Thursday, 5 November 2020

Tunbridge Wells’ Homebuyers Have Saved £495,920 Thanks to the Stamp Duty Holiday – Yet Many Could Miss Out

Tunbridge Wells’ homebuyers and Tunbridge Wells’ landlords purchasing residential property have saved £12,398 since the Chancellor reduced stamp duty on 8th July 2020, yet many more Tunbridge Wells homebuyers could miss out.

My analysis of properties sold in Tunbridge Wells from the Land Registry between the introduction of the stamp duty holiday on 8th July 2020 and

14th August 2020 (which is the most up to date sales data), reveals that many Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners have saved a considerable amount of money in stamp duty. According to my research…

since the stamp duty holiday was launched, 40 Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners have saved on average £12,398 each.

That’s a total Tunbridge Wells property value of £17,918,495.

Mind you, it’s not all good news as I estimate 88 Tunbridge Wells’ homebuyers risk missing out on stamp duty savings (worth as much as £15,000 each) due to solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders struggling with demand and failing to hit the 31st March 2021 deadline.

The short-term tax relief, together with the easing of lockdown restrictions, has seen demand for Tunbridge Wells property soar this summer as Tunbridge Wells property buyers race to move home.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a stamp duty holiday in the summer, with the stamp duty holiday due to end on 31st March 2021. Yet, I fear the combined pent-up demand caused by…

·       the post Boris Bounce

·       people wanting to leave the metropolitan city centres for homes in the countryside

·       property with gardens

·       property with extra rooms for working from home

·       and the stamp duty savings

…has created a certain amount of constipation and backlog in the Tunbridge Wells property market.

I know 31st March 2021 seems an age away, however nothing could be further from the truth. The average Tunbridge Wells’ property sale was taking 19 weeks between the offer price being agreed and the keys/monies handed over BEFORE THE POST-LOCKDOWN. So with as many as 40% to 50% more Tunbridge Wells’ homeowners in that same sales pipeline of agreeing the offer and the legal and finance to be sorted as we speak, solicitors/conveyancers and mortgage lenders are really struggling with demand for their services, meaning the average time will increase. Hence, I believe as many as…

88 Tunbridge Wells people could miss out on the

£1,091,030 stamp duty tax savings.

 There is time left to sell and legally complete your Tunbridge Wells property sale before 31st March stamp duty deadline if you put the property on the market now with a realistic asking price, a decent marketing plan and razor sharp reflexes when it comes to the legal and mortgage work.

Yet with 40% to 50% more home movers in the system, those looking to sell their Tunbridge Wells home should be very suspicious of agents being too optimistic on their initial asking price (many estate agents get a commission to put a property on the market, meaning they over-egg the pudding on the suggested asking price to flatter you, only to badger you to reduce the asking price weeks later).

Those wasted weeks at an inflated asking price will mean the difference between you securing a buyer and you then buying your next Tunbridge Wells home with or without the stamp duty savings, which are up to £15,000 per home move.

And whilst many Tunbridge Wells buyers seem ready, willing and able to pay top dollar prices for Tunbridge Wells properties that match their changed post-lockdown home needs, speaking privately to many Tunbridge Wells agents, some Tunbridge Wells homeowners’ price expectations for their Tunbridge Wells homes are now becoming too optimistic, meaning they will undoubtedly lose out.

We also can’t forget as many as 1 in 5 mortgage surveys are being down valued by the surveyor, meaning unless all parties are willing to negotiate, the sale falls through and the homeowner has to go back to ‘Square One’.

My best piece of advice for those currently sold and in the sales systems with lawyers and mortgage brokers is to speak to your solicitor and mortgage broker every single week and ask if there is anything you need to do to ensure the sale proceeds smoothly and expediently. Also, if you are asked for any information from your solicitor or mortgage broker in between times, drop everything and respond quickly to their request. The odd day here and there will make all the difference.

Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Royal Tunbridge Wells’ ‘Generation Rent’ to become ‘Generation Buy’?


Boris Johnson has attracted both praise and horror in equal measure with a new plan for 95% mortgages to help beleaguered first time buyers to get on the property ladder, but would that expose UK taxpayers to too much risk? In this article I discuss the implications of what that would mean both nationally and locally in Tunbridge Wells.

With the  Tunbridge Wells property market taking off due to the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer, Boris Johnson announced at the recent Tory Conference a plan to offer first time buyers long-term low interest rate 95% mortgages (meaning they would only need to raise a 5% deposit). Yet when someone borrows more than 75%, the banks normally take out insurance in case the buyer defaults and the bank lose money if the property gets repossessed.

When the economy is good, the risk is low - so the insurance premiums are also low for the banks – meaning they are happy to lend high percentage loans. Yet, nobody could deny we are entering a period of uncertainty in the coming 12/18 months, meaning the insurance premiums for the banks have gone through the roof.

Mortgage companies have avoided riskier high percentage first time buyer mortgages since the start of the Coronavirus predicament. At the end of February 2020, there were just under 400 95% loan-to-value mortgage products accessible for first time buyers, yet today that figure stands at just 26.

Another reason for removing the number of 95% mortgages was that the demand for lower percentage loans exploded after lockdown was lifted, and with many mortgage staff still working from home, the banks and building societies focused their attention on getting those (less risky) mortgages sorted first. Therefore, they removed the higher percentage loans from their books, so they weren’t swamped with too much work ... so, one must ask, should the Government take on that risk from mortgage providers in the form of a guarantee from the Government — sparking concern among economists the Government is already burdened with debt – does it need anymore?

Yet taxpayers have been funding a similar scheme for years. The Help to Buy scheme, which allows first time buyers to buy a home with a 5% deposit (and the Government guaranteeing between 20% to 40% of the loan) has been in operation since 2013. Taxpayers are already guaranteeing £16.049bn of loans for 224,133 for first time buyers, and when we look closer to home locally, since 2013…

169 first time buyers in Tunbridge Wells have used the Help to Buy scheme to help buy their home, relying on the Government to guarantee them on average £70,420

That means in Tunbridge Wells alone, £11,900,980 is at risk if those  Tunbridge Wells homeowners’ default on those pre-existing Help to Buy Loans … yet the default rate is quite low.

So, should the Prime Minister be playing with the housing market? Ought he instead allow open market forces to be applied to the property market, allowing it to find its own normal and leave the mortgage providers to decide on mortgages based on risk, because all the Prime Minister will potentially achieve is a synthetic rise in property values?

Some in fact have argued it would be better to spend that

public money on delivering affordable rental properties?

However, in the long run isn’t it better for the country as a whole that British people own their home rather than rent because the Government will have rent to pay for those tenants when they retire if they are on the basic (low) state pension?

Personally, I don’t disagree with the initiative, yet all I am querying is, what are the Tunbridge Wells first time buyers going to be able to buy? The Tunbridge Wells property market is already quite drawn-out, as ultra-low interest rates have augmented the gap between the first home and the second home, the second home to the third and so on and so forth, so  is this initiative  fashioning a massive demand that will inflate property prices up the Tunbridge Wells property ladder still further and ultimately lead to even more frustration down the line?

However, could this be the very thing that saves

the  Tunbridge Wells property market in 2021? 

Firstly, with the stamp duty holiday due to finish by the end of March, there are suspicions the property market will stall. And secondly, the very popular Help to Buy scheme mentioned above also finishes at the end of March 2021. This boost instead of fueling house price inflation could stabilise the property market.

In fact, the Government are hoping the property market will help power us out of recession. The early signs are good as the Tunbridge Wells housing market has exploded as a result of the stamp duty holiday introduced in the summer. It certainly needs to as the country’s GDP only grew by 2.1% in August, down from 6.4% in July, 9.1% in June and 2.7% in May.

As a country, our GDP is still 9.2% below the levels seen pre-Covid. With the property market doing well, the country remains on course to leave recession in Q3, yet with the impending triple peril of rising unemployment (after furlough), further lock-down restrictions and a messy end to the Brexit transition period does this mean we are potentially in for an interesting ride?

Only time will tell if ‘Generation Buy’ will help save the property market, the econ
omy and ultimately Boris? In the meantime, I think it will be a safe bet that people still need homes to live in … and irrespective of what happens to the property market, with that simple fact, the winners in all of this will be  Tunbridge Wells buy to let landlords.

Tell me your thoughts on this …


Some simple, soothing ways to keep your pets calm this firework season in Tunbridge Wells

Today we look at ten steps you can take to soothe pets through the anxiety-inducing fireworks season.

Halloween has been and gone and next up on the calendar is Bonfire Night.

Some people enjoy it. Others endure it. 

One thing is for sure, and that's with all the loud bangs, strange sounds, and unexpected flashes it's a testing time, to put it mildly, for our pets.

At Martin & Co we love people, properties, and pets and that's why we've collated these six tips for animal lovers in Tunbridge Wells

Check out these ten tips on keeping animal calm from the RSPCA:

1) Give them a walk during daylight hours to avoid times when fireworks are likely to be set off.

2) Close windows and curtains
to stifle the sound of fireworks.

3) Put on the TV or radio to mask the firework sounds.

4) Create a quiet 'safe' space where your dog can feel in control.

5) Make some hiding places around your home where they can retreat to.

6) Give them a little extra TLC (tender loving care, that one's from us).

Advice for cat owners:

7) Just like you would do for dogs provide hiding places in your home.

8) Get them inside. Cats can become more stressed if they're outside during fireworks.

Advice for small animal owners (rabbits, gerbils etc.)

9) Partly cover outside cages and pens with blankets to create an Tunbridge Wells which is quieter and hidden but make space for the animals to look out and see where they are.

10) Ensure there's bedding small animals can burrow in as it helps them feel safer. 

At MARTIN & CO we are all about finding you a home you AND your pets will love and feel safe and comfortable in.

If you have any questions about what's happening in the Tunbridge Wells property market right now, please get in touch.

Thanks for reading.

Have a Safe one

Monday, 2 November 2020


How will the new lockdown impact the rental market in TUNBRIDGE WELLS

In this two-minute read, we look at what the announcement on Saturday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson means to landlords and tenants in TUNBRIDGE WELLS.

The writing has been on the wall for several days now, but on Saturday we received confirmation that England will go into lockdown from Thursday, November 5 until at least December 2.

So, how will this affect landlords and tenants in TUNBRIDGE WELLS?

Well, firstly it's good news from a property moving perspective because the Housing Minister Robert Jenrick confirmed in a tweet on Saturday evening that the market was still very much open for business.


‘Can I still move home?’


‘Yes – the housing market will remain open throughout this period. Everyone should continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus by following the current guidance.’

The Minister's tweet linked to an information guide about the new lockdown which you can find at the bottom of this article.

At MARTIN & CO, we continue to work hard for our landlords and tenants in a Covid-19 secure way, while strictly following the regulations laid out by the Government.

Yes we Can

We can still conduct safety first viewings using PPE, hand sanitisers and social distancing.

We will still carry out inspections safely and sensitively.

We remain able to organise maintenance and repairs under the new lockdown.

And we will keep everyone we work with updated about any changes that may happen.

Here for YOU

We appreciate this is an anxious time for many of our clients and that's why we want you to contact us if you have any questions, concerns or want to get a better understanding of what's happening.

As we were in the first lockdown, we are 100 per cent committed and focussed on doing the right things for our clients, our colleagues, and our community.

Thanks for reading.

PS: Here's the Government article:

Copyright: MARTIN & CO (Tunbridge Wells)