Real Estate

While leaving your home to a family member is a very generous act, there is the matter of inheritance tax to think about.

One of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Benjamin Franklin was once attributed to saying that ‘nothing is certain except for death and taxes.’ Combining the two in the form of inheritance tax seems to only add salt to the wound. Often referred to as “death tax”, inheritance tax is levied on the estate of someone who has passed away. Although this tax only impacts a small number of estates, approximately around 4% in 2014/2015, the amount of revenue has increased annually.  As property prices increase, so will the number of people who will be liable to pay the tax.

When does inheritance tax occur?

Inheritance tax is charged at 40% on assets above the current tax-free threshold of £325,000 for an individual and £650,000 for a married couple. Amendments which were introduced in 2017 mean an individual can now transfer an additional £125,000 during the 2018/2019 tax year to their direct descendants, this increases to £150,000 in the 2019/2020 tax year, rising again to £175,000 in 2020/2021.

It is imperative to ensure the right people benefit when you pass away. If you die without a will in place, your estate will be dispersed according to intestacy rules and may attract a higher level of tax.

Is there a way of avoiding inheritance tax?

While inheritance legislation is complicated, there are a lot of ways in which you can legally avoid paying inheritance tax. One of the best ways is reducing the value of your estate by gifting sums of up to £3,000. Every year gifts of up to £3,000 can be given to your spouse or legal partner, a registered charity or a political party and are inheritance tax free. The legislation allows for other types of gifts too, such as variable amounts for weddings or civil ceremonies, the value of which is determined by your relationship. The golden thread is that you must not benefit from the money or assets you give away, because if you do, your estate will still have to pay inheritance tax.

Larger gifts

It is possible to give away larger amounts, however, it is far more complex, and you must live for seven years for it to be completely tax free. It is also important to note that, while you might not need the excess cash now, it may be needed later in life, so take that into account before gifting larger sums of money. Concerns about gifting to younger children or grandchildren can be allayed by setting up trust funds to ensure the money is spent wisely.

Tax relief investments

Certain investments, such as a trust fund, do qualify for tax relief provided they are structured in the right way. Remember, however, all investments carry a level of risk and should be assessed on its merit as a sound investment, rather than a means of tax avoidance.

Another effective and essential part of the planning is taking out life insurance, which can be placed in a trust so that your executors can pay any outstanding tax outside your estate.

Before you give everything away though, remember to enjoy the money you’ve worked for and spend it. There’s no need to live on a tight budget just to save money that will be taxed.

Looking for further advice on property related matters, then contact us on 020 8519 2000.



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Newly released figures from Barclays have revealed that many home movers are being caught out by additional costs that they didn’t factor in to their budget.

Newly released figures from Barclays have revealed that many home movers are being caught out by additional costs that they didn’t factor in to their budget.

Analysis from Barclays Mortgages shows the average upfront cost of moving home in the UK, including estate agent, legal and surveyor fees, land registry, EPC and stamp duty, is £7,641, on top of the purchase price. Meanwhile, the average unexpected associated costs can add up to £1,690, meaning homeowners are stumping up £9,331 on average in total home moving costs.

Upfront moving costs

The analysis looked at the average upfront cost of moving by city across the country, and found that costs vary significantly. Liverpool residents expect to pay just £2,787, compared to a whopping £22,417 spent in upfront costs for those looking to purchase a typical property in London.

For homebuyers also selling their own property, estate agent fees can play a major part in costs. For example, those selling a property in Oxford on average pay £5,783 in estate agents fees compared to £1,780 in Glasgow.

Stamp duty can equally cause a financial headache for those looking to move. In London, where the average house price is currently £482,200, homebuyers have to find typically £14,110 in stamp duty. House hunters in Oxford and Cambridge have on average similarly large stamp duty bills to pay too, with £10,365 and £11,130 respectively. But it’s not all bad news. Those looking to buy in Liverpool, where the average house price is £123,000, would not have to pay stamp duty on a house of this value, under the current stamp duty threshold of £125,000.

On top of this, building insurance costs can amount to £107 and a survey – although not a legal requirement but recommended – will set you back a further £550. An energy performance certificate is a legal requirement, which adds an additional £90 on average.

Associated costs of moving

In addition to these largely anticipated costs, many home movers are being caught out with a number of unexpected costs, including childcare, self-storage, decorating and pet-sitting fees. Indeed, nearly one in two (47 per cent) say they have incurred such costs as a result of moving property3.

The most commonly unanticipated costs nationwide include buying new furniture that didn’t fit in the new home (43 per cent), decorators/DIY help (34 per cent) and the need to buy takeaways for the first few weeks after moving in the absence of a fully functioning kitchen (26 per cent). Bristol and Belfast pay the most in unforeseen costs on average, while London the least.

Hannah Bernard, Head of Mortgages at Barclays, said: “Buying a house is a huge financial moment and the lead up to your dream home should be as stress-free as possible. Our findings show that on top of the burden of expected costs, homebuyers are getting caught out by additional costs that aren’t included in the asking price.

To balance the budget, try to plan ahead and really challenge what home move costs you could cut down, or better yet, if there are any you can cut out. Enlisting friends and family to help out could really save the pounds too. Our Barclays app helps customers plan ahead and see their payments in a calendar view, making it really simple to balance outgoings.”

The cost to wellbeing

Whilst the hidden financial implications are high, moving properties can also have a negative impact on mental health. Of those surveyed, 42 per cent admitted that moving home made them feel worried and anxious, while almost one in six (17 per cent) said that the stress of the move had a negative impact on their mental health.

Two-fifths (40 per cent) of home buyers believed it took them between three to six months to feel settled and in control again following a big move. Nearly half (46 per cent) named solicitor delays as the main factor impacting their mental wellbeing, with financial pressure (45 per cent) coming a close second.

The research also revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of homebuyers admitted to not being prepared for moving financially, underestimating the overall costs involved. This has resulted in 54 per cent admitting to needing to lean on family members for financial support to deal with the unexpected costs of moving – putting additional strain on their mental wellbeing.

Hannah Bernard continues: “Whether it’s storage for belongings, parking and removal vans or even childcare, buying a new house can really take its toll on finances at a time when home movers will be feeling the pinch. We know that financial pressures are a principal contributor to stress and anxiety around a house move. Being prepared for any last minute costs is a first step to make that milestone as smooth as possible.”


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London isnt simply a place to live; its an experience that gets into your blood! Theres no getting away from it – living in London really will change your life in all kinds of ways you probably never expected. Youve been warned

  • Weird clothing becomes the norm. In fact, youll soon not give even the most outrageous of garb worn on the street a second glance.
  • Being surrounded by awesome history, and seeing such delights as The Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey on a daily basis kind of spoils you
  • Youll become obsessed by the weather! Talking about it isnt the British national pastime for nothing, you know. The ability to enjoy (or should we say endure) rain, sun, wind, hail, snow, warm and cold all in a period of a few hours means youll soon be talking (or at least thinking) about the weather more than you ever thought possible.
  • On the same subject, a foldable umbrella will become part of your every-day arsenal, even if the weather man swears that its going to be sunny all day.
  • Youll learn to queue – AKA, stand in line. Because one thing you never do in London (or the UK, for that matter), is queue jump. And if you see someone else doing it, its obligatory to complain about them in a tone thats loud enough to be conveyed to the person next to you, but not quite loud enough for the individual in question to hear.
  • Seeing a person fail to stand on the right on an escalator is a crime worthy of punishment. What, you mean tourists dont have to take a Londontest before theyre allowed entry!
  • And talking of tourists, youll develop an unreasonable annoyance towards anyone wearing a backpack or carrying luggage on The Tube during rush hour.
  • The wildlife is amazingly varied. Seeing foxes on the empty night streets and parakeets flying in some of Londons famous parks simply becomes normal.
  • Youll learn to love the fact that some of the oldest buildings in the world, such as The Tower of London, can stand in the shadow of mankinds most recent creations, like the towering Shard.
  • Going out for the evening never again needs a designated driver, thanks to being able to get home on The Tube, or, if its a proper late night, braving one of Londons infamous night buses.
  • When the sun comes out, its almost law to head to one of Londons beautiful parks during your lunch hour and bare your skin to the rays (even if the mercury has barely reached 20 degrees!).
  • Clothes shopping takes on a new meaning, and you learn to never, ever hit Oxford Street on a weekend or public holiday – because every other person seems to have had the same idea
  • You refer to your Oyster Card without batting an eyelid. After all, it makes perfect sense to name a travel card after a seafood mollusc, doesn’t it!
  • Forget smiling at strangers or striking up a conversation. In London, you might as well be a mad axe murderer if you attempt such shenanigans.
  • You develop the Londonway of crossing roads. Forget what the traffic signals tell you – if you see a gap, youll learn to run
  • Wherever else you move to in the world, youll take a little piece of London with you. With its amazing architecture, ancient history, infamous monarchy, strange traditions and quirky habits, the city will forever hold a special place in your heart, no matter how short or long you live here.


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Home buying comes with a number of different questions that you want answering yet there is no reason why home sellers won’t also have unanswered thoughts running around their head. Whilst the selling and buying of homes are completely unique processes, with a little preparation both can be stress and hassle-free.

When is the best time to sell my house?

Everyone wants to know the answer to this question but no one has the answer. Reports suggest that spring is the preferred time yet the truth is that people buy houses in spring, summer, autumn and winter. Only you can decide when the best time to sell is based on your financial and personal situation.

How is the market right now?

Once again, this question is common in the property industry. Instead of looking at the market as a whole look at the local market. Take into consideration how much similar properties sold for and how long they were on the market for. Even though negative stories regarding the UK property market may be fluent in the news, at the end of the day, people are always going to want houses.

How should I prepare my home for a sale?

First impressions are huge so make it a good one. Consider what buyers may think when they drive up to your property. Is it attractive, clean, welcoming and well-maintained? Kerb appeal is what brings potential buyers in and sets your home apart from the competition.

Once inside, your property should be clean and a bunch of flowers and a scented candle will make all the difference. Repair any problems and take down anything that largely relates to your family or political/religious stance. You want to allow buyers to envision their own family inside.

What should and shouldn’t I tell potential buyers?

It’s important to let a potential buyer know of any defects. The old saying ‘treat people how you would want to be treated’ applies. If you are aware of any problems then it’s best to try and get these fixed before putting your property up for sale or negotiate the price to include the cost to fix them.

How much is my property worth?

This question is one that every seller wants answered but one that cannot be answered with a general response. However there are a number of ways to ensure that your property is worth the higher spectrum including bathroom and kitchen renovations. Take a look at the local market to see how much similar properties sold for but only use this as a guide.

How do you determine how much my home is worth?

As well as a comparative market report, things such as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the state of the kitchen, window quality, location, roof age and style of the property will also be taken into consideration to determine its worth.

What happens if I change my mind?

Don’t worry! An offer to buy or sell a property is not legally binding in England and Wales until contracts are exchanged. After this, there may be some legal implications but before any contracts have been signed, you just have to cover any estate agency fees.

Shall I leave appliances or not?

Some buyers appreciate appliances and big furniture items being left but some would prefer you didn’t. If you can’t make up your mind and know you don’t want to take the items with you, give the buyer an option and offer a slightly reduced price if they don’t want them.

Should I be present when someone is viewing my home?

There is no right or wrong answer here but many sellers forget that their own behaviour says a million words. If you’re frosty, rude and bored then your property will have the same negative feeling. Some buyers will also feel more confident asking questions if the seller isn’t present.

How long will the process take?

This depends on the property and anyone involved in the chain. As a guide, look at the local market to compare how long similar properties were on the market for and when offers come in, ask whether the potential buyer is waiting to sell their property before they move. There is no definitive answer.

Remember asking questions is the only way to enlighten yourself so the more you ask, the less confused you’ll be. Good luck selling! If you are thinking of selling and have any questions, please get in touch.

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Getting your foot on the first rung of the property ladder is no mean feat these days. Once you’ve saved up your deposit, you need to choose an affordable location.


The research shows that across the UK the net salary available would allow a home buyer to save a 10% deposit on the average house price in just 11.4 months. While there are 30 or so lenders currently offering 5% deposits, working based on a 10% deposit will allow first-time buyers to secure a better interest rate which is more beneficial in the long run.

The North East offers the best mix of money and property affordability with an average time of just 7 months required to save a 10% deposit. The North West and Yorkshire and Humber are also home to a time to save below 10 months.

London (17.9) and the South East (14.7) are predictably the worst regions to live in when it comes to the money available to save for a deposit.

Burnley is the best place to buy a house, with the net salary available totting up to a 10% mortgage deposit in just 4.7 months, providing the quickest, most affordable foot on the ladder when considering the wage available.

Pendle in Lancashire ranks second at 5.1 months, with East Ayrshire in Scotland, Hyndburn and County Durham all home to a net salary that would total a 10% mortgage deposit in 5.3 months.

Copeland, Hartlepool, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent and West Dunbartonshire also make the top 10 at 5.9 months or below.

In contrast, London dominates the top 10 longest times to accumulate a 10% deposit, with the City of London the least affordable foot on the ladder at 25.7 months. Hackney, Haringey, Brent, Camden, Barnet and Hammersmith and Fulham are also amongst the worst.

Oxford is the only entry into the top 10 longest outside of the capital, with it taking 20.6 months to accrue a 10% deposit on the net salary available.



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The figure is supported by strong growth in Wales of 6.7%, up from 3.9% in March 2019

Average house prices in the UK increased by 1.4% in the year to April, down from 1.6% in March, according to the latest UK House Price Index from the Land Registry and the ONS.

The figure is supported by strong growth in Wales of 6.7%, up from 3.9% in March 2019. This strengthening in the annual growth rate for Wales is due to both strong growth between March and April (2.4%) and falling prices (0.3%) between March and April 2018. Falling prices last year can be linked to Land Transaction Tax replacing UK Stamp Duty Land Tax in Wales from April 2018.

The average house price in England increased by 1.1% over the year to April 2019, down slightly from 1.3% in March 2019. House prices in Scotland increased by 1.6% in the year to April 2019, down from 3.5% in the year to March 2019.

Northern Ireland house prices increased by 3.5% over the year to Q1.

By region, the lowest annual growth was in London, where prices fell by 1.2% over the year to April 2019, up from a fall of 2.5% in March 2019.

The East Midlands was the English region with the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 2.9% in the year to April 2019. This was followed by the North West, with prices increasing by 2.6%.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices in the UK increased by 0.7% between March and April, compared with a rise of 1.0% in average prices during the same period a year earlier. On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices in the UK saw a monthly fall of 0.2%.



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According to the latest research from Close Brothers, 47% of non-homeowning employees in the UK don’t believe they will ever be able to afford to get on the property ladder.

The Close Brothers Financial Wellbeing Index, developed in conjunction with renowned corporate wellbeing expert Professor Sir Cary Cooper, shows this is despite homeownership remaining an aspiration for 65% of non-homeowners.

Average house prices in Britain have skyrocketed by more than 270% over the past two decades, according to the ONS. This has pushed back the age that people become homeowners by at least eight years since 1997. There is potential for improvement here as house price growth is at the lowest annual rate since September 2012; if growth continues to stagnate while wages improve, homeownership could become a more feasible ambition.

But to successfully save for a property, employees must have a financial plan in place. Concerningly, four in ten employees said they don’t know where to start when it comes to getting onto the housing ladder; this more than anything highlights the importance of offering employees the right advice to help them reach their long-term savings goals.

Financial wellbeing isn’t straightforward for property owners either. Two thirds (63%) of employees would expect to see their housing costs increase in the case of an interest rate rise. Of these, 65% said that this is because they have a variable rate mortgage. Millennials are most exposed; 76% would see housing costs rise in the case of a rate rise.

FTB neg 1

In the Financial Wellbeing Index, employees score their wellbeing in each of the seven areas of financial health. Employees across the UK scored an average of just 53.6 out of 100. Within the property category specifically, financial health in the UK is higher, with an average score of 61.2. This higher score reflects the fact that the majority of employees (67%) believe their housing costs are affordable, and also that the average amount spent on housing is quite reasonable; two fifths of their monthly salary. We cannot ignore though that over a quarter (27%) of UK employees are spending more than 50% of their monthly income on housing costs, and 10% are spending over 70%.

Jeanette Makings, Head of Financial Education at Close Brothers said: “Housing is a key area of financial wellbeing, and it’s heartening to see that employees record a relatively strong score here. However, there seems to be a gap between perception and reality. While there’s confidence around affordability, a huge proportion of people’s salaries are going on housing costs. This makes saving for the future more difficult and contributes to the scale of uncertainty when it comes to taking the first step onto the property ladder.

All of these issues can be improved by a solid financial education programme, supporting employees in their ambitions be they short or long term. Employers can help employees in this respect, improving their financial health and creating a happier and more productive workforce.”

Professor Sir Cary Cooper, a leading expert in workplace wellbeing, ALLIANCE Manchester Business School, University of Manchester said: “Shelter is an absolute necessity and being worried about housing affordability can unsurprisingly damage a person’s wellbeing regardless of whether they’re at home or work. Whether it be paying the rent, taking the leap as a first-time buyer, or the impact of a variable interest rate in times of economic uncertainty, it’s vital that employees are comfortable and confident in how to approach their finances when it comes to housing.”


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Following the introduction of the Tenant Fees Act next month, landlords and renters will increasingly appreciate the level of service provided by the country’s best traditional letting agents, according to Tenant Shop.

The utility management service says that due to the financial pressures the ban on fees will put on letting agents, only the best-equipped will succeed as we move through the second half of 2019 and into 2020.

The traditional approach is best

In a post-fees market, letting agencies that take a traditional approach with a focus on high customer service will be of huge value to landlords.

With tenants no longer paying upfront fees, it will be vital that agents help landlords to properly vet prospective renters and ensure that all aspects of the move-in/move-out process – including notifying local councils and utility companies about tenancy changeovers and dealing with stray bills – are handled professionally and efficiently.

“The introduction of the Tenant Fees Act is the most significant change to the private rental sector in recent years and landlords will need full service traditional letting agents they can rely on,” says Glenn Seddington, managing director of Tenant Shop, an Inchora company.

“Having the right tenant referencing, contractual and deposit systems in place will become even more important, as will remain compliant with the new legislation.”

“Letting agents can also prove their worth to consumers by providing a comprehensive, knowledgeable and personal service at a time of huge industry change when people will need reassurance and expert advice,” he says.

Building an offering for the future

As many landlords consider their options following management fee increases brought about by the fees ban, agencies can make their offering stand out by showing clearly the range of expert services they provide for their fee.

“It’s this kind of approach with an emphasis on full service and demonstrating the value for money available to landlords which will see the very best traditional agents take centre stage once the fees ban becomes law”.


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The Bank currently serves over 23,000 customers with total lending balances of £3.7bn.

Tesco Bank ceases mortgage lending

The Bank says it will consider the complete transfer of related balances and ongoing administration of relevant accounts.

The Bank, which has offered mortgages since 2012, currently serves over 23,000 customers with total lending balances of £3.7bn.

Gerry Mallon, chief executive of Tesco Bank, said: “In recent years, challenging market conditions have limited profitable growth opportunities. Our focus is on how we best serve Tesco customers and align our resources effectively to their needs while ensuring that our offer remains sustainable in the long term.

“To that end, we have made the strategic decision to focus on serving a broader range of customers in more specific areas, which means moving away from our mortgage offer. We have therefore chosen to cease lending to new customers and announce our intention to explore a sale of our portfolio. Our priority in any sale, is to complete a commercially acceptable transaction with a purchaser who will continue to serve our customers well.”



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Explore the reasons why people rent instead of buying.


As you would expect, affordability is a major factor. And indeed, most respondents said they were renting because they simply didn’t have the means to buy their own property. According to the numbers, 56.30% said that couldn’t afford a deposit and 29% said that they were unable to qualify for a mortgage.

Of those who are struggling to save for a deposit, 64.40% could only rely on their own funds for a deposit and only 22.45% said that they were actively saving up to buy a house.

When looking at age groups, the survey shows that those aged between 35 and 44 were struggling the most with buying their own home. Out of everyone surveyed in this cohort, 64.23% said they couldn’t afford a deposit, which was the highest percentage out of all cohorts surveyed.

This was closely followed by respondents aged between 25 and 34 (62.96%), however, this group had the most respondents saying that they were actively saving for a deposit (34.76%).


With 26.10% of respondents saying they rent because it suits their lifestyle, the convenience of the sector is clearly important. This was especially evident with the oldest and youngest age groups surveyed.

Out of all respondents, those aged 18-24 mostly said that renting suited their lifestyle (47.15%) and that they didn’t want to be tied down to one location (22.05%).

Respondents aged 55 and over had the second highest number of respondents saying that renting suited their lifestyle (34.66%), they also were the most likely to say that they didn’t want the commitment of maintaining a property (24.55%) and paying a mortgage (26.71%).

Younger respondents were holding off buying a property until they found a suitable home; those aged 18 to 24 were most likely to say that they are yet to find the right home to buy (16.73%), this was followed by respondents aged 25 to 34 (11.82%).


“The survey has produced some extremely interesting results. Previous surveys have always seemed to indicate that millennials are the main group that are struggling to get on the housing ladder, backing up current industry data.

However, it now appears that this is increasingly becoming an issue for slightly older renters as well. It’s clear that many tenants are having to rent on a long-term basis because they simply cannot afford to save up for a deposit, alongside their regular monthly outgoings like rent and other expenses. It’s also fascinating to see that a lot of people are now renting out of choice rather than necessity. It indicates that renting is more suitable for the current market and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.”


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