Prime markets in the UK have enjoyed a busy start to 2016. One of the key questions for the market is whether this momentum will be maintained for the remainder of this year.

Prices have been rising in the prime country house market for 13 consecutive quarters, the longest period of sustained quarterly price growth since before 2007. But despite this relatively prolonged period of unbroken growth, prime property prices outside of the capital still remain 13.6% below their 2007 levels, with Lincolnshire specifically at closer to 16% lower. By way of comparison, London values are some 33% above their pre-crisis peak.

More recently, over the year to the end of March 2016 price growth in the prime markets outside of London has slowed to 2.4%, down from 5.2% in 2014.

The moderation in price growth reflects a greater sensitivity to pricing from buyers who are continuing to adjust to a different tax landscape. In some cases asking prices have had to be reduced to align with buyer expectations.

However, these headline figures do mask significant variations across the market. The most active markets continue to be prime town and city locations with excellent transport links back to the capital which have been among the first to benefit from the ripple effect of demand out of London.

2000px-Lincolnshire_flag.svgAs regional economies continue to recover and the London housing market remains subdued, more London buyers are likely to make the move out of the capital. This trend has already begun to gather pace. There was a 46% increase in sales to Londoners over the first quarter of 2016 compared to the previous year.

Following recent tax changes, demand has generally been concentrated on lower price brackets. However, there are initial indications that the stamp duty increase in December 2014 is slowly being absorbed, with the higher transactional costs being factored into pricing at the outset. But taxation remains a live issue. The 3% surcharge for additional homes which came into effect from April means that prime second-home markets are likely to remain price sensitive.

Agents note that there was a spike in second-home sales ahead of the introduction of the additional levy.

In the short term, uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the EU referendum could have an impact on the market, causing some buyers to adopt a wait-and-see approach until after the vote.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster chartered surveyors and estate agents in Lincoln, comments: “Since the financial crisis there has been a growing trend towards living within thriving towns and cities other than London. This has resulted in prime urban properties outperforming their rural counterparts across the UK. Across all the prime regional markets, urban properties are now on average 4.1% above their 2007 peak. Demand is strong in these locations, in part due to the high concentration of prime housing stock and good schools which make them attractive to families looking to upsize, but also thanks to a growing number of equity-rich downsizers looking to move to areas where they can have access to a range of good restaurants, shops and amenities.”

Costs are greatest in markets on the outskirts of the capital such as Elmbridge, St Albans and Guildford – perhaps unsurprisingly given average property prices tend to be higher in such locations. These markets have also been among the first to reap the benefits of the ripple effect of demand coming out of London. As regional economies continue to recover, more London buyers are expected to make this move. Lincolnshire is already seeing this tide of southern buyers making their way to our region, with excellent train links at both Grantham and Newark.

According to a new report, five new village tribes have been identified amid the emergence of a new creeping trend in housing – the desire to move back to rural locations.

Through speaking with industry experts and conducting an extensive survey with 2,600 respondents, research has uncovered some new and interesting housing personas that are growing in the UK and moving to a village near you:

The Downtons

An influential family with substantial income living in the grandest village house. While the most prestigious house in the village would once have been owned by the local squire, many of these properties have now been acquired by buyers using property equity to purchase a rural idyll.

The Elderflowers

Healthy and active retirees who have assets, including their own home and pension income. Born after the Second World War, the Elderflowers have benefitted from sustained economic growth and are now the largest demographic in the UK. Elderflowers have either lived in the village all their lives or are empty nesters looking to move into a village house that suits their changing needs.

The Rusticarians

Entrepreneurs and creatives who can bring dynamism to the village economy. These diverse countryside dwellers embrace new approaches to work and lifestyle. For example, rural areas have the highest rate of homeworkers – 33% compared to 12% in urban areas. Technology is key to this group, with 49% of those intending to move to a village citing broadband as the key motivation for moving, up from 41% in 2014.

The Rubies

…or Rural Newbies –  families who are keen to move to a village location to raise their children. This group of predominantly younger families supports the local school, uses community facilities for classes and leisure facilities, and sustains local shops.

The Onesies

Single-person households which are growing across all age groups in the UK at a rate ten times faster than the general population. About 3.8 million older people are sole occupiers and 70% of these are women.

Mount & Minster VillageJames Ward, Partner at Mount & Minster estate agents in Lincoln, said: “The face of the modern village is changing as new demographic groups play key roles in shaping the future of rural life.”

The Downtons are certainly a village tribe that are familiar to Mount & Minster. Of our clients who are buying outside of London in the £2 million-plus bracket, 98% say they would want the property to be a house or an estate/farm estate. Many of our clients are also Elderflowers, who arguably have more potential power to shape the village of the future than any other village tribe; by 2033, 60% of household growth will be headed by those aged 65 or over.

Rusticarians are part of an exciting new group of wider rural entrepreneurs and homeworkers with a reliance on technology, who will play a crucial part in the evolution of the modern village. Surprisingly, entrepreneurs are most prevalent in the countryside than in cities. Research from DEFRA in 2015, points out that the number of businesses registered per head of population is higher in predominantly rural areas than predominantly urban ones.”

Affordability of housing is a well-documented issue but much of the media coverage on the topic tends to focus around London. In fact, the situation in some rural locations is just as concerning. Rubies are particularly exposed to this. In England, 59% of those aged 25-34 owned their own home in 2003/4 and 10 years later this figure was just 36%. The good news is that Help to Buy is having a positive impact on this tribe.

The Onesies are also a very important, often overlooked tribe to consider in non-urban locations. The challenge for planners in rural areas is to provide suitable housing options for these single people, who quite often want to downsize but are seeking a more spacious option than a typical one-bedroom flat.

The latest Buy-to-Let Index from LendInvest, has revealed the huge opportunities available to landlords who look beyond London and the South East.

Cathedral_Lincoln11Taking into account their stamp duty bills after recent tax changes, alongside average house prices and average rental yields, the Index looks at what property investors can buy across the country for a range of different budgets (£250,000, £500,000, £750,000 & £1 million).

All price brackets, rental properties in Inner and Outer London offer consistently less attractive investment opportunities to those in other parts of the country when price, yield and stamp duty tax are considered equally.

Buying multiple properties, particularly in Lincolnshire, will often generate the same or better rental yields, while demanding as much as 50% less stamp duty, compared with one property in Inner London that costs the same.

Data-driven examples:

• For £250,000, investors could buy a single studio flat in South East London or two 3-bed properties in Lincoln with a 200% higher rental yield and 30% lower Stamp Duty bill

• Spending £500,000 in Gainsborough would secure a landlord five two-bed properties with an average rental yield 40% higher than the average one-bed flat in West London, while paying almost 50% less Stamp Duty

• Ten studios in Grimsby cost less than one three bed house in NW London (£750,000), while earning a 28% higher average annual yield and demanding 55% less stamp duty

• For landlords with £1 million to invest, ten two-bed flats in Lincoln would earn 20% higher annual yield for less than 50% the stamp duty than the same size apartment in East-Central London.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster estate agents in Lincoln, said: “London rentals have long been seen as a market within a market, and the results of this study emphasise that fact. It’s no surprise that you can get as many as 10 similarly-sized properties in Lincolnshire for the same price as a single property in London. But it is surprising that those non-capital properties offer a far more impressive rental yield, and a smaller total Stamp Duty bill to boot.”

Mr Wyrley-Birch goes on to say, “The current market is creating a huge opportunity for “cross-country landlords” – professional landlords who live in one city, but rent out houses in other cities across the UK. Towns like like Grantham and Newark are becoming more popular with commuters thanks to the transport links into London, providing an additional boost to areas in the East Midlands and beyond.”

According to a recent housing pipeline report, initial planning permission for 255,032 new homes was granted in England in last year – up 57% from a low point of 162,204 in 2009.

Permissions granted in Q4 2015 were up 13% on the same quarter in 2014, to 74,759, as developers submitted more applications to ensure they can continue to deliver further increases in supply.

Permissions have risen steadily every year since 2009, with actual housing supply also increasingly markedly over the past two years as more of the permissions are progressed to the point that infrastructure work can start and house builders can begin building new dwellings

Over 180,000 new homes were added to the housing stock in 2014/15 – up 22% on the previous year – as house builders increased output in response to the rise in demand for new homes.

mount and minster planning surveyors lincolnMany of the permissions counted in the report still have many hurdles to cross as they navigate the complexities of the planning system before actual building work can get underway – for example discharging planning conditions. The industry continues to urge Government to streamline the planning process and ensure Local Authorities have the capacity to deal with the volume of applications now being processed so builders can get on to more sites more quickly.

The figures though are a strong indicator of future supply, and suggest that housing completions will continue to rise as these permissions are turned into implementable permission and are the sites built out over the coming years.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster Chartered Surveyors in Lincoln, said; “The number of planning applications now being submitted demonstrates the commitment of the industry to deliver further increases in housing supply. The past two years have seen huge increases in house building levels, with housing supply in England surpassing 180,000 homes per year in 2014-15, up 22% on the previous year. Whilst the increase in the number of permissions is welcome – and a strong indicator of future supply – many still have to navigate the complexities of the planning system. This is a further sign that house builders continue to step up investment in future housing supply but we need to see these permissions being processed to the stage where we can get onto site and start building more quickly and really start to meet demand for housing.”

The strong rise in planning approvals during the closing months of 2015, driven by an increase in the number of private housing units approved, bodes well for housebuilding activity during the current year. The expanded development pipeline will help housebuilders to meet any strengthening in demand from house buyers. Furthermore the rise marked rise in approvals in the Midlands and North of England last year demonstrates that the recovery in housing market activity is becoming more established across the country.

For advice relating to planning and development in Lincolnshire, please feel free to contact Mount & Minster on 01522 716204.

People find themselves in the role of landlord for many different reasons, and often this is not something they have planned for.

Reasons may include inheriting a property, inability to sell, or a relative going into care and leaving their home empty. Whatever the reason, renting a property out can seem like an ideal solution. Gethyn Evans, an Associate at Mount & Minster estate agents in Lincoln, comments “If someone is unable to sell a property and decides to rent it instead they need to be fully aware of the implications. Once a landlord has committed to a tenant taking on a property, say for six months, they are bound by that agreement.”


Prior to renting the property out, take time to prepare it. Go in to the property with your eyes wide open, and emotionally detach as much as possible. This can be difficult if it has been a family home for many years. Try and view the property as a mini-business and consider getting rid of things such as floral carpets and wallpaper, and replacing them with something neutral. Consider getting rid of unnecessary items such as stair lifts, and to get all the electrics checked over to ensure that they have the relevant electric and gas safety certificates in place, as required by law.


The safety of tenants is paramount, so look around the house and garden with a critical eye. For example, if there is a steep drop off a patio that a child could fall down you may need to fence this off, and similarly it may be better to fill in a pond, as tenants may not have the time to maintain it and there may be safety concerns if they have pets or small children.

Once you have identified anything that may be unsafe or off-putting you can take steps to rectify them. The legislation surrounding the rental market is changing all the time, but a good letting agent such as Mount & Minster can provide all the necessary advice to bring a property up to the required standard, and keep landlords on the right side of the law. They can also help you to find tenants, deal with references, prepare inventories, do viewings, collect rents and deposits and sort out any maintenance issues as well as periodically visit the property to ensure it is being looked after. A good letting agent will be worth their weight in gold.

Raising Standards

The quality and standard of rental properties has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. An accidental landlord should not make the mistake of thinking that renting is a second-rate option, because for many people it is a lifestyle choice and there is a fantastic supply of good quality property for tenants to choose from. If your rental property is not in good condition it won’t rent out as quickly and tenants are likely to leave more quickly.

Letting Agents LincolnProfessional Advice

Always approach a firm such as Mount & Minster to obtain some professional advice. Put your business hat on and look at your home as a business/investment. When an agent does a property appraisal, they should recommend whatever needs to be done to help you secure better quality tenants. Equally, thy will advise landlords if they think they are about to undertake a lot of unnecessary work and expense. For example, some people think they must rush out to a major department store and buy expensive beds and washing machine when it may be much better to buy less expensive, but good quality appliances online.

A professional and reputable agent such as Mount & Minster will want to help their clients make profits and see good yields. It is our job to help landlords deal with the pitfalls of renting and make the experience as stress free as possible.


We all know that student accommodation in the UK is booming and recent figures reveal £5.8bn was pumped into the market last year and private, student room developments continue to spring up on prime city centre sites.

These blocks of high spec, boutique rooms with en-suites and flat screen TVs are indistinguishable from residential flats, except for the branding that promises a ‘boutique’ or ‘luxury’ student experience. Since 2006, the private sector has gone from providing 18% of bed spaces to 41%. The latest NUS-Unipol survey shows the average weekly rent for student accommodation in the UK now stands at £147, an 18% increase since 2012-13.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Lincoln estate agents Mount & Minster, comments: “Student numbers are expected to increase for the foreseeable future, especially since George Osborne lifted the cap on how many each university can take. The latest UCAS figures show a 0.2% rise in applicants to higher education institutions for 2016/17, mainly due to a 6% rise from EU countries.”

However, investors need to be fully aware of the pitfalls of student rooms before they invest their hard-earned cash.

Lincoln estate agentsMr Wyrley-Birch continues: “If investors are considering student rooms, otherwise known as student pods, they need to look at not only the opportunity, but also the risks too. Unfortunately a major disadvantage of student pods is their resale value and capital growth potential. The value of property will fluctuate with the market and the pool of potential investors is much smaller than for other types of student accommodation, such as HMOs and flats.

“With a normal buy-to-let, you can sell the property at any time on the open market, through a reputable estate agent such as Mount & Minster in Lincoln, and expect a reasonable capital appreciation. However, selling a student pod will encounter problems. For example, who decides the market value? As a piece of real estate per sqm it is very expensive (double the average market value), there is no established resale market.”

There is also the issue of guaranteed returns of 7%. The guarantees are only as good as the person, or firm that is promising it. Investors need to weigh up whether that think providers of student pods are robust enough to stand behind the guarantee. They also need to be aware that the 7% guarantee may not stand in five years’ time, when their investment could have devalued as new developments have been released.

However, despite the big pitfalls of student pods, student property is a very profitable asset class giving robust returns. For example, in the North West a high quality HMO which will house four students, can be purchased for £160,000. The return on investment is very attractive too, with 13% (8% cash rental and 5% capital growth). Unlike student pods, you can apply for a remortgage and there is a buoyant market for this type of student property. If you are building a portfolio, you can lend on your equity in the HMO to fund further investments.

According to new research, one of the top 10 mortgage lenders in the UK is now ‘The Bank of Mum and Dad’ and is on track to lend over £5bn in 2016.

Mount and minster estate agents lincolnThe research revealed that family and friends will be involved in a quarter of all UK property transactions during 2016, providing deposits for over 300,000 mortgages. The average financial contribution is £17,500 or 7% of the average purchase price. 57% of contributions are gifts, 18% are loans with no interest and 5% are loans with interest.

James Ward, Partner at Mount & Minster estate agents in Lincoln, commented: “The Bank of Mum and Dad plays an increasingly vital role in helping young people take their early steps on the housing ladder. But the generosity being displayed by UK families doesn’t make up for intergenerational unfairness – younger people today don’t have the advantages the baby-boomers had, including cheap housing that delivered windfall gains. People will always want to help family members – it is a natural thing to do. Relying so heavily on the Bank of Mum and Dad however risks increasing inequality as many young people today are not lucky enough to be able to access parental support when buying a home, or can’t afford to buy even with parental help.”

Mr Ward continued: “We have a supply-side problem in housing – we are simply not building enough houses. We need to build more, especially as the Bank of Mum and Dad could soon start to experience a funding crisis of its own.”

For further information relating to financing your real estate acquisition, as well as details relating to government aided funding, please contact Mount & Minster: 01522 716204

Villages on the up!

The world might seem focused on urbanisation, but according to new research, there is the emergence of a new creeping desire to move back to amenity-rich rural locations.

The latest survey identifies four factors that are shaping this village revival:

1. 21% of survey respondents who are moving home said that they wanted to live in a village, making it easily the most popular type of location, compared to 14% for a market town and only 12% for either a big city or a suburb.

2. Broadband and mobile connections are essential to rural life. Access to broadband was a key factor for 49% of those intending to move to a village, while 38% highlighted mobile connectivity.

3. A significant increase in respondents looking for rental accommodation. 10% of those wanting to move to a village would live in a professionally managed private rental unit, up from 1% in 2013.

4. Ease of access is an important issue for respondents intending to move to a village, with 60% wanting to be able to walk to shops, 48% to local transport and 45% to medical facilities.

Ralph Wyrley-Birch, Managing Partner at Mount & Minster, said: “The UK might seem to be focused on urbanisation but we believe a new, overlooked trend is set to shape Britain’s housing market over the coming decades – the desire to move back to rural.”

Mount and Minster LincolnshireMount & Minster estate agents in Lincoln have calved out a niche in the Lincolnshire rural countryside by successfully selling some of the most attractive and unique country cottages in villages throughout Lincolnshire.

Existing research would suggest cities have the upper hand over villages – by the mid-century there will be approximately 65 million people living in Britain’s cities, compared to just 8 million in rural areas. However, as the urban trend has gathered pace in the UK, a number of negative traits have begun to appear such as a rise in inadequate housing provision, urban sprawl and increased pollution.

21% of respondents who are moving home said they wanted to live in a village. The shift away from cities is being driven by people looking for neighbourhood safety (86%), and space between neighbours (58%), as well as for a strong community feel (48%).

According to DEFRA, in 2013/14, the UK saw net internal migration of 60,000 people to predominantly rural areas in England. It is a trend that has been positive every year since 2001. But this reverse migration is not to a traditional rural environment. The influence that technology is having on shopping, communications and working habits is helping to transform villages and the type of people who want to live in them.

Mr Wyrley-Birch continued: “Technology is helping to change the rural economy, which plays a key role in creating jobs and prosperity. England’s rural economy now accounts for £210 billion of economic output and hosts over 25% of all registered businesses, according to DEFRA. New companies are thriving in rural locations, including hi-tech manufacturing, food processing, the service sector, retail and power supply (in the form of renewables). The expansion of broadband and mobile communications has seen a greater uptake of working from home in rural locations compared to urban areas. It seems that the same factors that once drove urbanisation – improving economic and social conditions – are now inspiring the village revival.”

Landlords are increasingly becoming more and more exposed from the likes of Airbnb and similar models.

Over the last 12 months, Lincolnshire has seen a huge increase in cases where tenants have sub-let properties without their landlord’s permission. Aside from breach of tenancy agreement and additional wear and tear to the property, landlords are left exposed to being in breach of their mortgage terms and buildings insurance.

2000px-Airbnb_Logo_Bélo.svgThe share economy is a growing phenomenon, with models such as airbnb giving people a platform to view themselves as a business. Unfortunately, it is also enabling those who do not have the right to do so, from profiting from someone else’s asset. The problem is due to be highlighted by one landlord’s ordeal on the Channel Five programme ‘Nightmare Tenants, Slum Landlords’, on Wednesday 20th April at 9pm.

The episode will show Joy Philips, a landlord who decided to let out her home so she could afford to take time out to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa. Joy thought she had found the perfect tenant in a young doctor who wanted her home for a three year lease. It all seemed very promising until she started receiving emails and calls from her neighbours complaining about the volume of people coming and going at her house.

Joy was shocked to discover that her house was not being used as a home for the young doctor, but being rented out room by room as a boutique hotel on the airbnb website. Making thousands over the rent being paid to Joy, her tenant was breaking the no sub-letting clause in her contract. By having so many people in the house, Joy’s home insurance was also at risk of being void. Joy was forced to give up her volunteer work in Africa to return to the UK and seek advice from professionals similar to Mount & Minster in the hope of getting her property back.

James Ward, Partner at Mount & Minster, states: “This is a growing trend which needs to be stamped out as soon as possible. It’s extremely important that if landlords start to receive complaints, especially if they have never had any such trouble in the past, that they carry out an inspection of the property to ensure it is not being used in this way without permission. An even better solution would be to ensure an RICS regulated firm, such as Mount & Minster, is instructed to manage your rental property from start to finish. That way you have the protection and acknowledgement that it is being managed by some of the best agents in Lincolnshire.”

New figures have revealed that prime country house prices Nationally have been rising for 13 consecutive quarters and have been further boosted by the recent changes to stamp duty, says James ward, Partner at Mount & Minster.

According to the report, prime country house prices rose by 0.3% in Q1 2016 with annual growth easing to 2.4%, down from a high of 5.2% in 2014. Sub-£1m homes have outperformed, rising by over 4% annually.

Mr Ward, comments: “Generally sales volumes have risen nationwide but in particular there has been a significant rise in activity in Lincolnshire especially with exceptional country properties as buyers rush to avoid the additional 3% tax on second homes. In other parts of the county we have seen vendors exchange and complete simultaneously prior to the end of March but grant a licence or tenancy to the vendor to enable them to move out/find another home. At 3% on a £550,000 house, £16,500 is quite a saving!”

Mount & MinsterMount & Minster are currently projecting forward and believe purchasers may find an excuse to put plans to buy on hold whilst the referendum is debated, but this will only have the effect of making a later market with activity expected to increase significantly once the result in late June is known. Added to which the additional stamp duty charges will have been factored in. However, the traditional selling time of May and June will still be the best time to launch a house to the market to take advantage of the leaves on the trees, the gardens looking at their best and buyers wanting to get on and into their new houses for the summer or beginning of the new school year.