Savvy homeowners capitalise on current record low interest rates

As savings rates continue to offer poor returns, many people are turning to mortgage overpayments as a way to save money.

European countries record a rise in house prices

Britain was one of the few European countries to record a rise in house prices in 2009 according to a report, giving further impetus to signs of a sustained recovery in 2010.

Government ratchets up green construction standards to tackle climate change and fuel poverty

Low carbon homes are more airtight than their conventional counterparts, with better insulation, and rely on renewable sources of power generation such as roof-top solar panels or community-scale plants converting food and other waste into energy. In more extreme examples of green homes, door-mounted letter boxes and fireplaces aren’t allowed because of the draughts these allow in.

Predicting the movement of interest rates over the coming years

Few economists can agree when the Bank of England will choose to raise the base rate, which is why homebuyers and homeowners weighing up whether to opt for a fixed-rate or tracker loan face the near-impossible task of predicting the movement of interest rates over the coming years.

Gross lending remains broadly in line with forecast

Gross mortgage lending declined to an estimated £10.2 billion in April, down 12 per cent from £11.6 billion in March and 1 per cent from £10.3 billion in April 2009, according to new data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). This is the lowest April total since 2000 (£9.3 billion).

Buy-to-let landlord optimism at its highest level since 2007

The planned increase in capital gains tax (CGT) is likely to put some potential investors off from purchasing a buy-to-let property. However the latest figures from the National Landlords Association, shows that buy-to-let landlord optimism is at its highest level since the fourth quarter of 2007.

Guaranteeing your monthly repayments

With a fixed-rate mortgage, you have the guarantee that your monthly repayments will not change for a set period of time, most commonly 1, 2 or 5 years although other fixed terms are available. However, if you choose a variable rate mortgage your repayments could change. There are two types: tracker mortgages are linked to the Bank of England base rate. Discounted mortgages are linked to the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR). Changes to the SVR are at the lender’s discretion.

House prices may rise to reflect the tax holiday

The new stamp duty rules give an immediate stamp duty holiday to any first-time buyer paying less than £250,000 for a property. The rate was formerly 1 per cent on homes between £125,000 and £250,000, so the temporary removal of the tax for two years will save a buyer up to £2,500.

Double-digit annual growth in UK house prices

The Nationwide House Price Index for April 2010 reports that house prices increased by 1.0 per cent month-on-month in April. Annual rate of price inflation moves into double digits for first time since June 2007, but house prices are still 10.0 per cent below the October 2007 peak.

Are you fully aware of the tax implications?

If you are considering purchasing a residential buy-to-let property, you may not be fully aware of the tax implications. Usually there will be two taxes that you may have to pay. These are, income tax, which is payable each year based on your income from the property after deducting certain expenses that you have incurred, and capital gains tax, which is payable when you sell the property and is based on the sale proceeds of the property less the cost of the property.

Driving consumer demand for properties with superior energy performance

A report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), commissioned by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) department, highlights actions that must be taken to raise the perceived importance of a property’s energy performance throughout the home buying and selling process.

A tax-free ‘gross’ income from renting furnished accommodation

The Rent a Room scheme allows homeowners and tenants to take in a lodger and get up to £4,250 in rent without paying tax. The scheme allows tax-free ‘gross’ income (what you get before expenses) from renting furnished accommodation.

Support needed for home-owners facing financial difficulty

The number of mortgages in arrears and the number of repossessions both fell in the first quarter of 2010, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML). But this welcome decline gives no cause for complacency as a large number of households, who are just coping; still remain vulnerable to shocks that may arise from the economic uncertainty ahead.

Weighing up your options

When it comes to paying off your mortgage there are two main options: capital repayment and interest-only.

Environmental concern is high on the political agenda

Plans to make UK homes more energy efficient through new “eco-loans” could help to push up property prices but reduce the size of mortgages buyers can borrow, according to property market experts.