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Buying and Selling Property During COVID-19

Everyone in the property industry is working hard to keep things moving during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even though we are social distancing, working from home and home-schooling our children, it doesn’t mean you can’t look for a new property. With many properties still for sale since the lockdown lots of estate agents are still working remotely in order to give you advice, property information and even hold virtual viewings and appraisals.

According to the latest figures from Zoopla, property sales have continued since the lockdown began and although, as you would expect, the number of available properties is lower, many people have kept their home on the market. In fact, figures show that the number of homes currently for sale is only 1% lower than on March 7th.

This stock is essential in order for the market to bounce back.

People are still searching

There were 70% fewer property sales since the start of coronavirus restrictions but there was an increase in the number of people browsing online for property in the second week. People are using this time to socialise online, look towards the future and being at home, many have started to see their surroundings in a new light. According to Zoopla, browsing levels have increased by 16% week on week.

The market will be affected by first time buyers keen on having their own space after lockdown, families looking for more outside space as the restrictions have made them realise the importance of a garden and we may even see some couples either make the decision to move in together or part – as the lockdown will have made people reassess their personal relationships.

Don’t withdraw your home from the market

With the number of people in lockdown and relying heavily on Internet browsing for things to do, this could be a good time to have your home on the market. If you’re already on the market – there’s no reason to withdraw it. The government hasn’t stopped property transactions from proceeding and empty property purchases can progress as normal. What’s more, mortgage brokers, lenders, solicitors and estate agents are all still working, albeit remotely. If your home is already listed with an estate agency, they can continue to market your property even though buyers won’t be able to view it in person until the current social distancing measures are lifted.

If you receive an offer on your property, there is nothing to stop you negotiating and accepting it, but you will need to be aware that the process will take longer than usual. There will be delays with the process including surveys, exchanging contracts and getting a mortgage approval.

New listings

Estate agents are still working remotely even though the branches are temporarily closed. Although they cannot come to your home for photographs and measurements, they can still provide valuations and help prep your home for sale for when the restrictions are lifted. It’s a good idea to get ahead of the game and get in touch now before they do open up again and their diaries are full. They can also talk to potential buyers about your property before it is on the market and arrange viewings for when the lockdown is over.

Searching for a home

If you are looking to buy a property you can still do things during the lockdown to get ahead. Browse homes online and take virtual tours if possible. Talk to your local agents and tell them what you are looking for – they may know of properties that will be listed for sale once the lockdown is lifted.

Talk to a mortgage broker to find out what you can borrow and the products that are currently available.

If you do find a property you can put in an offer for it, although as mentioned above, the conveyancing process is likely to be slower than usual.

Get your home market-ready

Spend this time getting your property prepped for a sale. Declutter, make repairs, tidy up the garden (gardeners are still working) and consider whether there’s any furniture you could remove from rooms and store in the loft or garage to help make the space look bigger or more appealing.

We are still helping customers to find the right mortgage during this time here at The Mortgage Hub. Talk to us today – we are here to help.

Government Advice for Movers

This week the Government issued advice to those thinking of moving or in the middle of a transaction, and it has urged buyers and sellers to adapt and be flexible.

It has been advised that if you are in the middle of a house move and a sale has been agreed, to continue with the sale – there’s no need to pull out. However it’s important that you follow guidance to stay at home to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

The new advice on house moves from the Government moves states: “Given the situation in the UK with regard to the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), we urge parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes.

“There is no need to pull out of transactions, but we all need to ensure we are following guidance to stay at home and away from others at all times, including the specific measures for those who are presenting symptoms, self-isolating or shielding. Prioritising the health of individuals and the public must be the priority.

“Where the property being moved into is vacant, then you can continue with this transaction although you should follow the guidance on home removals.

“Where the property is currently occupied, we encourage all parties to do all they can to amicably agree alternative dates to move, for a time when it is likely that stay-at-home measures against coronavirus (COVID-19) will no longer be in place.”

Therefore, it’s important that where possible you delay moving to a new property while the country fights Coronovirus. If you have already exchanged missives and the property is currently occupied then it’s important to agree a delay in order to resolve the situation or at least give yourselves enough time to have the property cleaned prior to moving in.

If moving is unavoidable and parties are unable to reach an agreement that allows flexibility then you must follow advice on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus.

Mortgage lenders are currently working to find ways to enable customers who’ve exchanged contracts to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to enable them to move at a later date.

Given that there should be no visitors to your home at present, it’s important that you do not have viewings on your property – this is not to say that your agent can’t to conduct virtual viewings so speak to them about this as an alternative.

You can still accept an offer on your property but factor in that the process will take longer and you may find that the buyer changes their mind further down the line given the volatility of the situation across the UK. However, if the property you’re buying is unoccupied you can continue with the transaction.

Talk to us if you would like further advice on buying and selling property at this time.

Mortgage Payment Holidays

Mortgage lenders over the last couple of days have set out how they will provide payment holidays for up to three months for those who are financially affected by Coronovirus (COVID-19).

Mortgage payments are often the largest outgoing for homeowners and lenders want to reassure them that they are working towards measures to support them during this very difficult and uncertain time – especially as we don’t know how long this may go on for.

If you are concerned about your current financial situation, we can help. We can talk to you about any implications a mortgage payment break could have, liaise with your lender or inform you of what you need to ask them when you do speak to them.

In the meantime, here’s a brief guide to taking a mortgage break: BLOG

Taking a Mortgage Payment Holiday

A mortgage payment holiday means that your mortgage repayment is deferred for a set period of time during which you won’t make any repayments. Interest will still accrue whilst you are on your mortgage payment holiday.

You may want to take a mortgage payment holiday due to a shortfall of income that you believe is a temporary situation. This isn’t a permanent solution because you will need to carry on making your full mortgage repayments once this period is over – usually three months. The shortfall will be made up in the future, which could be over the remaining term.

How does it work?

While you take a mortgage holiday, the capital sum of the loan remains the same while the interest accrues. At the end of the payment holiday the rules re-apply and your lender will assess your circumstances and come to an arrangement regarding repayment of the arrears. Any arrangements will minimise the risk of repossession.

Will there be a blanket repayment holiday?

At this point in time lenders are helping people on an individual basis so an automatic payment holiday for all customers isn’t necessary as not all customers will be unable to meet their repayments.

Will it affect my credit score?

Lenders have stated that because of the very unique circumstances we are facing due to COVID-19, they will be talking to credit references agencies to ensure that it will not impact their credit score. However, we advise that you check with your lender before making the decision to take a mortgage break. Each lender has a different approach for reporting to credit reference agencies, but they have made assurances that a repayment holiday won’t result in an adverse impact on your score.

How do I apply?

Lenders are offering customers who are up-to-date with their mortgage payments and impacted by COVID-19 the ability to self-certify. Usually, a lender will assess your individual finances and consider what options are suitable. However, with the sheer volume of people asking for help they have waived this for a more straightforward process.

If you believe that you have been impacted by COVID-19, talk to your lender at your earliest convenience to find out if this is a suitable option. At The Mortgage Hub we can help you so get in touch if you would like advice on applying to your lender.

Am I eligible?

If you have been in arrears with your mortgage repayments and aren’t up to date, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) rules state that lenders must ensure that any forbearance offered enables recovery through full repayment of arrears, minimises the long-term impact of arrears, and that the mortgage remains affordable and sustainable in order to ensure that your home won’t be repossessed in the future. That’s why payment holidays are a short-term solution and will not be offered if you aren’t currently up-to-date.

Renting

We advise that you contact your landlord or managing agent if you are worried about meeting your rental payment. Your landlord may be able to talk to their mortgage lender to discuss the options which could allow you to take a break in payments.

Get in touch if you’d like any advice. We’re here to help.

Coronovirus (COVID-19) and Insurance

We deal with many insurers here at The Mortgage Hub and would like to share the following general guidance on their policies in light of the current COVID-19 outbreak.

There is no exclusion on many Life Cover policies that apply to COVID-19 or other infections disease, which result in the death of the plan holder. Should you pass away as a result of COVID-19 or complications from the virus, you will receive the lump sum as set out in your plan.

If you have Serious Illness Cover (SIC) it may not be covered by Coronovirus. If the virus causes a long-term debilitating illness or condition covered by your policy, you would be eligible to claim.

With regards to Income Protection, you will be able to make a claim if you’re unable to work due to COVID-19 after the expiry of the deferred period as set out in your plan. This could include situations where quarantine is imposed by a GP and you are unable to carry out your work duties in your home environment.

Every plan and policy will differ so it’s essential that you get the correct advice. Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub and we will give you clear information and facts and look into your policy so that you know what you could be currently entitled to.

Arranging Insurance

We can arrange appropriate cover that suit your individual circumstances if required. Whether you are in an ‘at risk’ category i.e. you have an underlying health condition or are currently pregnant, we strongly advise that you get advice on the options available to you. Or perhaps COVID-19 has raised your awareness of protecting your income. We offer telephone appointments if you are currently in isolation and can talk you through the options.

Our Policy During the COVID-19 Outbreak

At The Mortgage Hub we have been working on a contingency plan to assure our clients still receive the excellent service standards that we have always achieved.

We have full remote access to all our systems should any or all of us be required to self-isolate. We want to reassure our clients that it will be business as usual during this current (COVID-19) Coronavirus outbreak and we are working hard to make sure that happens.

During this period, we are available to conduct appointments via a phone call and or over email.  This will ensure that clients can still conduct any arrangements speedily and with ease.

For visitors to our branch, the health and wellbeing of our clients and employees is of utmost importance and we are following official guidance from the UK Government. For example, our branch will be an environment where we will not shake hands with clients, staff are educated on prevention and we have elevated our already high standards of hygiene.

We believe that even during these challenging times people in Scotland will continue with buying and selling property to take advantage of the recent rate changes, and we are on hand to ensure our clients get the best mortgage deal possible.

We will monitor the situation closely and navigate this period with the health and wellbeing of everyone in mind.

If you would like to make a telephone appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact our team who will be more than happy to help.

Thank you for your support.

Investing in Property in Scotland – Glasgow Tops Buy to Let Yields

According to the latest research from Sourced Capital, Scotland currently offers the best buy-to-let yields in the UK.

Buy-to-let yields here in Scotland are currently 5.8% with Glasgow hitting an average of 7.8% followed by West Dunbartonshire at 7.2% and Inverclyde at 7.1%.

Compare this to England, the average buy-to-let yield is just 4.1% with the Burnley hitting the highest average with 6.6%. Wales currently has the worst yields at 3.6%.

House prices in 2019 were generally stagnant in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with Scotland outperforming the rest of the UK. This was a result of Brexit uncertainty and also the slowdown in the run up to the General Election. Although the market seemed to stall somewhat, rental yields saw a boost due to a fall in property values coupled with high rental demand.

Late last year there was a flurry of activity with a strong market in January with both Zoopla and Rightmove reporting the highest ever activity from buyers. This also applied to investors looking to get a foot in the door and get a good deal before prices retain momentum and the returns tighten.

For those looking to invest, now is a great time to invest in property as the market is still finding its feet.

What’s more, it has been reported that the cost of buy-to-let mortgages has fallen year-on-year. This fall in the cost of borrowing is great news for landlords as they can move to more competitive fixed rate mortgages. The biggest drop has been for five-year fixed mortgages whereas falls for two-year fixed rate buy-to-let mortgage offers were more modest.

With the current record low rates on offer landlords should act fast as interest rates could rise back to more normal rates in the not too distant future.

The decision by the government four years ago to introduce a 3% surcharge on second homes caused a mini-boom as landlords rushed to buy properties to beat the deadline and many of these landlords are coming to the end of fixed-rate mortgages and will find that the market is more favourable.

If you are looking to invest in property, talk to us at The Mortgage Hub for the best possible deal for your circumstances.

A Rise in Buyer Demand

The latest House Price Index from Zoopla shows that UK city house price growth has hit a two year high of 3.9%. In addition, figures show that housing demand was up 26% over the first few weeks of this year compared to the same period in 2018 and 2019.

This means that city house price growth is at a 2 year high. HMRC data shows that in December last year sales were 11% higher than the same period in 2018

Northern regions registered stronger price growth throughout 2019 than many of the southern cities, although there are signs that the spread of price growth across the country has been narrowing in the last few months.

A summary of factors including house affordability, position in the current housing cycle, time to sell and price achieved indicate cities where the momentum in growth over the last quarter of last year will carry into next year.

According to Zoopla, Nottingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow rank as the top three cities with the strongest prospects for 2020 indicating that they will be towards the top of a relatively narrow range of price growth this year.

An examination of market fundamentals by city – including housing affordability, position in the current housing cycle, discounts to asking price and time to sell all indicate cities where the momentum in growth over the final quarter of 2019 will likely carry over into 2020. The ranking for all cities is shown in Table 2 along with the current annual growth rate.

Nottingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow rank as the top three cities with the strongest prospects for 2020, indicating they will be towards the top end of a relatively narrow range of price growth this year. During the four weeks to January 20th this year, the demand for housing has ‘bounced’ with a 26% more people looking for a home than the same period in 2018 and 2019. In fact, all cities apart from for Belfast have recorded an increase in demand compared to the last 2 years.

Demand for housing in Edinburgh remains strong overall with 6% annual growth in prices over 2019. However, demand has levelled out in the first 4 weeks of the year compared to the last 2 years.

If you would like to take advantage of the predicted growth this year by investing in property in Edinburgh or Glasgow, talk to us at The Mortgage Hub about securing the best mortgage for your circumstances.

Scotland Popular with Cash-Rich Buyers

The Scottish prime property market is outperforming the rest of the UK, resulting in a rise in cash-rich buyers seeking property to boost their investment portfolios.

The property market in England has been somewhat stagnant with properties taking much longer to sell than their counterparts in Scotland. Property has taken an average of 69 days to sell according to figures from Zoopla, whereas the average time to sell a property in Scotland has been just 32 days with homes in Glasgow and Edinburgh selling the fastest. In addition, Edinburgh property rose by 5.4% – the highest growth in the UK.

In Scotland, homes selling for more than £1 million went up by 21% in the year from June 2018. In Britain as a whole, this figure is just 5% according to Lloyds. What’s more, the postcodes dominating these million pound homes are in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

According to research from Knight Frank, since 2016 the top ten postcodes for million pound home sales are in Edinburgh’s New Town and Morningside and Glasgow’s West End. In addition, there are new hotspots such as Murrayfield in Edinburgh where £1 million property transactions have risen by an incredible 50%.

Why is this happening?

Transport links to Scotland are strong, with Glasgow and Edinburgh international airports having direct links to the US and the Middle East. In addition, the number of private jet departures from Edinburgh and Glasgow’s airports have been on the increase for the last five years.  Buyers can purchase property with stunning architecture and scenery whilst the locations are also highly accessible.

Apart from the long term gains that investors are seeing when investing in property in Scotland, there are many areas in which the long and short-term rental markets are performing well.

What’s more, buyers from the USA have been helped by the increase in the value of the dollar.

Great schools and a high quality of life area also a pull for families moving here from overseas, with high ranking state and private schools and world-class universities. There has also been an uplift in cash-rich buyers from south of the border for these very reasons.

House prices

Scotland is a great investment area for capital appreciation. Average house prices are predicted to rise by 14% over the next two years according to PwC. The average house price is still more than 30% lower than the rest of the UK.

Golfing locations

Scotland is the home of golf and the sport has been played here since the 15th century and as such, short term lets are in high demand especially in areas such as St. Andrews. Property here featured in the top ten for number of £1 million sales as the draw for wealth Americans and Europeans remains strong. Many people who have previously rented here are choosing to buy a second home in the area.  An apartment with two bedrooms in St. Andrews will set you back around £1 million rising to £6 million plus for a four bedroom home with views over the Old Course.

Lord of the Manor

Investors from overseas are still looking towards purchasing hunting lodges, castles and vast estates. The value of property here in Scotland is high compared to England – with properties with over 100 acres setting investors back around £1.5 million according to Knight Frank. Alongside the historic properties, there has been a rise in demand for luxury conversions and penthouses in Edinburgh, boosting the £1 million plus sales.

Looking to invest?

If you are looking to invest in property our experts at The Mortgage Hub are here to help. Whether you’re looking to finance a second home or improve your investment portfolio, talk to us for the best deal for your circumstances.

Scottish Cities Feature as the Best Places to Live and Work in the UK  

According to the latest PwC Good Growth for Cities Index, Aberdeen and Edinburgh are two of the best cities in which to work and live in the UK and Glasgow is the most improved city.

The Index is based on a total of 11 indicators that demonstrate there’s more to life, work and wellbeing than GDP alone. It measures 42 cities across the UK in its national index in health, employment, income and skills, housing affordability, commuting times, environmental factors, income inequality, and the number of new business start-ups.

The Index uses statistics on income, jobs growth and skills development opportunities to assess how well a city is performing. Glasgow has increased in position from the last Index published due to its improvement led by a strong performance in the jobs metric where it was 11th out of 42 cities measured. In addition, Glasgow performed well with other factors including work-life balance, skills and income distribution. Recent statistics from Zoopla have also shown that not only is Glasgow one of the most affordable places to live in the UK with the strongest income to house price ratio, but is also the fastest moving property market alongside Edinburgh. 

The top city in the UK is Oxford followed by Reading but of the three Scottish cities that made the Index; Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Aberdeen scored above the national average in seven of the 11 indicators due to improvements in health, work-life balance, housing and affordability and income distribution. It was also top in the UK when measuring house prices compared to earnings.

Edinburgh saw increases in five indicators including jobs growth, income and work-life balance but house price increases leading to a further fall in owner occupation meant that the earnings, house price ratio was below the national average. In addition, transport was the worst performing variable.

If you are looking to buy a property in Scotland talk to The Mortgage Hub about securing a mortgage for either a residential property or an investment opportunity. We’ll be happy to help. 

Mortgage Activity in Scotland Increases

The Scotland Mortgage Market saw notable increases in mortgage activity from April to June this year despite a dip across London, according to UK Finance. In fact, this quarterly mortgage activity increased by almost £600m in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Of this combined growth, Scotland accounted for over half at £373m when compared to the same period in 2018.

These increases were driven by higher transaction numbers across all buyers including second and third time buyers, first time buyers and those who were remortgaging. First time buyer numbers rose by 3.5% in Scotland to 9,160 which is the highest rise since 2017.

In addition, there was a 6.4% rise in those moving home with remortgaging up 15.3% in Scotland which were stronger figures than the Northern Ireland and Wales counterparts.

When looking at the UK property market as a whole, the figures have been dragged down by activity (or lack of it) in London. For example, compared to the 3.5% rise in Scotland, there was a 3% decrease in new home mortgages and compared to the 6.5% rise in remortgaging there was a 9.5% decrease in London.

This demonstrates the strength of the property market here in Scotland compared to London and indeed the rest of the UK. London impacts the national figures so it’s important to look at the figures in individual regions to get a true picture of what is going on in terms of mortgage activity. The housing market is slow in London, especially for home movers, but is still performing well in Scotland where prices are lower and affordability is much better.

Talk to us at The Mortgage Hub if you would like to independent, professional mortgage advice. We’re here to help.

The Mortgage Hub is an independent mortgage advisor serving the greater Glasgow area. Whether you are planning to buy your very first home and need the right first time buyer mortgage, or are looking to re-mortgage due to a house move or to growing family – we understand your journey is so much more than a financial process, it’s a journey to achieve your dreams, improve your lifestyle and achieve your true potential.