example, a house buyer who purchases an averagely priced home of £275,000 will pay £4,500 less in tax. The new arrangements seem to be good for landlords, too, who will have lower costs when buying property and therefore increased funds to kickstart property improvements and keep rents down.

Your Best New Year's Resolution: 'Be Organised!'

For landlords, 2014 was quite a year — and 2015 is going to be just as busy by the looks of things, thanks to changing legislation. To keep on top of your business, you'll need to make a New Year's resolution to be super-organised... so ensure that you know when you gas safety, electrical, flue and PAT testing is due (failure to meet safety standards is an offence), plus the date of your insurance renewal. Use the New Year to run a check on your property to take note of wear and tear, update your inventory and check that your tenancy documents include the most up-to-date alterations in government policies. Also, now may be a good time to start planning for the future as far as sustainability issues are concerned, because new legislation which comes into force in April 2018 will have an impact on properties with poor energy efficiency.

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