A buyers Market, not a sellers…

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the entire world.

Millions have lost their jobs. Off of the back of this, many will have to take payment holidays on their mortgages, some may eventually fall behind on mortgage payments and some may even lose their homes due to repossession. 

What does this mean for the market?

I’m going to focus on 2 things today.

  1. It will be a buyers market, not a sellers 
  2. Lenders will have to recover a lot of unpaid debt and be a lot more frugal with who they lend to

What does this mean for you? 

The person with a home to sell…

  • Now is the time! Sell as soon as possible and sit on the funds. Move in with family, think about short term renting and sit on the proceeds of the sale as in a few months, you will be able to buy a bigger house for a lot less.
  • Fast forward a few months… If you take too long to take the leap to put your property up for sale, you may need to take an Offer much less than what you wished for.

Are you in a chain? There’ll be more about what can do next week… 

 The person with a home to buy…

  • Hold your horses. There are going to be many houses to choose from and many people desperate to sell them so this may work in your favour when it comes to negotiating on price. 
  • You may need to front more deposit than you may have initially planned due to Mortgage products being quite unstable. 90% Mortgages which require a 10% deposit have been pulled and reintroduced week by week. Lenders may also be a lot more picky with who they lend to, request much more information and be much quicker to decline applicants who don’t fit within their risk appetite 

Key take aways

Home Sellers

  • The time is now!

Home Buyers

  • Be patient. Fix your credit & save save save!

All information on my blog is opinion driven based on market trends, statistics and forecasts regarding the current situation. 

*Photo Source https://www.standard.co.uk/news/estate-agents-face-ban-on-for-sale-signs-6781275.html

Questions to ask when viewing a property

1. When was the last time the *electrics were checked? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

2. Has there ever been any water damage to the property? Flood, roof leak etc.

3. How long has the property been on the market?

4. Roughly how much are the monthly property related bills? Water, gas, electric, council tax, Building insurance2, internet

5. How old is the roof? (Particularly important for Victorian/Edwardian houses, not so relevant for New Builds)

6. Have the owners done any renovations within the last 5 years?

7. How long have the owners lived here?

8. How far is the supermarket/train station?

9. What is the parking like? Do you have an allocated spot, drive way or is it first come first served?

10. Whats the crime like in the area? 

11. Does the property have a restrictive 3covenant? If the Agent is unsure, dig!

12. Is there a 4chain? How quickly does/can the owner want to proceed to completion?

Ultimately, the seller/agent has one goal, sell the property! Take what they say with a pinch of salt and do some research of your own. Ask friends that live in/know of the area. Get a feel for the vibe on the street.

Go to your official viewing in the day and once you feel like you are willing to proceed with the purchase, visit the property and its surrounding area in the night to get a real feel for what it’d be like living there. Pay close attention to noise, anti social behaviour, over crowded parking etc. 

1Electrics are particularly important, you can reasonably knock off £10,000 from the asking price of a property if the electrics have not been given the once over within the last 10 years. This is something you will definitely have to get done as soon as possible, this involves checking plug sockets, making sure no wires/cable are frayed and checking that the lights are working properly with no buzzing sound. Worse case scenario you will have to rewire the property. Rewiring a property is not cheap, but if required, is essential for older houses to prevent electrical fault damage which can ultimately lead to fires etc. 

2Building insurance is a necessity and legal requirement for a House. It is not required for a flat as you are covered under the ground rent that you pay to the Landlord/Freeholder. 

3A restrictive covenant can encourage neighbours to be to create harmony and deter anti social behaviour. It can also prevent you from carrying out certain actions like extensions, loft conversions or converting the house in to flats etc.

Obtain copies of the properties title from the official Land Registry website to be sure there’s no surprises.

4A property chain is created when more than one buyer is involved in a transaction. For example, say you are buying a home from someone and they are moving to a new home they are buying from another. That is an upward property chain, meaning that your completion date (when you move in) is likely to be affected by the date when your seller can move into their new home too.

If you’d like to add to the list of questions to ask when viewing a property, feel free to comment below. Happy House Hunting!

How does Equity work?

The concept of equity is quite simple and in practice is a great way to see a return from an investment.

Whether you are purchasing a family home or a buy to let property for rental purposes, the location and aesthetics of the property are crucial for its potential.   

E.g

2016
Purchase Price £220,000 
Mortgage Attained £198,000 (10% Deposit)
4 Bed property bought just outside of the M25 
Walking distance from station
Local supermarkets not far
Good school catchment area
En-suite Bathroom

2020
The same house sells for £300,000
The Mortgage balance has been decreasing repayment after repayment for the last 4 year
Mortgage Balance (guesstimate) £188,000 (Dependent on interest rate)

This means that on the property you bought for £220,000 in 2016, you have made £80,000 as the value has gone up by this much across the 4 years.

When you sell the property for £300,000 you will clear the remaining Mortgage balance of £188,000 and be left with £112,000

You will then have other fees like solicitor fees, capital gains tax (on the *gain, not the sale price) and if you sold your property before the fee free period on the Mortgage product you are locked in to, you may have to pay an exit fee.

*The gain here is £80,000

All in all, worse case scenario you are left with £90,000. That is a profit of £68,000 when you take away the £22,000 deposit you initial invested for the property.

This is why many people buy properties well outside of London, fix them up and then sell them on. The money that can be made is mind blowing. However, that is only possible if you get it right!

Next week I will be speaking about what questions to ask and what to look out for when you go for a house viewing.

The Enemy: Japanese Knotweed

What is Japanese Knotweed?

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is a weed that spreads rapidly. In winter the plant dies back to ground level but by early summer the bamboo-like stems emerge from rhizomes deep underground to shoot to over 7ft, suppressing all other plant growth.

Why having Japanese Knotweed at a property is a no go…

It’s pretty self explanatory, but from a Mortgage perspective, most surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a negative find at a property and will deem a property unsuitable for Mortgage purposes due to the aggressiveness of it. However other surveyors will note Japanese Knotweed as a problem and insist that it is seen to and removed by a specialist before giving the property a value.

Loopholes

Not all home owners know that their property has Japanese Knotweed, which means potential buyers won’t know either and if not noticed when a survey is done on the property, good news, you’ve got away with it. However when you decide to move on and the weed has grown out of control and is noticeable, you may find it very costly and difficult to get the property off of your hands.

It’s not a good idea to hide the presence of knotweed

Whilst it may make the sale easier, the TA6 form now has a specific question about knotweed.  Concealing the presence of knotweed could prove to be an expensive mistake, as the buyer may have a case for misrepresentation and against the seller and report the acting agent to the authorities for breach of CPR regulations. 

What can be done… 

Removal

  1. The two main knotweed removal methods are herbicide treatment and physical removal. 
  • Herbicide Treatment is lower in cost but takes at least one growing season, often more. It’s the least disruptive method, but not suitable where there are plans that result in substantial disturbance of the the ground e.g. construction or landscaping works.
  • Physical Removal such as Environet’s Resi-dig-out™. This eco-innovative removal method can be completed any time of the year, and takes a matter of days. 

2. Don’t buy that property if Japanese Knotweed is present. Do your due diligence.

Financial Hack: You don’t like your job? Quit then!

Work life balance is ever so important. We tend to spend the most time at work, more than we do with our family.  Hating your job, manager or assigned tasks isn’t good for you or your general well-being. 

Today’s post is slightly different. It comes in the form of a video.

I have a special guest talking about his real life decisions and how he quit the job that he didn’t like without having a new perspective employer lined up.

PERSEVERE 

In short, Joseph went from working in a Corporate Bank as a Business Portfolio Manager to the Learning and Development space. He initially took a pay cut, but over the course of a few years, his salary sky rocketed, as did his morale and joy at work.

If you have any questions or find yourself in a similar position to Joseph and would like to discuss things further, please feel free to reach out to either of us on LinkedIn and we’d be more than happy to help.

Click the links below…

Joseph’s LinkedIn

Ashanta’s LinkedIn

Financial Hack: How long would you be able to pay your bills for if you were to lose your job tomorrow? Build your emergency fund, Thailand can wait.

At the beginning of 2020 my husband and I decided to house hunt. We bought our apartment 4 years ago, renovated and thought it was a good time to upsize.

We had a budget, we knew the area we wanted to settle down in and knew that our next move would be for the long term. 

Ideally we wanted a project. Something that was nice enough to move in to straight away, however somewhere that had room for a back extension and loft conversion.

Deal breaker. He needs his space – games room and I need mine, an office.

We made 3 offers on 3 separate properties. 2 Offers were accepted and then BAM Covid-19 triggers a lockdown.

This was a bitter sweet situation as we were given time to truly analyse and think about what we were spearheading in to.

We are living in uncertain times and it is said that it will be a while before life is truly back to normal and in many ways, we’re going to have to accept a new normal.   

Why I gave up my 4 Bedroom Detached House hunt and decided to stay in my 2 Bedroom Apartment a few more years…

After a self analysis of our finances and various eventualities we decided to remain put.

In our current state we knew that if one of us were to lose our jobs, the other could pay the bills 3x over before it became a strain. 

We knew that if both of us lost our jobs, we had enough savings to carry us over for a few months paying the bills whilst we hunted for new jobs.

If we were to upsize and take on a project this wouldn’t necessary be the case.

We’d essentially be taking on much higher outgoings because I wanted a shiny new house and project to get my paws in to – a want, not a need. 

The take away from this experience is to stay where you are until you outgrow your home and are bursting out of the seams. Or until you can financially make the move without any strain, taking all eventualities in to consideration. No one knows what tomorrow holds.

Keep those outgoings low.

Save. Save. Save.

Save. Save. Save and when it is time to upsize, you can do so effortlessly.

There’s a time to save, time to build and a time to enjoy what you’ve built. 

Tip: You should have enough savings to carry you through 3 months of a rough period. These savings will pay your Mortgage, utility bills and basic essential costs of living (travel, food etc.)

Why?
Theres an average of about a 3 month period from being made redundant to securing a new job and receiving your first “normal” pay cheque.

Build your emergency fund, Thailand can wait.

Financial Hack: Treat your personal finances like a business

At the end of 2019, my husband and I sat together to draw up our plan for 2020. We divided the year in to 4 quarters. January – March being Q1, April – June being Q2 etc. You get the gist. I’m sure your company works in a similar way when setting financial targets for the financial year.

Q1 has drawn to a close and we sat down, reviewed the targets we had set and were overwhelmed with how much we were able to achieve. Some goals we surpassed and some goals we will have to take in to Q2 as they were incomplete.

The country is currently on lockdown and we’re about to go in to an inevitable recession given the financial strain this epidemic has had across the board. Weddings have had to be cancelled, companies have gone in to administration and let’s not forget the thousands in the UK and across the world that have unfortunately lost their lives.

Taking the above in to consideration what have you had to make redundant in your life? What luxury/ habit have you had to put on pause or downgraded a little?

Treat your personal finances like a business. Cut back, make sure you have a crisis fund, but most importantly, hit those targets!

Mortgage Payment Holidays: What happens after the 3 months are up…

Mortgage Payment Holidays – You do not get to miss 3 months worth of Mortgage Payments and then continue with your usual payments there after. 

The Mortgage payments that you miss during the holiday period are added to the overall balance of your Mortgage. 

Once the holiday period is over, your new monthly Mortgage payments are higher as your Mortgage balance would have increased due to the 3 months of missed payments being added. 

Your new monthly payments will increase by £10 – £100 or so. This is dependent on your current monthly payment amounts, current interest rate and overall outstanding mortgage balance. 

Find out the facts. Know how much your monthly payments will increase by before committing to a Mortgage payment Holiday… 

The 3 month break is great, especially if you’ve lost your job, have been placed on furlough or are going through financial difficulty, however once that time has passed, your monthly outgoings will increase and won’t be what they once were. 

Some people have panicked and taken a Mortgage holiday because the option is there, it was all over the news and they thought, “why not?”. However in 3 months time, these people will be less pleased when their monthly payments increase by £80 and disrupt their monthly outgoings. 

During the holiday period, save as much as you can so that you are prepared for any further rainy days.

Alternatively, if you can, plough on, cut back a little and avoid the payment holiday all together. 

Financial Hack: So nice, I had to buy it twice!

The best piece of advice I received growing up was, “If you can’t buy it twice over, you can’t afford it”.

Of course the above doesn’t apply to the acquisition of a property as this is a life changing purchase and something many save years for. However, if you want to be a home owner, you have to be disciplined, you have to save!

I love me a bit of online shopping and I also went through a phase where I loved brands! I moved out of home when I was 18 and lived in one of my dads properties. I covered the electric, gas, shopping, council tax etc. This move was primarily to teach me the cost of life, responsibility and most importantly discipline!

There came a time where I became disheartened because I couldn’t shop as freely as I use to when I lived at home, or would often find myself in a spot of bother towards the end of the month and have to ask my mum to save me. That’s when she delivered this gem, she sat me down and amongst many things, the word that stood out for me is when she said, “If you can’t buy it twice over, you can’t afford it”.

Since then, I have lived by this word and have never found myself in a spot of financial trouble. I live within my means and if I do buy a luxury item, I have enough free cash to buy it two, even three times over. 

I never wanted to be that person that bought a Louis Vuitton bag on pay day, but had to walk to work and eat buttered bread for the remainder of the month because I lived way above my means.  

Lesson:

Don’t be afraid to be fugal – tight! Weigh up your needs vs. your wants.

If you can’t buy it twice and have surplus funds in your account, then you can’t afford it!