Monthly Archives: March 2011

You are browsing the site archives by month.

By Ceri Adams

The media bombards us with confusing messages about the housing market and statistics argue every view point. So what is reality?

SHORT TERM

If you cut through all the media exaggeration, the consensus view points towards price stability in the housing market over the next 12 months, which is a continuation of the previous 12 months.  Alas price stability doesn’t sell newspapers, unless described as stagnation.

There is strong frustrated demand from buyers, who consider the collapse of the housing market unlikely. However the banks have turned off the financial taps, demanding large deposits (typically 25% for buy to let mortgages) and increasing affordability requirements, so pricing many buyers out of the market.

Access to and affordability of credit is likely to have the largest impact on house prices in the short to medium term.  Expect to see house prices subdued if interest rates rise significantly, but strong growth once credit restrictions are eased and widespread access to 85% & 90% mortgages returns.

LONG TERM

Looking to the medium to long term future, increasing demand for housing is unlikely to be matched by supply.  The government’s public sector cuts have reduced their ability to provide new housing and the private sector house builders have taken a beating during the recession. Combined with the projected growth in households of 232,000 per year (CLG figures), it is difficult to see how supply can possibly keep up with demand. We are likely to see strong growth in property prices and potentially another property boom, sometime in the future.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

The housing market is in recession and potential buyers want to drive a bargain, so now is not the time to sell unless you really have to. As property owners, timing your sale correctly could lead to massive capital gain for you, over today’s prices.  Realistically you will need to wait at least 2 years to start seeing significant sustained uplift in the market.  On the flip side if you have the available capital now is a good time to be investing in property, provided you can find properties with strong rental yields.

By Claire Rhoades-Brown

In recent news there have been an increasing number of stories about squatters taking possession of vacant properties and it is a growing concern for landlords and second home owners who worry that their property may be accessible and targeted by squatters.

What is squatting?

Squatting involves an individual or group of individuals who occupy an abandoned or empty property that doesn’t legally belong to them without prior consent of the owner that allows them to occupy the property. The Advisory Service for Squatters (ASS), who are a voluntary organisation, claims that there are as many as 22,000 squatters in the UK and up to 15,000 squatters in London alone which has risen by 25% in the past seven years.

What are the consequences of squatting and what does it mean for your property?

In more cases than not, squatters can seriously damage a property and its fixtures as properties are often treated with little and no respect. After squatters leave landlords are left to clear up the rubbish and mess. A recent case highlights the story of a North London lady who was left to clear up the mess after squatters had left her £500,000 house with over £50,000 worth of damage.

How do I prevent squatters in my property?

There are several things that you can do to help prevent squatters and everything you can do yourself:

  • Ensure that there are adequate and heavy duty locks on every entry door.
  • Make sure that the property is visited on a regular basis, if you are overseas and not able to visit then a good managing agent should be more than happy to visit regularly for you.
  • Ensure that all windows are locked and if the windows are sash windows then they are fitted with window bolts to stop them from being opened.
  • Place lights around the property on timers to give the impression of someone residing in the property.

What happens if I have a squatter in my property?

If the unfortunate does happen to you then the most important thing is to act quickly and sensibly. The government have produced a guide on how to deal with squatters in your property. If you are currently living in the property then the process can be a lot quicker as you can report the offence as a crime to the police and squatters can be forced to leave. If you are not residing in the property and the property is part of your portfolio then the case would normally need to go to court which can take several weeks so it is imperative that you act quickly and seek legal advice immediately.