Home buyer demand strongest in Scotland

Demand for new homes in Scotland bucked the UK trend, according to the recent RICS Residential Market Survey, with a net balance of 52% more surveyors seeing a rise in new buyer demand.

While across the whole of the UK, the supply and demand picture in August was mixed, in Scotland price momentum and new buyer interest remained firm, with 41% more surveyors reporting a rise in property prices and new buyer demand remaining unchanged from July’s figures (52%). Continue reading

Homeownership is becoming an ‘exclusive members club’

Only the wealthiest of the next generation will be able to buy a home if current trends continue, warns the National Housing Federation, as a new report shows that first-time buyers now have to pay, in real terms, ten times the deposit needed in the early 1980s.

The Broken Market, Broken Dreams report reveals that first-time buyers today have to earn more, borrow more, stump up a larger deposit and rely more on family wealth than even a generation ago. Continue reading

First time buyers helped by parents with £23k each

UK parents give an average of £23,000 when helping their children with a deposit to get onto the property ladder, according to research from Shelter.

Highlighting the increasing strain on the Bank of Mum and Dad, the same poll also found that a fifth of parents helping their children onto the housing ladder had done so using savings set aside for retirement or elderly care. Continue reading

Energy companies hit rock bottom for customer service

New Which? research has found the Big Six energy suppliers are among the worst offenders when it comes to poor customer service, with Npower finishing bottom for the first time in an annual survey of the top 100 big brands.

Which! asked 3,621 UK consumers which companies are customer service champions and which brands just aren’t up to scratch. All of the Big Six energy companies languish in the bottom fifth of the table, with none of them scoring more than two stars for making customers feel valued.  Npower fares the worst with a customer score of just 57%, replacing Ryanair who came bottom of the table last year.  Second from the bottom is Scottish Power, with a customer rating of 58%, down from joint 62nd in 2013’s rankings.

The research also found that:

· First Direct came top of the table in our survey with a score of 87%. It achieved the full five stars for people feeling valued as a customer as well as its complaints resolution. It is joined in the top five by Lush (86%), John Lewis (83%), Lakeland (83%) and Waitrose (83%).

· Some of the big banks have a way to go to catch First Direct – Santander and NatWest were joint 70th with a score of 70%; Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Barclays/Barclaycard all finished joint 60th with a score of 71%.

· Automated phone systems were ranked as the top customer service gripe (43%) with being passed around (37%) and annoying ‘hold’ music (35%) the other top irritations.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:

“The Big Six energy companies have now hit rock bottom for customer service and, with record high levels of complaints, it is clear just how far they still have to go to put things right for their customers.

“Good companies know the value of customer service, so it’s disappointing that some of our biggest firms seem to have a lot to learn about keeping their customers happy. This survey should be a wake-up call for the companies with the lowest customer scores.”

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Millions of households on a financial knife-edge

More than 3 million households across the country are living on a knife-edge where a small drop in income could cost them their home, new figures have revealed.

New analysis of government data by the University of St Andrews, on behalf of Shelter, found that 1 in 8 households in the UK are surviving on low incomes while paying unaffordable housing costs, putting them under huge financial pressure. Continue reading

Halifax: House prices rise by 3 per cent

House prices in the latest three months (June-August 2014) were 3.0% higher than in the previous three months (March-May 2014); down from 3.5% last month according to the latest Halifax House Price Index August 2014.

Prices in the three months to August were 9.7% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. This was lower than the annual rate of 10.2% in July. Continue reading

Concern for potential impact of buy-to-let regulation

Tenant referencing and eviction firm Landlord Assist, is concerned at plans to regulate part of the buy-to-let mortgage market at a time when there is a desperate need for more rental accommodation to satisfy growing demand.

As part of the Government’s plans to adhere to the European Mortgage Credit Directive certain types of landlord mortgages will face tougher regulation from 2016. Continue reading

38% of landlords face eviction problems

According to Landlord Action, as many as 38% of landlords calling their legal helpline for advice on evicting a tenant have failed to place their tenants’ deposits in a government-recognised scheme within the prescribed 30 days of receiving it, or have not even heard of the scheme which came into force back in 2007. 

Landlord Action has launched a deposit service to deal with these cases. Continue reading

Scottish house sales improve despite market slow down

Activity in the East Central Scotland property market has continued to improve, according to the latest figures from ESPC’s House Price Report, despite an ease in growth over the summer months.

Between June and August this year, the number of homes sold across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife rose by 13% annually. However, in Spring of this year, annual growth in sales was standing at over 30%. Continue reading