Forecast of record rainfall every winter makes Residential Flood Search priority for home buyers

Flooded streets such as this one in York in December 2015 are becoming a more common sight in the UK

Flooded streets such as this one in York in December 2015 are becoming a more common sight in the UK

The grim sight of homes and communities destroyed by flood waters has sadly become all-too familiar in the UK in recent years. The severe storms of 2013-14 and 2015 caused destruction across the country and caused billions of pounds worth of damage, along with untold upset for families who lost everything.

Now the Met Office is predicting record rainfall could strike every winter from now on, putting the entire country on high alert.

Its researchers have suggested there is an increased risk of “unprecedented” winter storms of the type that ravaged parts of England and Wales in recent years. There is now a one in three chance of record monthly rainfalls in at least one part of the UK every winter.

Using a supercomputer to model future weather events, the team from the Met Office suggests there is a 7 percent risk of record monthly rain in the south-east of England, rising to 34 percent when the rest of England and Wales is taken into account.

Risk of flash flood not confined to winter

As the events of early July in the Cornish village of Coverack showed, the risk of flash flooding is not confined to winter. When a summer storm hit the region, some residents had to be airlifted to safety by helicopter as torrents of water raced through the village.

It’s obvious from these recent extreme weather events that it is not only those areas of the country that are consistently flooded during heavy rain that are at risk; few places can now consider themselves safe.

That means those looking to buy a home have to consider seriously the risk of flooding when choosing where to live. Mortgage lenders demand that any property they lend on be covered by buildings insurance that includes flood risk. If you can’t insure a house, you will not be successful in securing a mortgage.

Extensive detail from environmental search

A Residential Flood Search, instructed by your solicitor or conveyancer, is one of the environmental searches that can provide extensive information about surface water, ground water and other flood risks around your intended purchase.

Talk to the expert sales team at Capital Conveyancing today to get the lowdown on the essential searches that are carried out during the conveyancing process, from the extent of the searches to their cost. Call now on 0207 406 5880 or get a no-obligation quote instantly.

London mayor announces 50,000 more affordable homes for capital

St Paul's Cathedral, Monument and construction cranes in London

London mayor Sadiq Khan has announced a deal to build 50,000 new more affordable homes for sale and rent in the city. These homes are in addition to the 90,000 houses Mr Khan has pledged to build in the capital by 2020-21.

Involving all 32 boroughs and the City of London, the £1.7billion plan will bring local authorities and housing associations together with private developers to build 50,000 homes for shared ownership and the Mayor’s living rent over the next four years, the latter aimed squarely at middle-income earners who want to progress from rented accommodation to shared ownership.

The living rent scheme means rent is charged as a third of average local incomes, allowing those who cannot afford to buy in London the opportunity to save for a deposit while paying an affordable monthly rent.

Work is expected to start quickly on the first homes to be built under the scheme with sites bought in Newham, Lambeth, Southwark, Barnet and Ealing. Funding will come from the £3.15bn pledged by the government to London’s housing last year.

Committed to building more affordable homes

Announcing the project, Mr Khan said: “We know that solving the housing crisis is not going to happen overnight, but I very much welcome so many housing associations and councils matching my ambition by committing to build the new and genuinely affordable homes Londoners so desperately need.

“I am delighted that we have set a City Hall record for the number of homes allocated funding, but I am clear that we have got much more to do to secure the land we need to build homes and ensure we have sufficient capacity in the construction industry.”

And Paul Hackett, chair of the G15, which represents London’s largest housing associations, added: “The partnership with the Mayor is the biggest London’s housing associations have ever committed to, reflecting the urgency of the housing crisis and our strong relationship with City Hall.”

Thinktank backs National Housing Fund

Meanwhile, an independent thinktank has proposed establishing a National Housing Fund to deal with increasing the housing supply across the UK. ResPublica’s proposal has cross-party support and aims to encourage the government to use historically low interest rates to set up the fund with housing associations across the UK.

Its report – A National Housing Fund to Build Homes We Need – suggests such a fund could ensure up to 40,000 homes are built every year while boosting public finances by £3.4bn and creating 180,000 new jobs in construction.

The report’s author, Philip Callan, said: “Our report focuses on the practical steps that government can take to deliver many more homes. All of our proposed actions are in their control. What is needed now is the political will and leadership to make it happen.”

How digital changes are reshaping the mortgage market

Digital apps will radically change the mortgage market

Digital apps are likely to radically change the mortgage market

Homebuyers looking for a mortgage can expect digital changes to increase competitiveness in the lending market, according to new research. Technology is allowing lenders to offer more products tailored to specific customers, the Council for Mortgage Lenders’ Mortgage Tech UK conference was told.

The CML commissioned research from Accenture, which included interviews with both lenders and customers in the UK mortgage market, as well as the most up-to-date developments in the lending sectors around the world.

Their conclusions, entitled Digital Change and Mortgage Borrowers, were presented to delegates at the conference in London on June 27.

The research suggested that 84 percent of mortgage lenders think technology will improve both customer experiences and relationships; that 76 percent say it has the ability to improve their own operational capabilities; and 40 percent believe digital change will unlock the power of data.

More pertinently for mortgage borrowers, the researchers concluded that 68 percent of those they interviewed believe digital change will put customers in greater control of their lending.

Personal touch still essential for complex products

The research identified the elements that are beginning to transform the mortgage market, including apps that allow customers to arrange and manage their mortgages. But it was also clear, the conference was told, that many clients still want to speak personally to an adviser about products that remain financially complex.

CML director general Paul Smee said: “This report highlights the enormous potential of technology in the mortgage market – a huge, process-driven industry with more than 11 million customers.

“It is already enhancing what lenders are able to offer their customers, as well as improving the efficiency of work behind the scenes.

“The pace of change will not slow, and firms will need to ensure that their plans for developing technology are underpinned by the clearest possible understanding of all the implications of digital change.”

Progressing transactions efficiently

While digital changes may revolutionise the mortgage market, the conveyancing element to buying or selling a property remains the same for now. You need a conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer to progress your transaction quickly and efficiently.

Capital Conveyancing can make that happen. Our sales team are standing by to give you an instant, no-obligation quote. Call now on 0207 406 5880 or start your quote journey here.

Capital concern: What will the general election do for London’s housing market?

A voter collection box for ballots, painted with the Union Jack flag of the UK.

Housing, and increasing supply and affordability across the UK, has been one of the main issues in the general election campaign. Britain will vote on Thursday, June 8 for a new government.

The three main parties have all offered to increase the number of homes built every year, but what would that mean in practical terms, in particular in London where many house-hunters have long been priced out of the market?

Mark Weedon, head of research at the crowdfunding website Property Partners, described the housing market as “broken” and said the shortage of newbuilds is now chronic. Using projected figures from the Office for National Statistics, he said England faced a housing deficit that will only increase in the coming decade. In London, the current shortfall is 3.8 percent, predicted to reach 7.3 percent (288,623) houses by 2022.

Here we outline what the three main parties say in their manifestos about housing and how they say they will deal with the issues facing the nation.

Conservatives: One million homes by 2020

“We have not built enough homes in this country for generations, and buying or renting a home has become increasingly affordable… We will fix the dysfunctional housing market so that housing is more affordable and people have the security they need to plan for the future. The key to this is to build enough homes to meet demand…”

Pledges:

  • 1 million homes by the end of 2020
  • 500,000 more by the end of 2022
  • Free up more land for development
  • Diversify who builds homes

https://www.conservatives.com/manifesto

Labour: 100,000 council/housing association homes per year for sale or rent

“Britain has a housing crisis – a crisis of supply and a crisis of affordability. Since 2010, housebuilding has fallen to its lowest levels since the 1920s…there are almost 200,00 fewer home-owners, and new affordable housebuilding is at a 24-year low. Labour will not only build more, we will build better.”

Pledges:

  • More than 1 million new homes
  • 100,000 council/housing association homes a year for affordable rent or sale
  • Establish a new Department for Housing
  • Prioritise brownfield sites and start on a new generation of new towns

http://www.labour.org.uk/index.php/manifesto2017/secure-homes-for-all

Liberal Democrats: Build 300,000 homes a year

“The housing crisis in Britain has become an emergency. For far too long Britain has built many fewer homes than we need; unless we build enough to meet demand, year after year, we will find that housing costs rise further out of reach. These new houses must be sustainably planned to ensure that excessive pressure is not placed on existing infrastructure.”

Pledges:

  • Establish a government commissioning programme to build 300,00 homes every year for sale and rent
  • Create at least 10 new garden cities in England
  • Set up a government-backed development bank to invest in major housebuilding projects
  • Allow local authorities and housing associations to build council and social housing

http://www.libdems.org.uk/families

Polling stations for the general election open on Thursday, June 8 at 7am and close at 10pm.

UK house figures slow for third consecutive month

soaring

Both house buyers and sellers face further uncertainty in the UK property market as figures from the Nationwide building society show that house prices have fallen for the third month in a row.

The decline is the first time since the property market stalled at the height of the financial crash in 2009 that property prices have fallen in three consecutive months. Annual house price growth has also dropped to 2.1 percent from 2.6 percent a year ago, suggesting that property prices in the UK are perhaps beginning to slow naturally.

Robert Gardner, chief economist at the Nationwide, said: “House prices recorded their third consecutive monthly fall in May – the first time this has occurred since 2009. The annual rate of growth slowed to 2.1%, the weakest in almost four years.

“It is still early days, but this provides further evidence that the housing market is losing momentum. Moreover, this may be indicative of a wider slowdown in the household sector, though data continues to send mixed signals in this regard.

“While real incomes are again coming under pressure as inflation has overtaken wage growth, the number of people in work has continued to rise at a healthy pace. Indeed, the unemployment rate fell to a 42-year low in the three months to March.”

Housing market trends unaffected by upcoming election

With the general election only days away, Mr Gardner dismissed any suggestion that the slowdown in house prices is related to political activity in the UK.

He added: “If history is any guide, the slowdown is unlikely to be linked to election-related uncertainty. Housing market trends have not traditionally been impacted around the time of general elections.

“Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home.”

Nationwide produces a monthly house price index. Its May index revealed that the average price of a home is now £208,711, down 0.2 percent between April and May. There were also monthly declines of 0.4 percent in April and 0.3 percent in March, showing the trend is heading downwards.

Growth rate is lowest since June 2013

Britain’s biggest building society, the Nationwide also revealed that the annual growth rate, at 2.1 percent, is the lowest since June 2013.

The monthly price index is adjusted for seasonal changes in house prices; for example, in spring and summer there are more buyers in the market, pushing prices up. The spring slowdown this year means property experts will ponder how much further the market may fall after the election on June 8 and the start of the Brexit negotiations to remove the UK from the European Union.

Kickstart your own home buying or selling by calling Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880 or click here for an instant, no-0bligation quote for conveyancing that works for you.

Housebuilding at highest level in a decade in England

Housebuilding activity has increased in England but not to the extent required.

Housebuilding activity has increased in England but not to the extent required.

Housebuilding in England is at its highest level in 10 years, according to new figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). However, the number being constructed is still not enough to reach the current government target of 1 million new homes by 2020.

The DCLG figures revealed that in 2016-17 the construction of 162,880 homes started in England with a further 147,960 homes completed, the highest since the financial crisis a decade ago.

However, demand for property continues to far outstrip supply with housing charity Shelter estimating at least 250,000 homes a year are required in England alone.

Meanwhile, a poll of 30 specialists carried out by BNP Paribas Real Estate UK for Reuters found the majority want planning regulations loosened to encourage more house building both to increase supply and make homes more affordable, particularly to first-time buyers.

Not enough capacity in construction industry

Anthony Lee, joint head of residential consulting at BNP Paribas Real Estate UK, said: “What governments have failed to do is to tackle capacity in the housebuilding industry and the planning sector. This is a critical issue that is impacting on the ability of developers to deliver more housing to meet pressing demand.”

The Reuters report noted that housebuilding giant Barratt has decided to build fewer properties in London next year after a decrease of 20 percent in the current year. Along with the continuing influx of foreign investors into the capital and a flourishing buy-to-let market, the lack of supply has continued to push house prices up beyond the reach of average earners.

London least affordable place to live in UK

The Reuters poll found that a majority of the 30 housing specialists questioned said house prices will continue to rise with no possibility of a slide in costs within the next two years. The experts were also asked to rank house price affordability for the UK on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 the most expensive – London ranked at nine with the UK nationally at seven.

For a no-obligation quote, call Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880 or click here. Remember, our no-move, no-fee guarantee takes the headache out of conveyancing because you won’t be out of pocket if your transaction fails to complete.

How long does conveyancing take and how can delays be avoided?

Legal papers

Delays in conveyancing are one of the biggest bugbears for this involved in a property transaction. Whether buyer or seller, one of the first questions you’ll ask of a solicitor or conveyancer is how long the process will take. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question.

A straightforward transaction, with no chain involved and no mortgage required, might be completed in a couple of weeks. The reality for most folks is that the conveyancing process is likely to be closer to eight weeks.

Several factors can cause delays in conveyancing and here at Capital Conveyancing, we take a look at some of the most common, along with some advice on how you, whether buyer or vendor, can do your best to avoid them.

The effects of a chain

One of the most frustrating parts of buying or selling property is being part of a chain, where each move is dependent on another party buying or selling. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to influence how quickly other people organise their conveyancing or surveys. However, you can keep on top of your own side of any move by speaking regularly to your solicitor or conveyancer and replying promptly to any queries or request for documentation.

Survey held up or defects uncovered

Not every purchase requires a survey – for instance, a cash buyer might be prepared to proceed with a sale without a survey. However, mortgage providers will insist on a survey and so the sooner you get that underway, the better. The main reason for delay in getting a survey result is the lack of access to the property so do keep on top of the estate agent or vendor. Any defects revealed by a survey tend to become part of the price negotiation, but more complicated or structural problems could cause a delay in the conveyancing process or the whole transaction to grind to a halt.

Failing to secure a formal mortgage offer

This might seem like a no-brainer, but many buyers stick in an offer on a property they want without having the finance in place to buy it. Banks and lenders will often let you check online if your finances are secure enough to get a mortgage. That’s not the same as a formal application for a mortgage, and if you start the process of buying a property, at some point your solicitor (and the seller) is going to want to see proof that you have the funds. Get your mortgage application underway as early as possible so you don’t hold up the conveyancing process.

Slow return of search results

Searches are essential information about a property held by the local authority and organisations such as the Land Registry, which reveal accurate information on who actually owns a property and other facts such as planning permission for the surrounding area. These searches are ordered by the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancing firm. The solicitors and conveyancing firms on Capital Conveyancing’s London panel use the professional team at Searches UK to ensure quick returns on searches that avoid any delays.

Seller's title not straightforward

The information that details who owns a property is contained in the title deeds, which are held by the Land Registry. The seller may not always be the registered owner, which can lead to complications – for example, when someone has died and their estate is being sold via probate. The onus is on the buyer’s legal team to ascertain that all the legal requirements for the sale are in place, but they depend on receiving the correct information from the vendor. Again, this is a situation that the buyer cannot influence but it may cause a delay in conveyancing. As with all elements of the conveyancing process, work out early on the best method of communicating with your solicitor or conveyancing and make regular contact with them. Capital Conveyancing‘s sales team are available seven days a week if there are any issues around communication with your legal representative.

The key point to remember about accelerating the conveyancing process and avoiding delays is to keep on top of all paperwork, respond quickly to all requests from your solicitor or conveyancer and keep fingers and toes crossed!

For a no-obligation quote, call Capital Conveyancing now on 0207 406 5880 or click here. Remember, our no-move, no-fee guarantee takes the headache out of conveyancing because you won’t be out of pocket if your transaction fails to complete.

Simple but effective steps can keep the conveyancing process digitally secure

Always check the person contacting you with regard to your transaction is who they say they are

Always check the person contacting you with regard to your transaction is who they say they are

A property purchase is one of the biggest financial commitments most people will make. And we need to know that our money is safe during the final transaction part of the conveyancing process. However, the risk of digital fraud has increased as more buyers and sellers use emails and online banking to seal the deal.

The most prominent happen where fraudsters hack into the email system of either the legal firm acting for the buyer or seller or the individuals themselves and trick the innocent party into transferring perhaps thousands of pounds into the fraudster’s own bank account.

Such frauds have been dubbed “Friday afternoon frauds” because the majority occur on that day, simply because of the amount of transactions completed in time for the weekend. It also gives the scammers a couple of days to cover their tracks.

Identity fraud is another problem in property sales, where a seller may not be who he or she claims or a fake legal firm fools a genuine buyer. With millions of pounds exchanged daily in property deals across the UK, it’s no surprise that this market would be an attractive one to thieves.

Putting digital security first

So how do you as a buyer or seller ensure you keep your information safe and secure and ensure you don’t fall victim to such a nasty crime? At Capital Conveyancing, our panel of solicitors and conveyancing firms are regulated by the Law Society through its Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and Conveyancing Quality Scheme.

The SRA issues regular guidelines to its members on digital and IT security, encouraging solicitors to share information not only on actual frauds but on any attempts to infiltrate email systems in particular. Firms are expected to take the appropriate steps to protect their own systems and their clients’ information, and if a client loses money because of negligence on a solicitor’s part, the SRA may take action over a breach of its Code of Conduct.

Solicitors and conveyancers are also expected to confirm the identity of a seller and the legal entity representing them to ensure they are indeed who they say they are.

Old-fashioned methods that are tried and trusted

While you put trust in your legal representatives that they are doing all in their power to protect you, there are steps you can also take to give an added layer of protection. Email is a fantastic tool that aids communication and can speed up the conveyancing process, but digital fraudsters have the persistence, nous and will to infiltrate even the most secure of systems when large sums of money are at stake, so old-fashioned mail can be your shield in the first instance.

From the start of the conveyancing process, agree with your solicitors, in writing or by telephone the method by which your transaction will be settled financially. Treat any unexpected changes to these arrangements with suspicion and call your solicitor or conveyancer in person to discuss anything that seems untoward. Email contact is fine for general information exchanges, but do not commit any bank details to email and do not offer details of your account when unsolicited.

On the date you have agree to transfer funds, transfer only a token amount at first and call your legal representatives to confirm they have received that. Only then should you transfer the outstanding balance and again call as soon as is practicable to confirm receipt.

Reassurance when it's required

Remember that fraudsters who have taken the trouble to infiltrate an email system and communicate with you will use sophisticated language to convince you they are genuine. If you are unsure of anything in an email exchange, get offline immediately and get on the phone to a number you know is the correct one and confirm everything in person.

With the professional and friendly sales team at Capital Conveyancing available seven days a week, you can be assured of prompt attention in any enquiry. If you have received an email you’re concerned about and cannot get in touch with your solicitor or conveyancer, call our team immediately and they will help clarify any issue.

We place the highest priority on ensuring our clients’ information remains secure and confidential at all times. We also understand how the conveyancing process can be a stressful one and sometimes simply a word of reassurance that your case is being dealt with safely can offer peace of mind.

Whether you are a buyer or seller, Capital Conveyancing can provide a no-obligation quote for your conveyancing needs while our no-move, no-fee guarantee will ensure you are not out of pocket if, for some reason, your transaction does not complete. Click here for an instant quote.

Cyber criminals exploiting ‘digital safety gap’ to commit conveyancing fraud

How safe are your email communications from hackers?

How safe are your email communications from hackers?

Londoners are the house buyers most at risk of conveyancing fraud, according to new research from Barclays. The financial giant’s Digital Safety Index survey revealed that 13 percent of homebuyers in London are vulnerable to online swindlers who intercept emails from conveyancing solicitors and persuade the buyer to transfer thousands of pounds to the fraudsters instead.

This type of conveyancing fraud is often referred to as “Friday afternoon fraud” because this is the most popular time for transactions to complete while also giving the perpetrators the weekend to make off with their ill-gotten gains and cover their tracks.

The fraud generally involves cyber criminals hacking into the email system of the conveyancing firm or the client – and often both – sending false information that causes funds for the property purchase to be redirected to the criminals’ own bank account.

Increasing public awareness of online financial safety

Barclays has launched its own £10 million advertising campaign to increase public awareness of this sort of digital fraud, encouraging people to be more vigilant about their online financial safety.

Chief executive of Barclays UK, Ashok Vaswani, said: “As a society, our confidence in using digital technology to shop, pay our bills and connect with others has grown faster than our knowledge of how to do so safely. This has created a ‘digital safety gap’ which is being exploited by criminals. I believe the need to fight fraud has now become a national resilience issue, and we all need to boost our digital safety levels in order to close the gap.”

London is the UK’s most targeted city by fraudsters, its sheer size and much greater population making it an obvious focus. Liverpool (10 percent), Birmingham (nine percent) and Bristol (eight percent) were the next cities most at risk of fraud, while the safest cities were Leeds (two percent) and Manchester (three percent).

Authorities work to combat risk of email hacks

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), the regulatory arm of the Law Society, reported in December 2017 that email hacks caused £7m of client losses over the previous year. This type of fraud accounted for 75 percent of all cybercrimes reported to the SRA.

To combat the threat and minimise the risk posed to both legal firms and clients, the SRA has made online security for its members a priority and offers up-to-date advice on protecting email systems and client confidentiality.

All firms on Capital Conveyancing’s London panel of solicitors and conveyancing solicitors are accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and regulated by the SRA, giving clients the greater peace of mind that their digital security is in safe hands.

Here we take a look at some of the more common frauds that can affect clients at the conclusion of the conveyancing process and explain why using Capital Conveyancing can protect you and your money.

How we can keep the conveyancing process stay safe as houses online

How safe are your online communications?

How safe are your online communications?

The business of buying and selling property is one fraught with risk. The buyer faces the possibility of being outbid by another buyer. They might end up spending many thousands of pounds on a house that’s got serious defects if they fail to get a structural survey done. Meanwhile, the seller could be left high and dry if they accept one offer but that buyer then withdraws at the last minute.

All of those possibilities are clear to both parties before embarking on any sale deal. However, another, more worrying risk is the one hovering in cyberspace – digital fraud that diverts the funds from the buyer or to the seller by hacking into the email accounts of either the conveyancing firm or the individuals involved, and sometimes both.

In the UK property market, millions of pounds change hands every single day as sales are completed, making this area an enticing one for thieves looking for an easy mark.

£7m cost of 'Friday afternoon frauds'

In the year to December 2016, around £7 million was defrauded from individuals in the UK during the conveyancing process, a scam dubbed “Friday afternoon fraud” because of that day’s popularity as a completion date – and also because it gives the tricksters time to make off with their ill-gotten gains.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the regulating arm of the Law Society of England and Wales and the body to which all members of Capital Conveyancing’s London-wide panel of solicitors and conveyancing solicitors report.

In its December 2016 report, the SRA said three-quarters of the cyber crimes reported to it in the previous 12 months had been “Friday afternoon frauds” but also said the problem may be under-reported. A quarter of firms under the umbrella of the SRA have been targeted by fraudsters with one in 10 having money stolen from their clients.

While technology is helping to speed up the conveyancing process, a lack of digital knowledge and awareness of the extent to which fraudsters can penetrate an email system makes both buyers and sellers vulnerable to the scam. The SRA advises only confirming bank details in writing using the traditional postal system.

Conveyancing firms and solicitors are also more vigilant now in ensuring identity fraud is minimised, carrying out documentation checks to confirm that a seller or a seller’s solicitor is indeed who they say they are and entitled to sell a property.

Digital safety now a priority

The “digital safety gap” has been identified by Barclays in its Digital Safety Index survey, published this month. The research from the financial giant showed that fraud and cyber crimes now make up half of all recorded crime in the UK, but many people have no idea how to ensure they can keep their finances safe online.

In fact, the Barclays survey revealed that even the most highly educated individuals are no better at identifying digital threats than the rest of the population.

To combat this ignorance, Barclays is to set up digital safety teach-ins in branch to customers and to the businesses it serves.

Here at Capital Conveyancing, our clients’ security and confidentiality is our No. 1 priority. Our solicitors and conveyancers panel are regulated by the Law Society through the SRA (for solicitors) and the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) for conveyancers. We also offer a guaranteed fixed fee and the assurance that you won’t lose a penny if for some reason your transaction doesn’t complete.

Read more here on why using Capital Conveyancing can provide peace of mind for buyer and seller.