29Apr

New research by Aldermore Building Society shows that over half the UK’s buy-to-let landlords (52%) expect the recent changes to stamp duty and buy-to-let mortgage tax relief to have no real impact on them.

This is even more pronounced among landlords over the age of 55, 61% of whom expect to see little impact.

The research, carried out amongst 1,000 landlords by YouGov on behalf of Aldermore, explores how the recent changes to buy-to-let, which came into force on 1 April, have affected landlords, including whether they would raise rents, sell their properties and what they thought the future was for the private rented sector.

Seven-in-ten respondents expect the number of tenants in the private rented sector to increase over the next five years, but a third (33%) of landlords feel the overall value of the buy-to-let market will decrease over the next 12 months.

Julian Thorpe, director at Mansell McTaggart Crawley, said that “it’s clear that property remains an attractive investment for many landlords, despite the recent changes in tax”.

Meanwhile, in separate research, also carried out by YouGov but this time on behalf of HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance, indicated that 47% of UK adults support the stamp duty surcharge, while 18% oppose it.

Julian added “the Chancellor’s stamp duty reforms were aimed at levelling the playing field a bit in favour of buyer-occupiers and especially first-time buyers and against professional investors, and the public’s support for these reforms seems self-evident”.


See the full article


29Mar

Official data from the Office for National Statistics show that Crawley’s house prices have been amongst the fastest-growing in the five years to June 2015.

Third only to Cambridge and London, Crawley’s prices have risen by 37% over that period, according to the data.

Julian Thorpe, director of Mansell McTaggart in Crawley is not surprised by the data: “with London’s prices booming, people looking to buy are increasingly looking outside of the capital. With its fast trains to London, as well as to the coast and Brighton, its surrounding of the stunning Sussex countryside and access to Gatwick Airport, it’s easy to see why Crawley – and its neighbouring areas – offer such an attraction”.


29Mar

George Osborne delivered his (now infamous) 2016 Budget a few weeks ago. Overshadowed by the all the on-off changes to disability benefits, were some changes that will affect both homeowners and buy-to-let investors throughout the year. 

Among these were amendments to both stamp duty and capital gains tax, while changes to ISA allowances are designed to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder. 

So what exactly do these changes entail, and when will they come into effect? 

Key changes for property owners 

The Chancellor confirmed that a 3% stamp duty surcharge will come into effect on April 1st 2016, and will apply to the purchase of second homes and buy-to-let properties. 

Osborne had previously discussed his plans to levy additional taxes on properties not intended for use as a primary residence, and he confirmed this surcharge despite pushback from landlords.

While Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates were cut, these cuts are not applicable to gains made on residential property. This means that as of April 6, 2016, CGT for higher rate taxpayers will be lowered from 28 per cent to 20 per cent, and basic rate taxpayers can enjoy a lower rate of 10 per cent down from 18 per cent. However, sales of residential property will be unaffected and will therefore be taxed at current rates. 

While buy-to-let landlords may not have welcomed the budget with open arms, the UK’s first-time buyers finally received some good news. The Chancellor announced a Lifetime ISA for those who are under the age of 40 in April 2017. This enables account holders to save up to £4,000 a year, and the government will contribute a 25 per cent bonus (up to £1,000) on these savings at the close of the tax year. 

Tax dodgers penalized 

In what many are considering a positive move, Osborne also announced new legislation that will penalize offshore property developers who are not currently paying taxes. 

With the new Finance Bill in place, any developers building property in Britain must pay UK tax on the profits. The Treasury believes this crackdown will garner £2.28 billion in taxes by 2020. A specially set-up HMRC division will be tasked with identifying and collecting from offshore developers who are currently evading tax payments in the UK.

Chris Hounsome, partner at Mansell McTaggart in Crawley, said that "while buyers of second or investment property will be disappointed to have to pay the higher stamp duty, the higher tax bills will be absorbed by the fast-rising prices in the area”.

29Mar

Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda has called the tomato the ‘star of the earth’ and not without reason. 

Tomatoes epitomize the ripe fullness of a fertile summer, and the best way to enjoy their rich flavours is to undoubtedly to grow them yourself. And given enough warmth tomatoes can be grown with very little effort.

First sow in a 3 inch deep container or seed tray and allow to germinate into tiny seedlings. Ensure that the seed compost you use for this is of good quality, and clearly label the pot with the seed name and the date of sowing. 

A window sill that gets abundant morning sunlight is ideal – inside is perfect until it really warms up as tomatoes don’t like the cold. 

Keep rotating the container daily to make sure all parts receive equal amounts of sunlight. Tomato seeds germinate best in temperatures ranging from 15°C to 20°C and need to be kept a little moist at all times.

Once the seeds germinate and the seedlings emerge, wait a few days for them to grow to 2-3 inches. When the roots start making their way through the drainage holes, the seedlings are ready to be picked out. Delicately hold them by the leaves using a dibber as the stems are too fragile, without damaging the roots as far as possible, and plant them in individual pots at least 5 inches deep. 

Next they need to hardened so place the trays outside during the day so they become strong enough to be replanted outdoors. Once the first flower-bearing trusses have formed, the tomato plants are finally ready to be planted outside. 

Plant them in a larger pot or growbag in a site with plenty of sunshine, and where the new tomato plants do not get buffeted by any cold wind or chilly breezes. A greenhouse is ideal, or one of those collapsible growhouses if you don’t have one or the space.

A good tip is to add a handful of crushed egg shells as a calcium supplement.

The gap between two plants should be 12 to 18 inches depending on the type of tomato being grown. Ensure that the plants are protected from cool temperatures by covering them, and place paper collars around each plant to deter cutworms.

As the plants grow, provide stakes for additional support. If you water your tomato patch regularly and keep the soil fertilized with organic matter, you should soon be able to harvest a bumper crop of ripe, succulent tomatoes filled with the goodness of nature – and hopefully way tastier than the supermarket ones!

Thanks to Thompson & Morgan for the photograph



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