Welcome to another weekly news round-up.
Now, let’s take a look at the property headlines that caught our attention this week, I always try to summarise the links to save you having to click through.
Property news this week
- Overseas interest in UK real estate and construction through the roof – According to EY’s latest UK Attractiveness Survey, the number of overseas investors who consider real estate and construction to be a key driver of future UK growth has more than tripled since last year. Real estate and construction is now in the top-three most attractive sectors for overseas investors. A factor contributed to this attraction could be the government stated infrastructure plans (such as HS2) with the National Infrastructure Strategy expected to provide a clear, long-term framework, and will be an essential catalyst to attracting investors. The survey found that the UK was seen as the second most attractive European destination for foreign investment in 2021 with 40% of respondents choosing it slightly behind Germany (43%). So, it is good to see that with everything currently going on, the UK is still held in high regard from overseas investors.
- Landlords launch legal action against the government over lockdown evictions – So it seems a brave bunch of landlords are standing up to the government and seeking legal action for the courts to review the actions the government has taken during the pandemic to try and get back their properties from tenants who have huge arrears of rent. The solicitor representing the landlords, David Smith – partner at JMW Solicitors, states in the letter why the property investors have been left with no alternative but to take action, as they struggle to get their properties back following the tenant eviction ban. Smiths says “Such an important decision cannot simply be made by writing a letter on a whim. Many cases of rent arrears were in place before Covid-19 hit – and landlords must be able to tackle the most serious cases. This letter from the Lord Chancellor does not constitute a legal framework and has breached the landlords’ civil and human rights. This must be corrected, and quickly”. It is a very valiant act and many landlords long with industry professionals will be watching this closely as it is a dilemma affecting many. I understand that in such times we currently face ourselves in, protection is needed for tenants that are genuinely adversely affected by COVID-19 but it would seem there are a very small few that are exploiting the governments help and it is leaving many landlords stuck in a very bad position. I feel that it’s these minor few that need to be looked at and some sort of solution thought of, especially if this is going to carry on for longer. Landlords need protection as well.
- Conveyancer attacks “outdated” and “age old processes” – This problem is one that I share the frustration of. Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, a conveyancing technology company, has hit out at what he calls “an over-reliance on outdated processes” and “age-old search delays” for hold-ups in processing transactions in the housing market. As we have documented previously, there has long been an issue with the delays that we usually face with conveyancing and this has been further highlighted with the surge in demand that we have seen post the first lockdown and the introduction of the SDLT Holiday. Most conveyancers just can’t cope at the moment and it is partly down to organisations including local councils and HM Land Registry struggling to keep up. The industry has long cried out for digitalization to speed up the process and while this won’t be resolved by March 31 2021 (SDLT Holiday deadline) we need, as Sommerville puts it, “an industry-wide change in mindset is required now – not to mention a new approach to leveraging the available technology to harness the data at our fingertips”. In my opinion, the system is dated, just not good enough and needs to be looked at sooner rather than later.
- How is the mortgage market faring in Lockdown 2 – Last week we heard about how the housing market was doing and a great way to follow that up this week is looking at the mortgage market. Twenty7Tec, a mortgage technology platform, has released their latest figures on the state of the mortgage market one week after Lockdown 2 began and it shows a rise in searches across the board. Search volumes for buy-to-let (BTL) mortgages were also up, reaching 92.09% – an 8% rise on the week before and weekly residential mortgage search volumes were at 87.57%, up 6.8% on the last week. It would seem that there was a slight dip leading up to Lockdown 2 and then a spike within a day or two of lockdown beginning. This slight dip is probably where people’s attention goes elsewhere preparing for the lockdown and then once it begins their focus returns. It would seem their data shows a steady volume of BTL mortgage searches all year, showing that investor demand and confidence has remained strong throughout.
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