This Week in Property: The Latest News (29th October 2021)

Take a look at what our CEO Gill Fielding has to say about this week’s property news…

The tax we all missed

I wonder how many people read the major announcement about Inheritance Tax in this week’s budget? The answer is NONE because as usual there wasn’t one! Inheritance tax is the biggie and the one that hits people most, but of course they don’t notice it themselves because they’re dead when it needs to be paid.

However, it is the major tax affecting families as a whole and raises over £5 billion for the government. The reason most people don’t take much notice of Inheritance Tax is because it feels like it should be a tax purely for the rich but the number of people falling into its grasp will double in the next few years according to the Office of Budget Responsibility.

The Inheritance Tax limit has been frozen at £325,000 since 2009 and as property prices and investment values have increased significantly since then, an increasing number of people are falling into the clutches of the tax and projections expect the amount raised by it will increase 50% to over £7 billion by 2026. That’s a huge amount of money and a huge number of people but it always goes under the radar because it’s not hugely significant to the government – but it’s hugely significant for me – or should I say my children who will be contributing to those billions when I go!

The highest bid doesn’t always win

We’ve all seen the property market race away this year and we know that people are having to offer way over the asking price to get a look in – or do they? In a tight property market where there are more buyers than sellers it’s important to realise that it’s the BEST bid that wins and that’s not necessarily the highest. What is more important nowadays is that the potential buyer can complete in swift order and that generally means that the cash buyer has the upper hand.

According to View My Chain the proportion of properties sold in a chain is now only 39.1% and that in September 65% of buyers faced a counter offer from a chain free buyer. They claim that 66% of all sellers chose a chain free buyer over one in a chain. The number of cash buyers though varies from area to area and whilst 55.7% of buyers in North Norfolk were cash buyers, only 8.8% of buyers in Slough had cash funds available.

Of course not everyone has that sort of cash available so increasingly people are selling their houses and renting whilst they find a property to buy – and that then puts huge strain on the rental market as well. This situation will ease gradually, but in the meantime when you go and look at a property get your paperwork prepared such that you can move swiftly if you’re not a genuine cash  buyer.

Sing the sitting room

Now I’m not a fan of estate agents in the main but I’ve found one that I would probably like and she’s a professional singer, Claire Cossey, who had very little work during lockdown so she took to singing the descriptions of houses for sale. It’s done as a virtual tour with Claire singing the narrative to the tunes of hits such as the Winner Takes it All, Simply the Best, and Don’t Stop me Now. What a hoot and what fun! I’d much rather buy a property from a singing estate agent than a talentless one. Of course at the moment estate agents don’t have to differentiate themselves as properties sell before they’re marketed, but I hope Claire comes into her own the next time there’s a buyers market.

Shouldn’t an estate agent know? 

I’ve just read an article about a woman selling her property and the estate agent undervalued it by £100,000 because in their opinion, the property market would crash after the end of the stamp duty holiday – which of course it didn’t. Now that’s odd and I’m wondering how much we can trust the guidance of estate agents and the conclusion is not really much at all. They don’t need to be qualified or experienced to do their job and so their view of the property market is most likely taken from scary stories on social media. Whilst they have a duty of care to a customer they don’t have a duty of knowledge and that’s scary. Most people would rely on an estate agents guidance but as the article I read proved – it pays to question and challenge so called experts.

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