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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 


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. 


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 .


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.

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.

Sales Group 2

Chain-free buying & selling: your questions answered

Chain-free: two little words that can fill the hearts of home movers with happiness but do you know why? We’re often asked about the benefits of no one above or below you in the transaction, so we’ve put together a helpful Q&A guide to being chain-free.

Q. What does it mean to be chain-free?
A. If you’re a chain-free buyer, you won’t have a property to sell and there will be no transactions behind you. Typically first-timer buyers and purchasers moving from rented accommodation are chain-free.

Chain-free sellers don’t need to buy an onward purchase in order to sell their current one. For example, a chain-free sale could be an empty probate property or a transaction where the seller is moving into rented/sheltered accommodation.

Q. Why do buyers and sellers like chain-free transactions?
A. A chain is the line of buyers and sellers who all depend on each other’s success to move home. Some chains can be long and complex – if one person pulls out, the entire chain may collapse and everyone needs to start again in terms of finding a buyer and/or property to purchase. The fewer people involved in a chain, the simpler and more reliable the transactions tend to be.

Q. Is a chain-free home more valuable?
A. Sellers able to offer a chain-free property may find people are willing to pay more for the benefit of a shorter chain and for a quicker transaction, especially as they won’t have to wait for the seller to find an onward purchase. If you want to put a figure on the value of being chain free, HBB Solutions found that chain-free properties can attract an average price premium of £23,131 above a property that is involved in a chain.

Q. Do people specifically look for chain-free homes?
A. Those looking for less stress and to move quickly often prefer chain-free homes. In 2021, Rightmove discovered a 72% increase in property searches that contained the phrase ‘no chain’, so being chain-free will definitely appeal to a buying audience.

Q. Will I complete quicker if the property is chain-free?
A. With fewer people involved in a chain, it is highly likely that the conveyancing stage will move more quickly. Properties involved in a chain generally take around 10 weeks to go through the conveyancing stages but research suggests this could be cut to around 4 weeks if a property is chain-free.

Q. Will I be more successful as a chain-free buyer?
A. Sellers are looking to reduce the risk of a complicated chain as much as purchasers, so they generally look favourably on chain-free buyers who have no one else below them. This is especially true in a competitive market when vendors may have to choose between multiple buyers – they’ll often opt for those who present the shortest chain.

Q. How can I become a chain-free seller?
A. There are a few options open to sellers wishing to advertise their home as chain-free. The most common one is to sell with the intention of moving into rented accommodation. This has the added bonus of making the seller chain-free when they come to buy in the future. Sellers can also choose to buy a newly built home that’s come to market for the first time, or only consider onward properties that are also chain-free, therefore becoming the end of the chain.

If you would like advice on buying and selling, with a view to becoming a chain-free home mover, contact our team today.

Sales Group 1

Should you aspire to be chain free?

A state-of-the-art kitchen?  A spacious garden with an outdoor room? A home office with the fastest broadband speeds possible? You may think you know what adds value to a property but a new report reveals that being chain free is one of today’s most valuable aspects.

Data analysis by HBB Solutions found that a chain-free home carries an average property price premium of £23,131, with buyers willing to pay extra for a simpler and quicker sales transaction. 

Being in a property chain is one of the downsides of moving home, as sellers are dependent on the speed and efficiency of others above and below them. Therefore, the fewer people involved in a chain, the better.

Increase the appeal of your property

There is monetary value attached to being a chain-free seller but are there any other advantages? Advertising a property as ‘chain-free’ certainly appeals to buyers, as they know this reduces the risk of delays to the transaction and a potential chain collapse above them. In fact, Rightmove recorded a 72% increase in the number of buyers including “no chain” in their search terms in 2021, so it’s fair to say a chain-free home will often be favoured over those with long, complex chains. 

Conveyancing can be much quicker

With fewer people to coordinate in a chain, the conveyancing process will, naturally, become more straightforward and speedier. This advantage has actually been measured; it was found the conveyancing attached to a chain-free property was reduced to 4 weeks – down from the average of 10.  

Perks of being a chain-free purchaser

Just as no chain above is very appealing to buyers, sellers also appreciate the simplicity of dealing with a purchaser who doesn’t have a chain below. In a seller’s market where multiple offers may have been made on one property, a chain-free buyer can edge out the competition thanks to having no one else behind them to complicate the transaction.

How to become chain-free

If you’re a first-time buyer, you will naturally be chain-free and a good prospect among sellers but what if you have a property to sell? One solution is to sell your property and move into short-term rented accommodation to break the chain. Not only will this make you the end of the chain when selling, you will also be chain-free when it comes to buying again.

Sellers can also commit to making their onwards purchase a chain-free property, which will cap the chain, or they can consider buying a brand new home where there will be no other transactions above.

If you can’t be chain-free…..

It’s estimated only 10% of homes listed for sale are offered on a chain-free basis, giving you an idea of how hard it can be to achieve this cult status. Thankfully, there are other ways sellers can give themselves an advantage in a competitive market:-

  • Choose an estate agent with a proactive sales progression programme, with staff who will chase other agents, solicitors and movers involved in the chain
  • Be ready to start your property search as soon as you’ve accepted an offer on your property
  • If you need extra finance to purchase your next home, ensure this is approved before the ‘for sale’ board goes up
  • Have a conveyancing solicitor instructed and ready to proceed at the same time as you appoint an estate agent

Thinking of selling your home? Contact us to discuss your plans and the possibility of becoming chain-free.

Market Reports Group 1

Latest: April property market report

When the Equity Release Council published the astounding statistic in April this year that £1 million was added to the value of UK housing every minute in 2021, a natural reaction was to consider whether this rate of value growth could continue this year.

As we close the first quarter of 2022, figures have started to arrive that show us whether momentum has been maintained in the first three months of this year. More importantly for those looking to buy, sell and rent imminently, we examine what has happened to house prices and rental values in the last four weeks.

House prices: homeowners see prolific price growth

The year got off to a stellar start with house prices continuing to climb after the Christmas break. Zoopla reported a rise in property values of 8.4% in January, followed by 8.1% in February. The property portal added that buyer demand was unseasonably high. This is excellent news for potential vendors who can instruct now and find themselves in a ‘sellers’ market’.

Spring market supercharged for sellers

Conditions are so favourable that fellow portal, Rightmove, has declared the ‘best ever spring sellers’ market’, with the ‘greatest imbalance between buyer demand and the number of properties available for sale’ that it has ever measured at this time of year.

As well as more than twice as many buyers as there are sellers, Rightmove says the chances of sellers finding a buyer for their property in the first week of marketing is the highest ever – twice as likely when compared to the same spring period in 2019. 

Prevailing buyer demand is impacting not only how much properties are selling for but how quickly their value is rising. Data analysis by Nationwide found that annual house price growth in the UK continues its upwards trajectory, running at 14.3% in March, up from 12.6% in February. This is the strongest rate of increase measured since November 2004. 

When looking at month-on-month value growth, the lender found the price of property had increased by 1.1% during the last four weeks – the eighth consecutive month of value uplift. In comparison, Rightmove has the house price increase for March at 1.7%.

When it comes to the property type that has seen the most value added, Nationwide say it is the detached dwelling – now almost £68,000 more expensive since the start of the pandemic. In comparison, the average flat price has risen by £24,000 in the same period.

Rental values rise in every region

The cost of renting a property in March 2022 became more expensive as it too suffered from the same malaise as the sales market – a lack of available stock. Data from HomeLet’s March Rental Index revealed the average rental price for a new tenancy in the UK is 8.7% more expensive than in March 2021, with tenants paying an average of £1,078 per calendar month. 

Goodlord’s latest Rental Index, published in March 2022, reinforced the trend. It found the average cost of rent across the country rose by 4% between February and March this year, with every region recording a rise. It also reported that monthly rents had risen from £968 to £1,006 per property, on average – a high not seen since 2021.

Voids down, tenant salaries up

While rents are rising, something very important is dropping – void periods. During March, Goodlord found average void levels across England hit their lowest levels since August 2021 – a reduction of 11% from 18 to 16 days, on average. 

Landlords can also take heart that tenants’ wages are keeping pace with rental value rises. In March, the average tenant salary rose 2.7% – the highest average salary rate for England ever recorded by Goodlord’s index.

If you would like a more localised property market report reflecting the area where you live, please get in touch.

Market Reports Group 2

March’s property market analysis

We’re far enough into the year to look back at the property predictions for 2022 to see if the forecasts were right. The majority of the experts assumed the market would revert to its familiar, seasonally-driven pattern – predictable peaks and more settled troughs – but statistics from the first quarter of this year paint a very different picture.

Rising property prices are a recurrent trend. While the Office for National Statistics reported that house price growth significantly outpaced wage growth in 2021, (Zoopla found that one in five homes ‘earned’ more money in value uplift last year than average worker took home), this March, housebuilder Bellway reported that inflation is also being outpaced by UK house prices.

With the March trading period closed, now is a good time to see how buying, selling and lettings activity has fared over the last few weeks and months.

If you’re a potential seller

There have been widespread property price rises, as evidenced by a number of third-party sources. Rightmove recorded a new house price record in March, with values rising by 1.7%. This pushed the average price of a property through the £350,000 barrier for the first time. In monetary terms,  the average property in March 2022 cost £5,760 more than in February.  

Elsewhere, Nationwide’s data analysis identified an eight-month streak of house price rises, with their records indicating a 1.1% month-on-month increase in the last four weeks. This puts current UK annual house price growth at its strongest since 2004 – 12.6% in February and rising to 14.3% in March.

Demand that is outstripping supply is behind soaring property values. Those thinking of selling will find Rightmove’s latest data particularly interesting. The portal says there are twice as many buyers as sellers active in the market, suggesting now is ‘the best ever spring sellers’ market’. In fact, 22% of sales are being agreed on Rightmove within the first week of the property being marketed, while 47% are finding a buying within a fortnight of the listing being made public.

If you’re a buyer

With double the number of buyers to sellers, there is fierce competition for properties and some are proving more popular than others. Second-stepper homes are selling the fastest, comments Rightmove. Just over half of this property type – typically a two- or three-bedroom house – finds a buyer within the first two weeks of marketing. 

When it comes to value, purchasers should expect to pay more for a substantial family home. The portal’s March report details a 3.8% jump in the value of homes with four bedrooms or more due to high demand and lack of stock. This may rebalance in the near future, however, as Rightmove noticed 12% more properties of this size have come to market in March, compared to the same period in 2021.  

If you’re a landlord

While the lettings market never went away, its light has dimmed a little in the last few years. This quarter, however, has been about the recovery and it is happening at pace. Two major reports both indicate that rents are rising thanks to a lack of available properties to let. HomeLet’s March Rental Index revealed how much values have risen in the last 12 months – up 8.7% between March 2021 and March 2022.  

In terms of monthly rent rises, Goodlord’s latest Rental Index illustrates how the rental value recovery has picked up speed in recent weeks. Its analysis showed that rents had risen 4% between February and March this year, with every single region seeing growth in values.

In other lettings news, void periods are at their lowest since August 2021. Goodlord reports an 11% reduction in the number of empty days between tenants – down to 16 in March from 18 in February.

If you’re a tenant

Rental value rises do mean that the UK’s average monthly rent is now four figures. Both HomeLet and Goodlord’s March Rental Indexes show rents have surpassed the £1,000 a month marker – at an estimated £1,078 and £1,006 a month, respectively. There’s a softener, however, as the same report found the average tenant salary rose in March, up from £28,781 per tenant to £29,549.

Our March property overview details average figures for the entire UK but as local property experts, we are continually assessing your immediate market. Contact us for a snapshot of property prices and rental values where you live.

Lettings Group 2

7 reasons to consider newly built for your next BtL

Old versus new? When it comes to investing in property, many landlords will be weighing up period properties versus 20th century homes but what doesn’t always get a look in are homes built in the last 10 years.

While brand new and nearly new may carry a premium at the purchase point, landlords shouldn’t write off a modern property. Here we look at seven sensible reasons why a newly built home can help balance the books and appeal to tenants. 

  1.     Renters are ready to pay a premium: new data analysis from Unlatch found tenants will pay an average 23% premium for a newly built property, when compared to an older one. This figure can rise to a 41% premium in some parts of the country.
  2.     Maintenance costs are negligible when it’s newer: new and recently built homes can be less troublesome than period properties. The all-new aspect of the structure, fixtures, fittings and appliances – facets covered by warranties and guarantees within the first few years – reduces a landlord’s maintenance spend.
  1.     Stay ahead of changing energy requirements: landlords buying newer homes will gain a degree of future-proofing when it comes to meeting green targets. Thanks to a sustainable build and fit out, most newer homes have an EPC rating higher than the current, legally-required E. In addition, many will already have achieved the C rating that the Government wants to make compulsory for all lets by 2028.
  1.     Appeal to energy-conscious tenants: in 2021, a survey found over half of renters questioned would pay more for a green home and a newer property ticks more than one eco box. As well as improved insulation, efficient central heating, and smart features that lower energy usage and reduce utility bills, new homes built with off-road parking from this year will have to include an electric vehicle charging point as standard.
  1.     Secure the best buy-to-let mortgage: mortgage lenders are incentivising purchasers to buy green homes in return for lower interest rates, larger loans and cash back deals. A newer home with a good EPC will automatically qualify for special ‘green’ mortgage products being offered by some banks, potentially saving landlords hundreds of pounds every year in repayment costs.
  1.     Avoid the void: whether a few years old or a first release, a new home is less likely to need a major upgrade or improvement works before it is let on the open market. This avoids any loss of rental income between sales completion and a tenant move-in date, while the good state of repair will minimise empty spells between future tenancies.
  1.     Sniff out housebuilder incentives: those deciding to buy really new – as in before it’s built – can take advantage of picking the most desirable plot and also potentially benefit from value uplift while construction is underway (although prices can change in either direction). Even when completed units are marketed for sale, housebuilders are known to offer property investors incentives, such as paying their second home stamp duty bill, contributing towards the deposit or paying the buyer’s conveyancing costs.

If you are looking to expand your buy-to-let portfolio or are interested in becoming a first-time landlord, get in touch. We can advise on matters of rent, local tenant demand, yield and returns on rental properties of all ages.

Lettings Group 1

Should your next property investment be new?

Are you one of the 34% of landlords looking to expand their property portfolio in 2022? The statistic from Nationwide suggests confidence is building in the buy-to-let sector, with a third of investors looking to acquire additional properties this year.

When it comes to the type of properties that deliver the best rental returns, additional research has revealed the newer the property, the better the yield can be. In fact, rental market data analysed by Unlatch in March 2022 revealed new build homes can achieve rental premiums as high as 41% in the current market. 

As well as tenants who are willing to pay a premium to rent a newer property, more modern buy-to-lets give landlords multiple advantages. The homes don’t even have to be fresh from the housebuilder either – resale houses and flats that have been built in the last few years also bring with them benefits, as we explain.

Something that has moved to the top of both a tenant’s and landlord’s agenda is energy efficiency and this is where newer properties excel. While renters will look for homes that are cheaper to heat and power, as a result of rising fuel bills, landlords should have increasingly strict Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in mind. 

The Government would like all new and renewing tenancies from 2025 (and all existing tenancies from 2028) to have an EPC of at least a C, rising to a minimum of B from 2030.

While many period and 20th century properties would struggle to meet these tougher standards without costly and disruptive eco improvements, newer homes are built to stringent energy efficiency standards which result in excellent EPC ratings from the start.

As well as offering tenants cheaper energy bills, an eco-efficient new home can present landlords with savings at the very start of their property investment journey. Some banks and building societies are offering so-called ‘green’ mortgages’ to those whose property purchase meets pre-set minimum energy efficiency levels.

If the promise of lower interest rates, cashback and larger loans isn’t enough, homes built recently can also reduce a landlord’s maintenance bill. Aspects such as the electrics, central heating, plumbing and drainage should need little to no repair or replacement for many years, while the structure of homes built in the last 10 years may still be covered by a building warranty. Add in all-new kitchens, bathrooms and appliances, and the foundations are laid for a low-maintenance let.

Other perks of newer homes pertain to speed of let. Unlike older properties that may need work before they’re fit for habitation, a new home can present the ‘turn key ready’ proposition that reduces void periods and can command a premium rent among tenants. And if a housebuilder is offering a furniture pack as part of the deal, landlords can extend the appeal of their rental to professional relocators, students and overseas tenants.

Whether you’re attracted to buying off plan in the hope of some capital appreciation during the construction phase, tempted by a housebuilder offering to pay your 3% additional property stamp duty bill, or you’re tracking the rents achieved at a recently built development, maybe your next investment should be more modern. Ask us for a list of newer homes for sale that may make good property investments.

Lifestyle Group 2

5 design tricks you can pack up and take with you

Whether you’re a homeowner upgrading your property to make it more appealing to buyers or you’re a design-driven tenant who can’t make permanent changes to their pad, sometimes it makes sense to pursue moveable home improvements. 

It’s actually possible to execute a total home makeover without opening a single tin of paint or making a heavy investment in permanent fittings. The following five temporary design fixes are relatively cheap, easy wins when it comes to perking up a property, and the best bit? Pack them up and take them with you when it’s time to move. 

  1.     Throws & blankets: plain, patterned, tasselled or quilted, blankets and throws are your best friend if you want to add a dash of colour or hide a multitude of sins. Choose the biggest throw possible to cover up a shabby sofa, drape a smaller throw over the threadbare arm of a chair or artfully place a folded blanket at the bottom of your bed for show home style.
  1.     Lamps & lights: forget fixed overhead lights, every design expert knows a room can be elevated with ambient lighting. Table lamps are a great way of making dark corners lighter – add a brightly-coloured shade and the lamp will look stunning even when the bulb is switched off. Don’t overlook fairy lights either. Choose battery-operated strings that can be draped over a mirror or displayed in a glass vase.
  1.     House plants: these living accessories are a vibrant way to bring colour to a neutrally-decorated property, while also helping to purify the air and improve your mood. There’s a house plant that will adapt to every room in your home, from ferns that love humid bathrooms to snake plants that thrive in direct sunlight. Choose a colourful ceramic pot and you’ll increase the interior impact.
  1.     Rugs: if changing your floor covering is not an option, don’t panic as rugs are here to save the day. Rugs can provide a room with a focal point or bring softness to more utilitarian spaces, such as the kitchen. Machine-washable designs even make it easy to use rugs in high-traffic areas. If it’s your garden that’s in need of a cover up, there are some excellent outdoor rugs that can be swept and hosed down to keep them clean. On the move? Just roll the rugs up ready for your next property.
  1.     Books: why read a book and randomly stick it back on the bookshelf when your paperbacks can be part of a cool interior design trend? Make an impactful display by organising the book spines in colour order, or neatly stack coffee table-style books on fashion, travel and photography and place a table lamp on top. 

If you’re looking for a new home where you can make your design mark, get in touch for the latest selection of available properties in your area.

Lifestyle Group 1

Elevate your property with portable changes

Whether you’re a fan of interior design TV shows, spend hours scouring the internet for the latest trends or like nothing better than hitting your local homeware stores, many of us love improving where we live. 

The problem is, some of the most eye catching home additions are permanent, expensive or both. While there is no doubt that replacing an old kitchen or installing a new bathroom will transform a property, it’s not a practical path to follow for tenants or for soon-to-be sellers who want to give their home added appeal without blowing the budget.

The good news is there are some really clever – and portable – ways of improving your property. The emphasis here is on items that can be moved from property-to-property. After all, if you’re shelling out to improve the aesthetics of your home, being able to pack the items up and take them with you makes sense. 

Our four portable product recommendations will give you a good return on investment, whether you’re looking to impress buyers or elevate your everyday home style. There’s no need for planning permission, permanent alterations or a trade professional and even better, our suggestions are easy to source on the High Street, online or even in larger supermarkets. 

Textiles can come to your aid when perking up your property. The upholstery side of improvements, such as replacing sofas and armchairs, represents a serious outlay but entry-level soft furnishings can transform how a room feels. The holy trinity of rugs, cushions and throws remains the quickest and cheapest way to make an impact – choose a single colour or theme for the wow factor. 

Lighting is another portable asset that can dramatically alter the perception of a property. Plug-in table and floor-standing lamps can be used to banish shadows, while a string of humble battery-operated fairy lights never fails to cast a magical glow. 

Lights can also be employed to set the scene outside. There are a myriad of solar options on sale, from hanging lanterns to simple stake lights. In fact, creating illuminated garden rooms is one of the most desirable and portable trends for 2022. Everything you’ll find in a living room now has an outdoor, weatherproof counterpart – sofas, rugs and even freestanding lamps. As long as you don’t screw it down or cement it in, outdoor items can move with you.

There’s one other recommendation that straddles both inside and out: plants. Staying in the garden, it’s not wise to waste time and money on shrubs, bulbs and trees that you plant directly into the ground. Instead, pots and baskets can be placed where needed, then packed onto the back of a removal lorry.

House plants are another portable winner and are definitely a shrewder investment than the classic advice of adding colour to your home with cut flowers. Whereas a bunch of blooms will be destined for the compost bin within days, house plants can live for years if cared for.

If you’re looking to move in the next few months, contact our team for advice and the latest local market report.

Lettings Group 1

Does gazumping happen in lettings?

Gazumping is a property term that resurfaces when the right conditions prevail. It’s most commonly associated with the sales market, when a mass of purchasers chase a small pool of available properties. Competition can get fierce, people can get desperate and gazumping can become a winning tactic – when a new buyer comes in with a higher offer at the last minute, in hope of seeing off rival purchasers. 

What is rarely discussed, however, is gazumping in the rental sector but it does happen. Demand for rental properties is rising, as evidenced by Zoopla. The property portal’s data analysis revealed the number of tenants searching for rental properties at the start of 2022 was 76% higher this year when compared to the same period between 2018 and 2021. At the same time, there were 39% fewer homes available to rent in January 2022 when compared to the same month in other years. 

The equation is a simple one – there are more tenants requiring a rental property than there are houses and flats to let. As a result, the gazumping phenomenon has moved from sales into the lettings sector. Rival renters have so few properties to choose from that they are willing to increase their offers, engage in a bidding war and gazump the competition in order to secure a tenancy.

Rental gazumping isn’t going away, especially in light of a report by the consultancy Capital Economics, which highlighted how the UK needs almost 230,000 new rental homes every year if the current rate of demand continues.  

Is the highest offer always best?

The nature of renting forces landlords to weigh up far more than just the highest offer. Unlike a property sale, where all ties between the buyer and seller are cut on successful completion, a relationship between a landlord and tenant can last years – and be fraught with difficulties that are completely unrelated to how much rent is being paid. 

A far more holistic approach is needed when matching tenants with properties. In a ‘hot’ rental market, landlords can be picky when it comes to who they choose. Even in a case of gazumping – when a dazzling last-minute offer comes in – due diligence will be undertaken to ensure a landlord isn’t blindsided by pound signs.

Those responsible for gazumping will still be subject to pre-tenancy checks and thorough referencing, which can include:-

  1. Rent payment track record: have they always paid their rent in full and on time in the past?
  2. Job security: are they employed, freelance, newly hired or on a zero-hours contract?
  3. Tenancy length: is the tenant willing to sign up for a long let?
  4. Financial health: has the tenant passed all financial health checks, including proving a good credit score?
  5. Upfront rent: is the tenant able to pay any upfront rent or do they need a guarantor?
  6. References: are the tenant’s past landlord and employment references acceptable?
  7. Speed of signature: how quickly can the tenant sign the agreement and move in?

Landlords will often favour a respectful, reliable tenant who is in secure employment and has impeccable references over a renter with a less favourable background who comes in late with a higher offer.

How to avoid being gazumped

  • Offer as soon as you have viewed the property
  • If your offer is accepted, ask if the rental can be withdrawn from the market
  • Be prepared to sign a tenancy agreement as quickly as you can
  • Offer to move in as soon as possible to reduce any void
  • Supply as many positive references as possible, especially from previous landlords
  • Offer to pay an amount of rent upfront
  • Agree to the landlord’s preferred tenancy length

If you have any questions about gazumping, rental offers or competition in your local lettings market, get in touch with the team today.

Lettings Group 2

FOMO is behind the gazumping trend in lettings

The post-lockdown lettings market is super-buoyant and the fear of missing out (FOMO) is bringing a new competitive edge to renting. While making an offer £50 or £100  below the asking rent was acceptable – and often accepted by the landlord – in the past, today’s sought-after rentals can end up the subject of biddings wars, with gazumping a tactic back on the table.

If rental gazumping is a new concept to you and you’d like to avoid being pipped to the post at the very last minute, here’s our guide. 

What is gazumping?

Gazumping is when a tenant makes a last-minute offer on a rental property. Their offer will be higher than the one accepted by the landlord and it will come very late in the marketing process – perhaps after the referencing process has started or just before the tenancy agreement is signed. 

Why is gazumping starting to happen in lettings?

Gazumping is common when there is a supply and demand imbalance. In terms of today’s rental market, demand among tenants is increasing and the number of properties available to rent is falling. 

In fact, recent analysis by Zoopla revealed the number of tenants searching for rental properties at the start of 2022 was 76% higher than when compared to the same period between 2018 and 2021. The portal also found there were 39% fewer homes available to rent in January 2022 when compared to the same month in other years.

Is gazumping illegal?

Gazumping to secure a rental property is not illegal but it is widely viewed as slightly unethical. The legal aspect of lettings relates to a written tenancy agreement. This becomes a legally binding contract as soon as both the tenant and landlord have signed it. Until this point, there is nothing stopping multiple ascending offers being made on a property.

Will the highest offer always be chosen?

Not always, especially in lettings. A satisfactory referencing process is equally as important as the highest offer. Landlords will be looking for tenants who have a secure job, a good credit history, impeccable past landlord and employment references, and a track record that shows they pay the rent on time every month. Aspects such as how quickly the tenant can move in and whether they have any special conditions will also be weighed up against the offer made. 

How can gazumping be avoided?

Of course, matching (or exceeding) the asking rent will always turn the head of a landlord but there’s more to it than money. For tenants, speed is of the essence and it’s often too late to make a winning offer by the time a property is listed online. Registering directly with a letting agent ensures tenants hear about a property before the masses. Those who can view, offer and sign a tenancy agreement without delay – perhaps even within a 24 hour period – will be in pole position. Offering to pay six months’ rent upfront is another gesture that is finding favour, especially if there is any question mark over a renter’s financial health.

We are working to match the very best tenants with available properties, balancing offers, personal circumstances and the ability to be a reliable renter. Talk to us about properties to let and our landlord services.

Lettings Group 2 Sales Group 2

Inheriting a property: your questions answered

Whether expected or not, finding yourself the owner of a property after someone’s death is a sensitive subject. Here we answer the most frequently asked questions by someone who has inherited a home.

Q. I’m named in the will so is probate necessary?
A. Unless a property is passed on to a joint tenant, probate is almost always required. Although the will sets out who inherits what, the probate grants the legal right to an executor to deal with someone’s property, as well as their money and possessions, after they die.

Q. More than one person has inherited the property, what happens next?
A. It’s very common for siblings to jointly inherit their parent’s property, with multiple new owners responsible for the future plan. All the owners need to consent for it to happen. One way to gain sole ownership is to buy the co-owners out.

Q. Can I move into a property I’ve inherited?
A. If you are the sole owner and the property is empty, there is nothing stopping you from using the inherited property as your place of residence. If you have inherited a buy-to-let with tenants in situ, you’ll need to wait for their tenancy to end before you move in, or give them the pre-set notice period if there are valid reasons to ask them to leave.

Q. Is there anything stopping me from selling the property?
A. If you don’t want to move into the inherited property or rent it out, you can sell it. It’s a straightforward process if you’re the sole owner but everyone needs to agree to a sale if the property is jointly owned.

Q. Are there any tax implications attached to an inherited property?
A. Tax is a big consideration, especially if the deceased was in debt or faces a large inheritance tax bill. Sometimes the only way for beneficiaries to balance the books is by selling the property asset. It’s also worth remembering that when an inherited property is sold, there may be income tax to pay upon completion or a mortgage to settle.

Q. What happens about stamp duty when I own more than one home?
A. This is another tax consideration. If you retain an inherited property and rent it out, but go on to buy another house to live in, you will be classed by the Government as an owner of additional properties. All homes bought in addition to the inherited property will incur an extra 3% levy on top of basic stamp duty rates.

Q. Can I rent out an inherited property?
A. If you don’t want to sell a property you’ve inherited, you could become a landlord and advertise the property to tenants. You’ll be able to keep the property in the family and always have somewhere to move into in the future but being a landlord also comes with its own tax implications. As well as income tax to pay, any profit made when selling the inherited property in the future may be subject to capital gains tax.

Q. I’ve inherited a buy-to-let with tenants, can I evict them?
A. Inheriting a tenanted dwelling is slightly different as you’re gaining residents as well as a property. Depending on the tenancy agreement in place, the landlord has to give an average of two months’ notice to regain their property, or they have to wait until the fixed-term tenancy ends.

Q. Could I take over the buy-to-let?
A. If you like the idea of an inherited property with tenants in place, there’s nothing stopping you from taking over as the landlord. You’ll need advice from a letting agent and a tax specialist but renting out can be a rewarding way of keeping ownership of an inherited property.

Q. I’ve never bought a property but I’ve just inherited one – how will I be affected?
A. Your first-time buyer status will likely be scuppered if you inherit a property as you’ll automatically be considered a homeowner – even though you’ve never been through the buying process. Your access to discounted stamp duty rates, benefits attached to a LISA (lifetime ISA) and ability to use Help to Buy may all be compromised, even if you never live in the inherited property and sell it on immediately.

Q. So can I refuse an inherited property?
A. You can refuse to inherit a property and the technical term for this is ‘disclaiming’ it. We do recommend taking legal advice before you disclaim any inherited asset, especially if you have never owned a property before.

We are here to sensitively advise families and individuals who are going through the probate process, so please get in touch to discuss your options.

Lettings Group 1 Sales Group 1

Your options when inheriting a property

Inheriting a property is not an everyday conversation topic, so it comes as no surprise that people have been turning to Google to find out what’s involved. Knowledge gaps were revealed in 2021 when Google Search Trends were analysed. The top eight most searched for property phrases included ‘power of attorney’ and ‘probate’, which had seen a 450% and 100% increase in enquiries, respectively.

Whether your Great Aunt Rose has left you a house in her will or your family home is no longer needed, you may inherit a property at some point in your lifetime. Knowing what to do with it will depend on your own circumstances and if anyone else is involved. Here’s our guide if you find yourself with an unexpected property.

Prepare for probate

It’s a common misconception that if a will was made, the distribution of a deceased person’s assets can go ahead without intervention. In many cases – especially if the property owners were ‘tenants in common’ – a process called probate is needed before the wishes of the will are respected. 

Probate is applied for by the next of kin or the will’s executor and once ‘grant of probate’ is granted, any property owned by the deceased can be dealt with. Generally, only those who were a joint property owner with the deceased – known as joint tenants – can bypass probate.

Are you the sole owner?

Before you make any grand property plans, you need to establish if you are the sole heir to the property or whether you now share ownership with other people, such as siblings. If it’s the latter, the property’s future needs to be a joint decision. If you’re the only beneficiary, you can start moving forwards.

Move in yourself

Inheriting a property may give you an instant accommodation upgrade, especially if you are currently living with family or are in rented accommodation. If the property is empty and it suits your circumstances, there is nothing stopping you moving in as the new owner.

Sell up

Sometimes selling an inherited property is the only option, especially if there are debts in the deceased’s estate, a large inheritance tax bill or if there are multiple new owners who can’t agree on the property’s future. 

Selling an inherited property is one way to benefit from any equity. Remember, if the property is still mortgaged and this sum isn’t settled by a life insurance policy, proceeds from the property’s sale may go towards paying off the home loan. There may also be income tax to pay upon completion.

Become a landlord

One way of retaining an inherited property is to rent it out to tenants. As well as keeping ownership of an asset, there are opportunities to earn an income from the monthly rent and the possibility of long-term price appreciation. You’ll also have the option of moving back into the property in the future, as long as tenants are given the correct amount of notice.

It’s worth noting the tax implications of becoming a landlord. As well as paying income tax on any rental income, you’ll have to pay capital gains tax on any profit you make if you sell the property at a later date. 

Inheriting a buy-to-let

If you’re left a property that has been used as a buy-to-let, the tenant status will dictate what happens next. If tenants are still in place, they have the legal right to stay in the property in line with their legal notice period. 

If the buy-to-let is empty, there is nothing stopping you from selling the property. If it’s inhabited, you’ll have to wait for the renters’ tenancy agreement to end or start the eviction process (if there are qualifying circumstances) before selling up. Alternatively, you could take over as the landlord.

Inherited properties & first-time buyers

The picture is slightly more complicated when a first-time buyer inherits a property. For instance, someone saving for a deposit using a LISA (a lifetime ISA) would automatically become a homeowner if they inherited a property. As a result, they would lose their first-time buyer status by default and have to pay a 25% withdrawal charge before accessing the money in their LISA. 

It’s worth noting that other first-time buyer assistance packages may not apply if a purchaser has inherited a property, such as the Government’s Help to Buy scheme and mortgages specifically created for first-time buyers.

The second property trap & stamp duty

Existing property owners who keep hold of an inherited property will be classed as someone with ‘additional properties’. The same rule even applies to first-time buyers who inherit a property but who have yet to purchase their own home and this has stamp duty ramifications.

First-time buyers who retain an inherited property will no longer qualify for the zero stamp duty on the first £300,000 of their initial property purchase. In addition, all additional home purchases incur an extra 3% on top of basic stamp duty rates, and this applies to everyone who owns more than one property. 

If it looks like you may inherit a property in the future and you’d like to take advice now, please get in touch.