Mixed messages of mortgage market

Dominic Thomas
March 2024  •  6 min read

Mixed message of mortgage market

I wonder if I’m exaggerating if I suggest that property is such a UK obsession that it is the political dividing point between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Think about it – what policies are designed to protect and inflate the value of property and which are there to house people (irrespective of your political beliefs or persuasion)? The value of mortgage borrowing in the UK is now £1,657.6bn 1.1% lower than last year.

Anyway, the current Government is keen to reassure us that the UK is not really in a recession and talking about one merely leads us into one through negative talk. We know that the Chancellor considered offering guarantees to banks if they issued 99% mortgages, but this never made it into the final list of ideas, probably because most of us thought it was daft.

Meanwhile the UKs largest Building Society Nationwide (who have recently bought Virgin Money for £2.9bn) report that property prices have been rising, up 0.7% in February 2024. The average house price is now £260,420 up 1.2% over 12 months. This is in contrast to the figure that the Land Registry produce of £284,691 for December 2023.

As our office is currently based in SW20, the average price of all property in the area was £555,262 but for a detached house £1,604,983, or a semi at £884,485, a terraced house at £611,401 and a flat or maisonette at £390,792. You can search your location using the UK House Price Index here

On the other hand, reports from the Bank of England also show that mortgages in arrears (missed payments) now stands at around 13.2% of mortgages.

Comparing the last two quarters of 2023 (Q3 and Q4) isn’t really ‘fair’ as we all know that most house buying and selling is done in the summer months (Q3) not over the Michaelmas term. So in that context, the Bank reports that new mortgage commitments is down 21.2% comparing Q4 in 2023 with 2022. The value of advances is down 33.8%. In Q4 2022 £81.6bn of loans were agreed, a year later it is £54bn.

The number of First Time Buyers continues to decline, from 351,000 in 2019 to 287,000 in 2023. Affordability is the key phrase in lending these days and rising rates have evidently placed pressure on borrowers, stretching their mortgage over greater lengths to make the monthly repayments more ‘affordable’. I imagine most of us are familiar with a 25-year mortgage, but 1 in 5 (20%) first time buyers takes on a 35 year mortgage, double the number a year earlier.

“It was the same in our day”… no it was not.

You will likely have heard or thought that everyone struggles at first with a mortgage and their finances. That’s true, but it’s worse for young people these days, much worse. Admittedly everyone is different, there are enormous regional variances, but if we go with averages for the UK, here are some facts that may convince you that buying a coffee and avocado on toast really isn’t the issue. The system is broken and it is deliberately set up to favour property owners here in the UK. Most law is based around the notion of property ownership.

As is evident from the above, clearly it is not possible for someone wanting the average mortgage with the average income to afford the monthly repayments on a 25 year loan, so lenders have responded by offering longer durations. This does not address the problem, it merely keeps the system going and keeps young people in debt until they are definitely not young! Of course better mortgage rates can be found (true in both periods) and of course property prices differ as noted in my local example of an average flat in Merton being more expensive than the average UK home.

If you factor in other costs that young people have which you and I did not have in 1993, it would include student loans and auto-enrolment pensions. The latter being a very good thing, the former being a State-wide fleecing (my opinion).

Yet, I suspect that you and I are likely to presume that these same young people will be happy to do all those jobs that keep civilized life ticking along, from emptying the bins, caring for the elderly and unwell to policing our streets and running the country. I imagine that they may not be quite so enthusiastic to keep doing the work and the paying of taxes to support it.

Remortgages, which you would think should be increasing as people shop around for better rates are actually in decline from 849,000 in 2021 to 538,000 in 2023. The table below makes me wonder why on earth people are not remortgaging. I do hope that it isn’t a sense of fear. To provide a reminder let’s consider mortgages and houses in December 1993. The average property price was £54,026 (Land Registry) and the standard variable mortgage rate was about 7.9%. The average salary in 1993 was £17,784  in December 2023 it was £32,240.

Perhaps your energy costs are starting to subside, if you have a mortgage or pay rent, I am sure you will have been aware of the increases in your monthly costs, at least if you have had to renegotiate terms. Variable rates are considerably higher than they were a few years ago. There is a fair chance your mortgage is with Lloyds, Nationwide, NatWest, Santander or Barclays who account for 64% of the entire mortgage market. The top nine lenders in 2022 (out of 79) affirm Pareto’s law of having 80% of the market from 20% of the players (or less).

Anyway, in terms of your financial planning, we don’t arrange mortgages, but advise you speak to Martin and his team at London Money (see our professional contacts page). You may be concerned about your children or grandchildren getting onto the property ladder or perhaps downsizing to release equity at some point. Please ensure that you keep us up to date with any changes in your thinking about how you intend to use property in relation to your planning.

Reference: Bank of England: Mortgage and Lender Administrators Statistics 2023 Q4 (LINK HERE)

Reference: UK Finance: Household Finance Review, latest data Q4 2023 (LINK HERE)

Reference: UK Land Registry: UK House Price Index (LINK HERE)

Mixed messages of mortgage market2024-03-22T15:53:27+00:00

The November budget

The November budget

The problem of having a deadline for publication is that life tends to throw up some new important information just at the wrong time. The chaos of the ‘mini-budget’ resulted in a new Prime Minister and Chancellor. The Budget on 17th November was set to herald tax rises. So, what has been announced?

NOVEMBER – INCOME TAX

Tax thresholds have been frozen, save the additional rate of tax threshold, which now begins sooner, meaning that more people will pay 45% tax, starting at £125,140 instead of £150,000. What this means in practice for someone now brought into additional rate (earning £150,000) is that they pay 5% more income tax on their earnings above £125,140.  If you earn £150,000 you would pay £1,243 more income tax as a result of this change, (£11,187 as opposed to £9,944) effectively £103.58 a month more. Whilst politicians talk of short-term pain, the projections show this measure for 5 years.

NOVEMBER – CAPITAL GAINS TAX

Capital Gains allowances have been cut substantially, reducing from £12,500 to £6,000 from April 2023 and then to £3,000 from April 2024.  Trusts have a CGT allowance of half the personal allowance. So realising gains this tax year will be more effective than in future years.

As a reminder, this is the permitted gains on assets being sold with a 0% tax rate before being taxed at 10% or 20%, unless that asset is a second property in which case its 18% or 28%. So if you are a landlord, sell before April 5th to maximise your allowances.

I had expected the rates of tax to increase in line with income taxes rather than the allowance being altered and mostly scrapped entirely. In any event, capital gains tax allowance reductions makes your annual ISA, Pension, VCT, EIS allowances all even more attractive, sheltering funds from CGT in different ways.

NOVEMBER- DIVIDENDS

The Dividend allowance has also been slashed. This will mostly impact those with a small business whereby family members or staff can have a share of profits (dividends) tax free. The first £2,000 of dividends are currently tax free, this will reduce to £1,000 from the new tax year and then £500 in the next ..

NOVEMBER – PENSIONS

It would seem that there are no changes, which is frankly a bit of a surprise. The annual allowance remains at £40,000 unless you have income over £200,000 when a reduced (tapered) allowance would apply. The Lifetime Allowance has remained in place. If you are an NHS employee, I cannot find anything in the 70 page statement to help you with your annual allowance problems and there is nothing about the tapered annual allowance. So, sadly, more senior doctors will likely reduce their NHS hours or otherwise face tax charges on income that they have not had. We can help crunch the numbers, but if anyone is in a position to ‘get it’, Mr Hunt is but seems to have chosen not to.

NOVEMBER – STATE PENSIONS

If you are receiving your State Pension, it’s going to increase by 10% in April. If you haven’t started taking yours, well you are also likely to have to wait until you are much older to get one. Everyone knows this is a political ‘hot potato’ and the younger generations are unlikely to receive a State Pension until at least 68 (and this will probably be increased in the announcement in early 2023).

NOVEMBER – FEELING FROZEN?

You are going to need to ‘let it go’ … that is – hopes of seeing the end of frozen allowances ending any time soon. The personal allowance, slice of basic rate and higher rate tax tiers were all frozen anyway, but the deep freeze has been extended by two further years. Due to inflation and rising salaries, this will in itself raise more tax. This is part of what critics call ‘stealth taxes’ – the sort you don’t really register (much like inflation eroding your cash) – you only tend to notice after a few years of going backwards.

The Energy Price Guarantee will be maintained through the Winter, limiting typical energy bills to £2,500, this will increase to £3,000 from April. It is generally expected that energy prices will remain high for the next 12 months. To be blunt, nobody knows because it all rather depends on the Russians. One point to note is that the energy savings you may be making now will likely continue as the Government intend to reduce energy consumption by 15% by the end of the decade. To put that into perspective, that’s about the same as making your use of energy in 10 months last a year.

PROPERTY

The British obsession with houses continues to be supported by Government policy. The tax when buying property (Stamp Duty Land Tax) was reduced in September doubling the first tier of SDLT with a 0% tax rate from £125,000 to £250,000. For First Time Buyers this is extended from £300,000 to £425,000. These measures will end on 31st March 2025. If you are going to move or buy your first home and want to benefit from this fully, do so before March 2025.

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

The November budget2023-12-01T12:12:41+00:00

HELPING FIRST TIME BUYERS

TODAY’S BLOG

HELPING FIRST TIME BUYERS

You may be aware that buying your first home is and has been fairly difficult, largely due to the inflated price of property and incomes that simply do not keep up at the same rate. Successive Governments have attempted to address this problem with initiatives, including adjusting stamp duty, capital gains tax and providing a type of ISA which has +25% tax relief as a bonus if used for a deposit on a property. This began with the Help to Buy ISA in 2015 to be replaced by the Lifetime ISA or LISA (the tinkering seems endless and neurotic). The Help to Buy ISA is only available to those who opened one before December 2019 and will cease completely from December 2029.

I won’t go into all the detail here about the differences and appropriateness, suffice to say that a LISA has a £4,000 tax year contribution cap of the standard £20,000 allowance.

HMRC’s latest quarterly statistics on Help to Buy ISAs have been released. These cover the period from 1 December 2015 to 31 December 2021.

The statistics show that since the launch of the Help to Buy ISA, 480,494 property completions have been supported by the scheme and 630,264 bonuses have been paid through the scheme (totalling £714 million) with an average bonus value of £1,132. It may not surprise you to learn that 2021 saw the highest number of purchases to date.

The table below shows the number of property completions supported by the scheme broken down by property value:

The highest number of property completions with the support of the scheme is in the North West (13%) and Yorkshire and the Humber (10%), with the lowest numbers in the North East, Northern Ireland and Wales. London buyers accounted for 8% of all completions but with a much higher average price of £330,661 – double the price paid in most of the UK.

The statistics also show:

  • The mean value of a property purchased through the scheme is £175,849 compared to an average first-time buyer house price of £228,627 and a national average house price of £274,712.
  • 65.3% of first-time buyers who have been supported by the scheme were between the ages of 25 to 34.
  • The median age of a first-time buyer in the scheme is 28 compared to a national first-time buyer median age of 30.

It would be unfair to suggest that the scheme isn’t working that well, but in practice taxpayer money is funding private property purchases, which are predominantly helping those living in areas of already cheap (by comparison) homes. Personally I am not convinced by the system. It does very little to really control the problem of soaring property prices, if anything it may add to it …

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

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The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

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Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

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HELPING FIRST TIME BUYERS2023-12-01T12:12:46+00:00

GETTING ON THE PROPERTY LADDER

TODAY’S BLOG

GETTING YOUR FOOT ON (AND OFF) THE PROPERTY LADDER…

Despite various Government initiatives – the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme; stamp duty land tax relief; reduced deposit requirements etc – getting on the property ladder still proves to be a difficult task for the majority of young adults in the UK; and can feel almost unattainable for some.

This sometimes means that couples move in together (often prematurely) and/or live with parents for longer in order to start saving for a house deposit. There are a variety of things that can be done to help build a deposit for first time buyers under the age of 40, but the truth is that this is very marginal. In spite of what some celebratory estate agents may suggest, cutting back on trips to Starbucks is a drop in the ocean when we see property prices galloping off into the distance and out of range of anyone earning less than £80,000. Yes, rates are low, mortgage terms are longer, but often the bank of Mum and Dad or an inheritance has to save the day!

In this country, our laws generally protect the landlord as opposed to the tenant, making buying all the more desirable; yet it is almost out of reach for millennials.  The average age of first time buyers in the UK is now 34 years old which is an alarming statistic (it’s 37 if you live in London).

You know that buying a house is of course an investment, but it also represents so much more than that – a home, a stable environment, your sanctuary. Most of us would also concede that we have done relatively little to increase the value of our homes, most of the rise has been due to the demand, which is fuelled by a lack of housing stock. Most of us have actually been quite lucky rather than particularly savvy about property.

At Solomon’s, we work towards enabling our clients to achieve financial freedom. Usually that means paying off your mortgage long before you retire.  A huge milestone for anyone … effectively liberating your salary and giving you the opportunity to spend your hard-earned income on other things.

We aren’t only about helping you to invest your money (although this is obviously a large part of what we do) – on many occasions, Dominic has had to tell clients that they have reached a point where they can start spending it! (You might be surprised to hear that people are sometimes reluctant to do this; having been shackled by mortgage payments for so many years).

It is not that we are giving clients permission to spend their money (such permission is not ours to give or withhold!), rather it’s simply about reminding them of their autonomy and the power to make ‘informed choices’.

We have been told many times in the past that one of the things clients like about our service is the guidance and ‘reassurance’ we provide.  And this is indeed one of the most enjoyable parts of what we do – financial freedom is our main aim for clients and we derive great pleasure from seeing this happen.

Abigail Liddicott
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GETTING ON THE PROPERTY LADDER2023-12-01T12:12:55+00:00

TAXING YOUR HOME

TODAY’S BLOG

TAXING YOUR HOME

Most people believe that inheritance tax is one of the most unfair taxes. I understand the frustration, but for me its way down the list. Inheritance tax is not a tax you are likely to pay unless you have received a significant sum from a relative.

For me, Stamp duty is one of the most regressive taxes. Often overlooked by house buyers and almost always forgotten about by those that hold property portfolios. It’s a tax on getting on, staying on or moving along the property ladder. Literally nothing of significance done by a government employee and nothing at all done by HMRC or the Government.

OK, sure we need to take taxes somehow to fund a decent, functional society, but I have little comprehension of the obsession in taxing someone’s home, unless of course you believe that we are all really serfs working for our masters and that land taxes keep us all firmly in our places, outside the walls of landed estates.  Of course if you were properly rich, your home would belong to a Trust – silly you.

Anyway, as predicted, the Stamp Duty holiday has led to a significant fall in the number of people paying this tax over the last quarter, according to the latest HMRC figures. HMRC figures shows the number of property transactions subject to stamp duty land tax (SDLT) were 10% lower in Q4 2021, when compared to the previous three months (Q3 2021). These transactions were also 13% lower than Q4 2020.  This SDLT holiday was phased out between 30 June and 30 September last year. HMRC says this caused a substantial rise in the number of transactions being completed earlier in the year, with home buyers keen to avoid paying additional stamp tax charges. Since this tax break started to be phased out, HMRC says there has been a fall in transaction over the last two quarters. Residential property transaction in Q4 2021 were 12% lower than Q3 in 2021 and 15% lower than in Q4 2020. Over the same period non-residential property transactions were 10% higher than both Q3 2021 and Q4 2020.

AS SAFE AS HOUSES – THE SURE THING?

And guess what…. As predicted (or more accurately, as repeated from history) house prices rose to record highs. The average price of a home rose by 9.7% compared with a year earlier, gaining £24,500 to £276,759. However, monthly growth rose by 0.3%, down from 1.1% in December and the smallest monthly rate of increase since June 2021.

Many commentators expect the housing market to cool “considerably” this year as Britons are confronted by a cost-of-living squeeze. The Bank of England raised interest rates to 0.5% to curb inflation that it expects to rise above 7% in April. It forecast that rising energy costs and goods prices would lead to a 2% drop in people’s net income after inflation this year — the biggest hit to real incomes since comparable records began in 1990. About 22 million households will have to pay 54% more for their electricity and gas supplies from April 1, when the energy price cap rises to around £2,000. The Bank also predicted that growth in Britain’s GDP would slow. However, while commentators believe house price growth will cool this year, they did not expect prices to fall significantly.

Unplanned savings built up during the pandemic will go some way to offsetting the income squeeze. And with around 80% of UK mortgage debt at fixed rates, most mortgage-holders are well insulated from short-term increases. Furthermore, more stringent affordability criteria and mortgage regulation introduced during the 2010s means that recent buyers should be better placed to cope with higher mortgage rates than in the past.

Nobody sane thinks property is worth the prices being charged. I don’t do predictions and I don’t bet. You have been warned though (so take comfort that I am nearly always wrong about property prices).

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

TAXING YOUR HOME2023-12-01T12:12:55+00:00

HEARTS, MINDS AND EQUITY RELEASE

TODAY’S BLOG

EQUITY RELEASE SURGE

A surge in homeowners looking to free up cash from their properties propelled the figure for equity release to £1.05bn in the three months to the end of September, driven by high house prices, gifts to family members and uncertainty induced by the coronavirus pandemic. The value of equity released jumped by nearly one-fifth from £884m in the third quarter of 2020.

While the number of loans taken out was slightly down year on year, the average amount of housing wealth freed up was 23% higher, at £101,593 per borrower. Data published this month by one of the main equity release providers (Key) suggested many borrowers were taking advantage of recent house price gains to help family members climb the housing ladder. “Big-ticket items” such as debt management and gifting were behind nearly two-thirds of the equity released in the third quarter. More than two-fifths (42%) of the cash given to family and friends was used for house deposits.

For homeowners over the age of 55, equity release offers a way of unlocking the value of their properties, whether for home improvements, paying off other debts or to help family members. Interest on the loan is paid through the sale of the house at the end of the term, so unlike a conventional mortgage a borrower is not required to demonstrate a minimum level of income to qualify. Interest rates are higher for these “lifetime mortgages” than for most mainstream mortgages. Interest rates are low by historic terms, but equity release is a not straight-forward.

Hearts, Minds and Equity Release

THE POWER OF COMPOUNDING INTEREST

Equity release is not like a normal mortgage, repaid over a set time. It is generally a loan which is only repaid when the property is sold. Overall, no payments are made, the interest merely compounds. By now you know the miracle of compounding interest – which works wonderfully for your investments and does precisely the opposite for your debt.

The risks you need to consider are future interest rates, the future value of your home and how long you will live or anyone else that you share it with. The earlier you release equity, the bigger your total debt in the end. Admittedly this helps reduce the value of an estate for inheritance tax, but in practice it can simply mean that there is nothing to inherit.

Some of you may remember the significant property crash in the late 1980s. At the time equity release was very popular and many people got caught out by the reduced value in their home and the increasing interest rates. All conspired to create genuine stress and financial hardship for some. There have been reforms, but I would urge caution – a lot of it. This should always be considered in the context of your total financial planning, not simply a desire to help a family member.

We do not provide advice about equity release but can refer you to a specialist. However, you should exercise great caution and have a clear plan and reason about why you want the funds. Interest rates are normally higher than a typical mortgage. The fact that around half of those using equity release are between 65 and 74 does not bode well for those that may live for 2 or 3 decades.

As ever, good financial management starts with good budgeting and a proper plan.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

HEARTS, MINDS AND EQUITY RELEASE2023-12-01T12:12:59+00:00

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 2021

TODAY’S BLOG

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 2021

In terms of your personal finance, not a lot has changed. Indeed, most of the announcements merely confirmed previous announcements, such is the way of our politicians. As a reminder, the next tax year begins on 6th April 2022. The main changes for most are really for those that receive dividends or pay National Insurance

iNCOME TAX RATE ON DIVIDENDS 2022/23 2021/22 (NOW)
Basic rate taxpayer 8.75% 7.50%
Higher rate taxpayer 33.75% 32.50%
Additional rate taxpayer 39.45% 38.10%
Rate for Trusts 39.35% 38.10%

National Insurance for employers increases from 13.8% to 15.05% which basically makes it more expensive to employ people. Employees will also pay rather more at the main rate, rising from 12% to 13.25% and then at the upper or higher rate increased from 2% to 3.25%. Remember the thing about National Insurance is that there is a threshold for the main rate after which you simply pay a flat, reduced rate (currently 2% but increasing to 3.25%). The self-employed main rate increases from 9% to 10.25%. Self-employed people do not fully enjoy the same benefits for their NI payments.

MAIN ALLOWANCES

For those of you using your pensions, the annual allowance remains at £40,000 but if you have begun drawing income from investment-based pensions it is restricted to £4,000 the delightfully named “Money Purchase Annual Allowance” or MPAA. The Lifetime Allowance (the total value of your pensions permitted before excess charges) remains frozen as previously indicated at £1,073,100. This is equivalent to a pension income of £53,655.

ISA and JISA limits remain as they were (£20,000 and £9,000) which are fairly substantial allowances but indicate a “kick the can down the road” policy of Government worrying about tax in the future. Capital Gains Tax (CGT) allowances and rates remain as they are (which is daft).

If you own a second property or inherit one, the capital gains rate and requirement for payment are important to understand. However, one small improvement is that you now have 60 days to pay the liability rather than 30 (with immediate effect). I imagine one of Rishi’s friends was offloading and was worried about an extra charge (surely not!).

As for inheritance, the nil rate remains at £325,000 per person and those with children inheriting the family home the residential nil rate band adds a further £175,000. However, this is tapered when an estate is worth more than £2m.

In short, for all the bluff and thunder and 200 pages, not much is in it for you and I. Remember – death and taxes.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

THE AUTUMN BUDGET 20212023-12-01T12:13:01+00:00

HOT PROPERTY OR COOLING DOWN?

TODAY’S BLOG

HOT PROPERTY OR COOLING DOWN?

UK house price growth has dropped to its slowest pace in four months, new data shows, as the temporary stamp duty holiday ended a boom in the property market. Halifax said on Friday that annual house price growth in the UK slowed to 7.6% in July, down from 8.7% in June. July’s reading was the lowest since March. The slowdown came as a tax break on property transactions came to an end. The chancellor announced a stamp duty holiday in July 2020 that ended in June.

You will be perfectly aware that property prices and location make little sense. It is still perplexing to see the prices that people will pay for a home and what we all think our pile of bricks is worth. So when reading data about property prices, take with a pinch of salt as the variance in “rising prices” is considerable not simply across the country, but within a local London borough.

It is also evident that the property “crisis” is not going to end soon and the only way most people in their twenties in southern England can afford a home is if a relative leaves them funds.

I thought you might find the tables below (sorry I have not mastered posting excel tables here) of some interest. These are places our clients live or have some connection or visit and so on. You can play “spot where Waitrose might be”. The average values information is from Zoopla today. The larger cities and towns are likely disadvantaged by the number of housing which is more likely to push down the average value. However you are all quite able to realise this for yourselves and will more likely remark at the vast differences in general across the country from Ascot to York.

Hot property cooling?
LOCATION £ AVERAGE VALUE
ASCOT 875,236
ASHTEAD 751,310
BANSTEAD 622,391
BASSINGHAM 328,043
BATH 530,846
BIRMINGHAM 218,932
BRADFORD 139,989
BRADFORD ON AVON 468,886
BRIGHTON 445,631
BRISTOL 358,092
BROADWAY 539,513
BURY ST EDMUNDS 345,814
CAMBRIDGE 483,235
CARDIFF 271,241
CATERHAM 542,720
CHELSEA 1,968,682
CHELTENHAM 400,586
CLAPHAM 760,086
CLAYGATE 914,061
CLIFTON, BRISTOL 609,016
COBHAM 1,197,138
COTTINGHAM 248,156
CRANLEIGH 617,406
DERBY 223,218
DORKING 616,990
DURHAM 174,841
EDINBURGH 322,309
EMSWORTH 445,595
EPSOM 564,334
ESHER 1,098,649
EXETER 323,170
GLASGOW 208,828
GUILDFORD 613,276
HEATHFIELD 459,222
HENLEY ON THAMES 876,576
HOPE VALLEY, DERBYSHIRE 400,743
HORSHAM 458,448
HULL 147,731
ISLE OF WIGHT 286,722
KENSINGTON 1,871,568
KESWICK, CUMBRIA 374,254
KINGSTON UPON THAMES 623,538
KNIGHTSBRIDGE 2,887,395
LEATHERHEAD 824,727
LEEDS 237,970
LEICESTER 257,473
LIVERPOOL 189,644
LUDLOW 312,723
MANCHESTER 209,830
LOCATION £ AVERAGE VALUE
MARLOW 725,186
MAYFAIR 2,335,280
NEW MALDEN 640,941
NORWICH 298,797
NOTTINGHAM 231,554
OXFORD 515,613
OXSHOTT 1,988,799
PUTNEY 783,076
REIGATE 650,073
RICHMOND ON THAMES 913,139
RIPLEY (SURREY) 641,346
SALCOMBE 762,901
SALISBURY 394,427
SHREWSBURY 281,540
ST ALBANS 608,263
SURBITON 604,492
SWANSEA 198,269
TELFORD 191,829
TRURO 376,079
UCKFIELD 484,426
WEST EALING 675,034
WEST WITTERING 666,953
WEYBRIDGE 945,264
WIMBLEDON VILLAGE 1,512,663
WINCHESTER 576,821
WINDSOR 637,604
YORK 322,059

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

HOT PROPERTY OR COOLING DOWN?2023-12-01T12:13:04+00:00

THE BUDGET 3 MARCH 2021

TODAY’S BLOG

THE BUDGET 03 MARCH 2021

The House of Commons was unusually civil during the Chancellors Budget Statement largely because hardly anyone was there due to social distancing and making the task rather easy to identify who is behaving like a spoiled child. Normally the Speaker has a harder job. As for the Budget – well, it’s a good job I am not a betting man.

The Chancellor believes that support over the pandemic will run to £407bn in various forms. This needs to be repaid if future generations are not to be saddled with debt forever, thereby hampering how future Governments can help them.

I did warn that taxes would rise, I thought capital gains tax would be the most obvious tax to increase. It has not. The only actual increased tax rate is Corporation Tax, which impacts business owners running profitable businesses (with profits over £250,000). Corporation tax will rise from 19% to 25% – that’s an increase of 31%. It may surprise you to learn that only 10% of businesses claim to make profits over £250,000.

Almost everything else stayed the same – but staying the same really means changing. Of course, this knock-on effect means reduced profit to share out in the larger businesses (like those you invest in via a fund) so returns may be dampened – but then this is simply a UK issue and most of your equity holdings are not in the UK now (your portfolio is global).

SOLOMONS IFA FROZEN ALLOWANCE BUDGET

THE SAME DOES NOT MEAN NO CHANGE

Pensions, Capital Gains, Inheritance tax all remain unchanged, which means that as incomes or the values of assets rise, the excess taxes begin to hurt rather more.

Those approaching retirement have the spectre of a 5-year freeze of the Lifetime Allowance at £1,073,100. Anything above this sees the excess taxed at 55% – so more likely. How much and how you can contribute to pensions is also frozen, as it is for ISAs and Junior ISAs. These are probably the “nice to have” problems if you are running a business that is struggling or have an income that has fallen dramatically due to the pandemic.

Your Personal allowance (income you can have at 0% tax rate) rises by £70 on 6th April to £12,570 but then stays at that level for 5 years. Higher rate and Additional Rate tiers also remain frozen. What this really means is that if your income rises due to inflation or promotion etc, you will pay more tax.

The most notable help to younger generations is the Apprentice Scheme and the re-opening of 95% mortgages by lenders, who have been given Government guarantees. There may be some window dressing here, a borrower will still be made to jump through a variety of hoops to prove that they can become an owner (or more accurately, a borrower) rather than a renter, with a 5% deposit. Those that have taken advantage of the reduce Stamp Duty ending in March, have a little longer to complete their purchase.

If you are asking me what I would have done differently, (you aren’t) well there is a very long list and most of it involves simplifying pensions and tax rates. Complexity enables some to thrive and others to become rather entangled. HMRC are due to have a whopping £180m spent on further technology to help ensure you report your taxes correctly with fairly dire consequences for those that do not. I do hope that the track and trace lot are not “awarded” the HMRC technology contract.

DETAIL IS A DEVIL

Politicians rely on our short-term memories, they must do otherwise so few would ever be re-elected. When you cut through the words it is best to look at the numbers. These are some key forecasts that I have pulled from the Budget Statement (which you can see here).

SOLOMONS IFA BLOG BUDGET ASSUMPTIONS

How you view life will likely influence how you select data from the table above (which is all lifted directly from the Budget) I have only shown the year on year changes as a percentage and drawn attention to some of the data (of which there is a lot!). Long story short, we will be paying more income tax. The Chancellor seems to be expecting unemployment  to increase by 500,000 over the next 2 years before reducing, but still above current levels. Inheritance tax receipts peak in the coming tax year perhaps reflecting the consequences of the fatalities from the virus.

The property market looks predicted to return to normality shortly, but really picking up next year. Council tax looks likely to increase rather faster than inflation. Fuel duties will begin to rise, and oddly over the next 12 months, once hopefully this is over, duties from alcohol actually fall in 2021/22 (which I think is odd unless you have all been knocking back the booze over the last year or so more than normal with a plan to cut back).  Air Passenger duty has rather obviously collapsed and will likely return to pre-pandemic levels in 4-5 years time, that’s quite a slow recovery.

Corporation tax will really bite in 3-4 years time. Business rates also begin to pick up, which when combined with loan repayments and more VAT, I imagine that some business owners may be looking at cost reductions. There may well be “pent up demand” and a good supply of labour, the Chancellor is understandably encouraging investment in growth, through new technology and digital business combined with Apprenticeships. It (business growth and development) is certainly what needs to happen, but whether it will remains to be seen.

Every Budget has lots of assumptions about the future, but you will be paying more tax, so use the allowances you can.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

THE BUDGET 3 MARCH 20212023-12-01T12:13:09+00:00

HOT PROPERTY?

TODAY’S BLOG

HOT PROPERTY – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

We are all aware that the world is a bit weird now.  The thoughtful self-reflection that occurred during lockdown appears to have given way to fatigue, thoughtlessness and sometimes an attitude of selfishness. The UK property market continues to confound reason.

We know that during the initial lockdown, which was really the duration of the second quarter of 2020, very little happened, then gradually restrictions have lifted. One of the often-cited reflections of working from home is the need for a quiet space at home, be that a spare bedroom, study or garden shed. As people became accustomed to not commuting, many found that they are in fact rather more productive. Some have found a better balance between the professional and the personal. Many have questioned why they are paying for an expensive small home that makes commuting quicker but now find it unnecessary. Some have noted the value of community and the desire to be closer to relatives. Space is cheaper elsewhere.

We know that big cities like London were struggling to encourage people back into the office, leading to an existential threat to many supporting businesses and organisations, from cafes and restaurants to meeting venues. We are now heading into the Winter with yet another Governmental set of directives, which may or may not be helpful.

Interest rates have never been lower in living memory. If ever there was a time to borrow it is now. However, lenders are all too familiar with bad debt and worry about an economy that may experience a prolonged recession, with rising unemployment and job insecurity. The usual domino effect of recessions. This results in lenders managing their own risk, limiting who, when and why they lend. They hold the cards. We may all find money a bit tighter if taxes increase to pay for furlough and various Covid bailouts.

SOLOMONS IFA MONEY FOCUS

STAMP DUTY: GOING, GOING…

The Chancellor has tried to stimulate house sales by removing Stamp Duty on sales under £500,000 until the end of March 2021. This is a tax break that is planned to end. Some of you may remember MIRAS, another tax break which ended 20 years ago. House sales in England typically account for 85% of all house sales in the UK, forgive me, but I’m going to focus on the sales in England. The ONS records sales over £40,000. In Q2 of 2020 a provisional 131,730 homes were sold in England, a year earlier the figure was 237,870. Sales had been gradually improving since the credit crunch. Numbers had not recovered to their 2006/07 which saw 1,433,200 homes sold, that collapsed in 08/09 to just 664,250. Sales have been recovering slowly and then dented again by the Brexit vote, before reaching 1,003,060 in 18/19.

SCORES ON THE DOORS…

2020 began fairly slowly, but reflective of seasonal normality with monthly sales in the 70,000 range. April sales collapsed to 32,350 (lockdown) but by July sales had returned to winter levels of 71,190. So despite what Estate Agents may be telling you, property sales are below average, down by something like 20%. You can dress it up, but that’s the reality of completed sales. That said, according to Nationwide average prices recovered in July and increased in August by 3.7%. They also note that the 2010s has been the weakest decade for property prices up 33% over the decade compared to 180% in the 1980s. Low interest rates and the credit crunch being the suggested main factors.

YOU HAVE MORE MONEY? LET ME SHOW YOU…

Some warn that the reduced stamp duty tax will not be passed on, as sellers push prices to cover their own stamp duty on property over £500,000. In short, the young are paying above the odds. Some expect prices to fall as demand slows in April next year when the stamp duty break ends. Then there is Brexit, which is now a sub-heading of the national conscience, but it would appear that the Government have little real idea if agreement can be reached.

This might prompt a reduction in prices (nobody knows) which tends to happen when a tax advantage ends and a recession is happening. So those thinking of buying this autumn or winter that are looking at property priced under £500,000 face the increased risk of buying at a peak value and a collapse. They have to counter this with the benefit of stamp duty savings. A property valued at say £400,000 currently has no stamp duty, from April such a sale price would result in £10,000 of Stamp Duty. That said, £10,000 is only 2.5% of the purchase price (£400,000) it would not be inconceivable to see prices fall by 15% (£60,000 in our example). This may wipe out your deposit and possibly mean that you have negative equity.

THE THING IS – WE DO FORGET

Turning to relatively recent property crashes, the 1990s provided some of the harshest lessons for homebuyers. The worst decade for price rises – even London only increased by 40%. Some of you may remember MIRAS, which was tax relief given to borrowers. Nigel Lawson changed the terms of MIRAS so that unmarried couples could not claim it from August 1988. He announced the changes in April 1998 which provided 4 months of “opportunity” which pushed up prices to bubbling point. When the relief was lost repayments went up. The overpriced market peaked in 1989 with an average price in London of £97,667 but then fell back to £66,573 by the end of 1992. A fall of £31,094 or more importantly 31%. When inflation is factored in, prices didn’t really recover from 1988 until 2001.

A decade later (April 1998) MIRAS was again reduced to the point of being almost worthless and finally abolished by Gordon Brown two years later in 2000. Its been 20 years since MIRAS ended. There has been some tinkering with Stamp Duty which was altered from a flat rate system to a tiered rate system from December 2014. This was done in an attempt to curb price rises particularly in London. In Q4 of 2014 the average national price was £189,002 by Q2 2020 it was £220,133 (up 16%). In London the average price was £406,730 and is now £475,448 (also up 16%). So the gap has not widened, but equally it has not shrunk (so the strategy neither worked not “failed” but it certainly didn’t change anything). The numbers are certainly larger and London remains the most expensive part of the UK.

IF IT WORKS, IT WOULD BE UNUSUAL

So over the last 32 years tax changes to residential property has created a quick spike and then collapse in prices (1988-1992) and it has also effectively done nothing (2014-2020). Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be making a little history if his policy didn’t fail or do nothing of substance.

If history were to repeat itself, which let’s face it, tends to happen more as an echo than a direct repetition, then there is the prospect of a 31% fall (88-92). That would mean someone buying in 2020 for £400,000 would potentially be contemplating their home revalued at £276,000. It could be a decade before prices recover.

We have short-term memories and forget what has happened. First time buyers have no memory of a property crash, (indeed some of my detractors on social media appear to have no memory at all). Lenders are currently very reluctant to lend more than 90% and many will struggle to get a competitive loan with more than an 85% mortgage. So with our £400,000 example, that’s a deposit of £60,000 and if a third gets wiped off by 2022, the £340,000 mortgage would be higher than the value of the property (£276,000) for some time…

FORECASTS ARE NOT MY THING

The truth is we simply do not know what will happen. We do know that Brexit will happen (we do don’t we?). We know that we are in a recession. When recessions happen, jobs are lost, money is tight, homes get repossessed (1991 was the peak for repossessions). We know that interest rates are at all time lows which implies only one likely direction for the cost of borrowing (upwards). So would you buy to save £10,000 on stamp duty before March or would you wait a couple of years and either buy the same property for 30% less or simply buy a bigger place.

IN SHORT- BE PREPARED TO LIVE WITH YOUR DECISIONS

This is a gamble, I have no idea what will happen, perhaps property price rises will return to 1980s levels, but that would likely mean inflation is out of control and interest rates could be much higher than they are now (which I think is unlikely). I do not know – nobody does. We are due a correction – any sensible person knows that property in the South East is overpriced. The only consolation I can offer is that if buying, make sure you do so knowing the above and that you might be stuck for a decade. Fine if you are a young couple in a flat, but not that great if you start to have a family. Lose your job or your relationship falls apart. Perhaps “nothing” will happen. I do not know, but I’m not sure I’d bet my house on it.

SOLOMONS IFA UK AVERAGE PROPERTY PRICES 74-20

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk 
Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

GET IN TOUCH

Solomon’s Independent Financial Advisers
The Old Bakery, 2D Edna Road, Raynes Park, London, SW20 8BT

Email – info@solomonsifa.co.uk    Call – 020 8542 8084

7 QUESTIONS, NO WAFFLE

Are we a good fit for you?

HOT PROPERTY?2023-12-01T12:13:12+00:00
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