Published on 11th December 2017

Your 2017 property round-up

2017 has been a busy year for Gateway and the property industry. We look back at some key events.

Property and politics came together throughout 2017, with stamp duty changes (yes, again) being a key feature of the Autumn Budget. Earlier, in June, the tragic events at Grenfell Tower, West London, brought fire safety in flats to the government and nation’s attention. The year also saw the Build to Rent sector emerge in the UK, with the first tenants moving into the East Village development in Stratford (formerly London 2012’s Athletes Village).

Build to Rent emerges

The UK government has made loans available to property developers to support the new Build to Rent sector since 2013, with plans to inject further funds. 2017 saw the sector emerge from these foundations in the public’s eyes.

Recent Build to Rent projects include:

  • East Village, Stratford, London, a residential regeneration on the site of London 2012’s Athletes Village – the first tenants moved in this September, with the £3bn project due for completion by 2026.
  • Wembley Park, London, set to be the UK’s largest Build to Rent development, with plans for 5,000 privately rented homes (over 30% are planned to be affordable homes).
  • several schemes elsewhere in the capital, as well as in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield.

Build to Rent homes offer a range of on-site amenities and longer tenancies than traditionally has been the case. Utilities and services are all integrated. This is a relatively new nationwide trend, but set to grow further. Build to Rent homes may potentially prove as popular as they are in France, Germany and the US. Given the country’s housing shortage, such developments are welcomed. PwC estimates that almost 60% of 20 to 39 year olds in England will rent their homes by 2025.

Focus on fire safety

Following June’s tragic events at Grenfell Tower in West London, ‘Gateway Today’ focused on fire safety in flats.

As a leading managing agent, we try to minimise the risk of fire across the properties in our care, including carrying out regular Health & Safety and Fire Risk Assessments. In July’s edition, we wanted to highlight the important role residents also play here, and how following a few best practices can make a real difference.

Essential resident advice includes fitting approved smoke alarms, as the best way to protect home and household; keeping internal doors shut at night in a flat; and making sure communal areas are always completely clear, as this could be the major escape route in case of an emergency.

Read our Fire Safety factsheet

Political uncertainty linked to slowdown

The general slowdown of the UK property market made headlines from January onwards.

By late summer, this was attributed to political uncertainty by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Other property experts also pointed to the election result and Brexit as contributing factors, alongside high stamp duty charges and changes in tax on buy-to-let properties. Central London seemed hardest hit, but this slowdown was by no means nationwide. In several places, from Essex to Liverpool, valuers were busy reporting buoyant activity.

See what 2018 will bring

Stamp duty changes again

The reform of stamp duty was one of the main talking points of the recent Autumn Budget.

Here’s a quick summary of the changes, taken from the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond:

  • first-time buyers living in England, Northern Ireland and, until April 2018, Wales will no longer pay stamp duty when purchasing a property worth up to £300,000.
  • for first-time properties costing up to £500,000, no stamp duty is paid on the first £300,000.
  • where a couple is buying a property, both people need to be first-time buyers to qualify.

Previously, any property valued at £125,000 or more attracted stamp duty in England.

Whether these reforms will help people get onto the property ladder has been widely debated. Many argue it depends on where you are buying. The Halifax estimates that, in the North of England, the typical first-time buyer saving will be £24. That saving jumps to nearly £4,000 in the South East and £5,000 in London. The Office For Budget Responsibility pointed out that a subsequent rise in house prices would more than cancel out the benefit from the stamp duty measures.

Other Autumn Budget property announcements

The Chancellor of the Exchequer also introduced:

  • measures for 300,000 new homes to be built every year up to the mid 2020s.
  • powers for local authorities to increase council tax premiums on empty homes from 50% to 100%, with the view of encouraging owners of empty homes to bring their properties back into use.

‘Gateway Today’ will be back in 2018 to keep you updated on Property Matters. 
Season’s greeting and see you in the New Year.

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