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Legislation & Law in Lettings & Property Management

2018-07-13 12:54:53

Ever wondered what legislation is involved with lettings, well there are now well over 125 pieces of legislation and regulations governing the private rental sector. Over 80 of those laws and statutory regulations have been introduced since the 1990’s. Below is a list of most of them:

Acts of Parliament or statutory regulations which impact partly or wholly on the private rented sector:

– (Tenants Fees Bill 2017-2019 still going through Parliament, not yet law)

– (Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation and Liability for Housing Standards) Bill 2018, still going through Parliament, not yet law)

– Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Banning Order Offences) Regulations 2018

– Housing and Planning Act 2016 (Database of Rogue Landlords and Property Agents) Regulations 2018

– Housing and Planning Act 2016

– Tenancy Notices and Prescribed Requirements Regulations 2015

– Selective Licensing of Houses (Additional Conditions) (England) Order 2015

– Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015

– Deregulation Act 2015

– Consumer Rights Act 2015

– Immigration Act 2014

– Housing (Wales) Act 2014

– The Redress Scheme for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Requirement to Belong to a Scheme etc) (England) Order 2014

– The Redress Schemes for Lettings Agency Work and Property Management Work (Approval and Designation of Schemes) (England) Order 2013

– Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013

– Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013

– Construction (Design and Management) Regulation 2012

– Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012

– Energy Performance of Building Regulations 2007 to 2012

– Social Security (Notification of Change of Circumstances) Regulations 2011

– Energy Act 2011

– Equalities Act 2011

– Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008

– Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

– The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

– Housing (Tenancy Deposits) (Prescribed Information) Order 2007

– Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

– The Administration Charges (Summary of Rights Obligations) (England) Regulations 2007

– Service Charges (Summary of Rights and Obligations and Transitional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007

– Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)(England) Regulations 2007

– Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007

– Health Act 2006

– Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006

– Selective Licensing of Houses (Specific Exemptions) (England) Order 2006

– Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006

– Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and other houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006

– Housing Health and Safety Rating System Regulations 2005

– Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

– General Product Safety Regulations 2005

– Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2005

– Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004

– Housing Act 2004

– The Electrical Safety Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002

– Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002

– Enterprise Act 2002

– Private Water Supply Regulations 2001

– Housing Benefit Regulations 2001

– Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit (Decisions and Appeals) Regulations 2001

– Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Act 2000

– Utilities Act 2000

– Building Regulations 2000

– Rent Act (Maximum Fair Rent) Order 1999

– Greater London Authority Act 1999

– The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

– Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999

– Unfair Contract Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

– Data Protection Act 1998

– Gas Safety Regulations 1998

– Assured Tenancies and Agricultural Occupancies (Forms) Regulations 1997

– Party Wall Etc Act 1996

– Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1996

– Housing Act 1996

– Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995

– Gas Appliance (Safety) Regulations 1995

– Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995

– Reporting of Injuries Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

– Plugs and sockets etc (Safety) Regulations 1994

– Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994

– Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1994

– Leasehold Reform etc Act 1993

– Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) (Amendment) Regulations 1993

– Clean Air Act 1993

– Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992

– Local Government Finance Act 1992

– Council Tax (Chargeable Dwellings) Order 1992

– Council Tax (Exempt Dwellings) Order 1992

– Council Tax (Liability of Owners) Regulations 1992

– Social Security Administration Act 1992

– Water Industry Act 1991

– Environmental Protection Act 1990

– Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended)

– Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990

– Electricity Act 1989

– Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1989

– Electricity at Work Regulation 1989

– Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1988

– Furniture and furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988

– Landlord and Tenant Act 1988

– Housing Act 1988

– Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987

– Landlord and Tenant Act 1987

– Gas Act 1986

– Insolvency Act 1996 and Insolvency Rules 1986

– Business Names Act 1985

– Housing Act 1985

– Landlord and Tenant Act 1985

– County Courts Act 1984

– Building Act 1984

– Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

– Rent Books (Form of Notices) Regulations 1982

– Housing Act 1980

– Limitation Act 1980

– Housing Act 1980

– Notices to Quit (Prescribed Information) Regulations 1980

– The Regulated Tenancies (Procedure) Regulations 1980

– Rent Regulation (Cancellation of Registration of Rent) Regulations 1980

– Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977

– Rent Act 1977

– Protection from Eviction Act 1977

– Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977

– Criminal Law Act 1977

– Control of Pollution Act 1974

– Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974

– Defective Premises Act 1972

– Misuse of Drugs Act 1971

– Cost of Leases Act 1958

– Sexual Offences Act 1956

– Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1954

– Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949

– Leasehold Property (Repairs) Act 1938

– Public Health Act 1936

– Landlord and Tenant Act 1927

– Law of Property Act 1925

– Law of Distress (Amendment) Act 1908

– Common Law Procedure Act 1852

– Distress for Rent Act 1737

– Landlord & Tenant Act 1730


Why now is a great time to buy property.

2018-04-12 08:37:41

One of the most popular questions I’m asked is What is the property market doing now? and where do you see property prices in the future. Now, I’m no mystic Meg and no one can predict the future but there are a number of facts to consider.

Currently, the property market has levelled off, its still buoyant if priced correctly but we are currently mid-cycle in regards the ups and downs (apart from London where its seen a correction mainly due to the staggering price growth between credit crunch and 2017, mixed with Brexit). This snapshot of the property market, might lead to interest rates being kept low for longer. Historically, a large fall in the market happens every 18 years but over the long term, property prices double every 10 – 12 years. Inflation and House price growth are intertwined and with high inflation comes high house price growth, however, high inflation also brings interest rate rises.

Personally, I don’t think we have had the full impact of the Quantitative easing program yet and in the public sector the Government have increased salaries and we have seen National minimum wage increases. This, on a long term basis will increase inflation and therefore property becomes more affordable and house price growth will set in – but not for the next 3-4 years. We are all sat tight to see what Brexit will bring and new legislation and market disruption is changing rapidly in the housing market in the short term.

‘Housing Crash’ , ‘Market crash’ are terms used by the media but what actually happens in a housing crash? Historically, property prices only drop by a maximum 20% as an average, this period of time is very unsettling and no one likes a recession, the bigger question is how long it will last. The credit crunch of 2008 was only one year, whereas, the recession in 1989 was prolonged for 5 years and was much harder, however, in both cases property dropped by 20%. This is the main reason why banks like 75% – 80% Loan to value mortgages, limiting their risk.

James Cann said, ‘More property millionaires are made in a recession / property falling, than any other time.’ Warren Buffet said, ‘Observe the masses and do the opposite’. Many professional property investors will turn a gear up during these times and enter the market buying when no one wants to buy or too scared to buy an asset that is falling in price but here is the point. The asset has a strong value and is tangible, they know in the medium / long term the cycle will change and uplift. Population increases, however, you cannot make any more land – its finite. Property is a basic human need, just like food, undertakers or tax collectors. The demand is always there.

Why right now is a great time to buy property? Interest rates are low and in my view will remain low in the short term, 3-4 years, its a great time for making over payments and reducing the mortgage/debt and building equity. In the medium to long term, inflation, salaries and the QE will kick in and property prices will increase (although interest rates will increase along side when it happens, so it is a balance). We are currently mid-cycle and whilst the housing market is mature, it is currently taking a breathe and will remain stable for the next 3-4 years.

I am introducing some new exciting services this year – so watch this space !

My staff member of 10 years, and friend, has been saving for years now, stuck in the rental trap. Increasing rents and being forced to move home every 6 months or year, she has moved 4 times in the past 3 years. She has a young family and desperately wants a forever home and stability for her family and children. Some landlords are being forced to sell due to legislation changes and whilst they would prefer to keep their asset until retirement age, are looking to dispose now and currently another investor will come along and snap it up. This is why, I am launching our Rent-to-Own service.

For the landlord, how would you like a tenant, who treats the property as their own? Will let the property guaranteed for 5 – 7 years? no void periods. The tenant will deal with maintenance at their expense and a disposal at the end of this period, selling when you are ready at a specified time in the future, not when the Government makes legislation changes. The purchase price is agreed at the outset and the tenant knows, the property is as good as theirs. You’ll also know you are really helping a young family, like my staff member to reach their goal and own their own home.

For the Tenant, the purchase price is agreed today. You can treat the property as your own, security of tenure, add value with a new kitchen or extension, in the certainly knowing that you can buy the property in X number of years time, pre-agreed. Any house price growth or added value is yours. This new service I am launching is called Rent-to-Own. Buy now pay later. Set the price now, purchase at a pre-agreed time in the future.

This new service Rent-to-Own is legally called a Lease Purchase Option Agreement. Lease for a set period of time, at a set rental price, with a pre-agreed purchase price.

I’m very excited, this is a great solution, the market demand is there and I have a list of Tenant buyers but I’m keen to hear from any Landlords who would like to use this service or it could be someone who is currently on the market struggling to sell.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

James Scollard – Owner & Founder of CLIFFTONS. [email protected]



Government reveals ANY 5 bed+ HMO will need License, Plus new minimum room sizes

2018-01-02 14:04:45

The government have announced over the Christmas holidays, new minimum space requirements for HMO (House Multiple Occupation) lettings and revealing new rules for HMOs. The national mandatory licensing currently only applies if properties are three or more storeys, however, this will be changed so one and two-storey properties including flats will be brought within the scheme plus the Department of Communities and Local Government has also specified minimum room sizes for HMO’s.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres.

Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

The HMO licence must specify the maximum number of persons (if any) who may occupy any room and the total number across the different rooms must be the same as the number of persons for whom the property is suitable to live in.

These new requirements have yet to be made law; measures to make them law are expected this spring.

In a statement accompanying the proposals, the DCLG said: “The increased demand for HMOs has been exploited by opportunist rogue landlords, who feel the business risks for poorly managing their accommodation are outweighed by the financial rewards. Typical poor practices include: overcrowding, poor management of tenant behaviour, failure to meet the required health and safety standards, housing of illegal migrants and intimidation of tenants when legitimate complaints are made. Tenants are sometimes exploited and local communities blighted through, for example, rubbish not being properly stored, excessive noise or anti-social behaviour. Although only a minority of landlords the impacts of their practices are disproportionate, putting safety and welfare of tenants at risk and adversely affecting local communities. They cause much reputational harm to the HMO market and it is often pot luck whether a vulnerable tenant ends up renting from a rogue or a good landlord.”

In Bournemouth, lots of student houses will fall within the new regulations and we expect to see many more 5 bed+ student houses coming on to the market for sale. This is likely to drive more students into the purpose built student accommodation has choice and availability reduce for students.

CLIFFTONS is one of the leading agencies in Bournemouth and have a specialist and niche investment database for selling HMO properties or property portfolios, for and to Investment buyers. For a free consultation, please contact James Scollard on 01202 789699.


Leasehold / Freehold Information – The basics Explained

2017-11-15 10:01:36

Leasehold / Freehold Information Sheet

** This  is not meant to describe or give a full interpretation of the law, nor does it cover every case. **


Legal Tenure of Property. Freehold, Leasehold, Share of Freehold, Lease Extensions & purchasing freehold.

Freehold – 99.9% of houses are freehold – meaning they own the land and building.

Leasehold – For example, if there are 10 flats on a piece of land, not everyone can own this land. So, someone else owns the land (Freeholder) and the leaseholder will pay Ground Rent. The rent you pay to the freehold for being on this land is normally £250 per year, or thereabouts, and you have a lease which could be granted for any length of time: 99 years or 90 years or 150 years or 125 years or 523 years.

Peppercorn – Sometimes the Ground Rent is peppercorn. This is the lowest legal monetary amount payable in the UK, which equates to less than a penny and therefore is never payable.

Lease Extension – As a leasehold, you are protected in law and as long as you have owned the property for two years, you are normally entitled to extend your lease.

(There are exceptions, for example, if’s a commercial/business lease or charitable housing trust & the flat is part of the function of that charity.) (Leasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993).

The legal statutory right is to add 90 years to what’s left on the existing lease, at a ‘Peppercorn Rent’ (meaning no ground rent is payable). E.g. if you had 70 years remaining on the lease, your new lease would be 160 years.

Leasehold – 79 Years or less. This is a magic number for leasehold properties. Every year below 79 years, the cost of the lease extension increases dramatically for each year below this number. This is due to the Marriage Value.

Marriage Value

Marriage Value is payable where the unexpired term of the lease is less than 80 years and therefore Marriage Value is shared 50/50 between the freeholder and the leaseholders.

The freeholder is entitled to charge a calculated premium to do this, based on a set formula. The formal procedure is started by The Leaseholders formal notice.

Mortgages. Most mortgage lenders will not lend of leasehold flats with 55 years or less, remaining on the lease.

Note – Sometimes freeholders will encourage leaseholders or leaseholders think they will save money by negotiating outside the statutory Act, but then there are no rules. The freeholder could refuse to extend, ask for any premium, increase ground rent, add clauses, etc.

Point to Note – When I extended a lease, I followed the statutory route but wanted a 999 year lease and the freeholder agreed from the outset, with a peppercorn ground rent.

Once the formal process starts, when your solicitor issues the formal notice to the freeholder, the clock starts ticking. Freeholders love to drag this process out because if your solicitor misses the deadline or you default in the process. The whole process has to be started again. Don’t be afraid to go to the First Tier Tribunal.

You will be liable for the Freeholders reasonable professional fees. (Section 60 of the Act)

If a lease extension is applied for, this will be suspended if the other leaseholders make an application to buy the freehold, So you all have Share of Freehold (Collective Enfranchisement Procedure). If they are already in the process of buying the freehold, you cannot apply for a lease extension.

TOP TIP – Speak to the other leaseholders in the block, prior to taking action. Make a note of everyone’s name/Tel and email. Together you’re stronger.

Starting the Process – Your solicitor will serve the initial formal notice – Section 42 Notice.

However, before starting the process, instruct the Surveyor first. Once the Surveyor/valuer has a copy of the lease, viewed the property and you have the report. The solicitor will need this to issue the Section 42 Notice.

You need a Surveyor – who specialises in leasehold extensions.

The Surveyor/ Valuer will give you a ‘Best and Worst’ case valuation.

Advising on the amount for the offer to be made in the Notice

Responding to Freeholders Counter notice

Negotiation and settlement of the price, other terms & representation at the Tribunal

You need a Solicitor – Who specialises in leasehold extensions.

Prepare information for application

Service of Notice on the competent landlord (normally freeholder)

Respond to Freeholders requests for information to support claim

Conveyance of the new lease

Top Tip – One of my clients blamed his solicitor for not issuing the notice to The first Tier Tribunal and missed the deadline. That meant after one year, he had to start the whole process off again. My advice is find out the deadlines and keep an eye on it. If the solicitor is on holiday, who is going to deal with whilst they are away.You are entitled to obtain details of the name and address of your landlord/freeholder under rights provided in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985.The Freeholder (Landlord) is required to respond within 28 days of receiving the formal notice.

PLEASE NOTE – Make sure you know where the finance is coming from for the new lease. Once you start, you commit to the professional fees incurred, on both sides.

Selling – Sometimes homeowners do not have the funds available. If the process is started you can transfer the ‘right to extend the lease’ to a new buyer. (That means the buyer does not have to wait the two years). Alternatively, if the lease is say £10k and the agent sells the property with a long extended lease for £220,000, on completion of the sale, you receive £210k and the freeholder receives the £10k – from the proceeds of sale. The lease extension and conveyancing can run side by side, however, the lease extension will take slightly longer so, this process needs to begin prior to marketing.

Commonhold – (Share of Freehold) – Sometimes some or all of the leaseholders gets together in the block and suggest building the freehold, buying the land. Normally, a company is set up which owns the freehold and each flat owner, then owns shares in the company. For example, if there are 10 flats, you’ll have a tenth ownership in the company. A tenth share of the land / freehold.      Best case £27,175 and worst case £44,250.

Using my surveyor’s valuation, my surveyor suggested the price would be £38,125.

In a recent enfranchisement I did, my surveyor valued the freehold and the price in the initial offer notice was £27,173. The freeholder’s surveyor in their counter notice was £90,000. A really big difference and enough for many lessors to bulk at and put them off.

As with a lease extension, there is a set formula for working out the price.

The process is similar to a lease extension, you’ll need a surveyor and solicitor. (See above)

Normally a company is formed, e.g. ‘St Johns Road Management (Bournemouth) Limited’ to hold the freehold and wholly owned by the participating Lessors, but not always. I own a share of freehold in a block of 3 flats and the freehold is owning in the names of the individuals, this can present its own challenges and potential risks. A solicitor, managing agent or accountant can establish a company and produce Articles of Association to reflect the purpose of the company and voting rights.

Provided at least 50% of the flats in the building, who are qualifying lessors, are participating then the freeholder cannot refuse to sell. There are exceptions and your solicitor will advise whether you can buy the freehold based on the individual cases. You need to have a working group, everyone’s contact information and collective newsletter, what’s App or Email / process to update everyone. Everyone needs to sign a participation agreement which your solicitor can organise. The relevant Act is the Leasehold Reform Housing & Urban Development Act 1993 (as amended).

Marriage Value is applicable when buying the freehold


The compensation element is to reflect any loss of potential development value attributable to the freeholders’ interest. This might typically include, for example, the value of developable loft space or any external areas where additional habitable accommodation.

Sometimes the two surveyors are at stalemate during negotiations. Normally in the latter stages of negotiation, it’s important to understand the reason behind the stalemate and look where possible to compromise to keep the process moving.

For Example:

When I bought the freehold with the other residents, for us all to have Share of Freehold, one area for discrepancy was a large outside space. As lessors we were using this area for our bins. This space was not allocated to any lease and was owned by the freeholder.

Our surveyor made the argument, this area is being used as the bin storage area. The freeholder’s surveyor was arguing, it could park two cars and had a commercial value.

Both arguments were correct. I stepped in and parked a car in the space clearly showing only one car would fit and measured the size of the space comparing it to national car parking spaces.

The freeholder’s surveyor conceded, it could only be used for one car. I asked my surveyor to concede the freeholders surveyor had a valid point and the bins could be stored elsewhere and let’s work out the commercial value of one parking space, which was £3,000 – £5,000.

Another area is the loft spaces. There was potential to redevelop the loft and add rooms. The freeholder is entitled to ‘Potential development loss’. This space was worked out at £3,000 as a commercial value.

The final price was £3,000 for the loft, £3,000 for the car parking space and price £39,270.

Total price to buy the freehold £45,270.

I was really happy with this, given the freeholder surveyor initially valued at £90,000!

Instructing a Specialist Consultant – We act as a consultant and charge £625+vat (£750 Incl. Vat) per leaseholder.

For this, we will organise the surveyor and solicitor and consult throughout the process, acting in your interests, step by step, until completion.


Thank You for reading and hopefully provides you with useful information to use as a guide.

Written by James Scollard, Founder & Owner of CLIFFTONS Estate Agents.

Tel: 01202 789699,      Web:,  Email: [email protected]



Corporate Asset Management for Property Portfolio Bournemouth

2017-09-22 18:31:46

We work with the U.K’s main Property Corporate Asset Management Companies representing their clients for repossessions, probates, part exchanges, drive-by and formal valuations and also, directly for large blue chip companies with substantial property portfolios in the Bournemouth & Surrounding Areas.

Our experience, systems and service ensure the whole process from start to finish is fluid.

New regulations come into office in eight days for larger property portfolio landlords. With the industry still feeling the ramifications of increased stamp duty, alterations to tax relief, etc, portfolio Landlords must now prepare themselves for more change from the Bank Of England Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) new underwriting standards for portfolio landlords which become mandatory on 30th September 2017.

From the 1st October, Landlords with four or more mortgaged buy to let properties will have to provide and validate details on all the properties they have an interest in. (This means over 25% ownership).

So, what does this mean for you?

Lenders will need to make sure you are not over-exposed and will look to stress the whole property portfolio, i.e. they will take your entire buy to let property portfolio into account when making a lending decision. As yet, we don’t know exactly how each lender will apply the guidelines but you can pretty much guarantee they will be looking at:

  • Your property investment experience
  • The total amount of your mortgage borrowing across all properties
  • Your assets and liabilities, including tax liability
  • The merits of any new lending in context of your existing buy to let portfolio – together with your business plan
  • Historical and future expected cash flow from your portfolio
  • Your income both from property and elsewhere

Be prepared, the lenders are likely to be asking for your up-to-date property portfolio spreadsheet, a business plan, cash flow forecasts, your last three months’ bank statements, SA302s, submitted tax returns, ASTs and possibly income and expenditure statements for your portfolio.

If you are looking to review your property portfolio, I would recommend looking into it sooner rather than later – we can help with this!

For both Sales and Lettings, we work very closely with our property tax advisor and work out the best exit strategy or management strategy with business plan to maximise returns, minimise risks and look at the best routes in regards the tax elements.

Written by James Scollard, Founder

Tel: 01202 789699

Email: [email protected]



Halifax – End of Term Mortgage Loan

2017-08-01 18:24:30

Working in the property sector for over twenty years, I’ve sold over a thousand properties with the majority taking out mortgages and having numerous mortgages myself thereby my knowledge of products and working with lenders is higher than most. So when my parents explained their Interest only mortgage is coming to the end of the term, I happily agreed to assist them.

I thought it would be a simply straight forward process with my parents having never missed a payment and under 50% loan to value on their home. However, this has been a far cry from the reality.

My parents took out a mortgage with Halifax, a ten year interest only mortgage and at the time in 2007 at 65 years of age, the mortgage lender accepted the eventual sale of the property as the method for repayment for the mortgage and also accepted no repayment vehicle alongside this product when the mortgage was taken out.

After numerous phone calls, over a period of weeks and numerous different people, they conducted an income and expenditure process to demonstrate affordability. The affordability test showed they were in a small deficit and recommended to contact a debt helpline. However, in the real world you do not have exactly the same outgoings month after month and my parents are old school ‘live within your means’ and don’t spend what they don’t have. It works. They have never been financially in trouble or arrears over the past sixty years.

The Halifax ascertained they could not afford a repayment mortgage or part repayment. The Halifax could offer a ten year extension to the loan if that was the case. However, due to affordability the maximum interest only term, they would be prepared to offer is five years.

Older borrowers want one thing, security and certainty. They don’t want threats or stress and don’t have the income to repay being trapped in an option less tunnel. The mortgage lender agreed to lend the money to my parents (with next to zero diligence) and being of retirement age, the prospect of earning potential to repay this interest only mortgage was also very limited. On that basis, the lender agreed to the mortgage.

My parents wanted fixed repayments but could not have a five year fix rate because apparently these are five years and a couple of months. Despite another four months left on the current loan, the Halifax would not grant the five year extension from when this loan ends, it would have to take effect immediately and in turn were not allowed to have a five year fix rate.

It’s clear, this is deliberate. I understand why, the lender would not want to grant a five year mortgage with a customer benefitting from the attractive lower concessionary five year fix rate and miss out on the larger profits made when the customer moves to a standard variable rate.

However, this is not about having the lower rate, this is about having security in tenure with fixed repayments for the duration. The ‘recommendation’ was a two year fix rate. My Parents do not want to go through this whole process in a year and half time and with Brexit coming and the possibility of higher interest rates, they want their mortgage payments fixed for the five year duration.

I would enjoy speaking with someone senior, how the ‘recommendation’ is two years and not three years for example. So, their end of term mortgage loan would end in two years, just a few months after Brexit happens, that’s not financially risky at all, because this is the recommendation from the Halifax. My financially vulnerable 77 year old parents would have to try and apply for an extension to their mortgage, in one of the most uncertain times this century, this is the recommendation?

Having established they are financially vulnerable, an increase in interest rates could mean for them not being able to repay the mortgage. The ‘recommendation’ suggests there is a choice. There is no choice, this is the only option being offered. This means if rates increase and they can no longer afford the mortgage, the lender would not be responsible because we are advised it is only a ‘recommendation’. The representatives can’t keep saying ‘My recommendation is’… when there is no alternative. This is the ONLY option on offer. This is not sympathetic to their circumstances, nor constructive if they are not listening to the reasons.

The lender is not taking into account the borrower’s age, circumstances and uncertainty ahead in the markets with Brexit. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an elderly borrower to want certainly in their home.

The Financial Ombudsman Service has told mortgage lenders in at least two cases to extend interest-only terms indefinitely for older borrowers. The FOS published a number of case studies involving complaints made by older borrowers.

The alternative is forcing a borrower to sell their home. I think it’s unfair, a lender saying, they are now too old and force a borrower to sell their home based on the previous known lending decisions based on known circumstances. As long as the monthly payments are met, a lender should extend the term of the interest-only mortgage indefinitely, so the capital can be repaid, as agreed, from the outset, when the property is eventually sold.

Lending into retirement has become one of the biggest issues in the mortgage market since the MMR. Before the rules were rolled out in April 2014, many lenders cut their maximum age limits to 70 or 75, making it more difficult for borrowers to obtain finance if the loan extended into retirement. More rigorous affordability assessments and a clampdown on interest-only lending has further restricted options for older customers.

The FCA recently called for lenders to develop more flexible mortgage products for older borrowers. However it’s clear, the strict, inflexible policy surrounding older borrowers has not changed, taking into account age, circumstances and future risk for the borrower.

My parents, now identified as financially vulnerable by the Halifax, would really benefit from the attractive five year fixed term and lower repayments, that they are not allowed to have. However, more important to them, is having fixed repayments over the course of the turbulent times ahead and certainty they can remain in their home.

The whole process is not pleasant. They do not fit into the Halifax policy and now having to go through their complaints procedure. Fortunately, my parents have me but I feel sorry for all the other oldies having to go through this, who are less fortunate, on their own. My parents wanted to give up several times and I wouldn’t let them.

– End –

23/09/2017 – Update

Good news – after 6 weeks of being passed pillar to post, people off on holiday, passed to three different supervisors, the Halifax have agreed to a further 5 year interest only fixed rate, after the end of term mortgage. It was the right result in this particular circumstances and my parents are very pleased, feel secure and positive. Thank you Halifax. (If could, and should, have been made much easier.)


Rightmove analysed data to find top performing agents … CLIFFTONS has been shortlisted

2017-07-29 09:20:49

Rightmove has gathered a shortlist for the top agents in the country and have analysed over…

  • 3 billion Rightmove page views
  • 50 million leads
  • 3 million transactions
  • 1 million properties on Rightmove
  • 26,000 branches
  • Mystery Shopping


CLIFFTONS have been officially notified and selected as one of the TOP 20% of Estate agents in the Country to be shortlisted.

The Property Academy then carried out over 30,000 mystery shops to identify the very best performing branches and discovered what makes them successful. The top 20% will make the Best Estate Agent guide. After assessing the data and mystery shop results, the Property Academy identified the top 20% of branches, which will be included in the Best Estate Agent Guide. EA Masters 2017 is the property event of the year On the 22nd September 2017, the Property Academy will be hosting the EA Masters at The InterContinental London – The O2. The EA Masters will be a full day conference including world class speakers and input from nine industry leaders. Forty businesses are showcasing their latest products and services in the Innovation Hall. The day concludes with a black tie celebratory dinner and awards ceremony. Rightmove will have a stand on the day and sharing some of the latest home-mover insights, what the highest performing agents all have in common and direct you to some useful tools.

The guide will be the biggest assessment of its type ever undertaken in the UK.

CLIFFTONS … one of the BEST Estate & Letting in the UK … ‘FACT’ …

… Please contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Tel: 01202 789699




Online Estate Agents

2017-05-25 12:30:20

There has been a lot of debate within the industry over the performance and success of online and hybrid estate agents but there is very little information about the number of properties they actually sell. The change in business model has been around now for a couple of years and certainly the likes of Purple Bricks are still estate agents but with a brilliant business model. They are getting customers / sellers to pay up front for the estate agency service, whether they sell the property or not. Its a great business model and the result is their share price is going up and shareholders are very pleased at the profits being produced, without the need of actually selling the property.

I’m still undecided whether to adopt this business model, a DIY service for selling property at a cheap fee. It would be easy to do because I could cut all my advertising and costs that attract buyers and just rely on one platform but I still do not think its in the interests of the sellers and there is still a potential backlash taking all this money off consumers, not doing anything, except sticking an advert on a property portal.

A recent survey by ‘getanagent’ has conducted some interesting research. Obviously the online estate agents don’t disclose how many properties they are actually selling because it doesn’t matter. What matters in this business model is how many sellers they can sign up. The survey was conducted over a 14-month period and interestingly half of online agents listings hadn’t sold after 14 months on the market and that’s in a good and buoyant property market.

It’s important for homeowners to have this information when they are deciding whether it is best for them to use an online estate agent or a traditional high street estate agent. So, this data and research is really useful to help homeowners.

They looked at listings by Purplebricks, Tepilo, Housesimple and Emoov from January 2016. They analysed the success of each of these listings from January 2016 through to February 2017, allowing 14 months. They also sent out a questionnaire to customers who have used online estate agents to help understand their motives and their level of satisfaction. They then conducted telephone interviews with some of the respondents, which provided some in depth analysis.

With £45 million spent on TV and Radio by online estate agents in the last two years, it might come as a surprise to learn that only 30% of people interviewed heard about their online estate agent from watching TV. Most people came across the online agent from conducting an online search (43%) and 15% heard about their online agent through a friend.


The data shows that market share of online agents has grown from 1.1% to 3.7% from January 2015 to January 2017, which is a big jump.

Homeowners looking to save money

As suspected, over 80% of those interviewed chose an online estate agent to save money. Others liked the idea of having total control of the viewings themselves. A few respondents felt pushed towards an online agent due to the distrust they felt towards traditional high street agents.

Half of online agent listings remain unsold

The research found that around half of online agent listings hadn’t sold after the 14-month period. Purplebricks completed on just 57% of the listings from January 2016, as of February 2017. Housesimple completed on 58%, while Emoov and Tepilo were even lower with 51% and 48% completion rates.

The cheaper upfront fee could cost homeowners more

Online estate agents charge an upfront fee, which is payable even if the property does not sell. Traditional high street estate agents charge a commission on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis.

When looking at the completion rates above and then the upfront fee paid to the online agents, some customers are being left with empty pockets. We have used Tepilo as an example:

Tepilo completed on just 48% of listings. That means over half of Tepilo customers paid more than they would have if they had used a traditional high street agent on a ‘no sale, no fee’ basis. What’s more concerning, is that 17% of homeowners went on to instruct a high street agent meaning they paid Tepilo and then paid a high street agent.

One customer interviewed felt that once the upfront fee was paid the online agent lost interest and lacked motivation to sell their home. Almost half of those interviewed felt the online estate agency they chose was poor value for money and 40% of respondents spent more time than expected managing the sales process.

Online customers switch back to high street agents

We found that many online estate agency customers went on to appoint a traditional high street estate agent to continue the selling process. Interestingly, 44% of homeowners who switched from Purplebricks to a high street estate agent did so in the first 2 months.

The Right Valuation

The research also showed that there were asking price changes in 65% of re-listed properties.


It’s understandable that homeowners are attracted to cheap online estate agents – who like the idea of saving money! However,  research shows that you won’t necessarily be saving money by appointing an online agent and it could be an expensive error.

In conclusion, we recommend our homeowners do their research and speak to a number of estate agents before making a decision.

If you have any comments, we’d love to hear from you.


Ban of letting agents fees – consultation

2016-12-05 14:56:47

Why are Shelter Quoting Out of Date Research to back up their Flawed Argument ?

Scotland banned Letting Fees in 2012. The charity Shelter have been a big voice in persuading and lobbying the Government since it managed to persuade the Scottish Parliament ban fees in 2012.

On all the TV and radio shows at the moment, they keep talking about their Independent Research which backs up their argument that rents didn’t rise, which they say was published in 2014.

A researcher for Shelter in Scotland published these comments yesterday,

“renters, landlords and the industry as a whole had benefited from banning fees to renters in Scotland. It found that any negative side-effects of clarifying the ban on fees to renters in Scotland have been minimal for letting agencies, landlords and renters, and the sector remains healthy.”

Going on,

“Many industry insiders had predicted that abolishing fees would impact on rents for tenants, but our research show that this hasn’t been the case. The evidence showed that landlords in Scotland were no more likely to have increased rents since 2012 than landlords elsewhere in the UK. It found that where rents had risen more in Scotland than in other comparable parts of the UK in 2013, it was explained by economic factors and not related to the clarification of the law on letting fees”

The report Shelter mentioned was published in December 2013  (only 12 months after the ban).

How can Shelter quote a report today, in late 2016, when that report they use as proof  that rents haven’t risen was published in Dec 2013, only 12 months  after the ban (and you think about it, these reports take a few months to compile), so the report was only based on figures around nine months after the ban came into action (FYI – The ban was Q4 2012)

What really happened to rents in Scotland

Research up to the end of Q3 2016, tells a different story:

In Scotland, rents have risen according the CityLets Index by 15.3% between 2012 and today (CityLets being the equivalent of Rightmove North of the Border – so they know their onions). When comparing the same time frame, using Office of National Statistics figures for the English Regions between 2012 and 2016, this is what has happened to rents

  • North East 2.17% increase
  • North West 2.43% increase
  • Yorkshire and The Humber 3.21% increase
  • East Midlands 5.92% increase
  • West Midlands 5.52% increase
  • East of England 7.07% increase
  • South West 5.82% increase
  • South East 8.26% increase
  • London 10.55% increase

..and let me remind you of Scotland … 15.3% increase.


Has the Scottish economy has outstripped London’s over the last 4 years? Are really telling me wages and the Scottish Economy have boomed to such an extent in Scotland in the last 4 years they are now the Powerhouse of the UK.

The answer is a cap on fees. A fair price for the work involved, as a one-off cost. Otherwise, Tenants will pay the price in higher rents. (As seen in Scotland).

scotland rents

scotland rents



Hugh Grant’s former bachelor pad for sale

2016-12-01 11:38:24

We’re a bit disappointed it’s not in Notting Hill given its former resident, but that’s the only downside to Hugh Grant’s former home…

A stunning Penthouse offered on Rightmove which occupies the entire top of Petersham House, boasts 3 bedrooms (each with its own en-suite), master dressing room, walk-in shower, double-height ceilings, direct entry lift, a gym and all the gadgets a man could want!
Take a look around.

The interior of the South Kensington apartment has been designed by an internationally acclaimed design team and features solid dark American walnut flooring throughout, silk curtains and rugs, and custom-made chandeliers, all of which are sure to impress the ladies.

Whilst the interior of the Hollywood Star’s former abode is as charismatic as he is, the exterior of the property makes it one of the most sought-after properties in London. Live the high life at 100ft up on the seriously impressive roof terrace with panoramic views of the capital, including the London Eye, the Shard and Battersea Power Station.

The roof terrace isn’t just your bog-standard patio…. With a six person hottub, outdoor kitchen, TV and surround sound, it’s the perfect place to host an A-list party (oh if that decking could talk!).

Hugh, who was raised in nearby Chiswick, is thought to have lived in the penthouse from 2002 to 2003 during the success of About a Boy, and we bet it won’t be long until another wealthy singleton scoops up this ultimate bachelor (or bachelorette!) pad.





hot tub

hot tub








Winter is here

2016-12-01 11:25:10

The weather has turned cold and you’ve found yourself digging out last year’s electric blanket, it seems Christmas will be upon us in no time. With this in mind, here is some top tips to winter-proof  the British weather !

Here are 10 of the best places to start:

 Easy steps

  1.  Your bills will be higher in winter, so maybe it’s time to shop around and make sure you’ve got the best deal? You might save yourself some cash, more for Christmas present shopping!
  1. If you have a specific room prone to getting a little damp, before the weather turns, make sure you move your furniture and objects away from the walls to allow the air to circulate and for the room to be a more consistent temperature throughout.
  1. Still got your garden furniture out? You might not need those until Spring so make sure you cover them to protect them from rust in the coming months.
  1. Change your thermostat ready for winter. You can set it to be lower when you’re not home and to get warmer just before you get in. With more regular, constant heating, you’re saving your home from problems developing, like cracks and burst pipes, if the temperature changes too quickly.
  1. It may seem a trivial thing to think about, but to save you losing heat, try these two home hacks: get out the sewing machine and line your curtains and add reflective foil behind your radiators on walls which are external on the other side. These simple hacks will help keep heat in.
  1. Invest in three simple items – a draught excluder, a draught-excluding letter box and a rug for any wooden flooring you have to keep your home snug this winter.

 Bigger projects

  1. This is the time to go around your home and check your gutters are leaf-free, the boiler’s healthy and to bleed your radiators in preparation for winter – it’s better to do it now than get caught out when the temperature’s a bit lower.
  1. Have you checked the roof? Cracks or broken tiles can let in water and lead to damp so make sure you, or a professional, gets up there whilst it’s still dry and light and check it over.
  1. Think about all of the places where heat could be escaping from your home this winter – the windows and doors, the loft, the conservatory? Have you got adequate insulation? If not, is it time to invest? Cavity insulation and getting double-glazing, may be a good option.
  1. Trim back any larger trees around the property and driveway, with cold weather comes ice, and you don’t want any of the branches falling onto your home or car.

Make sure you’ve winter-proofed your home so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the winter season – finger crossed, we might even get some snow!


Imminent changes to HMO licensing

2016-11-05 14:06:05

James Scollard, founder of CLIFFTONS Estate & Letting Agents explains what the Government’s latest consultation on HMO and residential property licensing reforms means for landlords.

For properties defined as ‘large HMOs’ licensing is already mandatory. According to the Government your property is defined as a large HMO if ALL THREE of the following apply:

  1. It is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
  2. It is at least three storeys high
  3. Tenants share bathroom and kitchen facilities

The Government plans to make the following changes through secondary legislation to increase the number of properties subject to mandatory licensing:

  1. Remove the storey rule so all houses with five or more people from two or more households are within the scope of the new legislation. The Department for Communities and Local Government says this will further enable local authorities to tackle poor standards, migration and the problems being seen in high risk smaller properties as the sector has grown
  2. Extend mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of storeys), because, as the consultation states ‘evidence shows more problems in these properties’
  3. Set a minimum size of 6.52sq-m in line with existing overcrowding standard (Housing Act 1985) to close loophole created by upper-tier tribunal ruling, which, again according to the consultation, is enabling some landlords to let rooms far too small for an adult to legally occupy

Other proposals included:

  1. Fit and proper person test – criminal record checks for landlords to obtain a licence
  2. Adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of household waste

Whilst these points are still only a proposal, it has been noted that they are likely to come into effect in April or October next year.

It is expected that a six month’ grace period will be offered to landlords to regularize any properties that will be affected by the changes. Penalties for landlord who aren’t compliant will be severe and could include criminal prosecutions and fines of up to £30,000.

These proposed changes are targeted at trying to weed out the bad landlords but unfortunately it will be the vast majority of the good landlords that end up with the additional bureaucratic burden.

So, be warned, sometime in 2017, if you have an HMO or if you are thinking about acquiring one you may be affected.

CLIFFTONS Independent Estate & Letting Agents are Bournemouth based dealing in all aspects of lettings, property management and the acquisition or disposal of residential property.

Further information, can be found at:



Minimum Space Regulations in Buy to Let (mainly HMO)

2016-10-19 14:51:46

This will mainly affect HMO type properties with further regulations. The main measure – originally floated in a consultation document from the Department of Communities and Local Government back in November of last year and repeated by new housing minister Gavin Barwell over the summer – is a minimum space standard.

Under the plans, which will apply in England, the minimum room size in HMOs and some other shared homes will be 6.52 square metres – roughly 70 square feet. The size would be applied for each individual or couple living in the property, so landlords could not squeeze in bunk beds.

The consultation document also includes a provision to ensure mandatory HMO-style licensing rules apply to all shared homes with five or more people from two or more households; they will also include flats above and below shops and other business premises – currently licensing applies only to homes with three or more floors, and excludes properties attached to businesses, unless they are in a three-storey building.

Landlords will also be required to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish.

Ministers are also considering whether the current licensing rules for purpose-built student accommodation are appropriate.

“In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live. These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area” says Barwell.

“By driving rogue landlords that flout the rules out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”

The consultation closes on Tuesday December 13.


Everything you Need to Know About Moving House

2016-09-29 09:50:30

Everything you Need to Know About Moving House

As exciting as finding your dream home is, the hard work begins once you set the moving date. There are so many things you need to prepare for, from booking the removal company months in advance to packing your moving day essentials kit ready for the big day.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by everything that needs to get done, so we have created a moving house timeline to keep you organized and help you tackle each step of the moving process one at a time.

8 Weeks Before Moving Day

Find a Removal Company that Suits You

Moving all your worldly possessions takes time and effort, and is one of the most stressful parts of moving house. To remedy this, hire a professional removal company to eliminate stress and minimize the risk of loss or damage to your items. Not only can they move your items to your new home, but many offer packing and dismantling services too.

Using will allow you to compare removal companies and get the best price on the cost of hiring a removal company.

It’s usually a good idea to book a removal company as soon as you know your moving date, as they can be booked up months in advance. That said, before you choose a company, do your research and make sure they fit your criteria.

In general, you should pick a removal company which:

  • Agrees to a home survey before the move
  • Provides a comprehensive quotation
  • Has trained and uniformed staff
  • Is insured
  • Provides quality customer service

7 Weeks Before Moving Day

Organise and Declutter

Go through all of your items and be as vigilant as possible when deciding what to keep or throw away. To avoid waste, why not donate or sell your unwanted items? Getting rid of anything you don’t use or need anymore will not only lighten your load, but also give you more wardrobe and cupboard space in your new house.

Around this time, you should also buy packing materials such as boxes, tape and bubble wrap. However, many removal companies provide this for you.

6 Weeks Before Moving Day

Inform the Right People

As exciting as moving house can be, it’s easy to forget everyone you need to notify of your change of address, other than your family and friends. This needs to be done in advance of moving day, so that records of your address are updated when you arrive at your new home.  If your children are changing schools, inform the staff that you will be moving as you will need copies of their school certificates and records. If you are looking for school places for your children, make sure you research the schools in your new area.

Here are some other things you need to do:

  • Redirect Your Mail
  • Tell Your GP
  • Inform Your Bank
  • Change Your Cars Address
  • Take Final Meter Readings
  • Change Details On Your Electoral Role
  • Move Your TV Licence
  • Change The Address of Your Deliveries

5-4 Weeks Before Moving

Organise Your Packing

Packing your non-essentials should be a priority at this point onwards. Any large furniture and other items you don’t urgently need can be packed away ready to be loaded on moving day. Try and store them somewhere where they will be out of the way.

If you are moving out of a rented property, you should also notify your landlord that you’re moving out by this point.

3 Weeks Before Moving

Use up Your Food

Moving a lot of food will add needless weight to the load you need to move, and may cause more of a mess if anything spills or breaks open. Try and use up all the food you can, and make sure there’s nothing left in your fridge or freezer by your moving date.

2 Weeks Before Moving

Finish Packing

At this point, you should pack up the last few items left inside the house. Go through each room, and make use of our packing hacks to make the process quicker and more efficient. Try and get rid of any waste that is taking up room in the house, like leftover cleaning supplies or paint.

Avoid packing your valuables with the rest of your items. Keep jewellery, important documents and passports with you so you can move them yourself on moving day.

1 Week Before Moving

Pack Your Moving Kit

Your essential moving day kit should be ready for your moving day. The kit will include everything you will need before and after you arrive at your new home. If you aren’t sure what is needed, here are some ideas:

  • Pillows and Bed Sheets
  • Alarm Clock
  • Towels and Toiletries
  • A Kettle, Mug, Coffee and Tea
  • Sandwiches
  • Paper Plates and Plastic Cutlery
  • Bin Liners
  • Portable Radio and Deck of Cards
  • Mini Toolbox

Confirm Dates & Times

Check with your removal company that the date and time they are arriving is correct, so moving day can go smoothly.

One Day Before Moving

Fridge and Freezer

Ensure your fridge and freezer are empty and defrosted. Do final checks to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. If you have, you could always donate any leftover food.

On Moving Day

Final Checks

Before you set off for your new home, do one final check around the house to be certain nothing is left behind and all the lights are switched off.

Hopefully this timeline has broken down the process of moving house and helped you enjoy a stress-free move.


Martin & Co buyout Ewemove for £15 million

2016-09-14 17:14:29

It’s been an interesting couple of years in the industry with online Estate agents popping up and hybrid agencies. The fact is, no one knows as a business model whether it even works yet.

Purple Bricks are losing a million pound a month and investors and big agencies are jumping on to the online agency bandwagon. Connells bought ‘Hatched’, Savills own ‘Yopa’ (which is a train wreck of a start-up in my opinion) and Countrywide are testing hybrid models.

A new entry was Ewemove a quirky new entrant into the market in 2014, with a successful franchise model with explosive growth with 90 franchisors throughout the UK. Incredibly selling for a massive £15 million pounds, which is a real result for a two year old company.

I still fail to see how Purple bricks is valued at £330 million. It’s a ridiculous valuation and for a business that has not yet made a profit and investors queuing up to stick their money into these companies that may or may not make distributable profits in the future.

It’s like ‘Lambs to the Slaughter’, someone has really ‘Pulled the wool over their eyes’ and these big agencies jumping onto the hybrid bandwagon, where one leads, other follow. That’s sheep for you.

The point is, online agencies currently make up 5% of the market and have been around for 15 years now.

It’s only Purple bricks who have adjusted the business model, still online but have a local rep but is it good for the customer?

I can tell you. What incentive do they have to sell the property? … NONE

They couldn’t care less if someone sells or not, they do not register buyers because there is no point. They have no database of buyers, no sales meetings, no phone outs, no ongoing service.

Once they sign someone up, the fee is ‘buy now, pay later’ credit. To the point, where some local reps couldn’t even be bothered to do the viewings. Fortunately, now customers can buy a ‘bolt on’ service to pay them to do the viewings but they still have little interest whether they sell or not.

This combined with their limited advertising, no office, no local publications, no yellow pages, no database, the fee has to be cheap. Cheap fee, low marketing, low results and the problem is once sellers are hooked in, paying no matter whether they sell or not, they are reluctant to change agents. Then, they reduce their asking price by sometimes tens of thousands because they are not receiving the interest or correct advice, but at least they can boast they saved some money on paying real estate agents.

I’ve just taken on a property, the client has paid Purple Bricks a thousand pounds and after several months on the market, nothing. They have now instructed Clifftons and our Service is FREE, FREE to list their property, FREE advertising and marketing, FREE viewings, FREE negotiation, FREE to find a buyer, FREE to sales chase for months between all parties, its brilliant. She only pays Clifftons if the sale completes and she moves home. How can you compete with that?

As an agent, my biggest business expense is marketing / advertising. I spend thousands of pounds to attract hundreds of buyers and tenants on a weekly basis. As a business if I cut the fee, I have to cut the marketing which is not in the sellers interests. Sellers need to generate maximum interest and obtain the best possible price in the marketplace. Online agents, someone working from their back bedroom, with no office, worries me greatly. Its only a matter of time.

On a brighter note, if you want to use our FREE service to place your property on the market for FREE – Call Clifftons today – 01202 789699.

  • We promise you will not pay us a single pound, unless we actually find you a buyer and you move home.


House Prices in Bournemouth

2016-07-28 14:52:47

After twenty plus years property experience and owning my own independent estate & letting agents reviewing the property market and house prices in Bournemouth is part and parcel of the job.

There are several property house price index stats, Nationwide, Halifax (based on mortgage applications) and more recently the property portals, Rightmove (based on asking Prices), RICS and Movewithus based on its members polled but the most accurate is the Land Registry. Although, the property data from the Land Registry is always three months old, it is by far the most accurate in what actually is happening in the property market.

You can see in the attached graph, the height of the market was December 2007, with the average house prices in Bournemouth £206,227. The credit crunch hit the economy and property market in 2008 and property prices fell, at their lowest on March 2009 at £163,937. A fall in property prices of 20%. In fact, in the past, I have reviewed house price data since 1972 until today. Reviewing the property cycles and the recession in 1990, property prices only normally crash by a maximum of circ. 20% before stabilizing and either going straight back up, like in 2010 or remaining stagnant for a few years like in 1990.

Just tell me if this is boring you … zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Actually, on a serious note, its a great article to read in bed, you’ll soon be asleep.

Right, back to stats. The market has gradually increased from 2009 through to 2016 and up until May 2016 the average house price in Bournemouth in May 2016 is £226,167. An increase of 9.6% from the height of the property market in 2007 or an increase of 38% if you were lucky enough to buy at the bottom of the market in 2009, an average increase of £62,230 but who can judge the top and bottom of the property market? … no one, its just luck.

house price bournemouth

House price bournemouth

The interesting part, (well I say ‘interesting’ loosely) is Total Sales Volumes graph – this is transaction levels. Its a myth, estate agents like property prices going up or property prices coming down obviously. The most important part is property transaction levels and these have been falling over the last decade, mainly due to the high cost of moving with Stamp duty tax, estate agents fees (cheap in my opinion), solicitors fees etc. The tax element is very counterproductive because when someone moves home, they employ builders, plumbers electricians, removal companies, home furnishings, garden furniture, the economy is centered around an active housing market. Good housing liquidity = an active economy.

Looking at the graph ‘total sales volumes’, its easy to see the very large spike in transaction levels in March 2016 with buy to let landlords buying property before the Stamp Duty increase on the 1st April 2016 for second homes and buy to let buyers. Its inevitable, we will see a housing slump after this, although the media will no doubt blame Brexit, as the hot topic of the day, although I can tell you with confidence, these tax changes are the most damaging to the property market.

Which brings me on to Brexit, where are we today? Whats going to happen in the future property market with Brexit?

The fact the pound has fallen has meant this is a fantastic time for overseas property buyers to enter into the property market, its like receiving an immediate 15% discount on buying property. As we become closer with global partners across the world and inward investment from overseas, this sector of buyers is likely to grow.

The next interesting part is interest rates. If rates drop any lower, banks may charge customers for keeping their money with them or certainly current accounts will be zero interest. Then why would anyone keep large sums of money in banks and certainly property is an excellent choice for receiving an income on capital, although, there are certain considerations that need to be carefully thought about.

Next, when Britain crashed dramatically out of the European Exchange Mechanism in 1992, it was the best thing that happened, the economy boomed and property prices increased. I can only see positives with Brexit, as long as Britain gets to keep the free trade access, even free movement of people would be fine with me, if that’s what it takes to keep free trade access with our European partners.

The only part that is holding the property market back now or a small fall in property prices this year is the negative, pessimistic media and I’m sure any fall will be big ‘negative’ headlines but the reality is, this is a fantastic time to buy property. Mortgage rates surely can not be any lower and paying such low interest for the past (since March 2009 = 0.5%) 7 years has meant its been considerably cheaper than renting and excellent property investments.

Thank you for reading and if you want any further property advice or thinking of selling, buying, renting or letting in Bournemouth, please call me at Clifftons – 01202 789699.

written by James Scollard – CLIFFTONS


Estate Agent going environmentally friendly

2016-06-04 16:43:49

The summer is upon us and one of the leading Estate Agents in Bournemouth is going environmentally friendly with the scooter.

The Senior Partner at CLIFFTONS, James Scollard comments ‘The scooter is brilliant, it lifts the spirit, is fun, free, speedy, healthy and what makes the scooter slightly difference to the bicycle, it can fold up and be carried under one arm, upstairs, in lifts, on the tube or bus, with ease.

As anyone knows, dropping their children off at school, on the school run is a time to be avoided in the car. The scooter was a good solution, quicker than walking and not only does it cut down the school run traffic and congestion, my children are getting the exercise they need and more importantly they enjoy going on the scooter to school. So much so, I decided to join in.

I’ve lost some weight and saved money, its win, win. I’ve seen they have become very trendy in Australia and their popularity is increasing in London, easy to jump on and off the bus or tube.

I found I could travel one mile in eight minutes and it took ten minutes to travel home and six minutes in the car. Therefore, I decided to add the scooter to our fleet of vehicles for viewings close by, it’s handy to fold up and go up in the lift or leave in a porch. Short car journeys use disproportionate petrol or diesel because the engine does not warm up enough to burn fuel efficiently.

Although, the staff seem less keen. I have explained, I’ve put the ‘oo’ back into cool and no need to be shy but it seems they are too cool for scooter school.’
Now the summer sunshine has arrived, it’s an ideal time.


Budget 2016 in the Property Sector

2016-03-22 18:43:00

The Budget in 2016 for the Property sector

It’s been an incredible start to 2016, many buy to let investors hurried their search to secure a purchase in time for 31st March 2016 when Stamp Duty rises by 3% on second properties. This month has seen exchange and completion levels at an all-time high. Solicitors and agents around the country are working all hours to ensure completions are taking place in time.

So what does George Osbourne’s 2016 Budget mean for the property market.

  1. Capital Gains – Currently 28%, being reduced to 20% from the 1st April, I thought this was fantastic, except looking at the small print, this excludes property and my bubble just burst.
  2. Stamp Duty – From 1st April, for people owning more than one property will increase by 3%. If a couple have split up, they will not be known as a single entity and therefore will be except.
  3. Speed up Planning & Zoning – to help boost housing supply.
  4. Rent a Room Allowance – Increased from £4,250 to £7,500.
  5. Freezing fuel duty and Improved infrastructure projects – will increase commutable distances and help businesses.
  6. Commercial Stamp Duty changes – 0% up to £150,000, 2% up to £250,000 and 5% above £250,000.
  7. Life Time ISAs  – will be introduced to help under 40 year olds save a deposit for a property or their pension. For every £4 saved, the Government will add £1 – giving a 25% bonus on their savings. People will be able to save £4,000 per annum until the age of 50.
  8. 10% Wear and Tear allowance – will be discontinued on furnished properties, however, like for like replaced furniture can be deducted.
  9. Increase in Business Rate Relief – from £6,000 to £15,000 from April next year and the higher rate £18,000 increased to £51,000. The abolition of Class 2 national insurance for the self employed, in addition to tax free personal allowance increasing.

The stamp duty changes are going to deter some buy to let purchasers  and second home buyers short term and this will have an adverse effect short term on the market until it becomes the norm. Transactions levels could decrease, which means supply will be short and property is valued higher because there is less supply.

The property market is incredibly busy and at Clifftons we are seeing record levels of business, the signs look positive for this year but who knows the future. The EU election this year will be interesting, see my other article: EU Referendum

If you are considering selling anywhere in the country, Call Clifftons today on 01202 789699.


legionnaires disease testing

2016-03-09 11:38:05

I recently had a company into my letting agents trying to sell me ‘Legionella Disease Testing’ or ‘Legionella Risk Assessment’ and also telling me the law has changed and its a legal requirement to have a test on every property. To help sell these tests, they produced a brochure saying 500 people die in the UK every year. The company was the ‘National Legionnaire Information Centre‘ NLIC and are travelling up and down the country selling these reports.

The information they provided is FALSE and MISLEADING.

Just to be clear:

The law has not changed. It is not a legal requirement to obtain a Legionnaires test on every rental property and there are not 500 deaths a year, there are 28 deaths a year*. (* During 2011 to 2013, there were 84 deaths from Legionnaires’ disease in England and Wales (including overseas travellers). Most deaths occur in people who are 70 years of age or older. From NHS –

The law remains the same, if there is a potential high risk area, then it needs to be monitored (Under Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974(HSWA) – this is the as it has been for the past 30 years.

There is higher risk going on holiday abroad, the brochure, presentation and information is mis-leading.


1. This act has been around since 1974 and its only now, companies are trying to sell these reports.
2. IT IS NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT to obtain this report – it’s a GUIDELINE if a RISK is identified.
3. Legionella bacteria is found (in low numbers) in lakes, ponds and rivers. However, this bacteria can grow in air conditioning units and recycled water like hot tub or spa pools – Bacteria like HOT, WET PLACES.

Lastly, Legionnaires disease is VERY RARE.

In 2013, there were 284 people in the UK with it. 88 of these got it while being abroad.

That leaves 196 people in UK.

Out of the 284 people, 83% of these (235 people) were over 50 years old because their immune systems are weaker.

So that leaves 49 people, in the whole of the UK, out of 60 million people under 50 years old.

Legionnaires Disease – can be treated with a course of Antibiotics. (10% won’t be cured with antibiotics and will need further assistance)


You have a 0.000003% chance of catching this disease, that can be cured by a course of antibiotics.

This is important because this company are signing people up to monitor this on normal properties for £12 per month, per property. Its such a rip off.

Here are some of the unbelieveable comments from their brochure, from this aggressive company:

Utter rubbish, to the point where its laughable:


‘… it is now AGAINST THE LAW not to have a fully managed legionella risk assessment in place… This is as important as a gas safety certificate.’

‘Your landlords and tenants can pursue you for damages should you provide the wrong information to them’

‘Tenants have the right to withhold their rent in the event of any lack of information…’ Utter Rubbish

‘NLIC stands for National Legionella Information Centre .. As the country’s leading education and independent watchdog we support everything Letting Agents and Landlords need’  Ha Ha, don’t make me laugh.

Incredibly, they then contacted me claiming the NLIC stands for something else and blaming two other Legionella businesses and that it was not really, in fact, the National Legionella Centre, who produced the brochure that I have in front of me on my desk. Another blatant lie. This is by far the worse organisation I have come across.


Border control

2016-02-10 15:12:03

The law for Landlords and Letting Agents is hard to keep up with at the moment. The new obligation coming law on 1st February 2016 is ‘Right to Rent’. Under the provisions of the Immigration Act 2014, the person responsible for the checks will be liable to receive a civil penalty where they do not fulfill their obligations under the Act. The Immigration Act 2014 confirms the level of fines payable will be up to a maximum of £3,000 per tenant. It goes further, the Immigration Bill 2015/2016 proposes the person responsible for carrying out the checks will be criminally liable if the right to rent provisions are not followed and if convicted will face a custodial sentence of imprisonment for up to 5 years and/or fine.

Is the Government really holding Landlords liable for immigration checks? .. Absolutely. Seven Civil Penalty Notices have already been issued from £80 to £2,000 and twenty one notices stating they maybe liable. If the Immigration Bill 2015 goes through then Landlords will be criminally liable.

In order to avoid this, Landlords need to rent out properties ensuring they are not disqualified from renting due to their immigration status. The Government has produced a Code of Practice which sets out the steps that a Landlord must take. The steps that must be followed, no more than 28 days before a tenancy is due to begin are:

a) Establish who will be living at the property as their main home

b) Obtain original versions of one or more acceptable documents to establish a Right to Rent for each adult who will be living at the property.

c) Check the documents in the presence of the holder of the documents. The responsible person must check date of births, photographs are consistent with occupier, that the documents confirm a Right to Rent and expiry dates have not passed and documents appear genuine.

d) Make copies of the Passports and other documents and retain them with a record of the date when copies were taken. These need to be retained even after tenancy has ended.

There will be a need to carry out follow up checks to establish a time-limited right to rent, e/g/ Visa will expire.

Can Landlords and Letting agents avoid above and just rent to British or EU citizens? No, this would be in breach of discrimination laws  and could face a discrimination suit which would have uncapped damages.

So Letting Agents / Border Control it is. I’m going to get myself a booth.








2016-01-28 11:37:55

This is a picture of our office in 1870. Our office is the corner on the left hand side.

In 1870, just behind the horse and cart is ‘Oxford Riding Academy’ – Obviously the car was not invented or around in 1870, hard to believe today. The horse is just taking a drink in the water well. The post office is on the right hand side, they haven’t moved very far and are still on this parade, next to us. Looks like a stationary in the middle. I cant quite see what our office used to be.

You will note though, it doesn’t look like that today. Exactly half the building, on the right hand side had to be rebuilt after a bomb flew up that side of the building during the second world war in Bournemouth’s bloodiest air raid of 23 May 1943.

Bournemouth’s air raid sirens had sounded 847 times since the outbreak of war but on this day, German targeted Bournemouth. What followed was devastation with approximately 25 high-explosive bombs falling on the town.

3359 buildings were damaged, including our Parade and 37 had to be demolished, 22 destroyed including two of the town’s landmark hotels, the Metropole at the Lansdowne and the Central at the bottom of Richmond Hill.

Royal London House

Royal London House

This beautiful building in now the Royal London House, currently with KFC at the Lansdowne roundabout.

In 1943 RAF Station Bournemouth was welcoming thousands of aircrew. On 23 May 1943, hundreds of Canadian airmen were staying at the Metropole Hotel and the Central Hotel was similarly full of Australians. The day after the raid, RAF Station Bournemouth welcomed almost 3,000 new airmen to town.

The Germans knew that if they destroyed aircraft those planes could be replaced, but if they killed aircrew it would take longer to train replacements,’ explains Mrs Beleznay, whose book Incident 48: Raid on a South Coast Town tells the full story of that terrible day.

By far the greatest devastation at that end of town was wrought on the Metropole Hotel. From Christchurch Road it appeared almost untouched, but the imposing Victorian façade on Holdenhurst Road had been almost completely removed by a single bomb that entered the building about two floors up and exploded on contact with the steel and concrete staircase.

Among many acts of bravery that day, 76-year-old David Gear, the boiler-room stoker who had worked at the Metropole for 25 years before his retirement and returned for the duration of the war, escaped from the building only to go back in to extinguish the boilers and turn off the gas to prevent fire breaking out. He was later awarded a Certificate for gallantry by the Kings Order from Winston Churchill.

To view Our / Building, we are at 3 Lansdowne Crescent, Bournemouth, Dorset, BH1 1RX






Buy to Let buyers face higher Stamp Duty

2015-11-25 18:01:52

Buy to Let Landlords and people buying second homes, announced today by George Osborne, will pay more in Stamp Duty Tax. 

From April 2016, those in England and Wales will have to pay a 3% surcharge on each Stamp Duty bracket.

The stamp duty surcharge will lift each band by 3%. That means that for properties worth between £0 to £125,000 will pay 3%. £125,001 to £250,000, where the stamp duty is 2%, buy-to-let landlords will now pay 5%. £250,001 to £925,000 will be 8%. £925,001 to £1.5m will be 13% and over £1.5m will be 15%.

George Osborne thinks the new surcharge will raise £1bn for the Treasury by 2021, except, I think it will have the opposite effect. This will undoubtedly put off would be Landlords and existing Landlords from buying further. These Landlords pay tax on the rental income and I personally believe the new levels of Stamp duty will be offset from the income tax lost from rental incomes. I’m not an economical adviser but this is surely common sense.

It sounds like a last minute knee jerk reaction to try and make up the gain required in revenue.

A fluid housing market is important due to a homeowner or buy to let investor, when completing the sale, instructs electricians, plumbers, kitchens and bathrooms, furniture – most of the economy is built around a moving property market.

However, whilst it might “choke off” investment in rented properties, its good news for homeowners and first time buyers who will have a competitive head start to buying their main residence against buy to let landlords.

.                                                 First Home   /   Buy to let/second property

Purchase Price £100,000 –       Zero                        £3,000

Purchase Price £125,000 –        Zero                       £3,750

Purchase Price £150,000 –        £500                      £5,000

Purchase Price £175,000 –        £1,000                    £6,250

Purchase Price £200,000 –      £1,500                     £7,500

Purchase Price £250,000 –       £2,500                    £10,000

Purchase Price £300,000 –      £5,000                    £14,000

Purchase Price £400,000 –       £10,000                 £22,000

Purchase Price £500,000 –       £15,000                  £30,000

Purchase Price £750,000 –       £27,500                  £50,000

Purchase Price £1m –                 £43,750                   £73,750

James Scollard – Clifftons Estate & Letting Agents – 01202 789699





Budget 2015, Mortgage Interest relief changes for buy to let Landlords

2015-09-11 16:28:45

Following George Osborne’s announcement at the proposed changes, we have received a number of calls from Landlords discussing the changes.
First of all, don’t panic, the changes mainly effect the high rate taxpayers.
The changes proposed are to take effect 2020/2021 (with tapered introduction between). So, lets have a look at the Maths. For the sake of arithmetic and ease, we’ll assume the personal tax allowance is £12,000, the basic rate band is £38,000 and higher rate band is £50,000.

Example 1. Mr S, earns a salary of £25,000.
Rental Income received £15,000 (after other rental expenses), Interest on mortgage £9,000. Net profit £6,000.
Under Current Rules, Salary £25,000, taxable rental profit £6,000 = £31,000
Tax @ 0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (£19,000) = £3,800
Total Tax £3,800.00

Under New Rules, Salary £25,000, taxable rental profit £15,000 = £40,000
Tax @ 0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (28,000) = £5,600
Less tax relief on mortgage interest, £9,000 @ 20% = – £1,800
Total Tax £3,800.00

So, in example one, the tax payable is the same.

Example 2. Mrs R, earns a salary £75,000.
Rental Income received £15,000, Interest on mortgage £9,000, Net Profit £6,000.

Under current rules, Salary £75,000, taxable rental profit £6,000 = £81,000
Tax @0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (£38,000) = £7,600
Tax @ 40% (31,000) = £12,400
Total Tax £20,000

Without buy to let (Tax @ 40% £25,000) = £10,000 = Total tax to pay £17,600

Therefore, having the buy to let property, the extra tax is to pay is = £2,400

Under new rules, Salary £75,000, taxable rental profit £15,000 = £90,000
Tax @0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (£38,000) = £7,600
Tax @ 40% (40,000) = £16,000
Less tax relief on mortgage interest, £9,000 @ 20% = -£1,800
Total Tax £21,800

So, in example two, the tax payable is £1,800 more.

Without buy to let ([email protected]% £25,000) = £10,000 = Total tax to pay £17,600

Therefore, having the buy to let property, extra tax to pay is = £4,200 tax to pay. It begs the question, making £6,000 and paying £4,200 in tax, which is an effective rate of 70% tax.

Example 3. Mrs J earns £43,000 and he might think he will be unaffected by the new rules because he is under the higher rate tax band of £50,000 but as the example below shows, they will be caught.

Rental Income received £15,000, Interest on mortgage £9,000, Net Profit £6,000.

Under current rules, Salary £43,000, taxable rental profit £6,000 = £49,000
Tax @0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (£37,000) = £7,400
Total Tax £7,400

Under New Rules, Salary £43,000, taxable rental profit £15,000 = £58,000
Tax @ 0% (£12,000) = £0.00
Tax @ 20% (38,000) = £7,600
Tax @ 40% (8,000) = £3,200
Less tax relief on mortgage interest, £9,000 @ 20% = – £1,800
Total Tax £9,000.00

Mrs J will have to pay an additional £1,600 in tax. (As her rental profit before tax deduction is £58,000).

What should buy to let investors do? If you are a higher rate tax, it’s worth considering buying the property in a limited company. This way it would attract corporation tax (circ. 18%). However, this brings about further issues in a company obtaining a finance which will be classed as commercial.

As always, the above is guidance and we advise all clients to take their own tax advice as we are not tax experts and do not know the details of clients tax affairs.

If you have a portfolio or looking to rent a property, please contact Clifftons letting agents in Bournemouth for further details. #Landlords #Bournemouth #Letting Agents #clifftons


Clifftons have been voted 7th best student letting agent in Bournemouth (Out of 34 Student letting agents

2015-06-10 16:37:28

Room for Improvement, Clifftons have been voted 7th best student letting agent in Bournemouth (Out of 34 Student letting agents). Not too bad but room to improve.

The Student market is a very small part of our business, however, we are pleased the Students at Bournemouth University have voted Clifftons in the top 10 Letting Agents, although, we are going to work on improving to achieve number one.

If your looking for a Student House in Bournemouth – Make Clifftons your first call.



OnTheMarket Property Portal

2015-03-30 21:00:00 – Home of the Independent Estate and Letting Agents

OnTheMarket is the major new property website where Clifftons is listing all of its properties – has announced its membership has grown to more than 5,000 contracted estate and letting agent offices. launched on January 26 to rival Rightmove and Zoopla and features hundreds of thousands of properties for sale and to rent at all price points across the UK.

The member offices, from over 2,500 agent firms, have moved their properties and their substantial advertising spends from other property websites to

More and more of its member agents are already advertising their new-to-market properties exclusively at at least 48 hours in advance of displaying them on any other property portal. has already become a ‘must-view’ website with a unique set of properties because many of the properties on its website cannot be found anywhere else.
After just six weeks from its launch, had already had over two million unique visitors to the website. is a mutual organisation without the requirement to feed dividends to external shareholders. It is focused solely on providing an outstanding service for property searchers, estate and letting agents and their vendor and landlord clients. The board includes senior representatives of Chestertons, Douglas & Gordon, Glentree Estates, Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, Knight Frank, Rook Matthews Sayer, Savills, Spicerhaart and Strutt & Parker, all of whom are advertising all their properties at member agents commit to advertise their properties on no more than one other portal. In practice, this means in most cases removing their properties from either Rightmove or Zoopla. Around 90 per cent of’s members have chosen to remove their properties from Zoopla and remain with Rightmove. In a recent report, Morgan Stanley said it estimated Zoopla had lost 3,500 agents.

The property search at is slick, simple, fast and state-of-the-art, compatible with the latest technologies. The website adapts seamlessly to fit the screen of any device being used to view it. There is no clutter from irritating and distracting third party adverts, nor any spam email.

Every property at is marketed by a locally-based estate or letting agent because knows the majority of the public recognises the benefits of having a local professional agent who can manage the sales or lettings process on their behalf.

James Scollard, Proprietor at Clifftons comments: “It is fantastic news that has passed the 5,000 office milestone.It is remarkable what has been achieved so far but this is only the beginning. will continue to grow in size and momentum because of its clean, fresh and fast consumer search experience. Clifftons is proud to be part of this property portal phenomenon.”

Ian Springett, Chief Executive of, said: “ hit the ground running and is now an essential destination for anyone seriously in the market for residential property. We have come a long way in just a few weeks and, with more than 800 new member offices already added in 2015, we are more confident than ever that we will replace Zoopla as the number two player in the market over the coming year.”

To have your property listed On The Market … call Clifftons today.


Pension Freedom and prospective landlords Bournemouth April 2015

2015-01-31 21:06:54

Pensions are changing with Pension freedom this April 2015, following the announcement by the Chancellor in last year’s budget. Individuals will no longer be forced to take out an annuity but the big question is: where or what are people going to do with this new freedom.

Having the Freedom, comes responsibility for your finances.

A recent survey of 2,000 people, 28% are unsure what to do, 26% will opt to stay invested in their pension plan taking the annuity, 17% will withdraw their pension (with 9% investing to generate an income, 8% will put in a cash savings account), 6% will use all or part of their pension to clear debt or spend elsewhere, whilst 3% will use their pension to treat themselves.

The baby bloomers, aged 55 – 74, are some of the least prepared for their retirement in Europe. Outside of a pension, 66% of their savings are in cash and taking into account inflation would have seen the value of their savings eroded in the last five years from £1000 down to £853.

81% say that they do not know how to get the best income generating investments. 40% have not started to save specifically for retirement despite 67% knowing the state pension will be insufficient to meet their requirement income needs. 59% are concerned they will not live comfortably in retirement.

To generate an income of £23,000 per annum, the majority believe they would need a pot of £304,000, in fact it would be £440,600.

The AVERAGE life expectancy for women, now aged 65 years old, in the UK is 86 years old and for men its 83 years old. It’s important to think about to sustain the income through a much longer retirement than previous generations. To think about short term savers becoming long term investors. It’s a worry when 4 in 10 baby boomers (55yrs to 74 years) haven’t yet started to save for retirement.

Here is some top tips:

1. Understand the pension changes, the tax liabilities you could incur and take the free retirement advice offered by the government

2. Decide what minimum annual income you can live on in retirement

3. Make a financial plan and regularly review your retirement savings approach

4. If you have not yet retired, think ‘Long-term’ about your investments and make longevity your friend

In terms of property investment, with interest rates for savers still paltry, many older and perhaps savvy retirees will turn to property as their chosen investment. Most pensioner investors will be looking for an agent to manage their investment acquisition and there is no better choice than myself. Ha ha. It’s true though, my number is 01202 789699 or [email protected]

Factors to consider with buy to let properties (I have written another detailed page buy to let tips which would be useful to read. Buy to Let Tips

Buy to Let does not require a large capital outlay as long as you do not opt of the most expensive properties from the outset. The rental return looks generous compared to the current rates on pension annuities and savings. Buy to Let also has the added advantage to be able to access income whenever you want. There is a chance of Capital Growth over the long term. It’s quite straight forward to sell your buy to let property if you change your mind about it.

The tax implications are income tax payable on the profits made, Capital Gains Tax on any gains. However, everyone has an annual tax-free allowance of £10,000 which can be doubled if the property is bought with a partner. Upon your death, there may be inheritance tax to pay.

In conclusion

Cashing in a pension and investing it in property represents a potentially lucrative option to provide a source of income as a pension and as a result may cause a spike in activity and property market / property prices both nationally and in Bournemouth.

I don’t think it’s the answer though. I think most people would be encouraged to save more throughout their life, if the government provided a stable pensions system that is not changed by progressive political parties. It’s vital a stable and trusted framework is provided to everyone in the UK, to reduce the worry, concerns and misery caused to so many by not planning or understanding the systems or changes.

Written by James Scollard, Proprietor of Clifftons Estate Agents

Over twenty years experience in property, having my own practice for ten years, fully qualified with industry recognised exams including ARLA lettings qualifications, NFOPP residential sales qualifications, DEA Domestic Energy Assessor qualifications through NAEA, Chairman for the Bournemouth & District Association of Estate Agents in 2007 and all round nice guy, here to help when I can.

This article is a matter of opinion and I do not offer individual investment advice and take no responsibility for any losses that may be caused by this article. Property prices and the property market can go up as well as down. I am not a pension advisor and have no qualifications in this field. It’s important to seek Independent professional advice with your pension.


Landlords … take note .. going green

2015-01-21 21:13:12

James Scollard, Founder at CLIFFTONS in Bournemouth comments, Energy Performance Certificates have been relatively ignored by the masses but this is set to change. From 2016, any tenant or their representative asking for their Landlords consent to make reasonable energy improvements cannot be refused. (Reasonable improvements for properties are outlined in Green Deal Assessments). From 2018, the worst performing rental properties with ratings F and G, will be banned from letting their property through a Minimum Energy Performance Standard, (MEPS). One in ten homes currently fit into bands ‘F’ and ‘G’ which means these changes will effect circ. 380,000 homes nationwide.

The private rented sector has a comparatively poor record in energy efficiency and we welcome the new rules which will help to reduce fuel poverty in the UK. The sector has 5.8% of ‘G’ rated properties compared to 3.4% in owner occupied homes.

A warmer environment and lower bills for tenants would help retain tenants for longer.

Remember – The Green Deal. Under the Green Deal, landlords can make energy efficient improvements without having to pay all the costs upfront, with tenants repaying the cost of the measures through their energy bill savings. Where the tenant pays the electric bill, the landlord must seek permission from them to take out Green Deal and will need to alert new tenants.

There is a loop hole for HMO properties being excluded from MEPS. However, there is a bill going through Parliament to cover this loophole.

If you are thinking of letting a property in Bournemouth, Call CLIFFTONS today on 01202 789699.


Stamp Duty Changes 2014 / 2015

2014-12-04 21:19:02

Stamp duty has been Reduced – (if below £937,500)

Under the old rules, you would have paid tax at a single rate on the entire property price. Now you will only pay the rate of tax on the part of the property price within each tax band.

Under the old rules if you bought a house for £185,000, you would have had to pay 1% tax on the full amount – a total of £1,850. Under the new rules, for the same property you’ll pay nothing on the first £125,000 and 2% on the remaining £60,000. This works out as £1,200, a saving of £650.

Example properties

£125,000 – No stamp duty – Nil
£185,000, Reduced Stamp Duty, New Rate 0.7%, Saving £650.00
£275,000 – Reduced Stamp Duty, New Rate 1.4%, Saving £4,500.00
£510,000 – Reduced Stamp Duty, New Rate 3.0%, Saving £4,900.00
£937,500 – No change in stamp duty, New Rate 4.0%, No Change
£2,100,000 – Stamp duty increase, New Rate 7.9%, Increase £18,750

Purchase Price of Property, Rates Applied only on amount within tax band
0 – 125,000 ……………………………………0%
125,001 – 250,000 …………………………..2%
250,001 – 925,000 …………………………..5%
925,001 – 1,500,000 ………………………..10%
1,500,001 and over ………………………….12%

We are obviously all very pleased, making it cheaper and easier for people to buy property up to £937,500.

George Osborne understands the property market is crucial to having a buoyant economy. When someone buys a property, they normally buy new furniture, new kitchen, new bathroom and all the associated trades benefit, electricians, plumbers, retail shops etc. Good news for the British housing market, good news for the UK economy.

Thinking of Selling in Bournemouth, contact Clifftons Estate Agents for a free valuation.


Why? NO to online estate agents

2014-10-24 21:43:27

Online Estate Agents?

Firstly, and the most obvious, In every town across the UK, there are high street Estate Agencies. Great protection for consumers, they know who they are dealing with and where to go locally with problems, issues, concerns and complaints.

Recently, some people have become confused whether they are dealing with a reputable high street agency or a person who is operating from their bedroom, who has never been an estate agent or valued a single property in their life.

People, dealing with their biggest asset want to know they are dealing with an established, local and professional firm. They want the personal service, attention to detail and individuality required, specific to their personal circumstances.

There was a time, cost cutting to the bone, meant everything resulting in call centers in India and other parts of the world adding to the stress of returning a DVD for example. If the industry goes online, cutting fees, so I have someone in India trying to sell my house or a person operating from their back bedroom with little reputation. Personally, I would hate this. The high street agencies are extremely competitive. The majority of online agencies are gone within one year. So fee cutting but at what cost?

The benefits of a high street agency to the consumer? I know who I am dealing with. I want the reassurance I am dealing with someone who has experience, who is professional, who can conduct themselves appropriately, who is established and knowing 20%, one fifth, of our enquiries are generated from our office locations producing more buyers and tenants. A full service, not a part service.

The online agents don’t do anything apart from listing a property and creating an advert. A REACTIVE service. A real agent will speak to all their staff being PROACTIVE in calling prospective buyers, going through their database, bulk emailing buyers, texting buyers and actually selling the property, not waiting for someone to call. There is a big difference.

I agree, it’s not for everyone. Some people want to save five hundred pounds, for example and take the risk of using a new, recently opened agency in a town (who has no database of waiting buyers and tenants) not established and take a risk, but that’s the consumer’s choice. Fortunately, normally they don’t pay a penny until sold but now, people are paying £600, losing this because they still need to go to a real Estate Agent to sell their property.

For years estate agents have wanted regulation and industry exams / licensing. The Government ignored the industry, like the failed Home Information Packs they forced on consumers. For years, Stamp duty goes from 1% to 3%, with no 2%? There is no logic to be found here. Its been up to the industry to protect the consumer and build up the reputation of the industry.

Secondly, and more importantly.

Yesterday I reviewed a new online agency, a typical online agency opening within the last couple of years. On the website, it states, ‘Find out what your home is really worth’? I enter my postcode and a detailed report is sent to my email. This morning at 8.53am, I receive a phone call from the franchisor who has bought the Bournemouth area territory, who has never been an agent before, never professionally valued a property in his life. Call me and say, the valuation has come out at £263,000, slightly higher than Zoopla but having carried out research feels the property is worth £11,000 more. The email was sent this morning stating a valuation at £273,000.

I can see some of the data is being produced by Hometrack. (Sorry I have picked on this particular online agency, I do not know the company or the individual, apart from the fact I know he has no experience). However, having been an agent for over twenty years, I can tell you my house is worth £375,000.

This is an eye watering one hundred thousand pounds out. Why is this type of valuation so out and frankly dangerous? I bought the property as a three bedroom with no parking and no kitchen. I have extended the property to be a four double bedroom, three luxury bathrooms, installed gas central heating and double glazing, refurbished the house and managed to make off road parking for two cars.

Incredibly, this individual told me my house is worth £11,000 (which is quite specific and an exact amount) more than the online valuation and further produced a written report confirmed the valuation, without even seeing my house.

Its only a matter of time before people are badly ripped off or losing tens of thousands (in my case, a hundred thousand pounds) through negligence. The opportunity to rip people off has increased and I’m sure the media with report a headline, ‘Estate Agent rips off …’ rather than ‘Online Estate Agent rips off’

In relation to property portal valuations, their online valuation is making my job harder. Providing a valuation cannot be taken so blaze and lightly. This is a very big responsibility, I panic when I think I’ve lost someone a thousand pound, let alone 100,000 or ten thousand. In any industry, someone with a little knowledge is dangerous, you just know, big and dangerous mistakes will be made.
Here are some real life examples. Remember, tens of thousands of pounds are life changing amounts of money.

A house is worth £210,000, after 14 weeks on the market it finally sells. The brother of the owner goes on Zoopla and tells the sister, she is under selling and the house is £250,000 according to Zoopla and pulls out of the sale. It’s a ridiculous price and the lady has to move, she has to sell. What a waste of everyone’s time, it’s a 20% difference. Its still not sold and the price in coming back down.
Similarly, I valued a property at £164,950, an online agent valued at £150,000 to £155,000. Which I completely understand because no one had sold or moved home on the road for over two years, so the comparable properties were low. I sold this house for £164,000, the surveyor down valued to £155,000. However, the seller paying me £2,061+ Vat, used by experience, expertise and professionalism to finally sell the property for £162,000. I paid for myself over and over again. The owner came away with a price the property is worth in today market.

The thought of an online agent working from his bedroom, giving advice without knowledge, simply guessing directly to consumers, is a very scary and dangerous reality. I would say online agents can still use Rightmove and Zoopla and the consumers can still use Rightmove and Zoopla but only Independent high street Estate Agents can use

So, in conclusion, its nothing new, even before the internet people tried to sell through private newspaper adverts. As an Estate Agents /Marketing Agents, I spend well over £8,000 a month in marketing and generating hundreds, if not thousands of enquiries every month.

More Enquiries = More Viewings = More offers = Sells for the BEST PRICE for clients.

Clifftons Estate Agents Tel: 01202 789699.



Launching OnTheMarket Property Portal

2014-10-15 21:47:21

OnTheMarket – Home of the Independent Estate Agents

On The Market is due to launch in January 2015 and CLIFFTONS are pleased to announce we have signed up with this new and exciting property portal.

Rightmove and Zoopla are monopolising the market, increasing fees to Estate & Letting Agents, which turn have to passed on to the customer. By reducing overheads this will directly result in agents becoming even more competitive within the UK market and these cost savings can be passed to customers.

As of October 2014, On The Market has attracted over 4,000 offices across the UK. It is sure to be a big player within the property markets, both locally and Nationally.

If you are thinking of selling or letting your property within the Bournemouth area and want to advertise your property on this new portal, contact Clifftons today on 01202 789699.


The future of Zoopla Property Group & Rightmove unpredictable

2014-09-29 22:00:01

Since the conception of Rightmove in 2000, Rightmove has grown to become the dominant force within the world of online property. Over the past five years,  Zoopla  have taken over smaller competitors to become a large property portal.

Rightmove was set up by the corporate agents, Halifax, Connells, Countrywide and Royal & sun Alliance in 2000, by 2004, Rightmove had 6,000 members, which is 50% of UK Estate Agents, floating on the Stock market in 2006. Today having a capitalisation of circ. £2.1 bn.

Zoopla similarly, floated on the stock market in June 2014. However, the issue is the fees to its customers, the Estate & Letting Agents having quadruped. Given the income to Rightmove is £140 million, the running of the business only costs £36 million per annum, therefore, £102 million profit goes to shareholders.

Similarly, Zoopla costs £35.5 million to run, generating an income of £65 million, meaning £29.5 million to shareholders and a capitalisation of £919m.

As a result, Estate & letting agents have to pass these operating costs to their customers, keeping fees higher than they need to be. In addition, rather than making the portal more consumer friendly and improving the site for users, they are more interested in shareholders and increasing their profits year on year.

From January 2015, a new property portal is to be Launched ‘On the Market’, which is a co-operative and not for profit business OnTheMarket. By September 2014, they have over 4,000 offices signed up for launch on January 2015.

One of the interested parts to this new portal is not the fact, the 4,000 offices have signed up for a five year contract, it’s the fact, a stipulation of the contract is to drop either Rightmove or Zoopla Property Group and transferring the listing fees to ‘On the Market’.

There are approximately 12,000 physical estate agent branches in the UK with 4,000 joining On the Market and approximately 20 new branches joining ‘On the Market’ per day. I have no doubt the share price for both Rightmove and Zoopla Property Group will drop considerably throughout 2015 as well as the income for both businesses.


I’m very pleased to report, after writing this article, having only bought sold shares once before, I decided to short the Zoopla stock, buying at 220p per share and selling out at 172p per share, making circ £12,000 profit. Very pleased and chuffed with myself.



Shortage of Bungalows

2014-07-16 22:10:33


Sixty-four per cent of estate agents across the South West are experiencing a shortage in the number of bungalows currently available for sale. This is followed by semi-detached properties, with 60% of estate agents believing there is a deficit.

The research, which was conducted by CLIFFTONS, in conjunction with Move with Us also found there is a shortage of two and three bedroom properties in the local market.

The research also showed that three bedroom semi-detached properties have sold the best in the last six months in the local area. Forty-four per cent of agents agreed semi-detached were the most sought-after properties.

James Scollard, Proprietor of CLIFFTONS commented: “The age of the first time buyer has been increasing over the years and with the 5% deposit brought about by the Help to Buy scheme, many local home buyers in the South West are now opting to purchase three bedroom properties as their first home. They’re skipping the first rung of the property ladder, forgoing the starter home and moving straight into a property that they can grow into. Bungalows are as popular as ever popular with downsizers and have also increased in popularity with first time buyers and second steppers, making them more sought after in the current market.”

The research was conducted by Move with Us, the UK’s largest network of independent estate agents, with over 1,100 branches Nationwide.

Clifftons Estate agents are the exclusive member for the Bournemouth Town Centre Area, if your looking to instruct an Independent Estate Agent with access to the National marketplace, then call Clifftons today.


Granny Annex receive tax Break

2013-12-06 22:23:33

From April 2014, Properties that have built annexes for family members to live in will get 50pc off their council tax bills from next April.

“The Government will implement a national Council Tax discount of 50% for property annexes from April 2014. This will support extended families living together, for example with children saving for a new home or elderly parents,” said a spokesman for the Treasury.

The Treasury said households will save an average of £485 a year on an average combined council tax bill of £2,427.

The tax break was announced during yesterday’s Autumn Statement, which will apply to all homes in the United Kingdom.

The Treasury estimates 24,150 homes in England alone have built “granny flats” to help care for elderly relatives. They are also increasingly being built for young adult children, who cannot afford to get on to the property ladder.

Under existing rules “granny flats” are regarded as separate dwellings and are liable to be charged full rates of council tax by local authorities. The Treasury said this unfairly penalises extended families living together, which is why they have introduced the tax break. The spokesman added the tax break could incentivise other households to build extensions for family members.

Ministers are also reviewing legislation to remove red tape that can make it more difficult for home owners to adapt properties.

At present, garage conversions are hit with a ‘community infrastructure levy’, hitting homeowners with a bill of several hundred pounds for building on their property. Ministers are seeking to remove this ‘stealth tax’, which is increasingly being introduced by town halls.

James Scollard at Clifftons comments ‘I’ve always thought this additional council tax was unfair if the annex is being used by family members. In fact is should be scrapped. However, people should pay full tax if its rented out.’


Help to Buy Scheme

2013-10-09 22:30:54

Help to buy Scheme 5% Deposit

The much publicised ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ has arrived.

What exactly is it?

The Help to Buy scheme is designed to help people who can afford to have a mortgage but have not been able to afford to save thousands for a deposit. The Help to Buy gives them a life changing opportunity, to buy a property that previously they have not been able to do.

The scheme is open to Home Movers AND First time buyers. (Even if you have moved home five times, you can still use this scheme or currently have a property and looking to sell and buy).

The scheme allows you to buy a property with a 5% deposit. 15% of the loan will be interest free for the first five years of owning your home. In the 6th year, the interest will be 1.75% of the 15% part of the loan.

Mortgage lenders have begun to unveil mortgages which they will offer under the new Help-to-Buy scheme. Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest and Halifax will start taking applications this week; with HSBC, Aldermore and Virgin Money joining later this year/ early 2014.

Importantly, it’s NOT just first time buyers, the mortgages will be available for both first time buyers and home movers looking to buy a property. The only restrictions (currently) are: Maximum property value is £600,000, Property must not be a shared ownership or shared equity purchase, Property cannot be a second home, Property cannot be rented out (buy-to-let).
With the purchaser only needing a 5% deposit and the Government’s loan guarantee this means they can access an 80% mortgage, which opens the door to more competitive lending rates and the dream of buying your own home.

Some critics (Including Labour, which introduced the failed Home Information Packs) say this scheme could create a housing bubble in the UK. Personally, I think this is utter rubbish. Northern Rock were offering 125% mortgages meaning you could obtain a mortgage for £150,000 and they would give you another £30,000 to go on holiday, buy a car etc etc, it was credit heaven, care free, easily available credit on tap. We are in a very different place today. In addition, there will be no interest only mortgages or offset mortgages. My opinion, if you can afford to take up the scheme and are accepted by the lenders, jump in with both feet. It will be cheaper than renting.

Not all mortgage seekers will be able to sign up, and those who do, will still have to go through “rigorous” affordability checks by their lender.

Lenders can sign up to the Help to Buy scheme and pay a fee to the government, which will provide a seven-year taxpayer guarantee covering 15% of the loan value. That guarantee can be called in if the borrower defaults. It is available for properties sold for up to £600,000 in the UK. The scheme is expected to continue for three years.

At CLIFFTONS, appointments are now available … Tel: 01202 789699