UK property shortage: What can we learn from other countries?


The property crisis isn’t exclusively a UK phenomenon, but other countries are dealing with it in different ways. We take a look at what the UK can learn from these solutions.

The UK isn’t the only country facing a housing shortage. Here we have a look at the solutions other countries have found to fix the same problem.

Across the globe from Canada to Australia and even closer to home in Denmark, France and Switzerland, governments are coming up with schemes to try and ease the housing squeeze, from taxing empty properties, to blocking foreign investment.

Vancouver’s ‘Empty Homes’ tax

The Canadian city of Vancouver will be imposing a tax on empty properties in a bid to tackle its housing problem and enable more people to find rental properties in the city.

The ‘Empty Homes Tax’ was introduced in January and will be levied on homes that aren’t main residences and sit empty for over six months of the year.

[Read more: What’s really going on in the UK property market]

When it comes to the nuts and bolts of how the scheme works; it means every residential property owner has to make a ‘Property Status Declaration’ each year.

Homes that are then deemed to be ‘empty’ will be subject to a 1% tax on the property value.  Exceptions include properties that are undergoing renovations or those with rental restrictions.

Revenue generated from this tax will then be invested in affordable housing initiatives.  However, the scheme is very much in its infancy as homeowners have to wait until December for instructions on how to make their ‘property status declaration’ for this year.

And closer to home, Paris has recently increased the annual surcharge for owners who leave properties sitting empty, so could schemes like this work over here.

Buying agent and TV property expert Henry Pryor argues that we’ve already got something similar in place.

“We already have penalties for people owning unoccupied homes in this country as they pay 50% more council tax if property is unoccupied”.

This ‘Empty Homes Premium’ in England was introduced back in April 2013 for owners of properties left empty for two or more years; however, critics of the scheme say it can be hard to enforce.

Australia is hiking up Stamp Duty

In Australia, a raft of measures to ease the property situation has been introduced including a Stamp Duty surcharge for foreign investors along with an empty homes tax.

The state of New South Wales, which includes Sydney, introduced a ‘Foreign Investor Surcharge Duty, (or Stamp Duty surcharge), of an additional 4% for foreign buyers last year which has since doubled to 8% on 1 July.

And the state of Victoria, which includes Melbourne, has introduced a 1% tax multiplied by the capital improved value of the property on homes that have been empty for six months which will take effect from January.

Foreign investors buying up chunks of property, which can then sit empty for months on end, is not an isolated problem.  A political think tank, the Bow Group, warned back in 2015 that unless things change, Britain could be building new homes forever without making a dent in the shortage of homes for residents, because ‘investment buying’ would just keep on happening.

However, property expert Henry Pryor says restricting ownership doesn’t sit well with him.

“I’m not a fan of rationing homes; if someone has enough money to persuade someone else to sell, then why not”.

And rather than, “ripping off ideas”, Pryor says he says he’d like to see our government “provide examples to other parts of the world”, citing a “removal of the Capital Gains Tax exemption on main principle residences and Stamp Duty abolished on the back of it”.

[Read more: 3 important things to consider before investing in holiday lets]

Denmark and Switzerland restrict foreign investment

Both Denmark and Switzerland impose restrictions on foreign buyers.

In Denmark, the basic rule is that anyone from outside the EU must have lived in the country for five years or more or need to get permission from the Danish Ministry of Justice before buying.

And with Switzerland, non-residents can only buy residential property in certain areas; which excludes cities including Geneva, Basel and Zurich as these areas are for primary residences; not holiday homes.

However penalising foreign investors may not work in the UK according to former Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Residential Chair Jeremy Leaf.

He says many new residential developments in the UK actually rely on ‘financial underpinning’ from overseas cash buyers for long-term projects.

“If a developer markets the idea to the Far East, people will come forward to buy ‘off plan’ and they may buy say twenty apartments as a form of ‘forward funding”.   He points out that by contrast; if you’re buying with a mortgage offer, this is usually only valid for no more than three to six months”.

But treading the line between encouraging foreign investment and knowing when to stop can be a fine balancing act according to Mr. Leaf.

“Most developers don’t want to sell more than 20-25% of properties this way to foreign investors as they may have to offer a discount in order to get the much-needed funding”.

Read more on… HomeBT

Airbnb boosts property values in the UK as they are ‘ideal’ for renting out


HOMES ideal for renting out via the website Airbnb are fetching premiums of tens of thousands of pounds when they come up for sale.

The increasing popularity of the website could also threaten affordable accommodation for ordinary renters.

An estate agent in Tunbridge Wells in Kent has seen homes in desirable areas selling for £30,000 more because of the holiday let potential, which offers landlords more than £100 a week above conventional renting.

As many as 135,000 properties across England and Wales are now owned by so-called Airbnb landlords, according to a survey by the Residential Landlords Association.

It revealed a 57 per cent increase in the number of landlords who intend to bypass conventional letting agencies in favour of online sites such as Airbnb as a business model.

Seven per cent of all property owners who let now intend to use Airbnb and similar companies.

Fifty-five per cent said it was because they could get much higher rental yields through Airbnb, 36 per cent said it was because of Government changes to mortgage interest relief and 33 per cent said it was because of increasing Government regulation, such as buy-to-let clampdowns.

Read more on… Express

Returning British expats face property black hole


British expatriates considering returning home in the face of uncertainty over their status as EU residents following Brexit could be in for a nasty shock. Research by Retirement Advantage Equity Release shows that since 2010, the combination of sustained price rises in the UK housing market and falls in many popular EU destinations could leave them facing a substantial shortfall if they come back to the UK.

The UK has seen average real house prices rise by 12 per cent since 2010, according to OECD data; in contrast, prices in France have fallen by 3.8 per cent on average, and in Portugal they’re down 6 per cent, while in Italy they have lost 20 per cent.

Read more on Money Observer

UK housing market shrugs off concerns of Brexit slowdown


The UK housing market is shrugging off concerns in the wider economy following the Brexit vote, compounding problems for many first-time buyers still wrestling with the strongest year-on-year price rises in the market.

There are more buyers and sellers in the wider market compared with the period around the referendum a year ago, with the number of sales agreed up by 4.6% in June 2017 compared with June 2016, the latest survey by property website Rightmove found.

The company added that prospective buyers are “seeing a lot of sold boards on properties they would like to buy themselves” – with over 45% of estate agents’ property stock now being sold subject to contract.

Read more The Guardian

Is the UK housing market immune to political chaos?


After much wrangling, a torrid few weeks for Theresa May, and a controversial one billion pound sweetener to Northern Ireland, the Conservatives have struck a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party and remain in power.

While the UK General Election last month indeed delivered a remarkable result, throwing Brexit negotiations – which began on 19 June – into further confusion, for the UK housing market we can expect little to change.

The immediate future of the Housing White Paper is unclear. Gavin Barwell, widely considered to be an able housing minister, lost his seat in the election, but has now re-emerged as Theresa May’s Chief of Staff. A former housing minister with the Prime Minister’s ear on a daily basis will be worth watching closely. New housing minister Alok Sharma meanwhile will have his work cut out following the tragic Grenfell tower block fire.

Read more on South China Morning Post

UK property market slows, annual growth at lowest since May 2013


House prices in the UK fell by 0.1% in the second quarter of 2017 and annual price growth fell to 2.6%, according to the latest lender index.

Prices also fell month on month in June, taking the overall average to £218,390, the data from the Halifax shows. It also shows that annual growth is now at its lowest since May 2013.

‘Although employment levels continue to rise, household finances face increasing pressure as consumer prices grow faster than wages. This, combined the new stamp duty on buy to let and second homes in 2016, appears to have weakened housing demand in recent months,’ said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist.

‘A continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing acute shortage of properties for sale should help continue to underpin house prices over the coming months,’ he added.


Read more on Property Wire

New report: United Kingdom’s real estate market trends for 2017


Real Estate in the United Kingdom industry profile provides top-line qualitative and quantitative summary information including: market size (value and volume 2012-16, and forecast to 2021). The profile also contains descriptions of the leading players including key financial metrics and analysis of competitive pressures within the market.


Essential resource for top-line data and analysis covering the United Kingdom real estate market. Includes market size data, textual and graphical analysis of market growth trends, leading companies and macroeconomic information.

Read more on WhaTech

House prices in ‘softest patch for several years’


Value of average home ‘relatively static for ten months’, says Office for National Statistics

Following the release of the latest national house price index, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) alongside broader inflation figures this morning, Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told the BBC: “It is now abundantly clear that the housing market is in its softest patch for several years.”

According to today’s report, property values were down between February and March in all regions of the UK except Wales and the West Midlands.

On an annual basis, averages rose 4.1 per cent to £215,848, well down on recent rates of more than five per cent, while the ONS said the average valuation has remained “relatively static for ten months”.

As a prime example of the broader slowdown in growth, the annual house price growth rate in London was 1.5 per cent in March, compared to 15 per cent in March 2017 and more than 28 per cent in April 2000.

Tombs added: “Looking ahead, it is very hard to see growth in central London prices recovering, given that valuations look stretched, the financial sector is facing an uncertain post-Brexit future and volatility in sterling is undermining property’s safe-haven appeal for overseas investors.”


read the full article on  The Week

UK house prices fall again, growing at the slowest rate in four years


British house prices fell for a second month in a row in April, suggesting households are feeling the pinch from rising inflation since last year’s Brexit vote and low wage growth.

Nationwide said house prices declined by 0.4pc in April following a fall of 0.3pc in March, which had been the first fall since mid-2015.

In annual terms, prices were 2.6pc higher, the weakest increase in almost four years.

“While monthly figures can be volatile, the recent softening in price growth may be a further indication that households are starting to react to the emerging squeeze on real incomes or to affordability pressures in key parts of the country,” Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected house prices to rise by 0.1pc in April from March and by 3.3pc in annual terms.

It came as Government figures showed stamp duty revenues are up 16pc in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2016, which was boosted artificially by the surge in purchases to avoid the 3pc hike for buy-to-let properties.


read the full article on Financial Times

Investor demand for UK property rises across all sectors


The UK commercial property market is strengthening, with industrial space outperforming office and retail, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) UK Commercial Property Market Survey.

As investor demand increased for UK commercial property across all sectors, with 18% more respondents reporting a pick-up in enquiries, industrial assets were most sought after in the first quarter.

RICS said 28% more respondents saw an increase in demand for industrial space across the UK in the time period.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The results of the latest commercial property survey chime with much of the recent generally more positive economic news flow.

 “The forward-looking indicators are also proving relatively resilient, although it would not be a surprise if activity slows somewhat ahead of the forthcoming general election.”
read the full article on IPE Real Estate