As part of their ongoing work on defining ‘Material information in property listings’, the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team has issued their opinion on the use of ‘Price on Application’ (POA) in property listings. Deeming it to be unlawful, their publication states that regarding the use of POA “… is likely to be misleading as it is withholding (or in some cases masking) the asking price from consumers…”. Read the letter here.

We’ve seen plenty of reports highlighting how fast the property market is moving, such as sales taking place within around a month, meaning that sellers will likely want a quick sale to ensure they don’t lose the chance of buying their dream home. This Property Road article explains how in 2022, there has been a marked rise in offers accepted from chain-free buyers, which has no doubt impacted this. As a comparison, in 2010, 65% of buyers were chain-free, however, so far this year, they represent 73% of all buyers. Whilst the number of first-time buyers continues to buoy the market, for the last year or so, many homeowners have chosen to sell and move into temporary rented accommodation to put themselves in a much stronger position to acquire the property they want. Read here.

This weekend saw thousands of people gather to protest against water companies dumping sewage in rivers. The event was organised by the charity Surfers Against Sewage and people dressed up in some interesting costumes (see photograph below). This article describes how water companies discharged raw sewage into British rivers 372,533 times last year, for a total of more than 2.6m hours, according to data from the Environment Agency. However, untreated sewage should only be discharged into rivers in exceptional circumstances, for example, during heavy rainfall. A professor in environmental toxicology took a sample from a river in Manningtree, Essex, and found the E. coli count to be twice that of the threshold for good bathing water. Read the article here.
You may also find our article on septic tanks and the rules for discharging to surface water here.

Another useful resource  is: 

Image from the BBC, credit: Katie Pavid

Propertymark is urging agents to ensure they are aware of the forthcoming changes to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations, as they could come into effect as soon as Autumn 2022.

Since 1 October 2015, landlords have needed to ensure that a smoke alarm is fitted on every floor of their property where there is a room used wholly or partly as living accommodation. 

They also must put a carbon monoxide alarm in any room where solid fuel is burnt, such as wood, coal or biomass and including open fires. It does not include gas, oil or LPG. Landlords or agents must ensure that the alarms work at the start of each new tenancy. 

Following a consultation in November 2021,  there would be the following key changes to the rules: 

  • carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in rooms with a fixed combustion appliance (excluding gas cookers) in both private and social rented homes
  • carbon monoxide alarms will also be mandatory upon installation of any heating appliance (excluding gas cookers) in all tenures through building regulations
  • private and social landlords will be expected to repair or replace alarms once informed that they are faulty
  • smoke alarms will be mandatory in all social rented homes

Read more here.

Homebuyers are facing the realities of offering much higher than the asking price for properties as people bid to secure a house and lenders then "downvalue" the agreed price. This article from the Telegraph describes how house price growth has hit an 18-year high.

Martin Stewart at mortgage broker London Money, said: “I think we will start seeing more downvaluations because there is a thing called gravity. We have crossed the Rubicon between sellers’ expectations and the realistic valuations of the lender.”
Read more here.

This article from Unlock Net Zero explains that research by Shakespeare Martineau has found more than three-quarters (77%) of people in the housing market are likely to choose a green home for their next purchase. Shakespeare Martineau questioned more than 500 buyers (including first-time buyers) about their reasons for wanting a green home; the responses included "it's better for the environment" (39%), it will "save me money in the long run" (27%) and "I want to reduce my energy bills" (35%). What is also interesting is the responses about education, where 1 in 3 respondents who wanted a green home said they wanted to understand more about how it would benefit them in the future. Of those who were undecided on whether to opt for a green home or not, 72% said they didn’t know enough about it, suggesting there is an education gap on the benefits of energy-efficient homes. You can enter your details to be emailed a copy of the full report here.

You may recall the government published the Heat and Buildings Strategy in October 2021.

The strategy laid out important high-level decisions on the UK’s approach to reducing emissions from heating buildings. The CCC (Committee on Climate Change) have recently published their independent assessment on the strategy, and they say the government plans are “not yet comprehensive or complete and significant delivery risks remain. Consultations need to move forward, followed rapidly by final decisions on policy design and effective implementation if the Strategy’s ambitious goals are to be met.” The CCC give five priorities for the UK Government. You can download the publication here.

The government has announced updates to the following Approved Documents which will take effect on the 15 June 2022:

Approved Document F: Ventilation
Approved Document L: Conservation of fuel and power
Approved Document O: Overheating
Approved Document S: Infrastructure for the charging of electric vehicles

Details of the changes can be found here. You can see the latest documents here.

Research commissioned by the National Residential Landlords Association suggests the government could see a £10 billion boost if it scrapped the stamp duty levy on the purchase of homes to rent out. Removing the three per cent levy would see almost 900,000 new private rented homes made available across the UK over the next ten years. This article explains Capital Economics suggest that without changes in tax or other policies, the private rented sector stock will decrease by over half a million properties over the next ten years. Meanwhile, between now and 2030, the 15-24 cohort in the population is forecast to grow by 866,000 (11 per cent), likely driving up further demand in rental properties. Read more about the research here.

Setting out its proposals to mandate biodiversity net gain (BNG) for developments within the planning process in England, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has issued the Consultation on Biodiversity Net Gain Regulations and Implementation. DEFRA describes BNG as “an approach to development which means that habitats for wildlife must be left in a measurably better state than they were in before the development.” It goes on further to say that “Mandating biodiversity net gain through the Environment Act will establish a consistent set of requirements and necessary exemptions which give developers clarity as to how they can meet their net gain obligations.”  BNG is intended to work alongside existing legislation for protected species and sites to:

• secure positive outcomes for biodiversity,

• improve the process for developers, and

• create better places for local communities

The consultation closes on 4 April 2022 and you can find it here.

The Home Builders Federation (HBF) has written to the government outlining proposals to help fund remediation of the cladding issues. In the letter to housing secretary Michael Gove, the HBF chair Stewart Baseley offers to fund remediation on buildings that date back to 2000 and are over 11m in height. It is thought that as the deal applies only to buildings developed by the housebuilders that the funds are likely to fall short of the £4bn estimated by the government. Stewart Basely added that “Only with ongoing support from government and a clear commitment to work with the industry in its broadest sense, including surveyors, building owners, lenders, insurers and product manufactures over the coming weeks can we turn our proposal into a fully practical solution for leaseholders.” A housing ministry spokesman commented that “Developers have not yet gone far enough….We have been clear that if they do not, we will impose a solution.”
Read more here.

Following requests from estate and letting agents, a property's council tax band or rate and the property price and tenure information (for sales) must be included on all property listings by the end of May 2022, and these data fields will start to appear on portals over the coming weeks. If they are left empty by an agent, this will be flagged on the listing so consumers can see what information is missing and will link to advice on why the information is important and how it may be obtained.

These changes represent the first phase of a project by the National Trading Standards Estate and Letting Agency Team, in partnership with industry leaders and the UK’s major property portals, to define what constitutes material information for property listings.
Read more here and a summary of the industry response here.

Once again, house prices have broken records as February saw the biggest monthly jump in cash terms in more than 20 years. According to Rightmove, there was a 2.3% monthly rise, which equates to +£7,785, with the annual rate of asking price growth at 9.5% - the highest recorded since September 2014. Since the pandemic began two years ago, prices have risen by nearly £40,000 compared to just over £9,000 in the two years before. Read more from Property Reporter here.

Two men have been taken to hospital after a gas explosion at a house on Whickham Street, Roker, in Sunderland. Fortunately, the injuries sustained are not thought to be life-threatening. An investigation is underway into the exact cause of the explosion. Images in this article from the BBC show the roof tiles have been completely blown off and the damage appears to be worse on the first-floor. 

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has slammed government policy on decarbonisation for a “lack of specific, strategic action”, stating that it fails to set out how targets will be achieved. Within the conclusions and recommendations of the report, it highlighted: “Evidence was clear that for low carbon heating installations to work effectively and to heat homes adequately, properties need to be upgraded to the correct levels of energy efficiency… If people are encouraged to switch to low carbon heating sources without the knowledge or incentive for energy efficiency upgrades, then there are risks of scheme failure and loss of public trust if the new low carbon heating sources are not heating homes to the desired temperature and insulation.” The committee calls on Ministers to publish a heat technology road map by September 2022 and recommends they adopt a clear and specific end date for phasing out gas boilers. Read the full report here.

Experts are urging people to think twice before planting bamboo in their gardens and this article in the Express explains why. When bamboo grew across property boundaries, the neighbour noticed it started growing through their floor, further investigation of the issue led to several rooms in their home having to be excavated to remove the rhizome. As it had grown up through the cavity wall, had it not been noticed, it could have forced the walls apart. Reported as being one of the fastest growing plants in the world, it is said it can grow up to approx. 1 metre per day. If you must have it, the advice is to grow it in pots to avoid this type of spread. Costs have been estimated at over £100,000 and the homeowner has had to vacate the property whilst works are underway. Read the article here.

The RICS has published a new guidance note (effective from March 2022) to replace the RICS information paper Japanese Knotweed and residential property, 2012.

The purpose of this updated document is to address both the findings and provide guidance based on market informed industry best practice, the most recent research about a more holistic assessment of Japanese knotweed, to ensure RICS members provide the best advice to users of valuation and condition reports.

This document contains a decision tree based on risk level to help valuers determine the appropriate management approach needed for Japanese Knotweed. The new process still delivers a straightforward and objective categorisation of Japanese Knotweed infestations because this provides the clarity that is essential for lenders and which will continue to ensure confidence and trust among the wider stakeholders.

Read more here

The Property Care Association has also published a guidance note to support the new RICS guidance and to help property valuers and surveyors understand:

  • How to recognise the presence of Japanese Knotweed
  • the challenges of detecting & identifying Japanese knotweed;
  • the benefits of long-term guarantees underwritten by appropriate insurance.

You can find it here.

A quarter of landlords have “little to no” knowledge of the minimum energy efficiency changes proposed for 2028 under the government’s Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener policy. According to this article in Mortgage Strategy, this means they could risk their property let being prohibited if they don’t meet the requirements. The survey, led by Shawbrook Bank, found that over a third of landlords reported that their rental properties were built before 1940, meaning it’s highly likely that most of these landlords may need to invest over £6000 -  the average amount estimated needed to get an existing EPC D rating up to a C rating. Half of the landlords who will need to complete upgrades have considered selling. Shawbrook Bank sales director Emma Cox said: “…As well as these risks to landlords, renters may also be put in an even worse position as they compete for a smaller number of properties that are rated C or above after the 2025 deadline.” This Rent4Sure article highlights those 3.2 million properties in the private rented sector that will require improvements and highlights the difficulty that may be faced by some older Victorian and other E rated properties being able to achieve the C rating without significant levels of investment.

The ‘House Price Watch Dec 2021’ published by HomeOwners Alliance described 2021 as “…an extraordinary year for the housing market”, and when you look at how house price trends have been reversed in various parts of the UK, it explains why. It comes as no surprise to say that house prices in the UK have risen by 10 per cent on the previous year, making the average house price £270,708. A highly active market helped push up prices while demand was outstripping supply. RICS figures indicated buyer enquiries increased by 13 per cent, and seller enquiries decreased by 18 per cent. People choosing to move out of cities to benefit from more green space saw London prices increase by the lowest amount of 5.10 per cent over the year, but much stronger areas were the South West, East of England and Wales, where all regions saw a rise in prices of over 12 per cent. However, London still maintains the highest average house price of around £500,000. Newcastle and Glasgow have the lowest average house price of just under £140,000. Experts at the Halifax said: “The housing market defied expectations in 2021. We saw the average house price reach new record highs on eight occasions….” Which? also gives an interesting take on the housing market with some useful graphs showing trends in the market and some predictions for 2022-2023.

The government has published its latest ‘Housing supply: Indicators of new supply, England: July to September 2021’ report. The figures are sourced from building control data which is estimated to be able to provide information on about 80% of the country’s house building. Around 42,400 new-build dwellings were started during this quarter, which is a 16 per cent increase from the previous year. Completions were around 43,290 which represents a 1 per cent drop compared with the same quarter last year. Looking at comparisons for the year ending Sept 2021, there was a 43 per cent increase in building starts, and completions were up by 26 per cent. These figures are unlikely to come as a surprise when the sector saw construction significantly impacted by the issues associated with the pandemic. If you’d like to see trends for building starts and completions in private enterprise, housing associations and local authorities ranging from 1978 – 2021 you can download a copy of the live tables here: 

A consultation seeking views on a number of reforms to the leasehold and commonhold system (in England and Wales) following recommendations in the Law Commission’s reports published in July 2020 has been published. 

Specifically, it seeks views on:

  • The non-residential limit for collective enfranchisement;
  • The non-residential limit for right to manage claims;
  • A non-residential limit for individual freehold acquisitions;
  • The introduction of mandatory leasebacks as part of collective freehold acquisitions;
  • Commonhold voting rights in shared ownership properties; and
  • The provision of information during the sale of a commonhold property.

The consultation ends on 22 February 2022; you can find it here.

Housing Minister Michael Gove has written to developers and given a deadline of early March to agree on a fully funded plan of action, including remediating unsafe cladding on 11-18 metre buildings, currently estimated to be £4 billion. He warns he will take all steps necessary to make this happen, including restricting access to government funding and future procurements, the use of planning powers and the pursuit of companies through the courts. He adds that if industry fails to take responsibility, the government will if necessary impose a solution in law.

Read the letter to industry here and the press release here.

The government guidance that sets out when planning permission is required has been amended following the High Court's decision in Ricki Sage v Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government & London Borough of Bromley [2021]. Paragraph 014 has been removed which previously said:

"Do I need planning permission to home work or run a business from home?

Planning permission will not normally be required to home work or run a business from home, provided that a dwelling house remains a private residence first and business second (or in planning terms, provided that a business does not result in a material change of use of a property so that it is no longer a single dwelling house). A local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether planning permission is required and will determine this on the basis of individual facts. Issues which they may consider include whether home working or a business leads to notable increases in traffic, disturbance to neighbours, abnormal noise or smells or the need for any major structural changes or major renovations."

You can read what the judge, Sir Duncan Ouseley, said about the guidance in the judgment here.

For an overview, you can also read the story about the case here.

Despite a strong market leading to an increase in the average house price, it hasn’t deterred first-time buyers from getting onto the housing ladder during 2021, which saw the highest number of transactions from this sector of the market in almost 20 years. Yorkshire Building Society estimated the number to be around 408,300. According to this report in the Guardian, it’s thought first-time buyers have been able to boost their savings due to lower spending levels resulting from the lockdowns and coupled with low borrowing rates and government guarantees, it’s been more likely they were able to save for a deposit and find suitable mortgage products. First-time buyers made up half of all house purchases during the last two years, compared with less than 40% during 2006-2011. 

Read more here.

With almost 975,000 transactions, 2021 saw the highest volume of residential house sales in the last 10 years. This level of enthusiasm was mirrored in the second-home market with around 24,000 purchases thought to have taken place. Whilst it seems the SDLT holiday may have helped achieve these levels of activity, HMRC coffers were still boosted by over £11 billion from SDLT in the first 11 months of the year. Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “…Over the past 18 months we’ve seen lifestyle drivers and low interest rates support incredibly strong levels of house price growth and a real surge in activity. The Treasury has particularly benefited from high transaction volumes at the top end of the market…”.

Read more here.

Although it was not expected until the new year, the Bank of England has increased the rate of interest for the first time in three years. This decision seems to be in response to the inflation rate of 5.1%, the highest it’s been in a decade, balanced against the concerns Omicron is having on the economy. However, increasing the rate from 0.1% to 0.25% isn’t exactly a hike, and it’s estimated to affect mortgage payments by an estimated £10-15 per month, with fixed-rate customers being largely unaffected in the immediate term. Overall, finance specialists seem to remain positive that the mortgage market will continue to stay strong. Kimberley Gates, head of corporate partnerships at Sirius Property Finance said: “ … it’s important to remember that even with today’s increase, rates remain incredibly low and so there’s certainly no reason to run for the hills...” 

See more reactions to the news here.

The latest Technical Bulletin for residential surveyors is now available here. To download and view the full bulletin, you will need to be logged in to Sava EDGE. If you are not already logged in, please click here to log in. If you do not yet have an account, please click here to register. This issue of the bulletin includes articles on the following: 

Energy Performance Certificates and Value
This year, one of the major high street lenders introduced new valuer guidance asking valuers to consider the EPC in their valuation process. This article considers the Energy Performance Certificate, how they might impact values in general, and to question the role of the residential surveyor and valuer to help the UK hit its net-zero targets.
Read the article here

Office to Residential Conversions
In this article, Liam Shutt from e.surv Chartered Surveyors looks at the recent changes to Permitted Development Rights and discusses the implications for residential valuers.
Read the article here.
Protected Animal Species
This article provides an overview of the protected animal species that residential surveyors may come across or see signs of during their inspection, including bats, breeding birds, barn owls, badgers, and great crested newts. It provides clarification on the law around disturbing protected species.
Read the article here.
Client Management and Technology
In this article, Matt Nally talks through the processes of a job instruction from start to finish and highlights how technology can help to streamline them.
Read the article here.

Condensation - A Case Study
Alan McKeown, Building Surveyor at Plumb Stone Surveyors, shares an interesting case study of a non-invasive damp survey he carried out.
Read the article here.

From time-to-time houses are marketed as ‘cash buyer only’, meaning that the purchaser must be able to buy the property outright without a mortgage. There are a few reasons why the property is being marketed in this way, including the need for a quick sale, the property is in a poor/derelict condition, or it is of an unusual construction type. There are no hard and fast rules here, each lender has their own approach to managing risk and will want to best protect their security over the property, so if for example, someone was looking to buy a property that has structural issues, or it is in an uninhabitable state, it is unlikely that a mortgage will be secured for it. The HomeOwners Alliance has an interesting article that looks at some of the pros and cons of buying a house for cash here.

Further to the 12-month break from possessions which commenced in April 2020 due to the pandemic, UK mortgage lenders have announced a moratorium on evictions over the Christmas period from 13th December through to 4th January 2022. Paul Broadhead, the Building Societies Association’s Head of Mortgage and Housing Policy said: “Repossessing someone’s home is an absolute last resort and lenders do all that they can to provide people suffering financial difficulties with the tailored support that they need.  The aim is to help people get back on their feet, but this Christmas and New Year moratorium will give some respite to those who have reached the end of the road.  For anyone who is facing financial difficulty the message is to get in touch with your lender early, as this gives the best chance of success.” The UK finance press release can be found here.

It is no secret to those in the property industry that 2021 was a very busy year for the housing market. But, are things set to continue in 2022? Rightmove have predicted that house prices will rise by another 5% in 2022; that will be a £17,000 increase on top of the current average national asking price of £342,401. The price increase is expected as there are still a huge number of house-hunters, but not enough housing supply. However, there has been a 19% jump in the number of people requesting a valuation via Rightmove in November compared with the same period last year.

Rightmove's Tim Bannister says:
“While the 2022 property market will continue to be busy, we forecast it to be less frenzied than 2021, especially as more owners decide to come to market in the first half of the year.

“Movers will benefit from good mortgage availability, as well as more choice of property – especially with the usual surge of sellers coming to market in the spring. Price rises will be slower this year, compared to 2021, which will encourage some homeowners who have held back on moving to take action.”

Read here.

UK Finance has published its Household Finance Review - Q3 2021. Whilst it deals with a variety of household finance matters, the mortgage market reflects what is going on with property. In Q3, mortgage figures showed a sharp drop following the peak in June which was just before the end of the stamp duty (SDLT) exemption. Having said that, activity in the market remained strong. Indeed, the report indicates that unless there is a significant reversal in the market, property purchase transactions in 2021 will reach their highest level since the peak in 2006, which was just before the global financial crisis. The report found that home movers were responsible for a high level of the activity due to their disproportionate benefit from the SDLT exemption and their desire for more space at home. In addition, as most people were remote working, they felt able to leave city areas feeling less constrained by the need to commute and looked to get more for their money in other locations. Read here. 

This article explains recent market analysis by estate agent comparison site shows that the average homebuyer in England is now £37,156 worse off thanks to the stamp duty holiday, with the average house price climbing by 14.8% across the nation since it launched in July of last year. This analysis came after the government released the September UK House Price Index, giving us the first concrete view of the market in September of this year when the stamp duty holiday ended.

Read the article here.

The Dispute Service (a non-profit company that handles disputes over tenancy deposits) has been selected as the New Homes Ombudsman, following a "fiercely competitive tendering process". This was announced by the New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) here. It explains:
"The New Homes Ombudsman Service will come on line in the New Year. Buyers of new build homes who are unhappy with their new home, or frustrated with the performance of the developer in handling their complaint will be able to ask the New Homes Ombudsman to review their case. The New Homes Ombudsman Service will independently consider customers’ cases and rule whether there has been a breach of the New Homes Quality Code".
Read the announcement here.

A report published by the BRE has found that poor housing is costing the NHS £1.4bn a year. The biggest expense can be attributed to defects in poor homes which expose residents to excess cold, while the second biggest cost to the NHS comes from hazards that cause people to fall and injure themselves, predominantly on staircases. Preventing falls on staircases by installing or fixing handrails or balustrades could save the NHS £219million a year in treatment costs (after the six year payback period).

With these figures in mind, it highlights the importance of surveyors noting any trip hazards in a property and the benefits of handrails and balustrades on staircases, particularly for vulnerable and elderly clients, as well as families with young children.

Read the article on the report here.

You may also find our article on The Fitness for Human Habitation Bill interesting here.  

September saw a small increase in construction output of 1.3%, as the industry shows small signs of a post-pandemic recovery. This comes after a fall in output for the period Jul-Sep 2021 of 1.5%, although this was following four previous consecutive quarterly rises. The ONS also reported that “The annual rate of construction output price growth was 5.1% in September 2021; this was the strongest annual rate of construction output price growth since records began in 2014…. At the type of work level, the annual rate of price growth in the 12 months to September 2021 was at its strongest in new housing (7.5%)…” You’ll find the construction indices here.

Yesterday the government shared plans to drive down the cost of clean heat and incentivise people to install low carbon heating. From next April, households will be able to benefit from a £5,000 grant (as part of a £450 million Boiler Upgrade Scheme), to upgrade their fossil fuel boiler to a low carbon heating system such as a heat pump. Therefore, people choosing to install a heat pump will pay a similar amount to if they were installing a traditional gas boiler.

This press release states:
"No-one will be forced to remove their existing fossil fuel boilers, with this transition of the next 14 years seeing the UK’s households gradually move away from fossil fuel boilers in an affordable, practical and fair way, enabling homeowners to easily make these green choices when the time comes to replace their old boiler.

"The Heat and Buildings Strategy sets out how we are taking ‘no-regrets’ action now, particularly on heat pumps, whilst supporting ongoing trials and other research and innovation on our future heating systems, including on hydrogen. We will make a decision on the potential role for hydrogen in heating buildings by 2026, by learning from our Hydrogen Village pilot. Heat pump technology will play a key role in all scenarios, so for those who want to install them now, we are supporting them to do so."

Read more about the plans recently announced here.

SDL Property Auctions and Rightmove are joining forces to normalise property auctions, making them more accessible for everyone. In this article, Andrew Parker, Managing Director and Auctioneer at SDL Property Auctions, explains: "House-hunters on Rightmove can already filter their search to find auction properties. Now lots being sold by SDL Property Auctions will be displayed with live bidding updates and the option to register to bid. This innovation by Rightmove is a major step in increasing awareness of auctions, both for private homeowners and for estate agents, and will encourage more of them to consider buying and selling in this way."

Andrew Parker explains that SDL Property Auctions have been working hard with Rightmove and other auction partners to educate buyers and sellers and create transparency in the process.

Read more here.

The Green Finance Institute has published a 'Lender's handbook on green home retrofit and technologies'. Although aimed predominantly at lenders, it is a clear, comprehensive and relevant guide for anyone in the industry. The Handbook offers users a snapshot of each technology, including the current costs, carbon savings and benefits, as well as profiling the main funding options, quality assurances and guarantees to protect customers.

Emma Harvey, programme director at the Green Finance Institute says: “By providing financial institutions with the latest information on the costs, risks and benefits of green home technologies, the Handbook informs and empowers the finance sector to fund retrofit projects and develop new financial solutions to support their customers’ net-zero ambitions,”.

Download the Handbook here.

Read the Press Release here.

In the valuation sector, the use of the term ‘down-valuation’ can be a contentious one. This blog post written by former mortgage professional James Chidgey explains how a recent report said that "an estimated 390,285 UK homes had been down-valued by surveyors from those sold in the 12 months to April 2021".  This number makes up 43% of all UK house sales found in the data reviewed, so it is not an insignificant number. The term 'valuation' can be misused by those who incorrectly refer to the asking price as the valuation and James Chidgey provides us with an interesting insight into the issue, read more here

If you found this story of interest, you may also find our article on down valuations written by Chris Rispin FRICS useful:

Propertymark, the membership body for property professionals, recently found in a straw poll that 67% out of the 91 agent respondents have witnessed cannabis farms growing within properties they’ve managed. This article from property industry eye describes instances where agents have found cannabis farms in rental properties, and the steps some criminals are taking to avoid detection. Read more here.

If you found this article interesting, you may also be interested in our article written by Chris Moran on cannabis cultivations on Sava EDGE here:

Barclays Head of Real Estate, Jason Constable, reports that Barclays wants to grow their support for new housing development by increasing lending activity in this sector to both existing and new clients. This article touches on their interest in funding for 'build to rent' schemes, as well as 'build to sell', as the build to rent sector is "particularly hot at present".

Jason says: "Supporting the provision of affordable housing is an important part of our residential lending business as we continue to support the UK government’s policy to increase the amount of affordable housing, which calls for 300,000 new homes to be built every year.

"We want to play our part in helping to solve the housing crisis by supporting the delivery of more affordable home schemes across the UK that can get people on the property ladder sooner rather than later."
Read more here.

The Centre for Ageing Better, a charitable foundation, commissioned an evidence-based analysis of England's housing policies to determine the causes of, and solutions to, the poor quality of so many homes. The Good Homes Inquiry, published this month, was chaired by David Orr CBE and provide a series of recommendations. Here is a summary of the recommendations within the report:

Read the report here.

Yesterday's government reshuffle has seen Robert Jenrick lose his role as Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. His replacement is Michael Gove MP. An article from Building provides an overview of Michael Gove's views on housing, planning and the environment based on his past relationship with housing. Read more here.

Countryside Properties is the latest housebuilder to scrap "unfair" ground rent terms for leasehold properties in their contracts following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority. Countryside will keep rents the same level as when leaseholders first bought their property. In June, housebuilder Persimmon confirmed they would offer leaseholders the option to buy the freehold of their property at a discount. Aviva, the insurance company which buys leaseholds from the housebuilders, agreed to repay homeowners who saw their ground rent double.
Read the latest on this story here.

An unusual scheme to turn a listed 1939 WWII bunker in Dorset into a holiday let has received planning permission and listed building consent. Architects Lipton Plant plan to 'blast' a new opening into the elevation to reveal the views of the Jurassic Coast, as well as enlarged rooflights.  The interior conrete walls will remain as they are. The intention is to "celebrate the significant historic yet redundant structure as a historic ruin".
Read more here..

Insurance company LV = General Insurance  has found that 51% of homeowners do not know the signs of subsidence. Their research found that 71% of people knew that large cracks were a sign, but only 25% knew that tears in wallpaper (with no sign of damp) were a sign.

The research also looked at what homeowners did when they spotted signs of subsidence and found that whilst 51% would phone their insurer, 26% didn't do anything at all, and only 22% would instruct a building surveyor to carry out an inspection.

Interestingly, 53% of homeowners do not know if subsidence damage would even be covered by their buildings insurance policy.

Read the article from Property Week here.

Rightmove has reported a 120% increase in tenants searching for pet-friendly rental homes since last year. Given that the total tenant demand was only up by 13%, this is a significant increase. More than a third of UK households have become pet owners since the first lockdown in March 2020 so, it will be interesting to see how this affects the market going forward. 

Tim Bannister, property expert at Rightmove, says: “Becoming a pet owner is a long-term commitment, so what’s really interesting to consider is the impact this could have on the rental market in the future, and it’s a signal to landlords that if they were to consider allowing a well-behaved pet then it may open them up to a bigger pool of potential tenants.”

Read the full story here

The latest Technical Bulletin for residential surveyors is now available here. To download and view the full bulletin, you will need to be logged in to Sava EDGE. If you are not already logged in, please click here to log in. If you do not yet have an account, please click here to register. This issue of the bulletin includes articles on the following: 

The valuation of leasehold property for secured lending
The RICS recently published a new guidance note: “Valuation of Residential Leasehold Properties for Secured Lending Purposes”. This guidance note, which covers England and Wales, is effective from 1 July 2021. In this article, we look at this new publication and discuss some of the implications for valuers undertaking secured lending valuations. Read the article here.

Asbestos pipe insulation
In this article, Asbestos Surveyor, Callum Skene, explains the main three types of asbestos-containing pipe insulation and reminds us of the requirements for safe removal. He then explores some of the legal implications of asbestos in the context of residential property. Read the article here.

Heat loss in dwellings
With the effects of climate change becoming more prevalent and legislation adapting to reflect it, we thought it would be useful to cover the key principles of heat loss in dwellings, and how quality can impact performance. Read the article here.

Buildings Science: How materials recover after a flood or other water damage
People often assume that the recovery time of buildings affected by an escape of water or flood is mainly dependent upon the duration of the flood event. The reality is, however, that the duration of the event often has less influence on the recovery and the main factors are related to the method of construction, material composition, barriers to drying and chosen drying techniques. In this article, Russell Rafton shares with us the results of an experiment he carried out to demonstrate how materials recover after a flood or water damage. Read the article here.

The Green Jobs Taskforce was launched by the Government on 12 November 2020 to set the direction for the job market as we transition to a high-skill, low carbon economy. Last month the Taskforce published its first report. This set out the priorities to create the skills and jobs to achieve our net-zero ambitions.

The Green Jobs Taskforce was launched by the Government on 12 November 2020 to set the direction for the job market as we transition to a high-skill, low carbon economy. Last month the Taskforce published its first report. This set out the priorities to create the skills and jobs to achieve our net-zero ambitions. You can read the report from the Taskforce here.

Sava's Managing Director, Austin Baggett, provided an analysis of the report here.

The government believes the way in which the existing housebuilding market operates constrains the supply of new homes because there is not enough competition and innovation, a lack of consumer choice and a lack of diversity of supply. It believes self-build and custom housebuilding has a role in to play in increasing consumer choice and ensuring people can live in the homes that they want, and that are designed to meet their needs. To this end, Richard Bacon MP was tasked to develop a plan for a major scaling-up of self-build and custom housebuilding. He reported his findings at the beginning of August. In brief, his recommendations are:

  1. A greater role for Homes England, including a dedicated team for custom and self build, 
  2. Raise awareness and show by ‘doing’, 
  3. Support community, diversity and levelling up, 
  4. Promote greener homes and increased use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC),
  5. Align custom and self build changes with planning reforms, and
  6. Iron out tax issues around the model.

You can read a summary here or you can read the full report here.