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Blog | butters john bee Estate & Letting Agents

Feb 25, 2022 Tips for Buyers

Here's our Top Tips for you to ponder in your quest for your next perfect home

If you already have a home and plan on selling it in order to buy another, we know that it may be a long time since you last went down this route and it’s possible that you may have forgotten some of the tasks ahead of you to ensure smooth plain sailing. So we’ve put together some points for you to ponder in your quest for your next perfect home: 1. Let your solicitor know that you want to move We deal with conveyancers all the time and they tell us their frustration with clients who make an offer on a whim and create hold ups in the chain because they take a while to provide their solicitor with the relevant information to put together a ‘seller’s pack’ in preparation for the sale. If you are ready to hand over your sellers pack to the vendor’s solicitor from word go you can remove a whole layer of stress in what could be a long chain, which will put you on a good footing with them and ensure you remain an attractive buyer to them. 2. Find out the remaining balance on your current mortgage It may sound obvious, but if you have had your mortgage for some while you may owe less than you think. You need to know the remaining debt to help you find out what you can afford in your next move. 3. Scrutinise your finances Be sure you know what you can afford. You don’t want to get up the hopes of a vendor and incur any costs before you discover that, actually, you didn’t do your homework and you can’t afford to move. It is always a good idea to know your budget range and to hold on to your emotion when you are negotiating a price. You might have fallen in love with that property, but if the reality means you will be eating baked beans and buying from charity shops once you move in you might live to regret it. 4. List your expenses  When it comes to talking to a new mortgage provider, especially if you want to increase your mortgage debt, ensure you have compiled your list of expenses as your lender will want to know how much you spend on groceries a week, utility bills and many other expenses. It is a good exercise to do this before you make any offer so that you can be sure that you can afford to move into and run your new property. 5. Find out what the seller is leaving The vendor’s solicitor will have provided them with a “fixtures and fittings” document that they should complete. This document sets out to you, the new buyer, what the home comes with and what they intend to take with them. So if they plan on leaving that integrally fitted new fridge freezer that will save you the expense of upgrading your current one. 6. Ensure the seller passes over the guarantees If the vendor has made home improvements to the property you are buying they will need to dig out the guarantees that come with replacement windows or damp proofing as they should be transferred into your possession. 7. Establish what it will cost to move Your new mortgage and running costs won’t be the only expenses involved in this move. You need to factor in moving costs including any estate agency fees involved if you are selling your current property plus factor in the legal costs, removals costs and survey fees. 8. Watch out for Stamp Duty If the property you are buying is valued at between £250,001 and above, you will need to pay Stamp Duty, so be sure to know what your legal obligation is here. 9. Shop around for a mortgage  We strongly advise you to shop around for your mortgage if you are not tied into a deal with your current lender. haart has a nationwide network of advisors through its Just Mortgages sister company and there has never been a better time to take one out as interest rates are at an historic low. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Our typical fee for arranging a mortgage is £495.  The actual amount payable will depend on your circumstances. 10. Choose the right estate agent There are hundreds of estate agents on the market but cheap doesn’t necessarily mean you will get good service. So if you are buying a property but need to sell your current home, we can market your property across a range of platforms. If you have a property to sell ensure your estate agent will expose your property to the maximum number of potential buyers. Howards customers have access to the latest online marketing tools, including the new property portal OnTheMarket.com, plus social media traditional print advertising and ‘open house events’ to boost buyer interest. So here’s a quick summary: Let your solicitor know Find out the remaining balance on your current mortgage Scrutinise your finances List your expenses Find out why the seller is leaving Ensure the seller passes on home-improvement guarantees Establish what it will cost you to move Watch out for Stamp Duty costs Shop around for a mortgage Choose the right estate agent

Feb 1, 2022 Spicerhaart appoints Carlos Hernandez as new Regional Sales Director for Land and New Homes.

Spicerhaart has named Carlos Hernandez as its latest addition to the leadership team, serving as the regional sales director for land and new homes in the North West region. Carlos brings a wealth of experience to the role, having dedicated a significant portion of his career to working with the esteemed local brand, butters john bee, which is now part of the national Spicerhaart estate agency network. Expressing his enthusiasm for his new role, Carlos shared, “I’m delighted to now be taking on the role of regional sales director for land and new homes covering Staffordshire, Cheshire, Warwickshire and the West Midlands. I’ve worked in this area since I graduated and I’m really keen to see Butters John Bee become the number one choice for land and new homes in the area.” Tim Wardley, Managing Director of Spicerhaart Land and New Homes, reflected on Carlos's promotion, stating, “It’s great to see Carlos taking the lead on land and new homes for this region. butters john bee already has a great reputation in this area which makes them ideally placed to become the leading agency for land and new homes. Nationally our land and new homes plan has already seen a 400% increase in new home sales, so it’s great to welcome Carlos to the senior team.”

Jan 13, 2022 Magic Moments: Providing Support to Bereaved Families

Magic Moments Returns to Disneyland Paris, Bringing Christmas Cheer to Bereaved Families After being postponed due to the pandemic, Spicerhaart's charity, Magic Moments, has resumed its trips to Disneyland Paris, aiming to infuse Christmas magic into the lives of bereaved families. Emma Barber, Chair of Magic Moments, disclosed that over 100 adults and children embarked on two 5-day trips prior to Christmas. Families relished precious moments together at the theme park, forging connections with others navigating similar circumstances. Echoing the sentiments of many, one family expressed profound gratitude, stating "What can we say, but what a magical trip with magical people. We cannot thank everyone at Magic Moments enough for the chance to share this trip with families like us, who are missing a piece of them. It was a gift to have the chance to create new memories and bring out genuine smiles for our family, which have been hard to come by in the last 18 months.” The inaugural trip, bolstered by a dedicated team of volunteers, aimed to provide solace to bereaved families. Claire Drewett, reflecting on the poignant journey, said "Trips with bereaved families are always incredibly hard for both the families and our Magic Moment team, but if we can put a smile on the families’ faces for just a few seconds, it makes it all worthwhile. I was both proud and honoured to lead one of the trips this year as we, at Spicerhaart, work tirelessly to fundraise in order to run them.” Tom Charlesworth led the second expedition, accompanied by colleagues Lesley Miller, Liane Walker, and Belinda Jarman. As a trustee and ardent supporter of Magic Moments, Tom's involvement in this venture marked a poignant milestone. Witnessing the resilience of bereaved families amidst the tumult of the pandemic, he expressed profound admiration for their unwavering strength. He said "I am a trustee and passionate supporter of Magic Moments, and although I have been on previous trips with the charity to Disneyland Paris, this is the first time that I have been on one with bereaved families. With the onset of Covid, the last two years have been tough for everyone and, as a parent with two young children myself, I have seen the impact that the pandemic has had on my own family. I cannot even begin to imagine the journey these families have been on and still have ahead. I am truly in awe of these families who have shown so much resilience at what has been an immensely emotional time. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone in our team and their families and friends, who have run marathons, jumped out of planes, held bake sales and parted with their change to make a real difference.”

Sep 9, 2021 Armed Forces Covenant

Estate agency roles at forces-friendly company There’s never a dull day in estate agency, it really is the land of opportunity. If you are leaving the forces and are looking for an exciting career, where you feel part of something bigger, where your excellent communication skills come into play every single day, the world of property sales and lettings could be for you. The UK’s largest independently-owned property services group, Spicerhaart, has a wealth of opportunities, from administrative roles at its Colchester-based headquarters, close to Colchester Garrison, to jobs in one of its branches across the UK, or even working from home. About Spicerhaart Spicerhaart provides services to thousands of customers every year through award-winning marketing and cutting-edge technology, helping them buy, sell, let or rent property. It’s brands are haart, Chewton Rose, Felicity J Lord, Howards, butters john bee, Darlows and Haybrook, as well as Just Mortgages. However, none of this would be possible without the care, drive and ambition of its team. When you join Spicerhaart, you become an instant member of the Spicerhaart family. Your career is important, which is why you will be trained and developed to meet your full potential and achieve success. You will be expected to achieve your very best on a daily basis, and to achieve every expectation and goal. You’ll be a motivated, ambitious individual who performs to the best of your ability and always puts the customer first. See the Spicerhaart website for more details about our group brands. Armed Forces Covenant Importantly, butters john bee has signed the Armed Forces Covenant, signalling its commitment to being a forces-friendly employer. It is keen to offer positions to ex-service and reservist personnel. Emma Barber, Spicerhaart’s Head of Training and Development and Armed Forces Champion whose husband is a former soldier, said: “We are extremely proud and supportive of the dedication and commitment given by forces personnel to our country. “We are therefore delighted to have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and have pledged to treat all service personnel fairly and with respect. “This is such an important initiative for us as people retiring from the Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Royal Marines or those that are reservists have so many transferable talents. They are disciplined, motivated and have excellent communication skills.” If you would like to contact Emma regarding our Armed Forces Covenant, or career and development opportunities with our organisation, please email on: emma.barber@spicerhaart.co.uk Our Pledge Our pledge is that we will: Support the employment of veterans, recognising military skills and qualifications in our recruitment process; Support the employment of Service spouses and partners and provide flexibility in granting leave around a partner’s deployment; Support our employees who are members of the Reserve forces, along with encouraging members of staff to become reservists; Promote the fact that we are an Armed Forces-friendly organisation to our staff, customers, suppliers, contractors and wider public; Reach out to military cadet organisations, supporting and encouraging staff who are or wish to become volunteer leaders. We also recognise the benefits of employing cadets/ex-cadets. Forces friendly employer As a forces-friendly employer, we recognise the benefits of employing ex-service men and women due to the wide range of transferable skills, qualities and experiences that reservists and veterans can bring to the civilian workplace, and our organisation. To help support the transition from active service within our armed forces to the civilian workplace, we are supported by the Ministry of Defence Career Transition Partnership (CTP) through access to recruitment events, (re)training courses and resettlement events. Not only are we able to benefit from a wide pool of highly-trained and skilled ex-service people from across the country, we are extremely proud to be able to recruit and fill our own ranks with highly-trained, motivated and disciplined individuals. You don’t need experience as the company offers best-in-class training, with career progression at its heart. Visit the Spicerhaart website to learn more about our career opportunities. Roles include: Property valuer, Estate agent, Sales negotiator, Lettings negotiator, Property manager, Personal move assistant, IT manager, Marketing executive, Accounts assistant, Mortgage adviser and more. Former service personnel are already on board We've already got a number of ex-service personnel working for us already, including David Skingley who joined Spicerhaart in 2017. David had risen through the ranks to become a Warrant Officer in the Royal Corps of Signals and is now a member of the IT Infrastructure team responsible for managing Spicerhaart’s data centre servers, networking, computers and IT security. Read more about David's success story now. Join butters john bee today We offer many opportunities across our business from Sales, Lettings, IT and Marketing to name a few. Our Learning & Development team will support your growth through our industry-leading training programmes from pre-boarding and induction all the way through to management & leadership courses. You could also add another string to your bow with the opportunity to gain a recognised qualification. We know that learning never stops and we have opportunities that will help you elevate yourself, both professionally and as a person. Join butters john bee today.

Aug 26, 2021 David Skingley - IT Infrastructure Engineer

Among those who’ve already put their talents to good use within the company are IT Infrastructure specialist David Skingley, 55, who joined Spicerhaart in 2017, having completed a 26-year military career, followed by 13 years in commercial and government roles. He had risen through the ranks to become a Warrant Officer in the Royal Corps of Signals and is now a member of the IT Infrastructure team responsible for managing Spicerhaart’s data centre servers, networking, computers and IT security. He said: “As an ex-soldier, the Armed Forces Covenant is close to my heart, and therefore it is great to see the Spicerhaart group getting so involved. “When you first leave the forces, it can be extremely daunting because you don’t necessarily realise you have the skills that businesses are looking for. “Having worked in IT during my service, it was more of a straightforward transition for me than others, but I’d encourage anyone else searching for a new role to take a look at what estate agency has to offer. People will be surprised at the variety of different roles that are available with the key element of training to support the transition from the services. There are a number of other ex-service personnel who are already integrated into the Spicerhaart Group that are also forging successful careers."

Jan 2, 2021 The Housing Market in 2021

It’s been an interesting year for the housing market, with impact from the coronavirus pandemic and numerous Government backed solutions to help people onto the property market. If you are wondering how these factors will affect you, what the housing market might look like in the next few years, or if it’s a good time to buy or sell, read our insights on the current housing market and predictions for the future. Is it a good time to buy or sell a house? Three developments in early March 2021 had a real impact in the sales market: The Chancellor’s announcement of the stamp duty extension His announcement of a 95% mortgage guarantee scheme  The end of home-schooling for many families as schools reopened The effects of these factors were a surge in buyer demand through March and into April, as more households decided to move, and the London property market in particular showed a 57% increase in the number of people looking to buy and a 21% increase in the number of tenants looking to move compared to February. (source: propertyindustryeye.com) As things currently stand, in June 2021 there is a current “imbalance between incipient demand and available supply of houses” according to the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, Andy Haldane. (source: The Guardian) For sellers, there is the benefit of the stamp duty extension if the plan is to sell up and buy another property and the rise in buyers looking to buy is a great chance to market your property, however demand is incredibly high, creating fierce competition. Rightmove reported that housing market demand was 52% higher in April 2021 compared to April 2019. And despite this increased demand, stock is still low, with Zoopla reporting a 21% decline in the year to mid-May compared to the 2020 average. (source: todaysconveyencer.co.uk) What will the housing market look like in 2022? Heading into 2022, it is expected that the level of buyer demand will remain higher than previous years. First-time buyers are also expected to be much more active in the market. As UK lockdown is likely to be long over, businesses will confirm how their working practices will operate in the coming years, providing people with more certainty over where they should live in relation to work. Office-based workers who now have a longer-term option for working from home will be able to look at property for sale in a far wider range of locations. Stronger house price growth is likely to return in 2022 supported by a period of sustained economic growth and a projected drop in unemployment by the end of this year. Housing market prediction for the next five years In 2020, UK house price growth increased by an average of 7.3%, despite the economy contracting by -10% (source: thisismoney.co.uk). Over the next five years as the rate of economic growth seen in late 2021/early 2022 will likely subside, house price growth is likely to follow suit, easing in the next few years. UK house prices are projected to increase by 4%, 3.5% and 3% in the next three years. Over the five years to 2025, prices are forecasted to rise by 21.1%. How fast are houses selling? The UK housing market has recorded £149 billion worth of property sales in the first 15 weeks of this year. That’s almost more than double the value of homes sold in the same period in 2020 and 2019. The current level of sales would not normally be seen until the end of June, meaning the current market is running around six weeks ahead of a typical year. Research also shows that one in every 50 homes listed for sale between 1st January and 15th April 2021 was sold. This is up from one in every 100 homes during the same period in 2020 (source: propertyreporter.co.uk). In Wales, the BBC reported that some homes were even being bought before a viewing, something which of course isn’t recommended. What locations are houses selling in? As the above BBC report states, Wales has seen the biggest house price growth in the UK, up by an average of 11% in the past year and is one of the areas where supply and demand are imbalanced. House price growth was 4% in March 2021, down from 4.5% recorded in January 2021. The latest data shows (as of May 2021) the top five busiest house sale markets are in Glasgow, Bristol, Nottingham, Stoke, and Middlesbrough. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, and Leicester are each registering house price growth in excess of 5% year-on-year. What kind of houses are selling? There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed buyers’ perspective on the type of property they want. An independent survey from Market Financial Solutions surveyed 1,282 UK-based homebuyers (those in the process of buying) and existing homeowners between 23rd and 27th April 2021. 34% said COVID-19 has changed their perspective on what they want and need from their main residence. 42% stated their views on where they wanted to live changed. 46% were keen on a flat or house with more space. In the first half of April 2021, the number of homes available to buy was 30% lower than the level recorded during the same period in 2017-19. The total number of homes listed for sale in the year to date is 19% lower than average levels recorded in 2020 even after the global pandemic saw a 50-day market closure in England (longer in Wales and Scotland) last year. Three and four-bedroom houses have been in highest demand as people look for more space and upsizing opportunities. Due to high demand from buyers, the supply of new homes has dropped significantly, bolstered perhaps by the 95% mortgage availability, and help to buy schemes on new builds. [H2] What is the average price houses are selling for? According to Rightmove, the average asking price reached a record high back in October 2020 when its data showed sellers asking for an average price of £323,530, an increase of £16,818 more than the previous year. In May 2021, the Nationwide House Price Index reported that the average house price was around £238,831, which was the fastest growth within a year for nearly seven years (source: The Financial times). Rightmove’s latest House Price Index for May 2021 reported a new record as the average price of property coming to market jumped by 1.8% (+£5,767), to a third of a million pounds (£333,564). The increase in demand from home buyers has put pressure on property values, with the number of homes sold for over asking price reaching the highest level since 2014. Data from NAEA Propertymark shows that 16% of properties sold for more than the asking price in March. No doubt this is influenced by the current stamp duty holiday. What should you do if you want to buy a house now? As we have shown, buyers are incredibly active on the market at present. The number of sales agreed reached the highest for the month of March since 2007, with an average of 13 buyers for every property on the market. This means you need to keep in touch with your estate agent to make sure you get to see the properties you want to buy. You may need to act quickly to secure your dream home as there’s a higher-than-average competition, but always make sure you are getting what you want and not simply settling. What should you do if you want to sell a house now? If you are ready to put your house on the market, get it valued and ready for sale. We have numerous guides on how to get it in the best shape to attract buyers, from if it’s the right time to sell to ways to add value to your home. How to buy and sell a house at the same time While it is always recommended to sell your property before buying a new one, many people buy and sell at the same time, entering into a chain. The best way to make sure buying and selling at the same time doesn’t become stressful or overly complicated is to keep up communication between your conveyancer and estate agent. Pop in to your local branch or give us a call and let us help.

Jan 2, 2021 Stamp Duty 2021

From 1 October 2021, the tax holiday on stamp duty rates ended and home buyers in England and Northern Ireland are required to pay on all purchases above £125,000. Residents in Wales, where stamp duty is known as ‘land transaction tax’, are required to pay on purchases above £180,000 after their tax holiday finished 1 July 2021. What is stamp duty? When you purchase a property or land, you are required to pay a form of tax called Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). The amount you pay can depend on the price of the property, the location of the property, whether you’re a first-time buyer or whether you’re a UK resident. What are the prices now? Those that are familiar with the tax rates pre-Covid will recognise the tiers as they return to their original percentages. This means that if you’ve bought a property in England or Northern Ireland from 1 October 2021, you’ll have to pay the following: Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT Rate Up to £125,000 0% The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000) 2% The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000) 5% The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10% If you’ve bought a property in Wales from 1 July 2021, you’ll have to pay the following: Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT Rate Up to £180,000 0% £180,001 to £250,000 3.5% £250,001 to £400,000 5% £400,001-£750,000 7.5% £750,001-£1.5m 10% £1.5m and above 12% John Phillips, National Operations Director, Spicerhaart and Just Mortgages said: “While the stamp duty holiday has definitely helped stimulate the market, it is by no means the driving force behind the current rush to buy, and once it ends, the market will continue to thrive. “The pandemic has certainly played an important role in this desire for houses. Without hospitality venues and holidays to spend on, those fortunate enough to stay in stable employment have saved at record levels. These increased savings have allowed people to consider moving to a bigger property, or a more desirable location. “What will impact the market more than the end of the stamp duty holiday, is the reopening of pubs, restaurants and international travel. Buying a house will still be a priority for many, but there will be lots of people booking holidays after a year stuck in the UK and savings may be spent on a few weeks in the sun.”

Jan 2, 2020 Help-To-Buy

Help to Buy is a government initiative designed to help first-time buyers buy a home. However, some of the schemes also help people who have purchased a property before. A range of Help to Buy home ownership schemes are available in England, but there are some restrictions and rules for applying, and some schemes that were active may no longer be open. Here we provide an update of the different Help to Buy schemes and explain how they could work for you. What is Help-to-buy? There are a number of different Help to Buy schemes. Perhaps the most well-known are the Help to Buy ISA and Equity Loan schemes, but both of these are now closed. There is also a Shared Ownership scheme, loans to help you build a property and schemes specific to council and housing association tenants. What is a Help to Buy ISA? The Help to Buy ISA helped people save for their first home, with the Government topping up people’s savings by 25% (as long as there was more than £1600 in the ISA). While the Help to Buy ISA closed to new applicants in 2019, people who had set their Help to Buy ISA account up before 30th November 2019 can still make deposits until November 2029. The 25% deposit can be claimed until November 2030. The 25% bonus is activated when you buy your home. You should instruct your conveyancer to apply for the bonus at the time of your purchase. What is a Lifetime ISA? The Lifetime ISA replaced the Help to Buy ISA, and is in essence a similar scheme. It still has the 25% contribution from the Government, but with different restrictions. Applicants wanting to open a Lifetime ISA must be aged between 18 and 39, you can save up to £4,000 per year, and you must make your first payment before your 40th birthday. However, you can’t make any further payments or receive the 25% bonus after the age of 50. But your account will stay open and can earn interest after you turn 50. Other affordable home ownership schemes Shared ownership The Help to Buy Shared Ownership scheme gives you the chance to buy a share of a house and pay rent on the remaining share. If you can afford to, you can buy larger shares further down the line. Here are a few details about Shared Ownership: You can use Shared Ownership it you have a household income of £80,000 a year outside London or £90,000 within London Your share of the property can be between 25% and 75% of the property’s value You can be a first-time buyer, an existing shared owner wishing to move or use the scheme if you owned a home but cannot afford to buy a new one You can buy a new build or an existing property You will require a mortgage for your share of the purchase price or enough in savings to fund the purchase There are specific versions of Shared Ownership schemes available for people with disabilities and the over 55s Shared Ownership properties are always leasehold A loan towards the cost of building a home A Help to Build equity loan gives assistance to anyone who is building a home on land they are buying or already own. Applicants can receive between 5-20% of the land and building costs, up to a maximum of £600,000 (for both land and building costs) or £400,000 (if you already own the land you are building on). If you are building a home in London, your loan can be 40% of the total costs. New-build property equity loan A Help to Buy Equity Loan offered buyers up to 20% off the cost of a new build home. Buyers only needed to provide a 5% cash deposit with a Help to Buy Equity Loan, subject to eligibility, terms and conditions. However, this scheme closed to applicants in October 2022. Any home purchase made using a Help to Buy Equity Loan has to complete by 31st March 2023. Buying your council or housing association property People who live in council housing can use the Right to Buy scheme to help with buying their home. Public sector tenants can save up to 70% on the sale price under Right to Buy, and the discount increases the longer the prospective home buyer has been a council tenant. The criteria for houses are: 35% discount for people who have been tenants for 3-5 years For public sector tenants of more than five years, the discount goes up 1% for every further year of tenancy, up to a maximum of 70% or £87,200 in England (£116,200 in London) – whichever is lower The Right to Buy criteria for flats are: 50% discount for people who have been tenants for 3-5 years For public sector tenants of more than five years, the discount goes up 2% for every further year of tenancy, up to a maximum of 70% or £87,200 in England (£116,200 in London) – whichever is lower Under the Right to Acquire scheme, housing association tenants can receive a discount of between £9,000 - £16,000 on the sale price of their property. The discounts vary according to the unitary and county council area location of the property. You can apply to this scheme if you have had a public sector landlord for more than 3 years. These landlords can be housing associations, councils, the armed services or NHS trusts and foundation trusts. To be eligible, the property must have been built or bought by a housing association after 31st March 1997, or transferred from a local council to a housing association after the same date. How to apply for help-to-buy Applying for a Help to Buy scheme is quite straightforward. Speak to estate agents and developers selling new home stock with help to buy available. They'll often be able to recommend mortgage advisors who can guide you through the process. You can also look out for the Help to Buy logo on property developments. Let butters john bee help you find your next home We are dedicated to helping people buy a property. Contact butters john bee today to discuss your options.