Residential Property

People should be proud of their council house – Theresa May

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

People who live in council houses should be made to feel proud of their homes, Theresa May has said.

The PM announced £2bn to build new homes in England, in an attempt to remove the “stigma” of social housing.

Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for the money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022.

Labour said the announcement fell “far short” of what was needed for the social housing sector.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said the government hopes the money will allow local authorities and housing associations to build schemes that would otherwise seem too risky.

He said the sector’s calls to provide more confidence about future funding – so the 300,000 extra homes required in England each year can be built – had appeared to have been listened to.

Mrs May told a National Housing Federation summit in London: “Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

“On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”

She will encourage housing associations to change how tenants and society view social housing.

“We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better,” she said.

“I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”

In mixed developments, she said it should be impossible to tell the difference between full-price and affordable housing, which should not be “tucked away out of sight and out of mind”.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the prime minister’s announcement was “extremely welcome”.

“This represents a total step change. For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing,” he said.

He said that by changing the way the funding was allocated, ministers had given “long-term confidence and confirmed that we are trusted partners in solving the housing crisis, building new homes and communities”.

But shadow housing secretary John Healey said the reality was spending on new affordable homes had been “slashed” and the number of new social rented homes built last year “fell to the lowest level since records began”.

“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house-building programme for more than 30 years,” he said.

The English housing survey for 2016/17 reported that 3.9 million households – about nine million people – lived in the social rented sector, which was 17% of households in the country.

The funding covers the next spending review period, from 2021 through to 2028.

Downing Street said the money was separate to the £9bn of public funding put toward the existing affordable homes programme until 2022.

Source: BBC News

UK inflation hits six-month high of 2.7%

By | Residential Property

The UK inflation rate unexpectedly rose in August to 2.7%, the highest level in six months.

Economists had expected a Consumer Prices Index rate of 2.4%. The pound rose after the data was released by the Office for National Statistics.

Wages are still rising more than inflation, with data last week showing wages, excluding bonuses, grew by 2.9% in the three months to July.

Rising prices for recreational goods, transport and clothing drove the rise.

In July, CPI was 2.5%, which had been the first jump in the index since November.

Mike Hardie, head of inflation at the ONS, said: “Consumers paid more for theatre shows, sea fares and new season autumn clothing last month.

“However, mobile phone charges, and furniture and household goods had a downward effect on inflation.”


Prices rose less sharply for furniture, household goods and communications.

The year-on-year rise in CPI in August meant that inflation was narrowing the gap with wage increases, with economists waiting for the August earnings figures.

“Today’s inflation data show the rate of price growth accelerated in August, and may well prove to have exceeded total earnings growth in the same period. Unless UK workers can increase their productivity, this trend is likely to continue – squeezing living standards over the medium term,” said Alastair Neame, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Sterling rose to $1.32 following the news, its highest level since July.

“The numbers reinforce expectations that policymakers will gently lift interest rates over the next couple of years,” said Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Theatre tickets

The Bank of England raised its key interest rate for only the second time in a decade last month. The current interest rate of 0.75% is the highest since March 2009.

It has also forecast that inflation will fall back to the target rate of 2% by 2020.

“The figures won’t come as welcome news to the Bank of England, though – they’ll be desperate to leave policy unchanged until we get some clarity over Brexit and won’t want to be forced into a rate rise by accelerating prices,” said Mr Brettell.

The CPI measure reached 3.1% in November 2017, when price rises were fuelled by the weakness in the pound following Brexit vote.

In August, the largest change in prices was in the cultural services sector, where theatre tickets rose, and also games, toys and hobbies, while prices for computer goods rose after falling a year ago.

Temporary rise

The ONS said transport costs as a component of inflation increased, largely because of rises in sea and air fares. Petrol prices, though, rose by 1.4 pence between July and August, less than the 1.8 pence rise of a year earlier.

The average price of clothing and footwear rose 3.1% between July and August, faster than the 2.4% a year before. While clothing prices usually rise between July and August, the ONS said women’s and children’s clothing drove the rise.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said the fact that the inflation rise was fuelled by reaction and cultural goods meant it would be temporary.

“We would expect this to unwind in next month’s release,” Mr Archer said.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation, was 3.5% in August, up from 3.2% in July.

Source: BBC News

Two years since Brexit, how has the vote changed the UK property market?

By | Residential Property

It is now almost exactly two years since the Brexit referendum (23rd June 2016) and coming up on 18 months since the triggering of Article 50 (28th March 2017), this means that there is now a reasonable amount of data on which to form a view of how Brexit has impacted the property market.

The property market before the Brexit referendum

With the benefit of hindsight, the UK housing market turned out to be something of a canary in a coalmine for the financial crisis of 2008. It took a sharp downturn in 2007 and needed an unusually-long five years, to get back to its pre-crash peak. This, of course, was against a backdrop of highly interesting times in the mortgage market since the events of 2008 caused lenders to ram hard on their lending brakes and regulators to start taking a keen interest in mortgage-lending practices.

What we now know as the Mortgage Market Review actually began in 2009, but it took until 2014 for it to be fully implemented. There is a case for viewing the MMR as the unofficial end to the period of chaos, since it gave lenders formal, regulatory clarity over what was expected of them and hence laid the ground for the market to carry on its standard, forward march on orderly terms, which it did, right up to the Brexit vote.

The property market in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum

It seems likely that the aftermath of the Brexit referendum will be etched into the memory of many people. Stock exchanges dropped, Sterling dropped and, of course, the housing market dropped. After the initial panic subsided, however, markets, and the humans behind them, began to settle and move on again.

The property market now

While the goings on in UK politics have provided plenty of fodder for political journalists, the present condition of the UK property market essentially reflects two fundamental contradictions. Firstly there is hesitancy over Brexit and, it has to be said, over recent changes to the buy-to-let market.

Secondly, there is the indisputable fact that the UK has an undersupply of property in general and residential property in particular and that there would either have to be a significant exodus of people from the UK or a significant number of houses built in a very short space of time (or some sort of combination of them both) for this imbalance to be addressed in any meaningful way.

The result is that overall; UK property continues to increase in value, albeit at a slower pace. This headline fact, however, skims over the fact that the UK property market’s is actually a collection of different markets with different dynamics and different degrees of exposure to Brexit. For example, the London residential market is currently stagnating (although not crashing), whereas the London commercial property market is still holding its own and both the residential and commercial markets in the north of England and other parts of the UK continue to do well. In short, while the eventual form Brexit takes is currently anyone’s guess, the need for housing in the UK is simply not going to go away and therefore neither will opportunities for property investors.

Source: Global Property Guide

The Growth of Socially Conscious REITs

By | Residential Property, Social Housing

The REIT brand is recognised and trusted globally – so let’s use it as a force for good in creating vibrant places, writes Jenny Brown, of Grant Thornton.

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) have continued to rise in popularity since they came into force in January 2007.

Within a month, nine of the UK’s largest listed property companies had converted to REIT status and, fast forward 10 years, there are now more than 70 UK REITs.

A REIT can offer significant benefits for investors and operators alike.

The brand is recognised and trusted globally, with most major economies having an equivalent regime.

There has been a marked increase in the number of REITs coming to the market in the last five to six years, with more than 30 new REITs listing on the London Stock Exchange and raising more than £12bn of equity.

Our latest report, REIT’s as a force for good, shows that many new REIT’s are now focusing on specialist sub-sectors, such as healthcare and social housing, which meet increasing demand from investors for both a financial return and an investment that focuses on property with a social value.

The potential for REITs to meet the need for new homes in the current climate is gaining increasing interest.

A sustained shortage of government funding has forced many housing associations to take on more debt in order to develop new homes.

With the government’s aim of building 300,000 new homes each year, REITs offer investors an opportunity to be part of a financial solution to help provide more social and affordable housing by partnering with housing associations in innovative ways.

A number of new REITs are already emerging that are focused on residential property and they have seen strong demand from investors.

REITs potentially offer investors better returns than they would achieve by investing directly in the properties themselves, as well as the security and liquidity of the REIT structure.

REITs are well suited to act as the owners of property assets with a social role, by working in partnership with operators.

The collaboration between the two can provide property management expertise to complement the expertise of either public or private operators.

The lesson we can take from looking at international markets is that the government can do a lot to help stimulate investment in this area through the tax system.

Australia is facing an affordable housing shortage so the government has introduced new tax concessions to encourage REITs to invest.

Similarly, in Canada, a number of REITs focused solely on residential property are supported by significant tax advantages and these REITs have delivered some of the highest returns across the stock market.

All those involved in the UK market need to continue to build and maintain effective partnerships between REITs, developers and operators and focus on collaborating effectively.

The combination of their different expertise is vital to supporting innovative high quality schemes with a social purpose.

That will only happen if we raise awareness of the potential for REITs to deliver long-term social benefits and educate both investors and operators about the risks and rewards of the structure.

These partnerships will be able to seize the significant opportunity for REITs to build on their success and become a force for good in creating vibrant places in which people can thrive by meeting the country’s housing needs.

Government can also help support these developments by looking at further reforms to the REIT regime to widen the permitted activities in which they can invest.

Source: Jenny Brown, chief not for profit operating officer, Grant Thornton UK

UK energy efficient social housing project hailed by designers

By | Residential Property

An energy efficient social housing project currently under construction in Norwich, UK, has been hailed by designers for its application of the Passivhaus standard.

The development will include 105 homes, 56 of which will constitute one-bedroom flats and the remainder of which will comprise a mixture of two, three and four bedroom flats and houses. This makes the development one of the largest energy efficient social housing schemes under construction in the UK.

The project is expected to complete construction later this summer, and has been lauded as one of this year’s ten greatest architecture projects in the world by The Times. Speaking to the Eastern Daily Press, Gail Harris, cabinet member for social housing at Norwich City Council, welcomed the announcement.

She said: “To be named, alongside some of these multi-million pound projects around the world, shows we have got vision and that we have driven it forward. What The Times said is recognition of what a good design it is and this is something quite special.”

What makes the new buildings energy efficient?

The new homes are under construction to a Passivhaus building standard, which means that they reach the highest certifiable standard of energy efficiency. This results in ultra-low energy buildings which take advantage of heat naturally generated within the home, so that they consume significantly less fuel for heating or cooling.

These buildings are therefore more eco-friendly, and will also save homeowners money on fuel bills. As an energy efficient social housing project, this opportunity to save money on fuel is vital. Harris added: “We know we have got a large amount of fuel poverty in the city and we know some people have had to make choices about whether to eat or heat their homes. This sort of development eases those problems.”

Elements of the Passivhaus building standard which facilitate this saving include:

  • Extra-thick insulation;
  • Triple-glazed windows and doors;
  • Heat recovery ventilation systems; and
  • Systems to prevent thermal bridges and air leakage.

The ventilation systems in question allow fresh air into the house, but prevent any from leaking out. The design also avoids thermal bridges, including pipes through which heat travels and can easily escape from other, traditionally designed buildings.

Source: Government Europa

Average property prices up more than 300% in many parts of England since 2000

By | Residential Property

Waltham Forest in London has seen prices rise the most in England since 2000 with Southend on Sea recording the highest growth outside of the capital city, new research shows.

Prices have increased by 364.9% in the borough of Waltham Forest in London with eight borough seeing growth above 300% in the last 18 years, according to the analysis of land registry figures by online estate agents HouseSimple.

Outside of London some 19 towns and cities have seen prices rise above 250%, led by Southend on Sea at 290.9% with average prices up from £71,879 to £280,948, followed by Bristol with a rise of 279.9% from £71,973 to £273,393 and Cambridge up 279.2% from £118,216 to £448,243.

Four of the top performing town and cities are in the East of England and only two, Salford and Sale are in the North of England with a price rise of 269.5% and 266.4% respectively, to an average of £156,190 and £279,776.

Other cities with strong growth include Luton with a rise of 276.7%, Basildon up 274.7%, Corby up 270.2%, Hastings up 268.9%, Leicester up 268.7%, Brighton up 265.2%, Lincoln up 262.8%, Exeter up 258.8%, Milton Keynes up 256.9%, Chelmsford up 255.7%, Norwich up 255.2%, Canterbury up 255%, Slough up 254.8% and Coventry up 252.8%.

In London the average price is now £436,859 in Waltham Forest, up 364.9% from £93,975 in January 2000 with Hackney seeing the second biggest rise in London at 339%, up from £121,135 to £531,788.

Lewisham has seen average prices rise by 331.9% from £95,725 to £413,413, followed by a rise of 326.5% in Southwark from £121,970 to £520,217 and a rise of 318.8% in Westminster from £241,773 to £1,012,444.

The other top growth in London was a rise of 318.7% in Newham from £83,861 to £351,114, a rise of 309.5% in Barking and Dagenham from £71,097 to £291,159 and a rise of 308.5% in Haringey from £136,422 to £557,234.

‘While London is the clear winner when it comes to house price growth since the turn of the century, prices have boomed in many areas outside the capital as these figures attest. What’s more impressive is that in the middle of this 18 year period, we experienced one of the worst recessions this country has ever seen. It shows the resilience of the UK property market,’ said Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of HouseSimple.

‘During this period, London property prices stabilised thanks to an inflow of foreign investment, and then started to rise again 18 months after the height of the credit crunch. However, that wasn’t the case across large swathes of the country, where the recovery process was far more protracted,’ he pointed out.

‘Today, the property price growth picture is entirely different. As London’s property market shows signs of running out of steam, we are seeing strong growth in the north of England. Some 18 years from now, the UK’s property hotspot landscape could well look entirely different,’ he added.

Source: Property Wire

Dwindling supply of homes pushing up asking prices in the UK

By | Residential Property

A dwindling supply of homes in the UK has resulted in a new national asking price record of £309,439 although market conditions vary between the north and the south of the country.

A rise in prices in the north has shrunk available stock levels by an average of 4.3% compared to a year ago, restricting buyer choice and giving sellers upward pricing power, according to the latest index from property portal Rightmove.

It means that month on month asking prices nationwide increased by 0.4% or £1,364. It is the third month in a row that a new asking price record has been recorded. Year on year asking prices are up 1.7% in the 12 months to June 2018.

However, the less active southern regions all have more available stock, up by an average of 17.5% compared to a year ago, a driver for a buyers’ market and some downwards price pressure is being seen.

‘The main driver is good buyer demand in the comparatively stock starved northern half of Britain’s housing market. This demand, fuelled by prices that in comparison to the south are still relatively affordable, have meant the number of properties left available to buy has dwindled in the north and increased in the south,’ said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.

‘The reduction in property choice for buyers in the north compared to a year ago is a result of property for sale being snapped up, meaning it’s more of a sellers’ market there. In marked contrast the jump in buyer choice in all southern regions shows there are signs of a sellers’ market in some areas, but market conditions are clearly more challenging for sellers in much of the south,’ he added.

A breakdown of the figures shows that Wales and Scotland have the greatest drop in available stock, with 10.3% and 10.4% fewer properties for sale compared to a year ago respectively. Yorkshire and the Humber has 6.3% less choice for prospective buyers than a year ago, with the North West seeing a drop of 4.1%.

The North East and the West Midlands have smaller decreases in available stock, down 2.3% and 2.2% respectively, and the only northern region to see an increase is the East Midlands with a 4% uplift.

All southern regions have seen a stock increase compared to a year ago, indicating more challenging market conditions. The East of England has 24.9% more properties up for sale, and the South East has 20.0%. London has a smaller increase of 16.4%. The South West completes the southern stock picture with an 8.2% increase in available stock.

When it comes to asking prices, London has seen a decline of 0.9% month on month and 1% year on year to an average of £631,737. Month on month asking prices have also fallen in the North East and the East Midlands, down 0.5% to £149,098 and 0.2% to £222,877 respectively. In the North East prices are also down 0.1% year on year but in the East Midlands still up 4.6% compared to a year ago.

Strong annual growth has been recorded in the West Midlands with a rise of 5.5% to an average of £226,264, in Wales with a rise of 5% to £194,028, in the North West with a rise of 4.9% to £196,450, up 4% in Yorkshire and the Humber to £192,861, and up 3.7% in the South West to £312,210.

In Scotland annual asking price growth was 2.8% to an average of £146,578, while the East of England has seen asking prices rise by 2.4% year on year to £360,071. The South East has seen a more moderate annual rise of £1.2% to £412,073.

Source: Property Wire

Bio-homes to tackle the housing emergency

By | Residential Property

A new sustainable initiative in Bristol, in the UK, uses bio-based materials to face the need for additional and affordable housing supply

Bristol is at the forefront of high-tech innovation in the UK, named European green capital in 2015. But it is also the second least affordable major British city housing-wise only after London.

Its estimated population is 454,200 people, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Around 10,000 people are registered on the waiting list for a council home. There is a serious housing problem affecting both the young and the old.

To face the emergency, the Knowle West district is testing a new solution that is eco-friendly at the same time. We visited this neighbourhood in the south of Bristol, to discover how a community is trying to make possible a sustainable, affordable housing model using bio-materials.

The initiative, called We Can Makegathered architects, designers, academics, policy makers, and residents. The result is a prototype house built on the grounds of a community centre, with the cooperation and participation of locals in the construction, plumbing, handmade carved furniture, art, and interior design.

The TAM (Transportable Accommodation Module) was designed and built using bio-materials such as straw, compress straw, and timber. These carbon capturing materials  minimise their environmental footprint.

The building is cool in summer and warm in winter, saving hundreds of pounds per month in air conditioning and heating. Actually, as soon as we entered the house, the temperature and the moisture in the environment were right despite the cold weather and rain outside.

According to Dr. Charles Gamble, our guide and head of Innovation at Stramit International, which is part of CooBio company, the TAM uses 90 percent less energy to heat and light when compared to the UK average.

The panels are made of compress straw and strawboard framed in timber and covered in clay,” he told “Compress straw board has been around for almost 70 years since the technology was invented in Sweden in 1950. The process, also developed in the UK, provided building materials for more than a quarter million houses from the 50s to the 70s after which it became impossible to compete with plasterboard,” he added. These natural retrofitting solutions are also currently being tested at demonstration sites in the UK (Bath) and Spain (Seville) under the EU project Isobio.

Residents who have tested the TAM space overnight have reported that they slept better than usual, which is attributed to a good quality of air in the ambienceExternal people can rent it through Airbnb, and the income goes to the community centre.

“It’s the breathable nature of the building,” confirmed Finlay White from ModCell, which provided the straw panel systems, when we asked the difference from the traditional Victorian houses in England. “Around the windows in the buildings you don’t get condensation. This is one of the health benefits of using bio-materials,” he explained.

“The mapping of the Knowle West area identified thousands of small plots of land where TAMs could be put to relieve the housing situation for many of the families here who are stuck, because they have no employment or they’re too old. Sometimes you have three or four generations living in a small house,” Gamble said.

“A salary is £23,000 a year. The average price house is 8.4 times that,” added White, while the TAM cost for 36m2 is £90,000, with both leasing and hire purchase options.

“What ‘We Can Make’ offers is a model that can be replicated in other regions involving local communities to develop in spaces that they privately own or the council owns, constructing the TAM systems locally to solve housing crisis,” said Gamble.

The team intends to place the houses approximately 200 metres from the community centre, hiring local people to help build the panels creating about 21 jobs in the location.

According to White, there have been identified 1500 potential sites in this area with seven similar more estates in Bristol, and “there are estates like these all over the UK that have the same housing issues.”

A report, We Can Make: civic innovation in housing, was released in October 2017 at the Festival of the Future City in Bristol. The project is in conversation with eight more councils around Britain where TAMs could potentially be built.

Source: Youris European Research

What Is a Passive House? The Next Big Thing in Eco-Friendly Building

By | Residential Property

What is a passive house? It’s a home designed to require minimal heating or cooling, making it an eco-friendly and economical choice for home buyers.

While passive houses might not sound all that exciting, they’re stirring up plenty of buzz within real estate circles—and that could mean you’ll see a lot more of them in the near future.

So here’s the lowdown on how they’re built, how much they cost, and everything you need to know about whether a passive house might be right for you.

What is a passive house? How it’s built

To qualify officially as a passive house, a home must meet minimum criteria set by the International Passive House Association. Basically it means a house must consume 86% less energy for heating and 46% less for cooling compared with other code-compliant buildings in the same climate.

To reduce or even eliminate the need for heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, a passive house is built airtight, using strong exterior insulation, triple-pane windows, and construction methods that ensure no heat is transferred across the exterior of the building. No outdoor air seeps in, and no indoor air escapes.

Passive houses might also be situated to capture maximum sunlight in the winter and shade in the summer.

“If you have large southern exposure, you might plant a tree there that will drop its leaves in the winter so the sun will come in,” says Douglas McDonald, whose company Purehouse designs and builds passive homes. “But in the summer, the tree grows leaves and provides shade.”

This house in Yamhill County, OR, has won green building awards.
This house in Yamhill County, OR, has won green building awards.Jeremy Bitterman/Holst Architecture

Where to find passive houses

Passive homes are popular in Europe, especially Germany, where energy is expensive. And while passive houses are still rare in the U.S., rising energy costs could change that.

“The first passive houses were built in North America in the ’70s, when energy prices were extremely high, but then oil prices dropped and some people lost interest,” says Michael Knezovich, spokesperson for the Passive House Institute U.S. “It’s only been over the past decade or so that passive houses have taken off here.”

There are only 250 certified passive buildings in the U.S., but the number of projects seeking certification has been growing for many reasons: People crave a smaller carbon footprint, protection from unpredictable energy costs, and the independence of living “off the grid” (many passive houses achieve off-the-grid status with solar panels).

The Vonde family's passive house in Boise, ID, means cozy winters and low energy bills.
The Vonde family’s passive house in Boise, ID, means cozy winters and low energy bills.Gabe Border Photography for Vaughn Yribar Architecture

“It used to be that passive buildings were mostly in the Pacific Northwest, because of the eco-conscious culture there,” says Knezovich, “but we’re now seeing them built in more extreme climates, such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.”

The below-freezing winters and scorching summers in Boise, ID, are what led Ann Vonde and her husband to build a passive house there in 2015.

“We were attracted to the energy conservation, both for environmental reasons and to ensure lower energy bills in the future,” says Vonde.

How much does it cost to build a passive house?

Building a passive house will typically set you back 10% to 15% more in upfront costs. But you’ll quickly recoup that initial outlay in lower utility bills, since these homes use up to 90% less energy.

“Last winter was a cold one, and my aunt who lives nearby said her energy bills were around $600, while our highest one was $112,” says Vonde.

But there are also benefits you’ll notice even before your electric bill arrives—Vonde felt the difference right away.

“There are no drafts or hot spots, and it’s extremely comfortable to have the temperature so constant,” she says. “Plus it’s very quiet. We don’t hear any outside noise.”

This traditional-style house was the first passive house in the Washington, DC area.
This traditional-style house was the first passive house in the Washington, DC area.Passive House Institute and Alliance US

Passive house benefits beyond energy conservation

Typically in a passive house, fresh air is brought in, and stale air removed, by a ventilation system, which passes through a filter to remove allergens and pollution. Some passive-house owners find that this reduces smells, and even that they sleep better because the ventilation system prevents carbon dioxide buildup at night.

Passive houses can be especially beneficial to people with allergies or sensitivities to mold and mildew, because their tight envelopes seal out irritants.

“When you have hot and cold air mixing in the walls, you get condensation. Water creates mold and environments for bugs,” says McDonald.

Passive house styles

Passive houses tend to have a modern, minimalist look, all clean lines and expansive windows—but they don’t have to.

“It’s possible to build a very traditional-looking passive house,” says Knezovich. “You’re not limited to saltbox designs.”

But there’s one feature of a traditional home that you probably won’t find in a passive house: a fireplace.

“Fireplaces, stove vents, vented dryers, anything that requires puncturing a hole in the envelope of the house can lead to heat transfer,” points out Vonde. For that reason, she and her husband chose a ventless dryer. “Because it creates heat and humidity in the house, I don’t use it in the summer and line-dry laundry in the sun,” she says.

Although the passive house standard doesn’t require the use of eco-friendly building practices beyond minimizing the energy use of the finished house, most architects and builders who work on passive houses also incorporate nontoxic and sustainably sourced materials.

“While we’re building this very healthy, high-performance envelope, why would you bring in your water through plastic pipes?” McDonald asked. “We try to build without harmful ingredients.”

Source: Realtor

Property up North will BOOM in 2018 – but it’s bad news for London homes

By | Residential Property

THE HOUSING market is set to remain stable overall in 2018, although the number of people buying homes may fall slightly, according to forecasts released this week from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and lender the Halifax.

The outlook from RICS for 2018 would appear to be steady yet subdued, with their forecast suggesting that house price growth in the UK will likely come to a halt over the course of next year as the number of transactions reduces slightly.

However, the overall headline figures from the report are expected to remain neutral due to the fact that price growth in some regions, such as Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the North West, is likely to offset anticipated declines in London and the South East.

Current indications are that the total number of residential properties sold in 2017 is likely to be approximately 1.2million, which if correct when the final figures are available in January from HMRC, would mean that the market was slightly lower than 2016, when a total of 1.23million residential properties were sold in the UK.

However, the RICS report suggests that it’s possible that fewer homes will be sold next year, predicting that the market looks unlikely to breach 1.2 million sales in 2018.

This is due to a combination of declining numbers of pre-existing homes being offered on the market for sale, together with a lower number of new build properties being available, alongside a backdrop of stretched buyer affordability, tax changes and interest rate rises.

RICS Economist Tarrant Parsons commented on the report: “The indications are that momentum across the housing market will be lacking as 2018 gets underway. With several of the forces currently weighing on activity set to persist over the near term, it’s difficult to envisage a material step-up in impetus during the next twelve months.

“A real lack of stock coming onto the market remains one of the biggest challenges, while affordability constraints are increasingly curbing demand in some parts. Given these dynamics, price growth may fade to produce a virtually flat outturn for 2018.”

Tarrant continues: “That said, despite the recent interest rate hike, mortgage rates are set to remain very favourable, with the prospect of further rises seemingly minimal over the coming year. Alongside this, government schemes such as Help to Buy should continue to provide some support to sales activity.”

A similar message comes from one of the UK’s biggest lenders, the Halifax, who also issued their house price forecast for 2018 this week.  They also suggest that house prices will remain broadly stable in 2018, with house price growth likely to be weakest in London and the South East, although their prediction is slightly more positive with a forecasted average annual rise in property values of up to 3% by the end of 2018.

The Halifax report suggests that the reason for the muted outlook in 2018 is due to the continuing effects of this year’s squeeze on spending power as inflation has outstripped wage growth and the uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy next year.  However, the report also states that, “There is little reason to expect any fundamental shift in the key housing market drivers in the immediate future”.

Halifax Bank’s Managing Director, Russell Galley, said: “In contrast to the trend seen for much of the past decade, latest data indicates that property price momentum was strongest in northern England but weaker in the South East and London.  House prices in relation to average earnings are still very high in London; at 8.8 times annual average earnings they are close to the historical high of 9.

“Additionally, mortgage affordability in London is worse than its long run average, the only region in the UK where this is so. These affordability issues suggest that price growth will continue to remain low. Outside London, there are few signs of significant stresses and imbalances at present, limiting the risk of a sharp slowdown elsewhere.

“House Prices in general are likely to be supported, seeing modest growth in 2018, through the combination of a shortage of properties for sale, continued low levels of housebuilding, low unemployment levels and finally good levels of affordability due to the low interest rate environment. Despite the recent rate rise we do not expect this to have an adverse impact on transactions. A further rate rise is not seen as imminent and we may not see one until the latter part of 2018, if at all.”

So, in simple terms, what does this really all mean?  Well, in London and the South East, 2018 is likely to remain a buyers’ market.  However, outside the Capital and its commuter belt, competition for properties at all levels may see the ‘mini-booms’ we’ve seen in a few regions continue, meaning that sellers in these areas may remain in the driving seat for the foreseeable future.

Source: Express



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