Jade Buswell

Jade Buswell

Jade manages all the internal processes and human resources within UK Property Finance Limited. After many years working within the financial sector and working with qualified CeMAP advisors, Jade has gained a wealth of knowledge and ensures UK Property Finance fully complies with the FCA regulations whilst managing the larger customer accounts and partner relations. Jade has been shortlisted for the senior female executive award with The Women's Awards for the East Midlands and is a valuable asset to have onside when sourcing the best financial deals.

The Top 10 Most Expensive Places to Live in the UK Outside London

We all know that property prices in London remain the highest in the country, but which other towns and cities are in the top ten when it comes to house prices?

  1. Virginia Water, Surrey

With the average house price coming in at £1,617,679, Virginia Water makes it to the top spot on Zoopla’s ‘rich list’, for the most expensive places to buy property in the UK. Portal Rise is the most expensive street, with the average house costing a whopping £7,046,149, closely followed by Wentworth Drive, where the average house will set you back £6,496,232, North Drive coming in at £6,237,670 and in fourth place Pinewood Road at £6.196,450.

The leafy suburb of Virginia Wood has seen a rise in property prices of 1.3% since September and an overall increase of 2.6% in the last 12 months. Terrace houses were priced on average at £1,045,875 while flats came in at £533,317.

  1. Cobham, Surrey

Another picturesque town, nestling on the banks of the River Mole in the popular county of Surrey, is Cobham, coming in at second place. Average prices of £1,239,868 make this a town only accessible to the wealthy, with a rise of 2.17% in the last quarter of 2021 and an increase of an incredible 11.09% from the same period last year. When looking at the types of properties sold, terrace houses cost around £551,532, while flats averaged £540,350.

  1. Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire

Sitting on the edge of the Chiltern Hills, Beaconsfield is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Easy accessibility to London (25 minutes by train) makes this beautiful town popular with commuters. The average home here will set you back £1,232,359, representing a rise of 1.58% in the last 3 months and a yearly rise of 5.3%. The average flat will cost £591,253, while terraced properties show an average selling price of £648,184.

  1. Esher, Surrey

Situated on the south-east side of London’s leafy suburbs, Esher is a quiet and peaceful town despite its proximity to the capital. This town is very popular with buyers looking for the best of both worlds: the excitement of the city and the tranquilly of the countryside. Prices here currently sit at an average of £1,146,708, which is a rise of 1.76% during the last quarter and a 4.55% increase over the last 12 months. Flat prices are averaged at £531,622 and terraced properties at £659,058.

 

  1. Chalfont St. Giles, Buckinghamshire

Most commonly known as the background of many popular shows (Dad’s Army, The Canterbury Tales, and Peep Show, to name a few), Chalfont St. Giles may feel strangely familiar to those who have never actually visited there. It is also home to Milton Cottage, where the famous poem ‘Paradise Lost’ was penned by John Milton.

The average price of homes in this historical town is £1,139,493, which is an increase of 2.02% since the end of September and a 12-month overall rise of 9.08%. Flat prices average at £530,618; terrace houses show an average price of £608,428.

  1. Gerrards Cross, Surrey

Coming in sixth place, with an average property cost of £1,057,668, is Gerards Cross. As one of the most sought-after places to live in the UK, it’s not surprising this beautiful rural town has made it to the top ten. The last three months have seen a rise of 2.2% in house prices and a yearly increase of 4.58%. A flat here will set you back on average £538,058, with terrace houses averaging at £592,826.

  1. Radlett, Hertfordshire

The ancient village of Radlett dates back to before 5,000 BC and has been the home of many celebrities, including Simon Cowell and the late George Michael. You can buy a home here for the average price of £1,017,483 in this beautiful town. House prices have risen on average by 1.77% in the last 3 months and 3.65% over the last 12 months. In terms of property prices, flats will cost buyers £453,467 on average, whereas terrace properties will set buyers back £586,602.

  1. Weybridge, Surrey

The bustling town of Weybridge boasts a fantastic high street that winds through streets of mansions and manors and is home to some of the most prestigious private schools in the country. Average house prices in Weybridge are sitting at £1,012,920, reflecting an increase of 2.15% since the end of September and a rise of 6.49% from the same period in 2020. Flats are on average £471,716 while terraced houses are currently averaging £683,669.

  1. Ascot, Windsor, and Maidenhead, Berkshire

Home to world-famous racecourses, the resettlement of Ascot, Windsor, and Maidenhead offers top-quality properties in the beautiful countryside to the west of London.

Properties in Ascot are currently averaged at £990,918. This is a rise of 1.31% in the last quarter of 2020, and since September 2020, it has risen by 2.63%. In terms of the types of properties, flats showed an average of £570,937 and terraced houses £600,385.

Meanwhile, in Windsor and Maidenhead, average prices came in at £709,988, representing a three-month growth of 1.58% and a yearly rise of £541,301. Terraced houses were priced at £541,301 and flats at £417,865.

  1. East Molesey, Surrey

Last, but by no means least, East Molesey comes in at number 10 on Zoopla’s ‘rich’ list. This popular commuter town has an average house price of £986,356, with a current rise of 0.88% since the third quarter of 2020 and an increase of 1.69% over the last twelve months. When it comes to property types, flats average at £410,384 and terraced properties at £516,166.

 

Almost Half of All First Time Buyers Rejected for a Mortgage

According to a recent report released by Alderidge Bank, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 45% of first-time buyers have been rejected when applying for a mortgage.

The First Time Buyer index, which was developed and first published pre-COVID-19, shows that only 35% of the 2,015 survey participants were successful in securing a mortgage deal on their first attempt. This figure has significantly dropped from 48%, seen before the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

A whopping 45% of first-time buyers reported that they were rejected on their first application, with 20% of those also being rejected multiple times when applying elsewhere.

The most common reason for rejected first-time buyer mortgage applications is poor credit history, with 21% of participants stating this as the main reason for not being successful in securing a mortgage.

Administrative errors accounted for another 21%, while 20% of those surveyed claimed to not be able to afford the large deposit needed for the purchase.

With 49% of prospective first-time buyers having some sort of disruption to their jobs, lenders were understandably more cautious when it came to accepting applications, making it much harder to secure a first-time buyer mortgage.

The report showed that 35% of participants were put on furlough but had now returned to work. Just under 10% had remained on furlough, with a further 5% being made redundant or having had a significant reduction in income since the onset of the pandemic.

The head of mortgage distribution at Aldermore, John Cooper, stated: “It’s easy to see from the research why many first-time buyers can feel disheartened by the challenges when looking for their first home. They shouldn’t despair, though, as there are many options open to them. Specialist lenders, like Aldermore, are opening up the market to those with complicated income streams or past credit issues, ensuring that no borrower, whatever their background, feels excluded from the opportunity of getting on the housing ladder.

“I would also recommend getting help from a broker, which can be a great boost in navigating the many pitfalls and confusing processes. They provide a whole market view and cut through the jargon to provide options specific to new buyers’ individual circumstances.”

Equity Release Proves Popular and Pension Pots Prove Insufficient

Equity release has become an increasingly popular option for retirees, as many homeowners face the daunting prospect of insufficient retirement income.

Official guidance from the Pension & Lifetime Saving Association’s ‘Retirement Living Standards’ states that to meet their basic living requirements, retirees need a minimum of £10,200 in their pension pots. In 2020, figures suggest that more than 85% of newly-accessed pension pots contained less than £10,000.

This would suggest that even with full state pension contributions, those concerned would find their finances stretched uncomfortably.

Meanwhile, average property prices in the UK have spiked by more than 13% over the past year alone. In the 10 years from July 2011 to July 2021, average property prices in the UK grew from £169,866 to £255,535.

In total, combined equity wealth among adults over 50 in the UK is somewhere around £3.8 trillion. Retirees who own their own homes could, therefore, be sitting on all the capital they need to get the most out of their retirement.

With a lifetime mortgage, aka equity release, those who are asset-rich but cash-poor could leverage some or all of the equity they have tied up in their home—precisely what millions are doing—in order to raise cash for a variety of reasons.

Applications for equity release

The latest figures from Legal & General indicate a number of patterns among intended applications for lifetime mortgages. One of the most common reasons for releasing equity is funding home improvements, with 41% of applicants indicating their intent to renovate their homes.

Around 17% said they intended to give some or all of the funds raised to their loved ones. Helping family members with mortgage deposit requirements to purchase their own homes is another popular application.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a major spike in the number of equity-release customers simply releasing funds to sustain their lifestyles.

Further growth is projected for the equity release sector

Speaking on behalf of Legal & General Home Finance, Chief Executive Officer Claire Singleton predicted further growth for the sector going forward.

“In recent years, people have become more accepting of the concept of equity release, which has helped the market grow. However, many potential customers are still unaware of the product’s flexibility and the broader benefits this can have both for individuals and wider society,” she said.

“We anticipate that as more people see the value in their property wealth increase, lifetime mortgages will cease to be seen as specialist’ option and instead become a more standard consideration among other at-retirement products.”

“Looking ahead, we anticipate that products on the market will evolve to better serve the diversity of consumer needs, whether it’s innovation that helps people improve their quality of life, support their loved ones, or ‘green’ improvements to help better manage their impact on the world around them. The home is a vital part of an estate and is often an individual’s largest asset.”

“As people are living longer, accessing property wealth will become an increasingly important consideration to help meet financial goals and fund the retirement they dream of.”

What is a buy-to-let investment? The Basics You Need to Know

Purchasing any residential property with the intention of letting it out can be an appealing prospect. In the UK, estimates suggest there are now approximately 2.65 million landlords operating within the private rental sector.

Does this mean that buy-to-let is the right choice for you?

Before making any major decisions regarding BTL investments, it is important to ensure you understand the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a private landlord.

What is buy-to-let?

The term ‘buy-to-let’ is used when an individual or business invests in a residential property to be ‘let’ out to tenants.

Rental properties are purchased using a specialist mortgage, which differs from a conventional home loan by way of both qualification criteria and overall borrowing costs.

Buy-to-let investments generate profits through monthly rent payments from tenants, which cover the costs of the mortgage and leave at least a small amount left over. Depending on the type of property and its location, rent yields and profits can vary from modest to exceptional.

What are the advantages of buy-to-let property investments?

The biggest benefit of BTL is its potential to generate a regular source of income for the owner of the property. Typically, rent is charged at a rate that not only covers the monthly mortgage payment but also all potential maintenance requirements for the property.

Buy-to-let property owners may benefit significantly from capital growth over time. Average UK house prices have been skyrocketing for some time and are predicted to continue doing so indefinitely. However, again, gains by way of property value increases vary significantly from one property type and location to the next.

BTL investments are considered among the simplest and quickest to exit, should it become necessary to do so at some point in the future. With demand for desirable homes at an all-time high, investors rarely encounter any difficulties selling their BTL properties for their full market value.

What are the disadvantages of buy-to-let property investments?

On the downside, qualifying for a buy-to-let mortgage is not quite as simple as qualifying for a traditional mortgage. There are higher deposit requirements and more extensive restrictions to take into account with regard to who is and is not eligible.

Interest rates and borrowing costs on a BTL mortgage are usually higher than those of a traditional mortgage. Prospective landlords must also take into account additional costs attributed to repairs, maintenance, and the general upkeep of their rental properties.

While demand for quality rental properties is insatiable across much of the UK, potential gaps between tenancies cannot be ruled out. During this period, the landlord is still required to make their monthly mortgage payments in the normal way, though without the benefit of rental income.

Independent expert advice

Before deciding on any BTL investment opportunity, it is essential to consult with an independent broker to discuss the options available. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to determine your eligibility for BTL mortgage products and whether your financial situation qualifies you for life as a private landlord.

Call or e-mail anytime for more information on buy-to-let investments or to book your obligation-free consultation with a member of our team.

UK Homebuyer Priorities Revealed, Outdoor Space Tops the Table

2020 triggered a major shift in the priorities of homebuyers as the realities of spending more time at home than ever before set in. For the first time in recent history, the appeal of urban areas plummeted, and those who had previously been tied to major cities set their sights on the countryside.

A year after the height of the pandemic, the transition continues to gain momentum. According to the latest figures from MFS UK, the top priorities among homebuyers today have changed little over the course of the past year.

Specifically, the MFS Homebuyer Wish List 2021 has confirmed that spacious homes with private living spaces are the number-one target for movers and first-time buyers alike.

The importance of a private outdoor space

Having conducted a poll on 1,300 homebuyers and homeowners, MFS reached the following conclusions:

The single most important factor for homebuyers today is outdoor space, with a huge 92% stating that gardens are an ‘important’ or ‘ very important’ factor.

The overall size of the house or flat in question came in as the second most important consideration, having previously been the number-one factor for prospective buyers. The overall quality of the property’s interior and proximity to parks and recreation spaces were also important factors, particularly where homes lacked private outdoor living spaces.

Third on the list were strong and reliable Internet connections, reflecting the new home office trend adopted by millions of workers across the country. A distinct decline was notable in the number of prospective buyers prioritising quick commutes and transport links to nearby towns and cities.

Overall, more than one-third (34%) of those surveyed said that the COVID-19 crisis had significantly altered the way they perceive their home and their lifestyle. But what was interesting is how just 17% said that the rise of remote working had directly inspired them to relocate.

Around one in four said that they had considered relocating to a more rural location during the course of the crisis for reasons not related to home work.

Home improvements and renovations on the up

Homeowners up and down the country are setting their sights on making the most of the properties they already own. According to MFS, 42% of homeowners indicated that they had performed home improvements or renovations over the past 12 months.

The trend was particularly prevalent in London, where a full 47% of homeowners said they had conducted improvements of some kind.

Meanwhile, specialist lenders and brokers have seen a major influx of interest from investors looking to take out affordable short-term bridging loans to fund property improvements. Renovations, extensions, and conversions in particular have become popular, enabling investors to buy, improve, and sell homes at a profit with cost-effective bridging finance.

Whether the gradual return to normality prompts an equally gradual return to urban living remains to be seen; for the time being, the appeal of the rural lifestyle shows no signs of abating for movers and buyers across the UK.

 

Will Build-to-Let Be the Next Big Thing for Banks and Investors?

Once little more than a novelty, the UK’s build-to-let sector is slowly but surely finding its way onto the radars of major investors. In particular, Lloyds Bank has outlined an ambitious plan to build an extensive 50,000-strong BTL property portfolio by the end of the current decade.

Consequently, many private renters across the country could soon see their conventional landlords replaced with banks and businesses.

With available inventory at an all-time low and skyrocketing rents having become the norm, the future private rental sector has never looked brighter, at least for those buying or building properties to rent out to private tenants.

Build-to-let is the arm of the sector where new-build properties and flats are owned and managed by just one landlord after being built to order. Advocates of big business BTL insist that corporate ownership could solve many of the problems faced by renters today, ranging from unacceptable fees to “rogue” landlords and short-term leases.

Announcing its aggressive move into the BTL sector, Lloyds is establishing its own private home rentals subsidiary, Citra Living, with the intention of adding tens of thousands of homes to its property rentals portfolio by 2030.

This one corporate landlord alone would occupy a full 1% of the UK’s total rental stock.

Meanwhile, John Lewis has also outlined plans to build homes to rent out privately as part of its five-year strategy to expand “beyond retail” Specifically, the company said at least £400 million would be invested in new ventures, with the aim of generating 40% of its overall profits from non-retail activities within the next 10 years.

“Entering the ‘build to rent’ market also allows us to furnish properties using John Lewis Home products and deliver Waitrose food,” it said.

How private renters stand to be affected

Some analysts and experts are optimistic about the potential for larger banks and corporations to move into the buy-to-let sector. They believe that by taking control of the market at least partially away from smaller landlords, private tenants may be afforded more protection and rights.

“The hope is that a larger corporate landlord such as Lloyds Bank would have the infrastructure, expertise, and finances to ensure that they comply with their legal obligations, as opposed to smaller and ‘rogue’ landlords, meaning tenants should be provided with the information and protection they are entitled to,” commented Hodge Jones & Allen housing team partner Sophie Bell.

There are those who only envisage problems for tenants and the sector long-term, should the trend of corporate BTL property ownership become popular over the coming years.

By 2030, Lloyds Bank has set its sights on building at least 50,000 homes, which would subsequently make it the single biggest BTL landlord operating in the UK.

“The only upside for consumers is that it may, and I emphasise the word may bring lower rents if there are more properties to occupy,” warned Lewis Shaw, founder of Shaw Financial Services.

“However, the likely outcome is that the opposite will happen; it would be very easy for large institutional investors or lenders to monopolise large swathes of an area and increase prices.”

UK Housing Stock Shortage Shows no Signs of Abating

The likelihood of the sizeable housing stock shortage in the UK being resolved any time in the near future is treading a fine line between slim and none. Analysts and industry watchers now firmly believe that the major deficit between available supply and record-high demand will continue unabated for some time.

Driven by ferocious competition on the housing market, overall housing stock has plummeted by as much as 40% since the start of this year alone. According to the latest figures published by UK estate agent body Propertymark, the number of properties available for sale across the UK has declined steadily each and every month for eight consecutive months.

According to the agency, this is due largely to the way in which buyers are broadly interpreting the market as “insurmountable” and adjusting their property purchase decisions accordingly.

Today, the average estate agency operating in the UK has a total of 23 properties available to purchase, with 19 prospective buyers on average demonstrating an active interest in each property available.

Reluctance to enter the market

Speaking on behalf of the estate agent, the chief executive of Propertymark, Nathan Emerson, said that a growing number of prospective buyers are demonstrating a real reluctance to make their moves.

“Our worry is that people think the market is insurmountable,” he said in an interview with FTAdviser.
“Very few people can buy without selling, so the majority of buyers need to put a property on the market before they can buy their next property.”

Before the pandemic, Propertymark reported that the average property would be viewed around 14 times before being sold. Today, it is becoming the norm for homes to be sold after being shown to no more than three or four interested buyers.

“Properties are selling in much shorter periods of time, which means people think they don’t have time to sell their own property,” he continued.

“If we’re not careful, we could create an unusual marketplace purely based on a lack of confidence about moving.”

“But the reality of the situation is very different. Properties are coming up all the time, but buyers have got to be in it to win it.”

“If they keep viewing properties without selling the one they’re in now, then they fall into this self-fulfilling cycle.”

Completion times are down to 16 weeks

The figures from Propertymark also indicate that total sale completion times are now down to approximately 16 weeks.

“That’s four months, and the likelihood of not finding an onward property in that time is very small,” commented Mr. Emerson.

He also pointed out how estate agent fees have been significantly scaled down by numerous operators across the country in order to motivate more prospective sellers to put their homes on the market.

A percentage of the sale price is largely spent on marketing the property. “As the market cools off, this becomes important,” he said, going on to explain how estate agents “might spend less on advertising” due to sky-high demand and can therefore reduce their charges for the benefit of their clients.

He also said that there is little to no chance of the major stock shortage on the housing market being resolved at any point in the near future.

“We’re going into a quiet period, which means the market would only have three months to put stock on an even keel,” he said.

“We’ll be into the next year before we start seeing housing stock numbers rise again.”

 

What Happens When You Miss a Mortgage Payment?

Nobody takes out a mortgage with the intention of missing payments. Unfortunately, nobody knows what may be around the corner either.

The events of last year reminded the world just how unpredictable things can be at the best of times. For a number of reasons, any homeowner could suddenly find themselves in a position where they simply cannot make their scheduled monthly mortgage payment.

In which case, what happens next?

While it is true to say that a missed mortgage payment can lead to heavy penalties and credit score damage, this is not always the case. It depends entirely on the policies of the lender and how the issue is handled by the mortgage payer in question.

One missed mortgage payment

For example, missing one mortgage payment and having until now paid every instalment on time might not be the end of the world. Just as long as you contact your lender as quickly as possible to explain why you are unable to pay this month, they are likely to show leniency.

If you choose not to speak to your lender and simply fail to pay the instalment, you are likely to incur fees and penalties. In addition, the missed payment could be logged on your credit history if it is not made within 30 days of the agreed-upon due date.

Two missed mortgage payments

Missing two mortgage payments in a row is likely to set alarm bells ringing with your lender. Again, missing a couple of mortgage payments and having contacted your lender to explain your situation may result in no action being taken against you. Contrary to popular belief, lenders would always prefer not to have to chase missed payments and go through the complications of reporting credit issues to the relevant bureaus.

Two missed mortgage payments in a row with no notification could see you facing even heavier penalties, along with significant damage to your credit score. It is therefore essential to contact your lender and openly discuss the issue if you are unable to pay.

Three missed mortgage payments

At this stage, the lender may decide to commence repossession proceedings. You will most likely be contacted several times by phone, after which a formal demand letter or ‘notice to accelerate’ will be sent by post.

This is essentially a final warning, indicating that repossession will take place if you do not settle your debt as quickly as possible.

Four missed mortgage payments

If you allow your debt to escalate and remain unpaid for 120 days or more, your lender will almost certainly provide you with formal notice of its intent to recoup its capital via the appropriate legal channels. Along with the long list of penalties and levies already incurred, you may now also be billed for the bank’s own legal fees.

Even at this late stage, your lender will most likely make every reasonable effort to allow you to keep your home and repay your debt. An agreement could be reached to repay a smaller amount each month until your situation improves, or perhaps take a temporary payment break. Either way, it is the sole responsibility of the debtor to contact their lender at the earliest possible stage in order to avoid eventualities like this outright.