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Flats out of fashion with first-time buyers

First-time buyers are bypassing flats and moving straight into houses - leading to a fall in the cost of apartments, official figures suggest.

The cost of a typical apartment or maisonette in England has fallen by 2.1% in a year, while other types of property have become more expensive.

Experts suggest people are buying their first home later and are happy to rent a flat, but not necessarily buy one.

Many apartments being built in cities are designed specifically for rental.

Cost by property type - annual change

The cost of detached homes has been rising fastest, with semi-detached and terraced homes also going up in England, figures from the Land Registry show. In Wales, prices of all types of property are going up, but rises are slowest among flats and maisonettes.

First-time buyers want to buy a home to live in for longer than their predecessors, according to Richard Donnell, insight director at Zoopla. This meant they were more likely to push themselves to buy something bigger and wanted to "leapfrog" flats, he said.

He said that the fall in demand from investors, many of whom have pulled out of the market, had affected demand for flats. Primarily the slowdown in the market in London and the South East of England had meant lower demand for flats, as there was a heavy concentration of apartments in the capital.

House price change by region - ONS

Major housing projects from the old Battersea Power Station in London to plans for the Metalworks in Liverpool suggest that developers still see plenty of demand for city flats.

The overall trend suggests that apartments are becoming more affordable.

Research for online estate agents Housesimple suggests buyers can purchase a flat for less than £80,000 in 17 towns and cities in the UK.

Based on Land Registry figures, it said the average flat in Burnley was the cheapest at £54,161, followed by Hartlepool (£57,659), Middlesbrough (£63,100), Durham (£63,638), Blackpool (£67,670), and Preston (£74,084).

In contrast, the average price of a flat in Kensington and Chelsea in London was more than £1m, and - despite house price falls - the cheapest London boroughs of Havering, Barking and Dagenham, and Bexley still saw the average cost of a flat totalling more than £230,000.

In general, Office for Statistics (ONS) figures showed UK property prices were continuing to rise but at a slower rate than a year ago.

The average UK house price was £229,000 in April, the data shows, which is £3,000 higher than the same period a year earlier.

Average UK house price - ONS

The cost of renting a home has accelerated slightly, according to separate ONS figures.

Rental prices paid by tenants to private landlords went up by 1.3% in the UK in the 12 months to May.

Source:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48689404

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Help to Buy: 'Most users did not need help report finds'

Almost two-thirds of homebuyers who used the government's Help to Buy scheme could have bought a home without it, an official report has said.

However, they may not have been able to buy the house they wanted without the help, the report from the National Audit Office (NAO) found.

It also found that one in 25 of participants had household incomes of over £100,000.

The scheme did help boost the profits of building firms, the NAO said.

It was too early to determine if the scheme had delivered value for money for the taxpayer, the report said.

"Help To Buy has increased home ownership and housing supply, particularly for first-time buyers," Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said.

"However, a proportion of participants could have afforded to buy a home without the government's help.

"The scheme has also exposed the government to significant market risk if property values fall, as well as tying up a significant public financial capacity.

"The government's greatest challenge now is to wean the property market off the scheme with as little impact as possible on its ambition of creating 300,000 homes a year by 2021," he said.

Help to Buy chart

The scheme comes in two forms, Help to Buy loans and Help to Buy Individual Savings Accounts (Isas).

In the first version, the government lends up to 20% of the cost of a newly built property, or 40% within Greater London, so buyers need only a 5% deposit and a 75% mortgage to buy it.

Those purchasing a new-build home are not charged interest for the first five years.

The Help to Buy ISA was launched later, in December 2015, and is open to first-time buyers in the UK.

Savers receive a 25% bonus from the government when they withdraw the money they have saved to buy their first property. The maximum purchase price is £250,000, or £450,000 in London.

The maximum government bonus that someone can receive is £3,000, if they have saved £12,000.

A woman looks in an estate agent's window in LondonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

"By 2023, the government will have invested up to £29bn in the scheme, tying up cash which cannot be used elsewhere," the NAO said.

Bigger firms made the most of the scheme.

Between 2013 and 2018 more than half the sales in England made by Redrow, Bellway, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Persimmon involved Help to Buy.

'Housing bubble'

Persimmon is the biggest beneficiary, with almost 15% of the sales made under the Help to Buy Scheme.

Persimmon saw its annual profits top £1bn last year.

Mike Amey, managing director of global investment management firm Pimco, has told the BBC that profit on a house sold by Persimmon had trebled since Help to Buy was introduced, "roughly from £20,000 to £60,000".

Fran Boait, executive director of campaigning body Positive Money, said: "It's now beyond clear that rather than helping those who can't afford to buy a home, Help To Buy has mainly been a subsidy for a housing bubble, benefiting property developers and existing home owners."

The government's investment is expected to be returned from the scheme by 2032 after it closes in 2023. However, the size of the loans mean it is very much exposed to the performance of the housing market.

From April 2021, the scheme will be restricted just to first-time buyers.

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-48610977

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Government schemes for first-time home buyers and existing homeowners

Several government schemes can help you buy a home. These include Help to Buy, Right to Buy and Shared Ownership. Read this article to find out more about them and how to apply.

what is a lease

A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee (user) to pay the lessor (owner) for use of an asset.[1] Property, buildings and vehicles are common assets that are leased. Industrial or business equipment is also leased.

Broadly put, a lease agreement is a contract between two parties, the lessor and the lessee. The lessor is the legal owner of the asset; the lessee obtains the right to use the asset in return for regular rental payments.[2] The lessee also agrees to abide by various conditions regarding their use of the property or equipment. For example, a person leasing a car may agree that the car will only be used for personal use.

The narrower term rental agreement can be used to describe a lease in which the asset is tangible property.[3] Language used is that the user rents the land or goods let out or rented out by the owner. The verb to lease is less precise because it can refer to either of these actions.[4] Examples of a lease for intangible property are use of a computer program (similar to a license, but with different provisions), or use of a radio frequency (such as a contract with a cell-phone provider).

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lease

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Grounds for divorce

When you apply for a divorce you’ll need to prove that your marriage has broken down. You’ll need to give one or more of the following 5 reasons.

Adultery

Your husband or wife had sexual intercourse with someone else of the opposite sex.

The law recognises the act of adultery as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.

You cannot give adultery as a reason if you lived together as a couple for 6 months after you found out about it.

Unreasonable behaviour

Your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with them.

This could include:

  • physical violence
  • verbal abuse, such as insults or threats
  • drunkenness or drug-taking
  • refusing to pay for housekeeping

Desertion

Your husband or wife has left you:

  • without your agreement
  • without a good reason
  • to end your relationship
  • for more than 2 years in the past 2.5 years

You can still claim desertion if you have lived together for up to a total of 6 months in this period.

You’ve been separated for more than 2 years

You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for more than 2 years and both agree to the divorce.

Your husband or wife must agree in writing.

You can be separated while living in the same home as long as you’re not together as a couple (for example you sleep and eat apart).

You’ve been separated for at least 5 years

You can apply for a divorce if you’ve been separated for at least 5 years, even if your husband or wife disagrees.

source: https://www.gov.uk/divorce/grounds-for-divorce

 

Check you can get a divorce

You can get a divorce in England or Wales if you’ve been married at least a year and your relationship has permanently broken down.

You must have a marriage that’s legally recognised in the UK - this includes same-sex marriage. You must usually also have a permanent home in England or Wales.

If you do not want a divorce, you can get a legal separation so you can live apart without ending the marriage. You might also be able to annul the marriage.

Before you apply

You and your husband or wife need to work out:

You also need to divide your money and property. There’s a deadline if you want to make this legally binding.

You can usually avoid going to court hearings if you agree about children, money and property and the reasons for ending your marriage.

Get help agreeing on issues

You can use a mediator. Check if you can get legal aid to help pay for mediation.

 

source: https://www.gov.uk/divorce

Divorce rate falls to lowest level since 1973

The divorce rate among opposite-sex couples in England and Wales has reached a record low, with marriages now lasting for an average of 12.2 years. This 2017 figure is the joint highest on record, tied with 1972, and is an increase of 0.2 years compared to 2016.In 2017 the rate of divorces among opposite-sex couples in England and Wales was 8.4 per 1,000 married couples, the lowest it has been since 1973.Divorce rates fell among all age groups between 2016 and 2017 apart from among those aged over 60 where rates stayed steady at 1.6 per 1,000 couples.The ONS, who produce the figures, noted that this decrease in the prevalence of divorce is likely to be due to increases in the average ages at which people get married.Their report states that "age at marriage is considered to be closely linked to the risk of divorce with those marrying in their teens and early twenties being at greater risk."The average age of men in opposite-sex couples at the time of marriage now stands at 37.5 years, while for women marrying men it is 35.1 - both these figures are close to 10 years higher than they were in the early 1970s.Divorce rates in England and Wales have been steadily falling for the past 13 years after peaking in the early 90s following a sustained increase that began in 1971 after the Divorce Reform Act came into force.The 1980s produced the least successful marriagesThe ONS also produces figures showing what proportion of marriages in any given year subsequently ended in divorce. You can explore this data using the interactive tool below.Of the 344,334 couples who tied the knot in 1983 a whopping 43 per cent subsequently divorced, compared to just 27 per cent of marriages from 1963.There are also far fewer early divorces these days compared to recent decades.Of the 311,564 marriages in 1992, 11.2 per cent had ended in divorce after just five years. This figure had fallen to 6.4 per cent for those who married in 2013.Unreasonable behaviour the most common reason for divorceAt 62 per cent, the majority of the opposite-sex divorces in 2017 were petitioned for by the wife. However, this number has fallen fairly significantly of late with it being more usual for in excess of 70 per cent of divorces being granted to the wife up until the turn of the millennium.Unreasonable behaviour was the grounds given for close to half of the divorces granted in 2017, making it the most common reason given for separation.Husbands are far less likely than wives to petition for divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour or adultery, but far more likely to petition on the grounds of separation.source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/26/divorce-rates-fall-lowest-levels-since-1973-people-getting-married/ 

Divorce law: Plans to overhaul 'archaic' laws revealed

More details have emerged about government plans to overhaul "archaic" divorce laws in England and Wales.

Couples wishing to divorce could soon benefit from a less confrontational process, under proposals confirmed by the Justice Secretary David Gauke.

The government has launched a consultation proposing removing the need to allege "fault", and the right of spouses to contest a divorce.

Mr Gauke said the current divorce laws were "out of touch with modern life".

Under the current law, unless people can prove their marriage has broken down due to adultery, unreasonable behaviour or desertion, the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse's consent is to live apart for five years.

 

If the separation is mutual, the couple have to prove they have been separated for a minimum of two years before they can divorce.

Mr Guake said: "We think that the blame game that currently exists helps nobody. It creates unnecessary antagonism and anxiety at an already trying time for couples."

The proposed changes, which were leaked earlier this month, include making "the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage" the sole grounds for a divorce.

It is also recommending removing the need to show evidence of a spouse's conduct, or a period of living apart.

The 12-week consultation also proposes a new notification process where one, or possibly both parties, can simply notify the court of their intention to divorce, removing the opportunity for the other spouse to contest the divorce application.

The changes would apply to both marriages and civil partnerships.

Pressure for reform intensified after a woman's appeal for divorce was rejected by the Supreme Court in July due to her husband's refusal to split.

Tini Owens, 68, wanted to divorce on the grounds she was unhappy but her husband of 40 years refused the split, leading the court to rule against her "with reluctance".

That meant she must remain married until 2020 - as currently the only way to obtain a divorce without a spouse's agreement is to live apart for five years.

Mr Gauke said the case had "generated broader questions about what the law requires of people going through divorce and what it achieves in practice".

There had been a "growing coalition recognising that the animosity that is put into this system is one that is not doing us any good," he said.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon had previously urged the government to simply change the law rather than undertaking a consultation.

Hannah Cornish, head of family law at Slater and Gordon, said there was a "desperate need" for reform.

She added: "Having to place blame can really inflame matters at what can already be a stressful and difficult time for a family."

Ministers also want views on the minimum time between the interim and final divorce decree in order to allow couples time to reflect and reach agreement on arrangements for the future if divorce is inevitable.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45525979

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