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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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HOT PROPERTY?2020-11-01T08:43:43+00:00

ENGINEERING THE FIGURES

TODAY’S BLOG

ENGINEERING THE FIGURES

There are many good things about social media, but I do get fed up with some of the narratives thrown around that, in my opinion, casually have an agenda. One topic that often gathers some traction is that of the property market. Most of us discuss the ludicrous price of buying a home at some time, some make much of their skill to invest in property, which is often rather more to do with luck than skill. However I have become very tired of the media holding out examples of some young people who got onto the property ladder and in so doing imply that others only have themselves to blame for their inability to do so.

DISTILLING THE TRUTH

I came across a couple of examples in the last few days. One involved a 28-year old whose father bought him a bottle of 18-year old Macallan whisky on the day of his birth and then every birthday thereafter. The headline suggested that this enabled Matthew Robinson to buy his first home. The virtues of foresight by his father and personal resistance of temptation netting the result of £40,000 worth of whisky. It’s a lovely idea and nothing wrong with it at all as a gift. I have some questions though.

UK Property

IN GOOD SPIRITS

Firstly, the whisky has not actually been sold yet and no home has been purchased. This deposit was not actually the hard work of Matthew but of his father. The only thing Matthew has done is follow his fathers instructions not to consume it. I wonder how it was stored, I suspect that the 28 bottles have not followed Matthew away to University or any other place he may have lived, they probably remained at his parents home (I am guessing). As a gift it’s a lovely one, as an investment…. Well, there are obvious risks – which no proper investment portfolio would have – concentrated risk and the past, current and future risk of total wipe out. I could literally destroy a portfolio of whisky in minutes. I could not do the same for any investment portfolio.

ROOM WITH A VIEW – TUNNEL VISION VIA BOX

Then there was the case of Jessica Leung who at 29 managed to buy a property worth £450,000 in Bristol, right opposite IBK Brunel’s the SS Great Britain. This, the headlines suggest was done by moving home to save rent and cancelling her gym membership. It turns out that Jessica was able to put down a £90,000 deposit, pay stamp duty and raise a mortgage of £360,000 on her own salary. It turns out that 30% of the deposit was from her father (£27,000) and “family savings” of £53,000 together with her own £10,000 make £90,000. In fact, Jessica had saved £10,000 not really £90,000. An engineering of “I saved the deposit” feat that Mr Brunel might marvel at. Given that she would likely require an income of £90,000 to borrow £360,000 then to be blunt she might have saved rather more.

Do not misunderstand me. I am not berating Matthew or Jessica or indeed their parents. To my mind these stories have rather more to do with making other young people feel inadequate and relieving the sense of guilt (we did absolutely nothing to benefit from property price rises)  that the rest of us have from time to time, when we recognise how hard it is. The truth is that the parents were instrumental in raising the deposits in both instances. These sorts of mixed messages are rife – a few months ago young people were chastised for buying lunch at Pret, now they are being told to do so in order to keep it open. The messages are all to do with supporting those in power who clearly have a lot vested in maintaining the property-owning class precisely as it is.

Rather obviously I work with clients to help them become financially independent and many parents want to help their children as these did. However, pretending that because some can that it is just a matter of personal disciplined saving by the young adult is utter twaddle. I expect nothing to change.

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

=

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

WHAT WE’RE ALL ABOUT

If you would like a no-nonsense one page document explaining what financial planning is all about please enter your email here.

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ENGINEERING THE FIGURES2020-09-07T15:28:05+01:00

Is HMRC watching you?

Is HMRC watching you?

In an ever connected world, it should come as no surprise that HMRC are using technology to catch those that do not properly declare their income. In essence they are watching you (and me). I am informed that a new “snooper computer” is being rolled out this month, in time for those that are submitting information about their income for 2015/16. Whilst Government departments have rarely bought or invested wisely in computers (I guess suppliers see them coming… in fact I know they do)… this represents a £100m project.

Why is this important? well…. failing to accurately report and pay your taxes is one of those crimes for which you can expect a custodial sentence. Indeed HMRC powers have increased so much over the last 10 years that they can take money from your bank account until you can demonstrate that you don’t owe it to them (I kid you not).

Declaring Your Income

Under self-assessment we are all responsible for reporting and declaring our income. As everyone has observed, the UK, like most countries, has rather a lot of debt and is currently living beyond its means. The basic reality of maths is that either more income (taxes) has to be generated or less has to be spent and debts renegotiated. So as 31st January 2017 looms as the deadline for declaring and paying income from the 2015/16 tax year (ended April 5th 2016) expect little sympathy from the Government, HMRC or indeed most voters.

The new computer system is a way for HMRC to focus attention on those that appear to declare modest income, whilst also having involvement with organisations where money is clearly involved. So if you’ve bought a house (as I did in 2016) then you had to pay stamp duty… where did this come from? (data triggered from the Land Registry) or you are fairly active on e-bay, do some Airbnb, or rent a property, perhaps sold some things at a car boot sale, or have a Paypal account, bought a car… and, and, and… in short they are looking proactively for various sources of income that you are not declaring.

So what income have you forgotten about?

Income is paid on dividends from shares, invariably these are taxed at 10% automatically, but higher rate taxpayers will need to pay more. Have you declared all the income from those privatisation shares you’ve had for years? how about from non-ISA accounts? Auto enrolment (or workplace pensions) has begun for most firms, so this is yet another opportunity to see data about income. Interest from savings (don’t laugh!) is also income and taxable – except for the first £1,000 – which means most people will not pay tax on it.

For what its worth, you are likely to be the sort of person that is worried about not paying your tax properly. The threat or fear of possibly going to prison is more than sufficient to keep most people “on the straight and narrow” yet there will be some, for whom prison is no real “threat” – frankly that’s probably the very rich, who can afford to live outside of the country and legally avoid UK laws… such as top sportstars, business people that you’ve actually heard of or those that are the beneficiaries of mega Trust Funds (so dont own the assets – the Trust does) such as the Duke of Westminster. Perhaps I’m being a little cynical, but doubt that my remark is far off the mark.

Of course our app (which is free to download) has a load of calculators and tools, loads of tax tables and useful information which is designed to help you to not forget to report your income properly. You can get it on either the Android or itunes platforms, just search for Solomons Financial Planning.

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

Is HMRC watching you?2017-01-10T17:06:35+00:00

Autumn Statement – 3rd December 2014

Solomons-financial-advisor-wimbledon-blogger

Autumn Statement – 3rd December 2014Autumn Statement 2014

So the Chancellor has delivered his Autumn statement, most of which was leaked in the media or announced in his radical budget (well radical for financial planners). The main points of the budget that we didnt know already is the provision to pass ISA allowances between spouses on death. This will certainly please married couples with large ISA funds. Prior to this, upon death an ISA becomes part of the estate, unless it has been held in specific AIM listed holdings for at least 2 years thereby benefitting from an IHT exemption, but invariably increasing the degree of investment risk (p56 of statement).  The ISA limit will increase for 2015/16 to £15,240 from £15,000 as it is today.

Stamp Duty

QE2 stampA signficant change to Stamp Duty on property was announced, which mirrors the system used for income tax rates, that is, the more you earn, the more you pay, but only over certain thresholds – higher rates are only applied once thresholds are reached and nor applied to the full amount. Stamp Duty has now adopted this approach, some will be better off at the lower end of the property price range, some will be considerably worse off.  The aim probably being twofold, to increase and encourage first time buyers and be more of a help to people trying to get onto the property ladder, whilst also attempting to dampen price increases at the top end. You can see a helpful chart on the impact of these changes on pages 53-54 of the Statement.

On a similar theme, the higher rate (40%) threshold has been increased marginally more than previously announced (by £100). We will have to wait until 12 December to find out what the interest rates will be on the new NS&I Fixed Rate Pensioner Bond (only for those age 65+).  No doubt the free newspaper you pick up this evening or the TV and radio coverage will have pundits discussing the changes. You might want to look at the figures towards the back of the report, (page 100) which essentially show the UK’s income and expenditure. All the talk of austerity (which is certainly more real for some than others) has still resulted in national  overspending and this looks likely to continue until 2016/17 with lots of “if’s, but’s and maybe’s”. If you do have any questions about your own situtation and how it might be effected by today’s Autumn Statement, do get in touch.

Dominic Thomas

Autumn Statement – 3rd December 20142017-01-06T14:39:33+00:00
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