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City Hall funds record number of affordable homes in London

A record number of affordable homes have been started in London in the last year, thanks to the financial help of City Hall.

New figures from the London authority have revealed that 14,544 affordable homes were started in the year 2018-19, exceeding the target of 14,000 agreed with the Government and the most in any year since City Hall began controlling housing investment in the capital in 2012.

Appeal for greater resources

The figures include the most council homes built in more than 30 years in London.

Housing has been a priority for Mayor Sadiq Khan since he took office three years. He has urged the Government to give him greater powers and resources to deal with the housing situation in the capital.

Mr Khan said: “Not only do these figures beat our own records from last year, but this is more than double the number the previous mayor started in the final year of his term.

“National Government needs to match our ambition and determination to deliver the homes Londoners so urgently need.”

Prime London property selling but at a discount

Enfield Conveyancing Solicitors
Image courtesy of: Geograph.org

The average prime property in London takes six months to sell, according to the latest data. And sellers are offering an average discount of 12.7 percent on the asking price of those prime homes.

The private bank Coutts analysed the current status of the prime property market in the capital to note that sales are at their lowest level since 2013.

Prime properties are those valued between £1 and £10 million with Coutts noting that prices of in that bracket have fallen since the first quarter of 2018.

Willing to negotiate

Those keen to sell are willing to negotiate on price, too, with the biggest discounts offered on the most expensive homes. Those worth upwards of £10 million are being sold with an average fifth off the asking price at 21 percent.

Katherine O’Shea, of Coutts Real Estate Investment Service, says overseas buyers keen on a London home are quids in.

She said: “The current status of the pound means for that dollar-denominated buyers, prime London property is about 40 percent cheaper than it was in 2014, and for those using euros to make a purchase, it’s about 30 percent cheaper.”

Prime London prices are up by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2019 but 17 percent lower than their peak in 2014.

8 new sites released for small developers in London

Eight new sites for affordable homes in London have been released to small developers.

The sites are part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Small Sites, Small Builders programme. The mayor has set a target of delivering 50 percent affordable housing across the city.

The latest eight sites – at Richmond, Ealing, Newham, Bexley, Hounslow, Lambeth and Waltham Forest – are on Transport for London (TfL) land, and they will deliver a total of 90 homes.

Affordable homes promised

The development at Bexley is expected only to deliver affordable homes, while 50 percent of the homes built at Newham and Lambeth will be affordable.

The project was launched as a pilot last year with 10 TfL sites in seven different boroughs, with a great deal of interest from small builders in the capital who wanted to take part.

An £11.2 million partnership between the London Economic Action Partnership and the Mayor of London, Small Sites, Small Builders matches developers with TfL sites across all London boroughs.

Popular programme

James Murray, deputy mayor for housing and residential development, said: “When we launched it last year, the mayor’s Small Sites, Small Builders programme proved very popular with small and medium-sized homebuilders and community-led housing groups.

“In recent years, London has become over-reliant on large developers, and so we are pleased to be able to help more small builders play their part too through this latest batch of TfL sites.”

Capital Conveyancing’s openness on costs a contrast to misleading industry quotes

How to avoid hidden costs in your conveyancing

More than a third of conveyancing solicitors are misleading clients about the costs involved in their property sale or purchase.

A review by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) revealed that initial low quotes for conveyancing services fail to include essential fees and charges that the client must pay to complete their transaction.

Clients who choose to instruct a conveyancing solicitor through Capital Conveyancing will not, unlike those unfortunate buyers and sellers revealed by the SRA, have to pay any unexpected fees because of all our pricing is completely transparent.

We are always up front about the fees and charges involved in conveyancing services, ensuring clients stay informed and on top of their costs at all times.

Initial quote failed to include essential fees

That is not always the case as the SRA Residential Conveyancing Thematic Review has found. The industry watchdog visited a representative sample of 40 conveyancing firms to analyse 80 property transactions in detail.

The findings reveal that a third (34 percent) of initial quotes failed to include fees for the likes of bank transfers, mortgage administration fees and electronic ID checks.

All of these services are essential to complete a conveyancing transaction successfully, and so their omission from initial quotes was considered misleading by the SRA.

Imposed own charges

In some cases, the conveyancing solicitors imposed their own fee on top of the bank fee for transferring mortgage funds, in some cases 10 times the bank fee.

The SRA will now monitor how conveyancing solicitors publish their fees to ensure they offer best practice.

UK homeowners say most housing not fit for purpose

Hounslow

Two-thirds of UK homeowners say that much of Britain’s housing is not fit for purpose.

And they worry that their own home will become stuck in negative equity.

The results of the annual Homeowners’ Survey from the Homeowners’ Alliance (HOA) revealed that 63 percent of homeowners are concerned about the quality of the UK’s housing stock, while a massive 85 percent put house prices and the stress of saving for a deposit as the biggest issues in housing.

Quality of property a pressing concern

The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the HOA, BLP Insurance and architects resi.co.uk.

According to 63 percent of those quizzed by YouGov, the quality of the homes we live in is a pressing concern. In last year’s survey, 57 percent of people were worried about the quality of our housing stock.

The survey revealed the other issues that keep homeowners awake at night. The leasehold system that operates in England and Wales is a particular concern with 60 percent indicating leasehold is a serious problem, up from 42 percent in 2015.

A recent Commons committee report has called on the Government to implement urgent reform of leasehold, which affects around 4.2 million properties in England alone.

Leaseholders worry about high charges

More than a quarter (26 percent) of leaseholders said the high cost of works and management fees were a problem, while 22 percent objected to unfair service charges with 23 percent upset about the lack of control over which major works are done.

Almost half (45 percent) of homeowners, up from 40 percent last year, were worried about the practice of gazundering. This is where a buyer reduces their offer for a property just before contracts are due to be exchanged, leaving sellers either out of pocket or having to find a new buyer at the last minute.

Negative equity, where the value of a property is less than the value of its outstanding mortgage, is also a rising concern for 45 percent of those quizzed for the survey.

Kim Vernau, CEO of BLP Insurance, said: “To restore confidence in a faltering sector, more emphasis needs to be placed on improving quality of build and resisting short-term populist solutions to our deepening housing crisis.”

20,000 new homes promised in west London

London is to get two new housing communities with up to 20,000 homes alongside brand-new railway stations.

The sites are at Old Oak Common, near East Acton, in west London and at Brent Cross, in the north west of the capital.

The new stations are part of an expansion of the rail network, including HS2 and Thameslink.

Working to create communities

Government funding of £250 million will go towards providing up to 13,000 new homes close to Old Oak Common with £320 million to be spent on the Brent Cross West Thameslink station, which will eventually include 7,500 new properties.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire announced the investment, saying: “We are working to create homes, opportunities and thriving communities, especially in London, which faces the most severe and unique housing pressures in the country.

“The HS2 station at Old Oak Common will offer a new gateway to London, while a new station in Brent Cross can be the catalyst to build thousands more much-needed homes.

“Together this £570 million package of investments will allow thousands of families the opportunity to realise their dreams of home ownership. It will provide up to 20,000 new homes, support new jobs and benefit from new transport infrastructure.”

Ready within a decade

The new station at Old Oak Common is expected to be open by 2026 as part of the HS2 project, the high-speed rail link between London and Birmingham. When complete, an estimated 250,000 people per day will travel through the station.

Barnet Council will use the £320 million in funding to provide at least 7,500 homes at Brent Cross Cricklewood as part of the new Brent Cross West railway station on the Thameslink route.

The site will also feature offices and an extension to the Brent Cross shopping centre.

London home to one-third of all UK’s £1m-plus homes

A third of all £1 million-plus properties for sale in the UK are located in just five London boroughs.

New research by online estate agent housesimple.com shows there are currently more than 20,000 properties on the market with a seven-figure or greater price tag, and more than 6,700 of those are in the capital.

The study looked at the areas that host the most expensive property in the country and also revealed the types of property that attract the highest prices.

Within London, the City of Westminster has 2,595 £1m-plus properties for sale; in neighbouring Kensington & Chelsea, there are 1,701; Camden has 969; Wadsworth 964; and 536 in Southwark.

Of those seven-figure-plus properties in Westminster, 84 percent are flats; 69 percent of those on sale in Kensington & Chelsea are also flats.

South-east dominates

Housesimple.com revealed that 77 percent of the 21,484 properties on the market with an asking price of £1m upwards are in London or the Home Counties.

Further north, Cheshire (341), Greater Manchester (206) and North Yorkshire (133) are the next highest regions.

Outside of England, Edinburgh has 33 multi-million homes for sale, while Pembrokeshire has 23.

Sam Mitchell, housesimple.com’s CEO, said: “The capital remains a global city with property values to match. But for buyers who are lucky enough to have a budget of £1m plus, this is the market where you could negotiate a healthy discount.

“By looking beyond London and the south-east, wealthy buyers can maximise on space and special features, especially those looking to move from the city to the countryside … prices are still rising in counties like Yorkshire, so bargains in traditionally affluent areas such as Harrogate will be harder to come by.”

UK’s top 10

The 10 counties with the highest number of £1m-plus properties are:

Greater London 11,404

Surrey 1,992

Hertfordshire 700

Essex 685

Kent 625

Buckinghamshire 591

Sussex 588

Berkshire 460

Hampshire 413

Dorset 370

1500 new homes to be built on London Olympic site

Homes England is to help fund the creation of two new neighbourhoods on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

More than 1,500 new homes will be built in the two communities, to be known as East Wick and Sweetwater. The development will include 450 affordable homes.

Also included in the project will be schools, green spaces, business and creative space, leisure and community facilities.

Government backing private enterprise

Homes England is providing a loan of £78 million to finance the scheme’s first four phases. It’s part of a joint venture with Balfour Beatty Investments and Places for People on land owned by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC).

The Government has put  4.5 billion into a Home Building Fund to provide development and infrastructure finance to home builders, and the Homes England finance has come from this fund.

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse announced the funding, saying: “We have not built enough homes in the capital over the last 30 years, and it’s ordinary Londoners who are paying the price.

“Brick by brick we are turning that around, and this investment in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park will help get more than 1,500 properties built.”

Affordable homes included

The first phase of the East Wick and Sweetwater development is expected to be completed in summer 2021 and the whole project done by 2028.
Work has already started and will include 130 new affordable homes and 105 for private rental.

Sir Edward Lister, chairman of Homes England, said: “Homes England is committed to helping ambitious partners build quality homes at pace in the areas of greatest need.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Balfour Beatty Investments and Places for People to create the homes and neighbourhoods people in London deserve.”