Category Archives for London

1st-time buyers boosted by abolition of Stamp Duty on properties worth up to £300,000


First-time buyers attempting to get on the housing ladder in London have been given a boost with the abolition of Stamp Duty on properties worth up to £300,000.

Those buying a home for the first time that’s worth up to £500,000 in London and other expensive areas across England won’t have to pay a penny of Stamp Duty on the first £300,000 of that transaction.

Chancellor Philip Hammond made the announcement on the Stamp Duty changes in the Budget today, telling the House of Commons that 80 percent of first-time buyers will now avoid paying the land tax.

He said: “I want to take action to help young people saving to own a home. With effect from today, for all first-time buyers up to £300,000, I am abolishing Stamp Duty altogether.

To ensure that this relief also helps first time buyers in very high price areas like London, it will also be available on the first £300,000 of the purchase price of properties up to £500,000.”

Updated SDLT tax bands for 1st-time buyers


Example of stamp duty for 1st-time buyers


Tax levied on a sliding scale

Stamp Duty reform had been discussed at length before the Budget with property and financial experts united on viewing the tax as a barrier to social mobility and an increased burden on younger buyers.

Stamp Duty Land Tax is paid on all residential property worth £125,000 or more and on commercial properties sold at more than £150,000. It is levied on a sliding scale and raises around £11 billion a year for the Treasury.

There were other measures that focused on the housing market, too. Mr Hammond set a target of 300,000 new homes being built every year in England by the mid-2020s, more than double the average number currently being built. An extra £44 billion will also be spent over the next five years to improve construction skills, encourage small builders to return to the house-building market and free up land for building.

Urban areas, in particular cities and large towns, will be targeted to provide high-quality, high-density housing, while councils and London boroughs will be able to impose the full council tax on empty properties to encourage owners not to leave them vacant.

As property prices fall, the time is right to become a London homeowner


After what seemed like years of unrelenting growth, it appears that London house prices are finally falling. And while that’s potentially bad news for sellers, it offers a ray of hope to buyers desperate to get on to the property ladder in the capital.

A recent report in the Sunday Times suggested 40 percent of homes on sale in London have had their asking price cut and, based on the latest report from the Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index, the newspaper says the capital is performing the worst of all areas in the UK property market.

Hometrack’s September 2017 report says the annual rate of price inflation in London is 2.3 percent, and with inflation now running at 3 percent, that means a fall in real terms in 85 percent of London areas.

The worst areas for price growth are in inner London, including the City, Kensington and Chelsea, Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith and Fulham, and Richmond upon Thames. Price growth was best on the outskirts, led by Epping Forest, Gravesham, Runnymede and Waltham Forest.

Further reductions are ‘inevitable’

Hometrack’s figures were confirmed by the latest data from Acadata and LSL Property Services, the research practice that analyses house price indices and trends across the UK.

According to its monthly report, the “traditional North-South divide has been upended” with price growth slowing in the south while the north is proving more resilient. Its figures suggest that prices in Greater London fell by 0.8 percent in August but individual boroughs showed fluctuations.

The Hometrack report said further price falls are “inevitable” because sellers will have to readjust their expectations in line with what buyers are willing to spend.

What that adds up to is greater power in the hands of the buyer who can expect to drive a hard bargain when they find the home they want. Meanwhile, sellers keen to make a fast sale are having to accept the new reality of fewer potential buyers and reduced offers.

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London site will be 1st to offer only affordable housing


A site in east London will be the first development in the capital to offer only affordable housing. The 330 new homes in Waltham Forest, Walthamstow, will be aimed at first-time buyers. The former Webbs industrial estate, which had lain derelict for seven years, was bought by the Greater London Authority last year and the tender to develop affordable homes was put out to tender.

Catalyst Housing Association won the right to be preferred bidders and they will now work with architects CF Moller and other housing associations to create the development. Along with a variety of homes, the site will also house creative workspaces, artist studios and retail units.

The homes will all be affordable and also eligible for shared ownership to widen as far as possible the net of potential owner-occupiers.

Long-term strategy to increase investment

London mayor Sadiq Khan pushed through the purchase of the land, which lies in Waltham Forest borough, after a proposal to build a free school there fell through.

Mr Khan said: “I’m doing all I can to help fix London’s housing crisis, but it will take time to turn things round. We’ve already taken big steps forward – my new planning rules will help raise affordable housing levels in new developments, and my £3.15 billion funding deal with government will help to build an extra 90,000 genuinely affordable homes to rent and buy.

“I’m working hard to identify more brownfield sites across London that we can use to build the thousands of affordable homes London so desperately needs.”

The mayor has put aside an initial £250 million to buy and prepare land for new and affordable housing, outlined in his draft Housing Strategy for London. Any profit made from selling land to developers will be reinvested in buying more land across the capital.

The Housing Strategy aims to build 90,000 affordable homes by 2021 and encourage the building of more; get a better deal for private renters; support community builders and other new housing providers; and help tackle homelessness.

The street art that adds value to property

Image courtesy of Affordable Art Fair

Image courtesy of Affordable Art Fair

In less enlightened times, we might have referred to it as graffiti. But street art – from gable-end murals to foot-high slogans and forest sculptures – is fast becoming one of the best ways to add value to both property and communities.

Popularised by Banksy, the anonymous artist whose work now fetches six figures, street art has grown from spray painting on subway trains to a multi-million pound industry that appeals to critics and consumers alike.

A research team from Warwick Business School found a link between art and house prices in 2016, using Flickr images to discover higher property prices were tied to more arty images. They identified London boroughs such as Shoreditch and Hackney as particularly enjoying the positive effects of art-led economic development.

Now further research, carried out for the Affordable Art Fair, confirms that property hunters in the UK are influenced in where they want to buy and how much they’re willing to pay by the street art on display.

Bright mural more important than a coffee shop

The survey – carried out by – quizzed more than 1,000 adults across the UK on their attitudes towards street art. The findings show that up to 32 percent of those who participated would be willing to pay up to £50,000 more for a home in an area with colourful street art; that 42 percent of us would rather have a bright mural or interesting sculpture to look at than a local coffee shop; and that almost a third of Brits would happily commission an artist to paint a mural on the outside of their own home.

The latest Affordable Art Fair takes place from September 8-10 in Bristol, acknowledged as the UK’s birthplace of not only Banksy but street art itself.

The artist-in-residence for the fair is mural artist Alex Lucas, who said: “I’ve been creating murals across Bristol for 10 years now, starting with my own house, and I always love seeing the reactions of homeowners and the local community when they see the finished pieces.

“Many of my works start out as small projects and grow organically with the owner of the space, and even little pieces can make an impact.”

Impressionist master tops list of desired artists

While Banksy is now famous across the globe for his extravagant murals and pavement pieces, he didn’t top the top 10 list of artists Brits would like to wield a paintbrush on their homes.

The honour of the No. 1 spot went to French impressionist master Claude Monet, followed by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, with contemporary artists Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin further down the list.

For details of galleries exhibiting at the Affordable Art Fair in Bristol, visit

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.”

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…”


  • 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

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.”


  • 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

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.”


  • 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

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


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.