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Unfair Mortgage Rejections

unfair mortgage rejections

An investigation into unfair mortgage rejections is being undertaken by the Financial Conduct Authority.  See this and the other stories making the news in our round up of this week’s property press.

Celebrity Watch

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift has apparently paid £16.5 million in cash for one of Beverly Hill’s most prestigious properties – and a slice of movie history because the six-bedroom, five-bathroom home which was originally built for producer Samuel Goldwyn (the G in MGM) in 1934 has hosted glitterati such as Marlene Dietrich, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable over the years. The home is in a two-acre estate, and comes with its own tennis court, cinema and pool complex.


Royal babies set trend

There has been a surge in demand from wealthy overseas couples expecting a baby for short-term lets close to St Mary’s Hospital, where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth. Prices are not cheap – a 3 bedroom duplex is currently available for £3,300 a week.

Artist’s Dream

The former Clerkenwell studio of Young British Artist Marc Quinn is for sale for £3.95 million. The sculptor, best known for his statue of a pregnant Alison Lapper, which was installed on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square, moved out so that the brick warehouse could be converted into a live-work space by architect-to-the-stars, David Adjaye.

Julian Lloyd Webber

A Cotswold house near Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire owned by musician Julian Lloyd Webber is on the market for £799,000. The 3 bedroom house has beamed ceilings, a music room with vaulted ceiling and a country kitchen with flagstone floors, 2 baths, reception and gardens.

Becks Early House Available

A Grade II-listed barn conversion in Nether Alderley, Cheshire which was once owned by David and Victoria Beckham is on the market for £1.75m. Period features include exposed brickwork and the original beams and trusses. 5 beds, 3 baths, 2 receptions, indoor pool and gardens.


Unfair Mortgage Rejections

The Financial Conduct Authority (”FCA”) has announced that it is to investigate unfair mortgage rejections following concerns from officials that lenders are wrongly using rules introduced in 2014 to block responsible people from buying and moving homes and re-mortgaging.

If as a result of the investigation the FCA decide that they need to intervene they could force lenders to offer mortgages to older borrowers, pregnant women and other customers frozen out of the cheapest deals.

Many older borrowers have reported that they have been denied loans that would stretch into their retirement even though they can show that they have sufficient money to pay off the capital and interest.

Also a recent survey undertaken by the comparison website uSwitch suggests that one in 10 women aged between 25 and 45 had faced “mortgage discrimination” because banks and building societies presumed that they would struggle with repayments due to taking time out of work or extra childcare costs and that one in four had “intentionally hidden family plans”.

In April last year, the FCA introduced new lending rules called the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) which were designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis, when a series of defaults brought the entire money system close to collapse. Under the new rules lenders conduct strict “affordability” checks and delve deep into each customer’s lifestyle to ensure that they are able to afford to continue repayments if interest rates rose

But mortgage brokers say many lenders, while acting within the rules, have ignored additional regulatory guidance to use discretion in certain circumstances. As a result it is claimed that some loan applications from responsible customers are being rejected on technicalities. Often a computer algorithm might indicate the borrower as “risky” merely because their circumstances are unusual.

Also of particular concern is the suspicion that some lenders are unfairly profiting by using the MMR rules as an excuse to deny customers the opportunity to move to cheaper loans.

The first stage in the FCA’s investigation is what it terms a “call for inputs”, with interested parties asked to submit evidence of problems. On launching the review a spokesman for FCA, said: “Competition can play a key role in ensuring that the sector works well, delivering consumer benefits through lower prices, better customer service, and more product choice.”

government housing policy

Government to Take Action

In the latest bid to generate sufficient house building to meet demand the government are “committed” to reform. This was made clear by Prime Minister David Cameron at this week’s Conservative Conference when he announced plans to rip up the rules around affordable housing in order to provide 200,000 new low cost homes to buy.

As part of the plan, housebuilders in England will no longer be forced to offer low-cost rented homes in new developments. Instead they can offer “starter homes” to first-time buyers under 40 as well, at discounted prices.

The “starter home” scheme was first announced during the general election campaign and will see a discount offered on homes up to £250,000 outside London and £450,000 inside London.

Meanwhile the panel of experts appointed by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis to revamp local plans is calling for evidence from the property and planning industries, as well as local government.

Views are being sought on issues including the content of local plans, the preparation process, how strategic requirements are agreed and how the plans are implemented. It is also seeking more general views on the effectiveness of the current system and how it could be changed.

The eight-strong local plan review panel was formed last month and is tasked with considering how to cut the amount of time it takes for councils to get local plans in place and enable developers to get on site quicker.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is 23 October.

Government Presses Ahead with Extension of Right to Buy

David Cameron has confirmed that the government and National Housing Federation have struck a deal under which housing association tenants will be offered the right to buy their homes from next year.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, the prime minister said communities secretary Greg Clark had secured a deal which will allow housing association tenants to buy their homes at a discount compared to market prices. Housing associations will be compensated for the difference, allowing them to reinvest in building more properties.

“Some people said this would be impossible and that housing associations would never stand for it. But today we have secured a deal with housing associations to give their tenants the right to buy their home,” he said.

David Orr, chief executive at the National Housing Federation said: “This is a better and more flexible Right to Buy for residents, for housing associations and the nation’s housing supply. Residents will get the opportunity to realise their dreams of homeownership and housing associations will be able to replace the homes sold, boosting the nation’s housing supply.”

“We made the offer on the back of sector-wide support for our proposal, which addresses our initial concerns around supply and independence. This new right to buy will help housing associations retain the independence that has allowed them to channel £76bn in private investment into home building over the last 30 years, and see them get the full market value of homes sold – crucial for building replacements.”

The majority of housing associations in England voted in favour of this voluntary deal when asked by the NHF recently.

mortgage survey

Case Highlights Benefits of “Own” Survey

The recently reported case of Michaela and David Coville-Wright highlights how dangerous it can be to rely solely on a survey undertaken on behalf of the mortgage lender.

In early 2013 the couple bought a £500,000 barn conversion on the Somerset Levels with attaching annexe and B&B and like many borrowers they relied on the lender’s property valuation and did not commission their own building survey.

The valuation, which cost £650, advised that the property was basically OK and worth the £500,000 being paid. But unfortunately problems soon manifested themselves which provoked the couple to commission another survey which confirmed serious problems including subsidence in all parts of the property, “

The couple quickly discovered they could not legally claim compensation from the original survey, because even though they had footed the £650 bill, the valuation was undertaken for the lender.

The surveyor’s contract made clear, that its report was provided for the sole use of the lender and that they would accept no responsibility whatsoever to any parties other than their client (the lender) and that any such parties rely on the report at their own risk.”

The lender, although sympathetic also refused to help, pointing out that it had lost no money whilst the Financial Ombudsman, also sympathetic, said it could not intervene because the lender itself had not caused the couple any loss.

The case highlights the importance of homebuyers commissioning their own surveys which can range from the “condition report” through the “homebuyer report” and up to a full building survey.

property deals

Some Big Deals this Week

There have been some big deals struck in the property industry this week including –

Nine Elms London

Alchemi Group has acquired Grand South, a mixed-use scheme in the Nine Elms area of Vauxhall, London. The scheme comes with planning consent for 36 storeys, 175 private residences plus commercial and office space.

Alchemi Group co-founder and managing director Charlie Baxter said: “We see huge potential to add value to the existing planning consent on this site. There is so much happening in Nine Elms, including the opening of the new U.S. Embassy and the New Covent Garden redevelopment, already underway. It’s great to be a part of the momentum.”

West India Quay London

Shanghai-based Greenland Group has submitted plans for a 67-storey residential tower which would contain a total of 869 one, two and three bedroom units at West India Quay which, if approved, would at 241 metres be the tallest residential building in Western Europe. In addition the proposals also feature significant public realm and landscaping improvements, as well as new community spaces and a play area for children.

The building had originally gained approval in 2009 for a 242m office building and the revised proposals have been subject to months of pre-application engagement with both the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the Greater London Authority, including two rounds of public consultation.

Senior planning manager at Greenland, Setareh Neshati, said: “A graceful new tower will complement the Canary Wharf skyline including enhancements to the public realm, an amenity pavilion, roof terraces, public open spaces, children’s play areas and shops for local people.

“If permitted, this will be one of Greenland’s most significant developments in Europe and will further strengthen our presence in London.”

property sales

Islington London

Regal Homes in conjunction with ESO Capital Group have submitted an offer to purchase a site in Islington with consent for a £115m residential development of 118 residential units – of which 98 will be private.


Durham County Council has granted planning permission for a £30m redevelopment of The Gates shopping centre to include a cinema; a new riverside promenade featuring restaurant space and 253 student accommodation bed spaces; 23 retail units and the creation of enhanced entrances and public realm.

Work will start on the new scheme in the New Year with a view to opening the new centre in two stages in 2018.

Chiswick London

The “affordable” housing developer Pocket has landed the largest land deal it has yet completed in Chiswick, west London.

The developer has purchased a site on Bollo Lane to deliver a £40m mixed use development of 100 affordable homes for middle-income Londoners plus office floor space.  The homes will be sold for at least a 20% discount to the local market.

Pocket aims to submit plans for the development to the council in 2016 and Nick Cuff, land director at Pocket, said:  “We are incredibly excited to be building again in Ealing. The local council’s commitment to affordable housing is commendable. Chiswick is a vibrant area where city makers want to live. We think our site on Bollo Lane will be very popular and we look forward to delivering even more affordable Pocket homes in this sought after area.”


Deeley Freed Estates has signed a development funding agreement with DTZ Investors, acting on behalf of the National Grid UK Pension Scheme, do develop a casino, a 145 bedroom ‘Z’ Hotel and two restaurants scheduled to complete in May 2017

The 54,500 sq ft scheme will comprise a four storey development situated in the heart of central Bath, a UNESCO World Heritage city.

property developments

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