Multifamily Housing REIT to compete against buy-to-let landlords with £175m IPO

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 12 Sept 2018) London, Uk – –

An investment trust aiming to compete against buy-to-let landlords in the booming private rental market will fire the starting gun on its £175m London IPO on Wednesday, The Daily Telegraph understands.

Multifamily Housing REIT is thought to be planning to use £70m of the cash to buy an initial seed portfolio of around 650 flats homes and five commercial premises across 22 housing blocks, mostly in the north of England, the midlands and the south-west.

The trust, set up by Harwood Capital’s real estate arm, will be the first listed vehicle to focus exclusively on pre-built rental homes.

The private rental market has ballooned in recent years amid a fall in home ownership and is mostly still in the hands of non-professional buy-to-let landlords.

It has begun to attract institutional investment from the likes of Legal & General and M&G but mostly in the form of so-called build-to-rent developments, which are generally targeted at upwardly mobile urban professionals willing to pay top dollar for the latest mod cons.

Multifamily Housing will buy existing rental homes rather than building them itself and is understood to be targeting the more affordable end of the market.

It plans to raise the cash by selling 175m shares at £1 each.

The REIT will be chaired by Nick Jopling, who previously ran Grainger, one of the UK’s largest professional landlords. David Lis, formerly head of equities at Aviva Investors, will also be on the board.

It has already identified a £422m pipeline of potential investments and is aiming to generate a dividend yield worth 4pc per year from the date of its admission, rising to 5pc from March next year.

Harwood was spun out of JO Hambro in 2011 and is still led by its former parent company’s founder Christopher Mills and now has around £4.5bn of funds under management.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

House prices in London’s overvalued market expected to fall – Reuters poll

Flickr/Megan Trace

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 29th Aug 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – House prices in London’s overvalued market will fall this year and next, a Reuters poll of analysts and experts predicted, and will tumble if Britain fails to reach a deal ahead of its departure from the European Union.

The quarterly poll of around 30 housing market specialists, taken in the past week, said house prices in the capital – where foreign investors have previously fuelled skyrocketing prices – will fall 1.6 percent this year and 0.1 percent next.

“Central London is tanking because the traditional international buyers are staying away – and the quantum of buyers is falling. A disorderly Brexit will exacerbate this trend,” said Tony Williams at property consultancy Building Value.

Uncertainty over how Brexit negations pan out has already spooked foreign investors. When asked what effect a disorderly departure would have on London prices, responses ranged from “short-term fall” to “damaging” to “disaster”.

“In the short term the additional uncertainty will disproportionately affect London, causing the value of some properties, particularly high value properties, to fall further,” said Ray Boulger at mortgage broker John Charcol.

Britain is due to leave the EU in March and sterling fell to a near one-year low against the euro on Tuesday amid no-deal angst. A weaker currency should make UK houses more attractive to foreign buyers but Brexit uncertainty is keeping them away.

When asked about the likelihood of a significant correction in London’s housing market before the end of 2019 the specialists gave a relatively high median of 29 percent. The highest was 75 percent.

But that might not be a bad thing – certainly for first-time buyers.

When asked to rate the level of London house prices on a scale of one to ten, where one is extremely cheap and ten extremely expensive, the median response was nine. Nationally they were rated seven.

“The weight of evidence suggests that housing is overvalued once more,” said Hansen Lu at Capital Economics.

In August the average asking price for a home nationally was 301,973 pounds and in London a whopping 609,205 pounds, according to property website Rightmove, putting home ownership out of the reach of many – despite historically low borrowing costs.

The Bank of England pushed interest rates above their financial crisis lows this month but signalled it was in no hurry to raise them further. It will add another 25 basis points in the second quarter of next year, taking Bank Rate to 1.0 percent, another Reuters poll predicted.

So with mortgage rates staying low house prices are expected to increase nationally by 2.0 percent this year and next – slower than inflation – and then 2.3 percent in 2020.

“We see little upward or downward pressure on house prices at current near-zero interest rates. However, risks lie substantially to the downside,” said Andrew Brigden at Fathom Consulting.

“Were interest rates to return to pre-crisis levels or higher, which may prove necessary if there were a sharp fall in sterling after a General Election, for example, then house prices could fall by around 40 percent.”

By Jonathan Cable

 

 

 

Persimmon post 13pc rise in profits despite slowdown in housing market

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 21 Aug 2018) London, Uk – –

Housebuilder Persimmon sought to reassure investors worried about a slowdown in the housing market after posting a rise in profits and selling more than 250 extra homes in the first half of the year.

Jeff Fairburn, chief executive, said the FTSE 100 company had “continued to experience good levels of customer interest” even during the typically quiet summer period as low unemployment and a “competitive mortgage market” helped spur demand.

Pre-tax profits rose 13pc to £516m in the six months to June after Persimmon sold 8,072 houses, 4pc more than in the same period last year. Revenues grew 5pc to £1.8bn.

The housebuilder has benefitted from the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers first-time buyers financial support to buy new-build homes. It has also been helped by a relatively low exposure to the London market, which has seen a slowdown in recent months.

Persimmon’s bottom line was also bolstered by a 1pc increase in sales prices to £215,000 and tighter control of costs, which helped stretch its gross margin from 28.9pc to 30.8pc.

The company was embroiled in a fierce row with investors and politicians earlier in the year after it emerged Mr Fairburn was in line for as much as £100m because of a non-capped bonus scheme linked to its share price.

The debacle cost the jobs of Persimmon’s former chairman Nicholas Wrigley and the head of its remuneration committee Jonathan Davie. Mr Fairburn and other senior bosses who benefited from the scheme eventually agreed to hand back £50m.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

UK construction gained momentum to grow at its fastest rate in 14 months – PMI

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 2nd Aug 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s construction industry unexpectedly gained momentum last month to grow at its fastest rate in over a year, boosted by the biggest increase in housebuilding since the end of 2015, an industry survey showed on Thursday.

Just hours before the Bank of England is expected to raise interest rates for the only the second time since before the financial crisis, the IHS Markit/CIPS construction Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to its highest since May 2017.

“July data reveal an impressive turnaround,” IHS Markit economist Tim Moore said.

The PMI jumped to 55.8 from June’s reading of 53.1, beating all forecasts in a Reuters poll of economists that had predicted a slight slowdown in growth to 52.8.

The figures contrast with a more lacklustre reading for manufacturers on Wednesday, who were their most downbeat in nearly two years due to concerns about Brexit and the value of the pound.

Thursday’s construction PMI also showed some Brexit worries and higher costs for steel used in construction — a possible reflection of European Union tariffs imposed on steel imports to the bloc in response to U.S. tariffs.

Nonetheless, the overall tone from the construction industry was positive. New orders flowed in at the fastest rate since May 2017 and both house-building and employment in the sector rose by the most since December 2015.

The figures contrast with a weak start to 2018, when unusually icy weather hurt the sector, causing first-quarter output to fall by 0.8 percent according to official data.

“While the recent rebound in construction work has been flattered by its recovery from a low base earlier in 2018, there are also signs that underlying demand conditions have picked up this summer,” IHS Markit’s Moore said.

Last week the National House-Building Council reported year-on-year increases in housing starts in most of Britain during the three months to the end of June, though a sharp fall in London dragged down the national average.

By David Milliken

 

 

7,000 estate agency firms at risk of triple whammy from online competition

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 2 July 2018) London, Uk – –

High street operators face triple whammy of internet competition, falling prices and fee cuts

More than 150 estate agency firms went insolvent last year and as many as 7,000 are at risk as high street operators face the triple whammy of online competition, a sagging property market and cuts to letting fees.

A study by accountants Moore Stephens found that 153 estate agency firms went insolvent in the year to May 2018, a small increase on the 148 the year before.

But it found that more than 7,000 estate agents “currently show signs of financial distress”.

Last week, shares in Britain’s biggest estate agent, Countrywide Properties, plunged 25% after it issued its fourth profit warning in eight months and called on shareholders to raise fresh funds to cut its debt.

Countrywide, the company behind Hamptons, Bairstow Eves, Taylors and Gascoigne-Pees, has been hit hard by a downturn in the housing market in London and the south-east, a botched revamp of the business and growing competition from new online firms such as Purplebricks.

Estate agents focused on the Brexit-hit London property market have been among the worst affected. Earlier this year Foxtons reported a 65% fall in profits.

Moore Stephens said government plans to ban letting fees charged to tenants may narrow the profit margins of some estate agents even more, as fees from tenants currently contribute significantly to the bottom line.

Estate agents rely on transaction activity rather than rising house prices to earn commission, and have been hit hard by the 20% fall in the number of property sales in the London area since 2014.

The extra stamp duty surcharge of 3% of the value of a buy-to-let home introduced in April 2016 has also added to the woes of estate agents, with some buy-to-let investors choosing not to add to their portfolios.

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Chris Marsden, restructuring partner at Moore Stephens, said: “Insolvencies of high street estate agents are increasing as online competitors continue to chip away at their sales.

“With the ban on letting fees stated to come into force in 2019, estate agents will struggle to pass those fees on to landlords.”

“Some areas in the UK are appear to have an excess capacity of estate agents, which could mean there is not enough business to spread around as property transactions stagnate.”

By Patrick Collinson

 

 

Zoopla snapped up by US private equity firm in £2.2bn deal

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 11 May 2018) London, Uk – –

US private equity firm is to snap up the company behind property portal Zoopla in a £2.2bn deal.

Silver Lake Management – through its Zephyr Bidco subsidiary – is offering 490p in cash per share, representing a 31pc premium on ZPG's closing share price on May 10.

The deal has received the backing of ZPG's largest shareholder, the Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which held a 55pc stake in the business after its own online property business merged with Zoopla in 2012. It now has a 29.8pc stae after the company floated on the London market in 2014, putting it in line for a potential windfall of around £650m.

ZPG shares surged nearly 30pc to 111p on news of the offer at the start of trading.

The deal, which is still subject to shareholder approval, is expected to close in the third quarter of this year.

Simon Patterson, managing director of Silver Lake, said: “ZPG is a great growth technology company. It has established strong positions in property classifieds, home and financial services markets by innovating in product and marketing.

“We are delighted to partner with (ZPG founder and chief executive) Alex Chesterman, one of Europe's leading and most accomplished technology entrepreneurs, to invest in ZPG's continued growth.”

ZPG, which was founded in 2007, is also behind property portal PrimeLocation, as well as cloud-based estate agency and property management software systems including Alto, Jupix and ExpertAgent.

The company is also involved in consumer comparison sites uSwitch and Money.

By Press Association

 

Uk Financial Conduct Authority encourage more help for ‘Mortgage Prisoners’

Bradley Gordon/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 4 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Long-standing mortgage borrowers who are unable to switch to a better deal, dubbed “mortgage prisoners”, should be given more help, the UK's financial regulator has said.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also wants it to be easier for people to find the best mortgage, as about 30% fail to find the cheapest deal.

However, it said competition in the market worked well for many people.

The FCA's comments came in an interim report into the mortgage market.

Trapped
Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “For many, the market is working well, with high levels of consumer engagement.

“However, we believe that things could work better with more innovative tools to help consumers.

“There are also a number of long-standing borrowers that have kept up-to-date with their mortgage repayments but are unable to get a new mortgage deal; we want to explore ways that we, and the industry, can help them.”

People much less likely to move home than in 1970s
Rate rise doubts as property demand falls
Some mortgage holders found themselves trapped in their current deal when stricter affordability checks on mortgage applications were brought in during 2014.

These “mortgage prisoners” were unable to move to a better deal when their existing mortgages switched back to the more expensive standard variable rate, even if they could meet the payments.

The FCA said it had identified about 150,000 such customers. Of these, about 30,000 were with authorised mortgage lenders, while about 120,000 had mortgages held by non-regulated firms – which include some previous Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley customers.

The regulator said it intended to explore options to help these customers, “for example, an industry-wide agreement to approve applications for a new mortgage deal from existing customers whose most recent mortgage was taken out before the financial crisis and who are up-to-date with payments”.

The regulator said there were high levels of choice and consumer awareness in the mortgage market, with three-quarters of borrowers switching to a new deal within six months of moving on to a standard variable rate.

But it said there was no easy way for customers to be confident of which mortgage deal they might qualify for, and this was “a significant impediment” to shopping around.

The FCA also said a “significant minority” – about 30% – of customers failed to find the cheapest mortgage.

It wants to make it easier for borrowers, early on in the process, to see what mortgage products they can qualify for, and to assess and compare these products.

The FCA is consulting on its interim findings and proposed remedies, and intends to publish its final report around the end of the year.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “Today's interim report highlights that, in the main, the mortgage market is working effectively for the vast majority of borrowers.

“We note the FCA's points regarding perceived areas of weaknesses within the market, particularly around customers who currently may be unable to switch products.

“We will be working through the FCA's recommendations and continuing to engage closely with the regulator over the coming weeks as we respond to the consultation.”

 

 

UK property buyer demand wanes as housing stock hits record low

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 8 Mar 2018) London, Uk – –

The average number of properties on estate agents' books has hit a record low and is “unlikely to improve”, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

While a typical estate agent has 42 homes on their books per branch, in London – where the nation's chronic housing shortage is most concentrated – the figure is just 33.

Rics's monthly residential market survey, which gathers the views of more than 300 chartered surveyors across the country, also found that there was a prevailing trend in the lack of new buyer enquiries, new instructions and newly agreed sales.

New buyer enquiries fell for the eleventh consecutive month, with 16pc more survey respondents seeing a fall rather than rise in new customers, while the number of agreed sales was also down, continuing a six-month trend.

Buyer demand has fallen most dramatically in London and the south east, Rics said, while it has risen in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and the Humber. Figures in most other regions remained broadly flat.

As market activity continues to slow, prices remained flat in February for the ninth month in a row, although there was an uptick in headline prices in Wales, the north west, Northern Ireland and the East Midlands.

Rics said the five-year indicator for house price growth will be approximately 15pc by the end of the 2023.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “The divergent regional picture is becoming increasingly pronounced with key Rics indicators across huge swathes of the country still showing considerable resilience, but data for London, the south east and East Anglia are rather more subdued.”

Russell Quirk, chief executive of online estate agent Emoov.co.uk, said that it was important to note that only a “tiny proportion” of Rics members were actually estate agents and so their views “aren’t entirely typical of the overall industry”.

Earlier this week Theresa May said young people unable to climb onto the property ladder had a “right to be angry” and that developers were partly to blame for the nation's chronic housing shortage.

Announcing reforms to planning rules, the prime minister said developers had a “perverse incentive” to hoard land once it had been approved for development rather than actually build on it, meaning much-needed houses were not being built. She added that they should step up and “do their duty to Britain”.

Previous research has suggested that more than 423,000 new homes in Britain have been granted planning permission but are still waiting to be built.

Councils are approving nine in every 10 planning applications, but sites are being left empty as developers fail to build quickly enough, and councils are unable to step in.

Brian Murphy of the Mortgage Advice Bureau said that it “stands to reason that if fewer properties are on the market for sale, buyer choice is restricted”. He said: “This means that those who are actively looking are likely to view fewer properties, hence why we would see a reported reduction in new buyer enquiries.”

By  

 

London’s first capsule hostel opens in Borough

When was the last time you stayed in a youth hostel? It probably didn’t look like this one – London’s first ‘capsule hostel’. It’s a dormitory with just enough room for a bed and everything you need inside a self-contained pod. They've been popular in Japan for years – reporter Thomas Magill goes to Borough to see if they'll take off here.

 

Persimmon housebuilder to cut controversial bonuses to top three executives

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Fri, 23 Feb 2018) London, Uk – –

Housebuilder cuts controversial bonuses to top trio following public outcry

Persimmon is reducing bonus payouts to three top executives by £51m, including a £25m cut for its chief executive, after the UK’s second largest housebuilder was strongly criticised over its huge payout plans.

The FTSE 100 firm said a bonus of £100m for its chief executive, Jeff Fairburn, would be cut to £75m under the company’s long-term incentive bonus plan.

Finance director Mike Killoran will receive £24m less than the £78m he was originally due, and managing director Dave Jenkinson will see his bonus cut by £2m to £38m.

Persimmon has come under intense pressure both publicly and privately from politicians and shareholders for planning record-breaking bonus payouts to bosses after the company benefitted from the taxpayer-backed help-to-buy scheme.

This week the company’s sixth-largest shareholder, Aberdeen Standard Investments, labelled Fairburn’s bonus as “grossly excessive”, and said it remained “a huge concern” despite the executive’s recent pledge to donate some of his package to charity.

Last year, the Guardian revealed that Fairburn’s pay deal could be used to provide a council house for every homeless family in Yorkshire where Persimmon is based.

Announcing the bonus reduction, the company said its remuneration committee was “fully supportive” of the decision. Persimmon’s chairman, Nicholas Wrigley, resigned in December over his role in orchestrating the pay scheme.

Fairburn said earlier this month he decided some time ago to give some of his bonus awaybut that he had wanted to take an “old-fashioned approach” and keep the decision private.

Speaking this month, he said: “It’s now clear that this belief was misplaced and so I am making my plans public and recognise that I should have done so sooner. I am setting up a private charitable trust which I plan to use to benefit wider society over a sustained period of time by supporting, in a very meaningful way, my chosen charities.”

By Angela Monaghan

Mid-earners 25 to 34-year-olds ‘locked out of Home-ownership’

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 16 Feb, 2018) London, Uk – –

The extent to which young people are locked out of the British housing market has been revealed in new figures from economists.

The biggest decline in home ownership in the last 20 years has been among middle-income 25 to 34-year-olds, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said.

In 1995-96, 65% of this group owned a home, but just 27% do in 2015-16, with the biggest drop in south-east England.

Middle earners are defined as having take-home pay of £22,200 to £30,600.

This can be either as an individual or as a couple.

A third of them are university graduates, while 30% left school at 16. Three-quarters of them live with a partner, and around 60% have children.

The proportion of these middle earners owning a home (27%) has moved closer to the likelihood of those with a low income (8%) than those on a high income (64%).

‘Money down the drain'

Tom Bourlet pays £535 per month to rent a room in a flat in central Brighton.

“I've been renting it for two-and-a-half years. It really is money down the drain,” the 30-year-old says.

“I don't really see much for it – it's not the biggest room.”

The location is handy for work, and is close to the railway station, but Mr Bourlet would prefer to have somewhere “to be proud of, and build up myself”, he adds.

However, buying somewhere is “completely beyond budget at the moment”.

“It's absolute Mission Impossible,” he says.

“From rent, to paying for trains… all the utility bills keep shooting up. I mean, I'm nowhere near, I'm not even slightly close. I'm saving every month, but the deposit is so high that it just seems beyond reach at the moment.”

Andrew Hood, a senior research economist at the IFS, said: “Home ownership among young adults has collapsed over the past 20 years, particularly for those on middle incomes.

“The reason for this is that house prices have risen around seven times faster in real terms than the incomes of young adults over the last two decades.”

Property price rises were significant in the South East of England. As a result, the region has seen the proportion of homeowners among 25 to 34-year-olds fall from 64% to 32% in two decades.

Every region of Britain had seen a 10 percentage point drop over the same period, the IFS said. This will lead to some tough decisions for today's 20 to 30-somethings, according to Iona Bain, founder of the Young Money blog.

“It is really hard to see how we can make this better when we are still seeing a huge demand for housing and that housing demand is not being met with the right number of houses,” she said.

“Individuals are having to decide for themselves: do I want to rent and have the flexibility but pay more for it, or do I want make a lot of difficult decisions to get on the property ladder sooner and potentially stay put for many, many years to come?”

Housing minister Dominic Raab said that schemes such as Help to Buy and the removal of stamp duty for most first-time buyers had helped people to buy their first home.

He also said that £45m would be invested into community projects that would help kick-start the building of thousands of new homes.

 

Stoke-on-Trent Council to sell off derelict houses for £1 to regenerate property market

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 16 Nov, 2017) London, Uk – –

Stoke-on-Trent is hoping to once again regenerate its property market with a programme to sell off derelict houses for £1 a pop.

First-time buyers who live, work or have family ties to Stoke are being offered the chance to get onto the property ladder for a quid, with 25 houses in the Portland Street area of Hanley up for grabs.

It is the second time Stoke City Council has launched a scheme to sell off dilapidated properties, having first introduced the initiative in 2013, when 33 council houses in Cobridge were sold for £1, with each buyer then given a £30,000 loan to help renovate the property.

Rebecca Dennis and Chris Benn were one couple to take advantage of the scheme, buying the house for the cost of a bottle of water. After spending four months restoring the property, they managed to increase its value by around £60,000.

While the council previously bought derelict council homes to sell on, the latest scheme involves buying empty privately-owned properties from absentee landlords. It then sells these at rock-bottom prices with a loan of around £60,000 for the buyers to renovate the property, which has to be repaid over 15 years, with interest, before they then become the outright owner.

In order to qualify for the scheme, buyers must have been in continuous work for at least a year and earn a maximum income of up to £27,000 if single, £33,000 if single with children, and up to £54,000 for a couple, or £60,000 for a couple with dependants.

Randy Conteh, Stoke's council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “The project… not only enables hardworking people on modest salaries to buy homes they would not otherwise be able to afford, it helps to regenerate rundown parts of the city – adding to a sense of community for residents and helping to tackle social issues.”

Average property prices in Stoke-on-Trent are just shy of £130,000, Rightmove data shows, making it an affordable place for first-time buyers. The UK average is £211,085.

Stoke isn't the only city to launch a programme in the hopes of rejuvenating its property market, with Liverpool launching a similar scheme in 2015.

As many as 2,750 Liverpudlians applied to buy around 120 empty and unloved Victorian homes for next to nothing, in deprived areas of the city.

In the first tranche, 20 homes were sold around Granby Four Streets and Arnside Road. That same year, Granby Four Streets won the Turner Prize because the cluster of terraced houses, based in a corner of Toxteth and earmarked for demolition, were revamped, transforming the community without resorting to “corporate gentrification”.

It was specifically recognised as a work of art rather than architecture, after judges argued it did more to “change the way people live” than other exhibitions.

By  

Over a third of Uk home sellers forced to cut asking price, says Right Move

Paul Wilkinson/Flickr

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 13 Nov 2017) London, Uk – –

Property website says new sellers being too optimistic by not discounting by more as overall market stalls and interest rates rise

More than a third of home owners trying to sell their house have been forced to reduce their asking price, with the number of price cuts at their highest level since 2012, according to Rightmove.

Traditionally house sellers are often forced to cut asking prices in the pre-Christmas period but this year the nation appears to be holding a collective autumn sale, said the property website.

Rightmove, which claims to list 90% of the houses being sold in the UK, said 37% of current sellers had dropped their asking price, with a typical 0.8% or £2,392 price reduction. It also warned that those who recently put their property on the market were being too optimistic by not discounting by more.

The mass price cut will be seen as further evidence that the market has slowed dramatically, particularly in London where prices have been falling. Last week the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the overall UK property market had stalled. Rics also warned that it expected the market to remain subdued in the coming months as sales stay flat or fall in most regions.

Rightmove director, Miles Shipside, said the slowdown in the housing market, the recent interest rate rise and the prediction that further rises were on the horizon suggested bigger reductions in house prices in the near future.

“Given that the market has been price-sensitive for a while and a five-year high proportion of sellers are slashing their prices, some sellers and their agents are over-pricing. These sellers may well be asking themselves if they could have saved some time and stress by pricing a lot more conservatively at the start.”

Lucy Pendleton, of the London estate agent James Pendleton, said sellers in the capital are facing some particularly tough decisions. She argues that one large price cut can work better than several small ones.

“It’s vital they don’t discount their home in dribs and drabs. By dropping the asking price in increments all you succeed in doing is making your property look stale and unwanted, with none of the surge in viewings that a keen discount can bring. There are also far too many vendors in London who think a reduction of £10,000 is enough,” she said.

By Miles Brignall

This architect firm unveiled plans to build Europe’s first underwater restaurant

 

Underwater Restaurant In Norway Looks Like It’s Right Out Of Science Fiction
A Norwegian architecture firm has unveiled plans to build Europe’s first underwater restaurant, complete with a massive panoramic window.

 

Marks & Spencer banking arm announced plans to launch mortgage range

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 20 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

You will soon be able to buy a house with Marks & Spencer, after the retail giant’s banking arm announced plans to launch a mortgage range.

The company better known for selling groceries and underwear will roll out its first mortgage products early next year, subject to regulatory approval.

The M&S Bank products will be targeted at both first-time buyers and home movers, with rates and further details to be announced next year.

Sue Fox, chief executive of M&S Bank, said: “Many of our customers have shopped with M&S their whole lives, feeling the comfort of the brand at every key life event.

“We’re now in a position to support our customers with the biggest financial decision they’ll ever make – their home.”

M&S Bank, which launched in 2012 and has four million customers, currently offers credit cards, loans and current accounts. Its number of current account customers has grown 60pc over the last two years.

The bank has its roots in the financial services division of M&S, which was founded in 1985.

It is a joint venture between HSBC and M&S, although it has its own banking licence and its own board. It has 29 branches and over 120 bureaux de change in M&S stores.

By 

The robot helping sick children explore the outside world

 

A rare genetic disorder often prevents 17-year-old Jade Gadd from leaving her house. Denied the normal life most teenagers enjoy, she is unable to go to school regularly and left feeling isolated. Recently, that has all begun to change with the help of a small robot, who takes her physical place in class, relays information and allows her to stay connected with her teachers and classmates.

Airbnb paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 9 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Airbnb, the accommodation website, paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year despite collecting £657m of rental payments for property owners.

The commissions the company earns in the UK are booked by its Irish subsidiary, but it also has two UK subsidiaries.

One unit made a pre-tax profit, but the other did not incur UK corporation tax because deductions resulted in a loss.

Airbnb said in a statement: “We follow the rules and pay all the tax we owe.”

One of the British subsidiaries, Airbnb Payments UK, handles payments between landlords and travellers for countries other than the United States, China and India.

That unit made a pre-tax profit of £960,000 and paid £188,000 in UK corporation tax – £8,000 less than in 2015.

The other British subsidiary, Airbnb UK, markets the website and app to British consumers. It reported a £463,000 pre-tax profit last year but because it gave shares to staff, which are tax-deductable, there was no corporation tax bill.

Airbnb said: “Our UK office provides marketing services and pays all applicable taxes, including VAT. The Airbnb model is unique and boosted the UK economy by £3.46bn last year alone.”

The tax arrangements of other technology giants have come under under closer scrutiny in recent years.

One of the most vocal critics has been EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has taken aim at the likes of Apple, Amazon and others for where they book the revenues and profits of their European activities.

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has also asked why Airbnb paid tens of thousand of euros in French corporation tax despite a turnover in the millions.

The company, founded in San Francisco in 2008, has disrupted the hotel industry by linking travellers with landlords who generally want to rent out a spare room or an entire property for short-term stays.

It has become one of the most successful examples of the digital economy, with an estimated value of about $24bn.

However, Airbnb has faced a growing backlash in cities including Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, where politicians have taken steps to stop landlords renting properties to tourists rather than local residents.

While Airbnb has long been linked with a stock market listing, it remains privately owned.

It takes a 3% commission from landlords for each booking, and also charges fees to travellers.

In the UK last year Airbnb catered for 5.9m travellers and had 168,000 listings.