Categories
Lettings Group 2

Landlords: 6 thing landlords need to know about the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper

Landlords and tenants will soon see changes to how tenancies are run, thanks to incoming legislation changes enforced by the Government. Letting agents across the country are digesting the contents of the new Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper

Our role is to support landlords in implementing what’s new, ensuring their buy-to-lets are legally compliant at all times. Ahead of the White Paper contents becoming law, we summarise the key points that need considering now:-

1. Changes to tenancy types & evictions 

The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper confirms the intention to scrap Section 21 ‘no fault’ evictions. Landlords will need a reason from a set list in order to end a tenancy lawfully, rather than simply tell tenants to leave with no reason. It is thought that regaining a property for the landlord to live in or sell on will be one of the acceptable reasons soon to be defined in law.

There are, however, addendums to this incoming reform. There will be improvements to the eviction process, in favour of the landlord, where the tenant is frequently involved in anti-social behaviour or is in rent arrears. On the flipside, it will be easier for renters to walk away from a tenancy agreement as fixed term tenancies will be banned. In their place, all tenancy agreements will be issued on a periodic basis, leaving tenants freer to leave a property when they wish.

2. Discrimination against some rental groups will end

Landlords have been able to exclude some groups from renting their property but this will come to an end. The White Paper will forbid landlords from making blanket bans on renters with children and tenants who receive benefits. All tenants, however, will still have to meet the landlord’s pre-set criteria and pass the referencing process.

In addition, all tenants will be able to request a pet move in with them, which the landlord must think about and cannot unreasonably refuse. To make this an easier law for landlords to embrace, the landlord can insist that the tenant has specific pet insurance.

3. Rent rises will be capped to once a year

Rent rises are unavoidable but to make it fairer for tenants, the notice period landlords give renters will double. In addition, the frequency at which rent rises can be applied will be capped to once a year. It is thought landlords wishing to increase the rent will have to use a Section 13 notice to do so or insert a rent review clause into the period agreement.

4. Living conditions will be standardised

The Government’s concerns over health and safety in private rented properties will be addressed by a new Decent Homes Standard. This already operates in the social housing sector but it will apply to all privately rented homes for the first time as part of the reforms. The Decent Homes Standard will run alongside the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

 5. A new private renters’ ombudsman will be set up

Calls for specific housing courts have been dismissed at this stage but a new private renters’ ombudsman will be created instead. The aim will be for an impartial body to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords, without the need to go to court. Issues, such as disagreeing over deposit deductions and rent rises, will be settled without high-level judicial involvement. 

6. A new advice & information portal will be launched

With hundreds of rules, regulations and now new laws for landlords to comply with, the Government will create a single online portal for landlords, listing every compliance item, together with useful property set-up and management advice. It is not known as yet whether it will be mandatory for landlords to register with the portal.

 We are working to advise our landlords on how the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper will affect current tenancies and future buy-to-lets. You can contact us for tailored lettings advice and to discuss any aspect of the rental reforms.

Categories
Lettings Group 1

Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper: your questions answered

After years of delays and deliberations, the Renters’ Reform Bill has finally been crystalised in its associated White Paper. Titled the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper: a new deal for renting, the contents will soon become law and shape the way lettings is run. We’ve pre-empted the most common questions landlords may ask, and provided our answers.

Q. Why is this White Paper so important?
A. White papers are policy documents produced by the Government that set out their proposals for future legislation. What is contained in the Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper will soon become law, representing the biggest change to buy-to-let since the Housing Act 2004.

Q. Are Section 21 evictions being banned?
A. Yes. The White Paper confirms that Section 21 evictions – also known as ‘no fault’ evictions – will be abolished. Previously, landlords didn’t have to give a reason for ending a tenancy when they used a Section 21. In the future, there will be a very limited number of reasons why a landlord can ask tenants to leave.

Q. Will it be harder to regain my buy-to-let property?
A. Although Section 21s will end, the Government is going to make it easier for landlords to regain their property if their tenants are repeatedly involved in anti-social behaviour and/or those who are in serious rent arrears. It’s also thought that landlords will be able to give notice should they want to sell the property or move back in themselves, although details on this part of the legislation await confirmation.

Q. Is it true that I’ll have to accept renters with children, those on benefits and pets?
A. Not always. Although the White Paper says there will be a blanket ban on refusing to rent to families with children, for those tenants in receipt of benefits and those with domestic animals, there will be exceptions and each tenancy will be treated on an individual basis, taking affordability into account. The new measures do suggest, however, that landlords will be able to insist tenants with pets take out mandatory pet insurance as part of the qualifying criteria.

Q. How can I raise the rent in the future?
A. The new White Paper states that rent rises can only happen once, annually, and if this is the landlord’s intention, all rent rises will have to go through the statutory Section 13 process. Landlords will also have to give tenants much longer notice if they plan to increase the rent.

Q. Am I going to have to improve standards in my buy-to-let?
A. Possibly. The new White Paper states the Decent Homes Standard that already applies to social housing will also apply to privately rented properties. There are minimum living standards to meet but most landlords are already complying with these, thanks to the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985, and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018.

Q. Will there be a new way for disputes to be resolved?
A. Yes, as the Government will set up a private renters’ ombudsman to avoid disputes going to court. The ombudsman would step in to mediate if a tenant disagreed with a rent rise, decided to challenge a refusal to keep a pet or wanted a rent refund as a result of substandard living conditions.

Q. Will there be a ‘rogue landlord’ register?
A. Not as such. A new online portal is to be launched, heralding a one place where all a landlord’s legal buy-to-let obligations, together with lettings advice, is set out. It’s unclear at the moment whether registering for the portal will be compulsory and if it is, it will create a landlord’s register by default.

Q. Are there any changes to deposits?
A. There are no changes to the tenancy deposit system outlined in this White Paper. It was thought there could be a shift towards lifetime deposits but there is nothing in the White Paper to suggest this will become law soon, although the idea is still in development.

Q. And what’s changing in terms of tenancies?
A. Fixed term tenancies will become a thing of the past, with all tenants moving over to periodic tenancies. Tenants will be able to exit their agreement more easily and when they want, with some notice, rather than wait for a fixed timeframe to end.

The Fairer Private Rented Sector White Paper appears in full on the Government’s website but if you’d like any clarification, do call our lettings team.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 1

The spare room reinvented

If you were lucky enough to have a spare bedroom in 2020, there is a high chance that you shoved the bed to one side (or got rid of it altogether) to make way for a home office.  In fact, ​​a report from Zoopla suggests that some nine million bedrooms were lost during the pandemic to other uses.

While repurposing a spare room for professional purposes was a necessity that can now be reversed, with workers being recalled to the office, a new study has revealed we’re not quite ready to reinstate the bed.

Recent research by Hillarys set out to establish how our revised home habits have changed our approach to space. Its survey of  2,200 homeowners found 43% of UK properties no longer have a spare room for guests following the pandemic. New uses for a spare rooms include a kid’s playroom (41%), a gaming room (27%), a second living room/quiet room (26%), extra storage, such as a walk-in wardrobe (12%) and a home gym (8%).

When pressed on whether they would convert the space back to a spare room, only 21% of those taking part in Hillary’s survey admitted they might or have already, with the rest (79%) keeping the rooms as they currently are.

The big spare room debate

If you’re thinking of selling your property in the future, you might like to know that one property expert warns that hobby rooms may be detrimental to a sale. Gregory Smith at PriceYourJob says rooms that have been given a highly-personalised purpose – such as a gym – may actually put purchasers off as they may not see the space as beneficial to them.

It’s also worth remembering that the marketing value of a property is usually linked to how many bedrooms it has, so a spare bedroom conversion that’s very hard to reverse needs careful consideration. 

And what about spare rooms that are just that….spare? One property platform analysed data to confirm just how much underused space is worth. Boomin’ found that each spare room in the current UK market is valued at £42,000. It poses the question whether more property owners could downsize, cashing in on the current size of their property, to buy something with fewer – but well used – bedrooms.

Before you reinvent your spare bedroom into a self-care space, a yoga studio or a home cinema, ask us how this may affect the future prospects of your property. Our team is available to offer home moving advice and a property valuation.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

Self-care crosses over into the home

Self-care’ is a concept that’s gained momentum in the last two years, especially as we look to rebalance our lives after the pandemic. Although what may immediately spring to mind is a walk in the countryside or an hour-long aromatherapy massage, the self-care trend has crossed over into our homes.

A new study has shown how self-care is shaping where we live. Not On The High Street recently questioned Brits on the matter of what it calls ‘self spaces’ – rooms devoted to self-care, hobbies or leisure activities. 

The study found people in 2022 wanted to enjoy more ‘me time’ (68%), maintain a better work/life balance (58%) and spend more time on hobbies (66%). As a result, many were thinking about creating a room in their home dedicated to their passions and more holistic past-times. In fact, research revealed over a third of us have already designated a space where we can practice a form of self-care – not surprising when 7 in 10 people said they felt most relaxed while at home.

This rising interior trend is already having an effect on the property market. Almost half (48%) of those taking part in the research said a self-care room would be a priority when looking for their next home.  

To quantify just how important self-care has become, Not On The High Street asked people what was most essential within the home. It found some Brits felt a self-care room was more important than a new kitchen (38%), a new en-suite bathroom (39%), a new living room (37%) or a new garden (37%).

According to the online retailer, our top 10 self-care spaces are: 

  1.     Reading corner (16%)
  2.     Gym (16%)
  3.     Walk in wardrobe (14%)
  4.     Cinema room (14%)
  5.     ‘Man cave’ (14%)
  6.     Music room (13%)
  7.     Arts and crafts studio (12%)
  8.     Gaming room (12 %)
  9.     Study room (11%)
  10.     Mini library (10%)

Stay flexible when it comes to self-care

Interior trends come and go, so before you rush out to reconfigure your property or install permanent pieces of gym equipment, think about how versatile the room could be, especially when it comes to selling or renting out your property in the future.

Retaining flexibility can be achieved by using freestanding furniture that isn’t screwed or nailed down; using screens to divide rooms on a temporary basis; opting for multi-purpose furniture, such as a snooker table that converts into a dining table, and keeping the décor neutral.

Easy self-care ideas to introduce

Adding an element of self-care to your day doesn’t have to involve a dedicated room. Why not try one of these small-scale ideas instead? 

  • Encourage a spa-like ambience in your bathroom: clear away empty toiletry bottles, buy a fresh set of fluffy towels and light candles instead of turning on a harsh overhead light.
  • Find bedroom bliss: banish the TV from the bedroom and instead, play a soothing soundtrack of music you may hear when going for a massage.
  • Create a reading corner: just add a comfy chair, a side table for your coffee, a freestanding lamp and a pile of classic novels.
  •  Install a window seat: if you have a window with a view, think about installing a window seat as there’s something meditative about simply watching the world go by.
  • Make a mindfulness zone: clear clutter and minimise distractions to create a place to practice mindfulness or meditation.

If you are searching for a new home and a self-care space is on your ‘most wanted’ list, talk to us about available properties.

Categories
Sales Group 1

5 things buyers DON’T want to discover about your home

Whether the property market is running hot or cooling down with the seasonal shift, buyers will always have a vision of what they want their next home to be – and your property for sale might be full of off-putting aspects. 

A new study by Tapi has identified the top five home-related turn-offs, together with five aspects that make people feel positive about a property. 

  1.     A property that needs a lot of work doing to it

While some buyers have their heart set on a ‘doer-upper’ that can be ripped apart, stripped back and rebuilt to their own liking, almost half (45%) of those questioned said a home that needed too much work was a non-starter. What many purchasers are looking for is a home they can move into and enjoy from day one, without booking a plumber, electrician or builder.

  1.     A property in need of complete redecoration

Buyers are not fond of homes where the standard of decoration is of an acquired taste or of a tatty standard. In fact, 22% of those taking part in the study said the need to completely redecorate would put them off a property. If your rooms are painted in vibrant shades or the walls covered in crayon scribbles, a trip to a DIY store may be required. 

  1.     An old kitchen

While some kitchen cabinet, tile and worktop combinations can stand the test of time, 28% of buyers would discount a property if it had an old kitchen that needed replacing. As well as a dislike of dated doors, damaged surfaces and greasy tiles, 12% of people taking part in the same survey said they were looking for modern appliances.

  1.     Too much noise

Sometimes it’s not what’s in your property that will put off potential buyers but what’s outside. Lots of external noise was a negative for 43% of those taking part in the study. While there’s not much you can do about living under a flight path, next to a railway line or beneath a heavy-footed family fond of shuffling furniture, you can investigate a number of ambient improvements, such as triple glazing, soundproofing, more absorbent floorings and using trees as a noise buffer.

  1.     Unsightly surroundings in eye view of the property

An attractive view is very important to some buyers, with 36% saying an eyesore visible from the property would prompt them to discount it. If the offending sight is within the seller’s boundary – such as an overgrown garden or a skip on the driveway – they have the power to change the view quite easily. If it’s a sight outside of their control, it may be possible to obscure the view with screening, plants, fencing or partial frosting to windows.

5 things buyers DO want to discover

The same Tapi survey identified property aspects that buyers did want to see when viewing a property.

  1.     private outdoor space (52%)
  2.     a new kitchen (51%)
  3.     a new bathroom (42%)
  4.     freshly painted walls (20%) 
  5.     neutral colours (19%)

With this knowledge, sellers can upgrade their property before it goes on the market, with a few tweaks giving it wider appeal. When it comes to more ambitious improvements, consult with us as to whether the cost of a new kitchen or bathroom will be recouped when selling. We can also discuss pricing your property to take external factors – such as noise and visual distractions – into account.

Categories
Sales Group 2

Property positives & negatives: what puts buyers off?

For many, selling up represents a decision to leave a property that the owner has invested time and money into making it a home. Others, however, may have fallen out of love with where they live, letting it get a little ‘rough around the edges.’ 

Like or loathe your current home, it’s not the opinion of the seller that counts. As soon as that ‘for sale’ sign is up, all that matters is what buyers think about the property and how much they’re willing to pay to make it theirs.

 New research from Tapi was commissioned to establish the top five negatives that put potential purchasers off. It’s a study that has been carried out numerous times by different people but after the last two years and many people making lifestyle changes, it’s good to get a fresh perspective on what may scupper a property sale.

The research found a home that needed a lot of work doing to it was the most off-putting aspect, with 45% of those taking part in the research saying they’d pass on a property if it needed too much modernising or maintenance.

On a similar theme, 22% of participants commented that they’d discount a property that needed complete redecoration, while 28% would be deterred if the home had an old kitchen that needed replacing.

The other two aspects in the top five property negatives really fall outside of the seller’s control. Purchasers value their peace and quiet, with 43% of respondents saying they’d snub a property if there was a lot of external noise pollution. Completing the list was unsightly surroundings in eye view of the property – a negative cited by 36% of people.

Rather than dwelling exclusively on the adverse, the study also asked what people found most attractive when looking for a new home. Unsurprisingly, more than half of Brits (52%) said private outdoor space was the most important factor when searching for a new home.

Just behind a garden or a balcony was a new kitchen, with 51% saying this was a top consideration when looking for a property to buy. Another feature that finds favour with home movers is a new bathroom, with 42% of respondents saying this was very important to them. Other property plus points included freshly painted walls (20%), new flooring (15%), modern appliances (12%) and neutral colours (19%).

Before you rush out to buy a new kitchen or rip out your bathroom, talk to us about the financial investment needed to make improvements versus the actual value and appeal it will add to your property. Sometimes the simplest (and cheapest) alterations, such as tidying the garden and repainting throughout in white, can make all the difference. Contact us for free advice and a property valuation.

Categories
Market Reports Group 1

Latest: June property market report

There has been talk about a lack of properties for sale for some time now but a new report released at the end of May has put a figure on the squeeze. Propertymark claims that in April 2022, there were 52% fewer properties available, compared to the same month in the previous nine years. 

In contrast, the number of hopeful buyers has not waned. Propertymark reports that an average of 100 buyers are registered per branch. The demand has led to more purchasers pushing the boat out, with 39% of agents claiming the majority of their properties sold above asking price. 

House prices rise again in May

The habit of offering over the asking price is having a knock-on effect. May saw house prices rise for their tenth month in a row, as evidenced in the Nationwide’s latest house price index. During the last four weeks, property values climbed 0.9%, putting the annual price growth at 11.2%. 

Price growth goes against the grain

The 0.9% uplift surprised many experts who believed the rate of house price growth was slowing, especially given the 0.3% increase recorded in April – the smallest monthly rise since September 2021. Annual house prices rises have slowed, however, as April’s 12.1% figure has not been upheld.

Elsewhere, Zoopla announced the UK’s average property price has surpassed £250,000 for the first time. The portal’s latest house price index shows the new average is £250,200. Demand that is +61% above the five-year average and a -37% supply of homes for sale are cited as reasons for rising values.

There were also increasing values in May’s rental market, as noted in Goodlord’s latest rental index. The average English rent is now £1,020 per month – up 0.83% in May. Overall, the cost to rent in England has risen by 11% year-on-year. Goodlord also reported that the average void period in May stayed the same as April, remaining at 19 days.

The effects of a buoyant rental market have been measured in the latest English Private Landlord Survey. This is a national poll of landlords and letting agents who own and/or manage privately rented properties in England.

It found only 10% of those questioned wanted to sell their buy-to-let when the current tenancy agreement comes to an end. In addition, 11% said they were planning to increase the number of buy-to-lets they owned.

Help to Buy ending early 

Renters hoping to buy their first property and those moving out of the family home should note the Government’s unexpected change to its Help to Buy scheme. Those wishing to use the initiative need to reserve a property by 6pm on 31st October 2022. This is two months earlier than previously advertised.

Help to Buy offers an equity loan to purchasers, enabling them to buy a new-build property with a 5% deposit. All purchases using the scheme need to be legally exchanged by March 2023 to qualify. Buyers after this date can still explore shared ownership, First Homes and the mortgage guarantee scheme.

Buyers blamed for fallthroughs

Movers may like to know the findings of new research into fall through rates – that’s when a transaction doesn’t complete successfully. A survey of more than 940 agents sought to pinpoint the problem. Of those questioned, 46% stated fallthroughs were due to issues on the buyer’s side, with 22% also citing buyers further up or down the chain as the problem. 

The good news is fallthrough rates are low thanks to strong buyer demand. In fact, 70% of agents said they had seen fewer than 9% of their sales fail to complete. As well as issues with buyers, 17% of agents found that conveyancers and solicitors were to blame for fallthroughs.

If you would like to know more about your local property market, please get in touch.

Categories
Market Reports Group 2

June’s property market analysis

We’re almost halfway through 2022 and there is time to reflect on the current property market. Although the interest rate has risen, the impact has yet to hit buyer demand, with buyer numbers still high. Estate agents participating in Propertymark’s latest study reported an average of 100 purchasers registered per branch.

There is, however, a contrast between buyer demand and the number of properties for sale. This recurring theme was illustrated in the same Propertymark study. It found there were 52% fewer properties available in April 2022 compared to the same month in the previous nine years. 

Sellers shelling-out over the asking price

Competition between buyers remains fierce – an aspect that should encourage sellers to come to market. As a result of demand, purchasers are willing to bid high to secure a property. In fact, 39% of agents say the majority of their stock sold above asking price.

House prices continue to rise

Rather than a cooling market that property commentators had predicted, the rate at which house prices are climbing accelerated in May. Previously, growth had shown signs of slowing, dropping to 0.3% in April from 1.1% in March.

May, however, saw the growth rate of price rises bounce back. The Nationwide detailed a 0.9% uplift in property values – the tenth month in a row where values had increased. Annual price growth now stands at 11.2%. 

Rising property values have also led to a new property record. In May, Zoopla’s house price index revealed the UK’s average house price had topped £250,000 for the first time. Demand that’s 61% over the five-year average and a 37% dip in the number of homes for sale have combined with a willingness to pay over the asking price to create a new average house price of £250,200. 

The residential side of agency isn’t the only place to have experienced increases. Goodlord’s May rental index shows that rents rose by 0.83% in May. This results in English tenants paying a new average monthly rent of £1,020. Rents are now 11% more expensive when compared to a year ago. 

Potential buyers have two pieces of news to digest this month. The Government stunned the property industry by announcing a change to its Help to Buy scheme. The Government has brought this deadline forward, with Help to Buy purchasers needing to reserve a property before 6pm on 31st October 2022 It had been advertised that reservations needed to be made by December 2022. 

There are successors to Help to Buy

The earlier reservation deadline will ensure all sales legally exchange before Help to Buy ends in March 2023. Anyone hoping to buy a new home using the scheme – which allows purchasers to buy a property with a 5% deposit – should not delay their property search. Alternatives still running after Help to Buy ends include the Government-backed mortgage guarantee scheme, shared ownership and First Homes.

Those who are buying a property in the near future are being advised to pay particular attention to their circumstance. A new poll among 940 estate agents looked into who was to blame for sales falling through. Respondents said 46% of collapsed sales were due to problems on the buyer’s side, with 22% saying purchasers further up or down the chain caused issues.  

Fallthrough rates remain low

Conveyancers and solicitors, however, didn’t escape the wrath of estate agents. Of those questioned, 17% found it was the legal teams who were behind transactions that failed to complete. Thankfully fallthrough rates are low. Almost 3 out of 4 agents taking part in the research (70%) said fewer than 9% of their sales fell through. 

The property sector loves a study and the latest English Private Landlord Survey found 90% of landlords plan to keep renting out their buy-to-lets after their current tenancy agreement expires. When it comes to adding properties to their portfolios, 11% of landlords said they plan to purchase additional buy-to-let.  

If you would like to know more about your local property market, please get in touch.

Categories
Lettings Group 1

Landlords: your guide to green mortgages

Landlords and tenants can agree on one thing right now: making a rental property more energy efficient is a must. Renters will have rising fuel bills in mind, while landlords will be preparing for changes to minimum EPC ratings. Encouragement to make eco improvements in the rental sector can now be found in the mortgage market, as we explain.

Encouraging more eco efficient homes

Even mortgage lenders have their part to play in our quest to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The Government has asked banks and building societies to encourage the purchase of eco-efficient properties by offering buyers advantageous products billed as ‘green mortgages’. 

Green mortgages explained

A green mortgage will usually offer better rates of interest and borrowing terms to people who are buying the most energy efficient properties for sale. The home they are buying could be brand new or an older home that has been vastly improved with energy efficient features but, generally, green mortgages are offered to those buying properties where the EPC rating is A, B or C.

Rewarding the intention to go green

As well as preferential products for buyers of properties where the EPC rating is already high, green mortgages are also available to those who pledge to improve an existing property’s energy efficiency, introduced as a way of raising eco standards in the UK’s existing housing stock. Assistance to do this can come in the form of cash back or a higher loan amount with the extra funds covering improvement works.

Green mortgages aren’t just for owner-occupiers

Green mortgages are applicable to everyone buying a property, whether they are a buy-to-let investor or an owner occupier. In fact, green mortgages make the most sense for landlords, as lettings compliance is increasingly focused on improving sustainable standards. 

With minimum EPC ratings set to increase from the current E to C for all lets by 2028 – and maybe even a B by 2030 – many landlords may soon automatically qualify for a green mortgage if they are working towards a C EPC rating.

Extra benefits for buy-to-let purchasers

As the number of available green mortgages grows, so does the breadth of help they offer. Buying poorly performing properties isn’t off the cards as there are products designed specifically for investors willing to purchase a property where the EPC rating is D or below. 

Lenders are offering bridging loans to landlords who are embarking on eco improvement programmes, with the loan converting to a buy-to-let mortgage once the work is complete. There can be additional discounts for landlords who achieve the highest EPC ratings, prompting them to really make a concerted energy efficient effort.

More choice for investors

A recent report by Mortgages for Business found green mortgages now make up 15% of the buy-to-let home loan market, with over 350 products available. New green mortgages are being introduced all the time, so it’s worth shopping around to find the right product. Talk to us ahead of your next buy-to-let purchase for advice on eco-efficient property investment.

Categories
Lettings Group 2

5 things landlords should know about green mortgages

From what was a leftfield way of thinking to a mainstream, everyday goal, going green is an agenda-topping issue in lettings. Green mortgages can help landlords reduce three vital aspects – carbon emissions, fuel bills and mortgage repayments – by incentivising the purchase of the most eco-friendly homes and encouraging the upgrade of the least energy efficient rental stock.

Here are five green mortgage must-knows:-

  1.     Landlords can apply now

Green mortgages, with their more attractive interest rates and borrowing terms, aren’t reserved exclusively for those buying a property to live in themselves. In fact, 15% of the buy-to-let home loan market is devoted to green mortgages, with product numbers at their highest ever level (there were more than 350 green buy-to-let mortgages available as of April 2022).

  1.     The property you’re buying should have a top-end EPC

Green mortgages are offered to buy-to-let investors who are purchasing the most energy efficient properties to rent out. To qualify, there should be an EPC with a rating of A, B or C. It is a legal requirement for every property for sale to have a valid EPC but if you’re in any doubt about the eco performance of any property you want to invest in, please ask us for advice.

  1.     Alternatively, you should be committed to making eco improvements

There is good news for investors who have found a high yielding property that happens to have an EPC of D or below. Some green buy-to-let mortgages are aimed specifically at investors willing to install upgrades to improve the home’s EPC rating. These incentives come in the form of cashback that can be spent on improvements, or a bridging loan that can be converted into a buy-to-let mortgage after work to improve the EPC rating is complete. 

  1.     Now is a good time to take out a green mortgage

Whether you are making your first property investment, remortgaging a buy-to-let in your portfolio or are adding something new to your rental collection, considering a green mortgage now is a wise move. With the interest rate creeping up, any home loan that offers an advantage makes business sense, especially if it encourages landlords to install energy efficiency measures.

  1.     Green mortgages & EPC changes go hand-in-hand

The timing of green mortgages is critical, given the EPC changes that lie ahead. Landlords should be preparing now for 2025, when all new and renewing tenancies need to have a C EPC rating. This new standard will also apply to existing tenancies from 2028, and the mandatory expectation may even rise to a B by 2030. 

Get in touch if you’re going green

Green mortgages should be the incentive you need to start making energy efficiency changes to a buy-to-let you own or intend to buy. From attractive interest rates and cashback to larger loan amounts to cover eco improvements, what’s not to like? We can help with planning and managing a more sustainable buy-to-let, so contact us today.

Categories
Lettings Group 2 Sales Group 2

Ground rent changes: your questions answered

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities is getting ready to implement its latest reforms to residential ground rent this June. We’ve answered some of the most common questions ahead of the planned changes.

Q. What is ground rent?
A. This is usually an annual sum of money charged by the freeholder (the person who owns the land on which the property is built) to the leaseholder (the person who owns the building but not the land). A typical ground rent fee will be between £100-£250 per year but some freeholders add a clause in the contract that stipulates the ground rent will double every 10 to 20 years.

Q. What properties are subject to ground rent?
A. Usually owners of leasehold flats and apartments are asked to pay ground rent, although it is also common for converted flats in large houses to also receive a ground rent demand. More recently, builders of new houses have been selling the properties on a leasehold basis.

Q. Is the law surrounding ground rent changing?
A. Yes, via The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act. This new Act takes effect from 30th June 2022. After this date, freeholders will no longer be allowed to charge ground rent to leaseholders who are taking out new long leases. This will represent a financial saving of hundreds of pounds annually for most leaseholders. The ban on ground rent will extend to retirement properties as of 1st April 2023.

Q. What does a ‘peppercorn amount’ mean?
A. If you are signing a new long lease on a leasehold flat or house from 1st July 2022, you may see the wording ‘ground rent set to a peppercorn amount’ used in paperwork. It’s a token way of saying that the ground rent will be zero. Why a peppercorn? The Government has used an item so small and nominal in value that it’s not worth paying, illustrating that there will be no ground rent charges.

Q. I’m an existing leaseholder, what is changing for me?
A. For now, your freeholder will still be able to charge you ground rent but the new Act will change the process of informally extending a lease, allowing existing leaseholders to manage the ground rent they are charged. When a leaseholder informally extends their lease, the freeholder must not increase the ground rent while the remaining term expires. When the new term starts, the ground rent must be reset to zero.

Q. Will ground rent ever be scrapped for existing leaseholders?
A. Of that we are not sure but what we do know is that the Government is consulting on a second Bill that would address many concerns held by existing leaseholders. A major reform will hopefully make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to buy the freehold of their property, which would remove the necessity to pay ground rent. No date for the Bill moving through Parliament to become an Act was available at the time of writing.

Q. Is there a workaround for existing leaseholders?
A. Leaseholders can formally apply to extend their lease by 990 years at zero ground rent thanks to Government reforms in 2021. While a formal lease extension will effectively see the end to ground rent attached to a property, the cost of extending a lease usually costs thousands of pounds. It is this situation that the Government’s second Bill will hopefully reform in favour of the leaseholder.

Q. What is a Bill and when does it become an Act?
A. An Act of Parliament introduces a new law or changes an existing one. The Act starts off as a Bill (such as the current Renters’ Reform Bill), which sets out the details. The Act has to be approved by the House of Commons and the House of Lords before it is given Royal Assent by the ruling monarch. Only then does the Bill turn into an Act and become law.

If you have any outstanding questions regarding ground rents, leasehold properties and the future changes outlined, please contact the team today.

Categories
Lettings Group 1 Sales Group 1

5 things you need to know about ground rent

While the property industry waits for a date when the Renters’ Reform Bill becomes law, there is an imminent change for all current owners and future buyers of leasehold properties. Here are five important points for anyone involved with a leasehold property.

  1.     A new Act is coming into force from 30th June 2022

The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act takes effect from 30th June 2022. The Act is in response to growing concern that ground rents – an annual payment paid by the owner of a property to the owner of the land on which it is built – were beginning to financially cripple leaseholders and hinder leasehold property sales. 

Ground rent is usually paid by owners of flats and apartments (especially those that are new build or in a converted block) although ground rent has increasingly been charged to some owners of brand new houses.

While most ground rents stayed at nominally low levels of £100 or £200 every 12 months, some developers and freeholders were setting ground rents that doubled every 10 to 20 years, making the leasehold properties expensive to own and harder to sell in the future.

  1.     Ground rent is to be scrapped for new long leases

The Act details that ground rent will be outlawed after 30th June 2022. As of July, those buying a leasehold property with a new long lease will not have to pay any ground rent. In April 2023, the ban on ground rent will extend to future retirement homes, giving these developers time to adjust their systems.

  1.     New leases will never be more than a ‘peppercorn amount’

You may see the phrase a ‘peppercorn amount’ attached to paperwork concerning new leases. This makes it sound like there will be a ground rent charge for new leases but a ‘peppercorn amount’ actually means zero – no charge at all. 

  1.     The ban only applies to some leases in England & Wales

If you’re the owner of an existing leasehold property, you will still continue to pay ground rent as the Act only covers new long leases. All is not lost, however. A second Bill covering existing leaseholders, formal lease extensions, buying freeholds, commonhold and the Right to Manage is at the consultation stage. It proposes to make it easier and cheaper for existing leaseholders to extend their lease or take full ownership of their property.

  1.     Informal lease extensions are changing

Some of the changes detailed in the Act also apply to leaseholders if they are informally (also known as non-statutory or voluntarily) applying to extend their lease. In this case, the freeholder isn’t allowed to increase the ground rent while the remaining term runs its course. When the lease term expires and a new term starts, the ground will revert to and stay at zero. 

Currently, when a leaseholder formally extends their lease, 990 years are automatically added to the length and the ground rent reduces to zero. The cost of extending the lease does usually run into tens of thousands of pounds. 

If you currently own a leasehold property or are thinking about purchasing a property with a leasehold, please contact us for advice.

Categories
Sales Group 2

Is it worth making eco improvements before I sell?

Improving a property so it produces less carbon and lower fuel bills makes perfect sense but what about the return on investment? Unless you stick to low-outlay changes, such as LED light bulbs and thermal curtains, there will be a significant spend involved in creating an energy efficient home.

The most impactful eco improvements are often the most pricey to purchase and install, therefore a common point of resistance is the time it takes to recoup the cost of the investment, especially among those who are hoping to move home in the near future.

There is, however, growing evidence to suggest that ensuring a property is as energy efficient as possible before it is sold repays the owner in a number of ways. 

Let’s start with how many pounds eco improvements can add to a property’s value with this list compiled by Rated People:- 

  1.     Solar panels – £13,512 (value increase)
  2.     Wind turbine – £12,941
  3.     Triple glazing – £12,788
  4.     Underfloor heating – £12,290
  5.     Ground source heat pump – £12,251
  6.     Double glazing – £12,005
  7.     Extra insulation, like cavity wall insulation – £11,764
  8.     Biomass boiler – £11,756
  9.     Air source heat pump – £11,670
  10. Solar water heating – £11,646
  11. Electric car charging point – £11,538
  12. Green/living roof – £11,477
  13. Biodiverse garden – £11,444
  14. Old appliances replaced with new ones – £11,190
  15. Draught proofing – £11,151

If you’re hoping to make your home more valuable before you sell, it’s worth paying attention to the cost of making any improvement versus how much value it will add.

As an illustration, you could buy and install an electric vehicle charging point and still add £10,000 in value, even after costs are deducted. The average electric vehicle charging point costs between £800-£1,100 to buy and install but it adds an estimated £11,538 to a home’s value.

Flat owners can be even more financially astute as they are eligible to apply for the Government’s new ChargePoint grant, which offers a 75% discount on the cost of purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging point, up to the value of £350.

It’s a similar story for air source heat pumps, which cost in the region of £10,000 to purchase and install. This figure can be reduced by £5,000 for those using the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme, while 20% off the pump’s purchase price can be secured if the pump is bought in the next five years as there’s zero VAT on energy efficient materials. When you consider an air source heat pump can add £11,670  in value, the investment looks enticing as long as the Government’s discount schemes are utilised. 

Attract buyers willing to offer more

As well as adding value to a property, eco improvements can also ensure your home attracts the most attention on the sales market and even compel purchasers to make higher offers. In fact, the results of a study by the Halifax found the most energy efficient homes can sell for up to £40,000 more than their less eco-friendly counterparts.

Another survey of 1,730 prospective homebuyers by Redrow found 82% of those questioned said they would be willing to pay more for a sustainable home, while 38% said they intended to buy a property with features such as thermal wall insulation, efficient boilers and renewable energy supplies. 

EPCs: an outward sign of how eco-friendly your home is

If your home doesn’t have an EPC or your existing certificate has expired (they’re only valid for 10 years), you’ll need an energy assessor to issue a report as displaying a property’s EPC rating is a legal requirement when selling. Buyers are increasingly paying attention to energy efficiency, so ensuring your home has the highest EPC grade possible before going on the market is a good idea. 

If you would like to know what your current home is worth and how that figure could be elevated with eco improvements, contact us for advice.

Categories
Sales Group 1

The eco improvements that add the most value

If there’s one agenda that won’t be pushed to the bottom of the pile, it’s the eco agenda. How much energy we use, where we get our energy from and what we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is a narrative that has become persistent in the property market. 

While most of us acknowledge that building and running homes contributes to harmful emissions (it’s estimated that 40% of the UK’s carbon is emitted by households), the type of improvements that make the most positive contribution to a greener planet are sometimes the most intrusive – and expensive.

So where does this leave the homeowner who wants to improve their eco credentials but has potential plans to move in the near future?

The good news is adding energy efficiency measures may increase the value of your property and make your home more desirable to buyers when it comes to selling – on top of any gas and electricity savings you make while living in the property once any changes are made.

Which eco improvements add the most value? 

Rated People helpfully ranked 15 of the most common energy efficient home improvements in order of how much value they add to a property, as follows: 

  1.     Solar panels – £13,512 (value increase)
  2.     Wind turbine – £12,941
  3.     Triple glazing – £12,788
  4.     Underfloor heating – £12,290
  5.     Ground source heat pump – £12,251
  6.     Double glazing – £12,005
  7.     Extra insulation, like cavity wall insulation – £11,764
  8.     Biomass boiler – £11,756
  9.     Air source heat pump – £11,670
  10.     Solar water heating – £11,646
  11.     Electric car charging point – £11,538
  12.     Green/living roof – £11,477
  13.     Biodiverse garden – £11,444
  14.     Old appliances replaced with new ones – £11,190
  15.     Draught proofing – £11,151

How much do the most popular eco improvements cost?

Air source heat pump: expect to pay in the region of £10,000 for the purchase and installation of an air source heat pump. This cost can be reduced significantly if homeowners act quickly. The ‘first come, first served’ Boiler Upgrade Scheme offered by the Government will reduce the bill by £5,000 and there’s zero VAT on the purchase of heat pumps until 2027. 

Verdict: you may just about break even when balancing added value with purchase/install costs but if you take advantage of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme and zero VAT, you’ll potentially add £5,000 in value.

Solar panels: figures will vary according to the size and type of your property, along with the model you opt for. As a general guide, the supply and installation of solar panels will set you back around £5,000–£10,000, although the purchase of the panels will be VAT free for the next five years. 

Verdict: install solar panels in the next five years to take advantage of zero VAT and this installation could add in the region of £5,000 to your home’s value.

Electric vehicle charging point: expect to pay anywhere between £800-£1,100 to buy and install an electric vehicle charging point at a domestic property. If you’re a homeowner who lives in a flat, you’ll be able to apply for the Government’s new ChargePoint grant, which offers a 75% discount on the cost of purchasing and installing a charging point, up to the value of £350.

Verdict: installing an electric vehicle charging point is by far the most lucrative eco improvement. An outlay of around £1,000 could see you add another £10,000 in value to your property. 

If you are thinking of selling a property you own, contact the team for advice and a free valuation.

Categories
Market Reports Group 2

May’s property market analysis

Figures from April give an early indication of what lies ahead for home movers. Last month appears to mark a turning point in a market that has, up until now, defied the wider economic backdrop. While a bust isn’t forecast after such a big boom, the first signal of moderation has been identified by Nationwide. 

Its April house price index showed increasing values but the devil is in the detail. The rate at which prices are rising has slowed. In February this year, prices increased 1.7%. In March, the uplift was 1.1% and in April, prices rose just 0.3%.

Rent rises also begin to slow

Has the zenith of rental value growth passed? While Goodlord reported a 4% rise in rents during March, April’s figures were not as stunning. Although rents did climb, the rate at which they did was slower. In fact, rents only rose by 0.5% between March and April, with the average monthly rent now £1,012. 

Five other signs of a rebalancing market 

Sales stock levels increasing: after months of property shortages, Zoopla suggests a more level playing field is ahead. The portal says the supply of homes newly listed for sale is increasing, running at 3% above the five-year average. It is hoped a better supply will temper house price growth. 

More movers in higher stamp duty brackets: Zoopla’s analysis also revealed that an increasing number of people will face more expensive stamp duty bills, thanks to runaway property values. It  estimates 4.3 million homes are now in a higher stamp duty bracket when compared to the start of the pandemic. Experts predict this increased cost will help control how frequently homes change hands.

Cost & choice clipping tenants’ wings: it is a similar picture in lettings, where the frenetic pace of property moves is already slowing. Propertymark says stubbornly high monthly rents and a shortage of properties are prompting tenants to stay in their current let longer.

Void periods increase: Goodlord’s void period observation also shows the heat has been taken out of the rental market. The number of days a buy-to-let is empty between tenancies has risen from 16 in March to 19 in April. This suggests more choice and less urgency to find a new rental.

Interest rates rise: the availability of affordable mortgages is one of the biggest controllers of the property market. If the most recent Bank of England hike – a rise of 0.25% to 1% on 5th May – is passed on to buyers by mortgage lenders, the natural by-product should be more borrowing caution.

Property search trends 

Apartment living is making a comeback, according to a BBC report using Rightmove data. Searches for flats have overtaken those for terraced houses in a reversal of fortunes, while movers are looking at cities and commuter areas again as office life returns.

When it comes to the detail, buyers are most commonly searching for ‘annexe’, ‘acre’ and ‘garage’ as they still ‘race for space’. Tenants, however, are circumstance-orientated, searching for ‘pets’ and ‘furnished’. What does unite both sets of movers is outdoor access, with a garden still in everyone’s top five search terms.

Ground rent rethink

Most buyers of brand new homes on long leases will not have to pay ground rent from 30th July 2022. The Government’s scrapping of this fee represents an average annual saving of £310 for many buyers of new build flats and some new build houses.  

Existing leaseholders should see intervention regarding their ground rent in the future. A second bill has been promised, which may pave the way for ongoing, established ground rent to return to its original rate, if the fee has risen over time, or to be reset to zero.

If you would like to know more about your local property market, please get in touch.

Categories
Market Reports Group 1

Latest: May property market report

UK house prices continued to rise in April 2022 but the pace of appreciation has slowed, reports the Nationwide. In the last month, prices increased by 0.3% and although this is the ninth successive month of growth, it is the smallest monthly rise since September 2021.

As a result, annual house price growth in April was 12.1% – down from 14.3% in March. The rate at which house prices may climb in the future  – or whether they stagnate or drop – now depends on numerous factors. In the current climate, this includes what happens to the interest rate after May’s increase to 1%, the labour market, the cost of living and the number of properties available for sale.

Knock-on effects for buyers & tenants

House price rises are not only influencing how much people pay for a property but also how expensive their tax bill is. New figures from Zoopla estimate that 4.3 million homes are now in a higher stamp duty bracket when compared to the start of the pandemic. In lettings, a lack of available rental properties and rising rental values are two reasons why Propertymark says tenants are staying in their current homes for longer.

2022’s home moving priorities revealed

New analysis of Rightmove data for the BBC revealed what buyers and renters are searching for this year. A common theme continues to be outdoor space, with a garden still in the top five search terms used by tenants and purchasers. 

After this, the two home moving groups reveal different priorities. Buyers are commonly using the search terms ‘annexe’, ‘acre’ and ‘garage’, while tenants are motivated to search for ‘pets’ and ‘furnished’.

The analysis also revealed a shift in the type of property today’s buyers are searching for and where it should be located. After months of ‘the race for space’ dominating moving patterns, with houses in rural locations finding favour, analysts are noticing that city living is back on the radar. 

Rightmove’s data indicated that searches for flats overtook those for terraced houses since the start of 2022 – a reversal of the trend witnessed last year. In terms of locations, urban and commuter areas are gaining in popularity. 

The comeback of the city is partly because of the return to the office but also due to a chronic shortage of available – and affordable – properties in countryside locations. Demand is also being fuelled by urban leisure and social amenities reopening for business. 

On the up: rents and void periods

After a month-on-month rental value rise of 4%, recorded between February and March 2022, Goodlord’s latest Rental Index showed the pace at which rents are rising has slowed. During April, the cost to rent a property in England saw a small 0.5% increase, taking the average monthly rent to £1,012. 

Rents are not the only thing going up in lettings. While void periods reduced to 16 days in March 2022, Goodlord found they had crept up in every region during April. In the last month, the number of days a let stayed empty between tenants rose to 19.

Ground rent news: financial savings from July

The Government has announced a ban on ground rent on newly-built, long lease properties, starting from 30th June 2022. Typically buyers of new build flats – and more recently some brand new houses – have had to pay an annual ground rent charge to the freeholder. 

This charge will be prohibited for new buyers, saving the property owner an average of £319 in yearly fees. It is thought ground rent for existing leaseholders will be tackled using future Government measures.

If you would like to know more about your local property market, please get in touch.

Categories
Lettings Group 2

4 reasons why landlords should accommodate electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are kinder to the environment and currently kinder on the wallet, with the added bonus of being unaffected when it comes to environmental protests and oil refinery blockades. Therefore it’s no surprise that tenants are looking for properties where they can park up and plug in. Here are four reasons why landlords need to accommodate the ‘leccy car. 

1. Landlords are eligible for a 75% charging point discount

Although the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme has come to an end, the Government has introduced a replacement in the form of the ChargePoint grant – a new initiative designed specifically for landlords. On offer is a 75% discount on the cost of purchasing and installing an electric vehicle charging point to a residential buy-to-let property. 

There are a number of limitations to be mindful of. The discount is up to the value of £350, the landlord must own the parking area, and they should be VAT registered or registered at Companies House to qualify.

2. Tenants will prioritise your properties….and pay more

When E.ON recently questioned Gen Z (aged between 16-27) and Millennials (aged between 28-41) about their property search habits, 80% of Gen Z and 78% of Millennials said they would discount properties that didn’t meet the minimum energy efficiency rating. In addition, four in five people (81%) aged between 16-41 would pay a higher price for a property if it had an electric vehicle charger, a heat pump or solar panels.

3. Your tenants are increasingly likely to own electric vehicles

Drivers are already working ahead of an outright ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles. Sales of electric vehicles increased by 186% in 2020, report Heycar, while 20% of cars sold in the UK this year have been electric models, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Electric vehicle sales are projected to rise by the end of 2022, with electric cars likely to outsell diesel and mild hybrid diesel models, says Heycar. 

4. Tenants want the option of filling a tank with electricity

Tenants will increasingly turn to electric cars as a way of saving money as well as the environment. Even with energy price caps doubling in April, figures published by ThisisMoney suggest the cost of charging an electric vehicle will likely remain cheaper than a tank of petrol or diesel. Monthly charging costs of around £50 are achievable, especially as many utility suppliers offer dedicated electric vehicle charging tariffs.

Support tenants who want to make their own application

Landlords who are not VAT registered or registered with Companies House can still benefit from a discounted electric vehicle charging point via their tenant. The ChargePoint grant runs a concurrent scheme aimed at tenants in flats and single-use accommodation, with renters able to enjoy 75% off the purchase and installation of an electric vehicle charging point. Landlords who want to encourage their tenants to apply can point them in the direction of this dedicated Government webpage but it’s worth noting that renters must own, lease or have ordered a qualifying electric vehicle and have access to dedicated off-street parking at their rental property.

The Government’s website carries full details of how landlords and tenants can apply for a ChargePoint grant and for any other advice regarding lettings, please contact the team today.

Categories
Lettings Group 1

Landlords: claim 75% off an electric vehicle charging point

Another week and another Government initiative to help us meet its goal of being carbon net zero by 2050.The new scheme is aimed specifically at landlords who want to improve the eco-credentials of their buy-to-lets.

Called the ChargePoint grant, the initiative is not brand new – instead it replaces the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme. The new grant invites landlords to apply for a 75% discount on the cost of purchasing and installing a home electric vehicle charging point, up to the value of £350. There are, however, a few caveats to note. The landlord must own the parking area and be VAT registered or registered at Companies House to be eligible. 

Landlords who don’t engage in this Government initiative may find their buy-to-let gains an electric vehicle charging point anyway, as a related scheme gives tenants in rented flats and single-use accommodation access to a similar grant. In this case, the charge point installer applies for the grant on behalf of the tenant, with the discount coming off the tenant’s final installation bill. Again, there are conditions. The tenant must own, lease or have ordered a qualifying electric vehicle and prove there is dedicated off-street parking at their property.

The tenant-driven scheme is also a way for landlords who don’t meet the VAT or Companies House standard to benefit from the discount, by encouraging tenants to apply for the grant instead. 

Under 41s are prioritising eco aspects

New research conducted by E.ON among Gen Z (aged between 16-27) and Millennials (aged between 28-41) has revealed electric vehicle charging points to be high up on the home moving agenda.

Over three quarters (77%) of Gen Z said eco aspects, such as an electric vehicle charging point installed or a heat pump, were a priority when searching for a new home to buy or rent. In addition, four in five people (81%) aged between 16-41 would pay a higher price for a property if it had an electric vehicle charger, a heat pump or solar panels.

When it came to electric vehicle charging points specifically, 62% of Gen Z renters and buyers placed great significance on this aspect, while 80% of Gen Z and 78% of Millennials said they’d disregard properties that didn’t meet minimum energy efficiency ratings.

More electric cars are being sold

Landlords need to accommodate rising ownership of electric cars – 1 in 5 UK cars sold to date in 2022 is an electric vehicle, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. 

Sales are expected to accelerate in the coming months as the choice of electric vehicles in the UK market expands. Currently there are more than 140 different electric models to choose from, with another 50 planned by the end of 2022. This compares to just nine electric models in 2011.

Full details about the ChargePoint grant for landlords can be found on the Government’s website, or contact us if you are thinking of making any eco modifications to your buy-to-let.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 2

Book yourself in to this design trend

If there was ever a time to judge a book by its cover, it’s when you’re using tomes to accessorise your home. How you display your books depends on the aesthetic you’re aiming for but there is a style to suit everyone, from maximalist tightly-packed shelves to the minimalist art of arranging a single novel.

Coffee table

If you are styling a coffee table and you want the books to convey a lifestyle or make an impression, opt for pristine-condition hardbacks. A collection of Assouline’s travel books will add a splash of Pop Art colour, while if your theme is monochrome, either Chanel Collections & Creations or Tom Ford’s eponymous book will be enough on its own. 

Stacks

If you can build a collection of books with gold or silver gilt-edged pages, you can really make a design statement. Stack these books high with the page edges facing outwards and top with a table lamp or a photo frame for best effect.

Another popular book stack is the pyramid – three of four books placed on top of each other, spines facing out, with the largest at the bottom and the smallest on top. An easy design win is to use books with similarly-coloured covers, then top with a contrasting candle or vase. 

Shelves

If your display involves a traditional bookshelf or bookcase, you’ll need to pay attention to the spines. For a style that echoes a Georgian-period reading room, you can’t go wrong with leather bound books with gilt printing. Buying up encyclopaedias is a quick way to amass such books – look out for Chambers, Funk & Wagnall’s and even Britannica sets.

Grouping books of the same colour together – perhaps following the sequence of the rainbow – is a real visual treat, or you may be led by interesting typography on the spines. If you’re not keen on colour order, you could arrange your books in ascending height order, devoting each shelf to books of a similar height to avoid a mismatch. Don’t be tempted to stuff books in on top of those that are neatly organised as you’ll spoil the streamlined look .

Bundles

There’s a design trend that sees bundles of books tied together with raffia or string, with some foliage interwoven on top. You can easily make your own, using books with similar colour jackets for a subtle effect or in clashing colours for a more retro look. If you’re not feeling creative, you can buy pre-made bundles from OxSupply and even have the spines personalised. 

Where to buy books

Books are one of the most affordable design accessories you can buy. If you need to bolster numbers, start by asking friends and family for any unwanted reads. Charity shops, jumble sales and boot fairs are budget-friendly places to buy, with the advantage of being able to pick up books according to your theme or space.  

If you’re looking for instant impact, head for the ‘decorative’ tab on the Country House Library website, where book bundles are sold by colour, style and even by the foot. For specific titles, visit Daunt Books or Foyles, and Maggs is the place for rare books.

If you have your heart set on more space to display your cherished books, please contact us for a list of available properties.

Categories
Lifestyle Group 1

How to style your home with books

While photo frames, fresh flowers and candles are more common finishing touches, styling with books is a novel (excuse the pun) way of completing an interior makeover. 

Designers have often used hand-picked books as props when dressing show homes but the art of primping with paperbacks really went mainstream during recent lockdowns.

The Zoom months gave birth to a new design movement, which you can find all over social media if you search #bookcasecredibility. It refers to the careful editing of your bookshelves in case people on video calls are scrutinising the book titles behind you.

The right reading matter is now such an issue that in April 2022, singer Adele reportedly rushed out and bought £1,000 worth of books to create a library behind her ahead of future Zoom broadcasts. It was a similar story for actress Ashley Tisdale, who confessed to buying 400 books ahead of a photoshoot at her home. The good news is styling with books is the interior design trend that everyone can follow, with most of us already having a head start. 

If you already have a bookshelf, merely organising it will create a more polished look. Neaten up your act by displaying books in height order, from left to right, or for an unconventional but still organised approach, lay piles of books flat, working from bottom to top in size order. 

For something more design-led, organise the spines according to their colour. Creating a rainbow is a trend that’s gaining traction on Instagram  – search #rainbowbookcase for ideas. Don’t forget a sparse bookshelf can be pepped up by using bookends, plants or other objet d’art to fill the space. Just ensure anything displayed is kept dust free.

If you’re starting your book display from scratch, you may want to follow a theme. One of the easiest to achieve is a gentleman’s library – especially if the room you’re working on is panelled or painted in rich colours. Scour charity shops and boot fairs for leather-bound books, especially those with gold printing on the spine.

Reluctant readers and those who really don’t like clutter can still incorporate books into their interior design. A neat stack of books is a good way to create interest with different heights. Something to try is a pile of three similarly-sized books on a sideboard, with a table lamp placed on top. Show off the book spines if they feature interesting fonts or if the book titles convey a theme,  or hunt out hardbacks with gilded pages, as flashes of gold can add a touch of luxury. 

Finally, the world of coffee table books is alive and well. A curated collection of two or three large format, hardback books – casually left out or even open – can speak volumes about the lifestyle you want to purvey. The traditional themes of haute couture fashion, photography, travel and architecture are still favoured and Glamour Magazine has done the hard work for you by creating a list of 43 coffee table books selected for their aesthetic appeal.

If you are thinking of moving for more space to display your books, contact us for advice and available properties.