Monthly Archives :

January 2017

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The Modular Revolution: Can Prefab Homes Solve the UK Housing Crisis?

The UK’s affordable housing crisis rolls on. Although the government remain committed to delivering 1 million new homes before the turn of the decade, they are set to fall well short of their goal. In London alone, only around 50% of the number of houses required to achieve the 2020 goal are being delivered per annum. The result… a deficit that looks increasingly less manageable. This has driven people to look beyond traditional construction methods towards faster, alternative solutions.

 post-war-luxe-property-groupPost-WWII, the UK government turned to prefabricated homes to temporarily solve the housing shortage that resulted from the Luftwaffe’s bombing of London. “The 1944 Housing Act authorised the Government to spend up to £150 million on temporary houses in areas like Lewisham, where more than 1,500 homes had been destroyed during just the first year of conflict”, says Robert Hardman for the Mail Online.

Nowadays, mention the words ‘prefab home’ and people’s general perceptions are negative; poor quality, post-war, flat-packed housing with a short lifespan. Neither a potential solution to a modern-day, UK housing crisis or an investment opportunity. This perception is strange in some ways. In the 1940’s, prefabricated homes were considered both more luxurious and comfortable than traditional site-built properties. In fact, for many, they were the first homes they’d lived in with an indoor toilet. Further still, although uncommon in the UK, they are actually the standard across large parts of Europe nowadays.

Things have obviously come a long way since the 1940’s. Modern-day, prefabricated homes are said to contain less defects and therefore be more energy efficient than traditional site-built properties. They are also easier and quicker to build, with some estimates that an entire home can be pieced together on-site in as little as 48 hours. This leads to numerous benefits such as less noise disruption for neighbours and, although currently not much cheaper than traditional houses, modular is anticipated to be significantly cheaper for developers, once the industry has grown. The latter benefit is viewed by many as the greatest potential benefit of modular homes. The potential to provide a level of affordable housing that cannot be achieved with traditional construction methods. Homes for those unable to afford current high rental values and property prices. So, you can start to see the attraction of the modular housing concept in solving a shortage of affordable housing.

The cost of land is one of the main obstacles standing in the way of a modular revolution, especially in prime locations in major cities such as London. However, gone are the days of single storey limitations. High-rise building can now also be achieved with modular construction, such as this 32-storey building in Brooklyn, New York. The ability to build upwards, as well as outwards, could be a game changer between now and 2020.

There is clear potential for the use of modular building to alleviate a large proportion of the of affordable housing shortage. Education, however, is likely required to break down the negative perception of low quality, post-war prefabs and replace it with one of eco-efficiency, affordability and comfort. Furthermore, the UK government will undoubtedly need to allocate more funds to kick starting the industry and increasing cost effectiveness of production/construction.

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Overseas property firms are seizing the opportunity, with a Chinese state-owned construction firm signing £2.5bn deal to build modular homes with UK housing association in December 2016. An increasing number of UK firms will likely follow suit, as the push to eradicate the affordable housing deficit continues.

About Luxe Property Group:

At Luxe Property Group, we offer our clients the very best in property development, property investment and property management solutions. With extensive experience and an unrivalled success rate, we’re always keen to explore new opportunities. Call us on 020 7383 8042 or email us at info@luxepropertygroup.co to find out how we can strengthen your portfolio.

Sign up to our newsletter via the form below to stay up-to-date with the latest property insights.

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A Beginner’s Guide To Property Investment

Investment in residential property is one of the most popular strategies for capital growth in the UK. Real estate purchases can diversify your portfolio and provide greater stability than investment in the comparatively volatile stock market.

If you’re considering getting into property investment, here are a few useful tips that are designed to clarify your thoughts and help you identify the most suitable type of investment.

1. Establish how much time you are prepared to put into your investment.

2. Define your budget (being realistic).

3. Research. Research. Research. Consider all the various types of investment available to you.

4. Select the optimal investment type based on your budget and amount of time you are prepared/able to put in. Generally, investment in Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) requires a smaller budget (e.g. thousands) and less time whilst direct investment in property requires considerably more capital (hundreds of thousands) and a lot more time.

5. Set aside a financial buffer, outside of your allocated budget. Various expenses inevitably crop up so don’t get caught out. This largely correlates to the size of your budget so direct property investors will need a larger buffer than average REIT investors, for example.

6. Brace yourself for obstacles and hiccups. Again, these are almost inevitable at some point, as with any other form of investment. The more research you put in, the more likely you are to avoid the nasty ones.

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Property Investment Options

Here are 4 popular types of residential property investment for consideration.

1. Buy-to-let

This is an increasingly popular investment strategy across the UK. It involves direct property investment and, as such, requires a larger budget than those looking to invest in REITs (see below).

Buy-to-let investment does exactly what it says on the tin. An investor (i.e. you) purchases a property within an area of potential growth with a view to renting it out. How can you spot an area of potential growth? Check out our recent article ‘How To Spot The Next Up-And-Coming Urban Area’.

Returns on your investment come in the form of steady rental income and, if growth forecasts for the area turn out to be correct, capital appreciation when it’s time to sell.

Bear in mind, it takes a lot of groundwork to identify a suitable property available for the right price.

Here’s another article that may prove insightful for people seriously considering buy-to-let investments – ‘5 Tips to Successfully Invest in UK Buy-to-Let Property’.

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2. REITs

Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are a great way to invest smaller sums in property. These are essentially companies that purchase or finance income-producing property, including hotel rooms, hotel apartments, apartments, offices, hospitals, shopping centres and even mortgages. They purchase large numbers of properties. Once purchased, shares are then sold on to individual investors (e.g. you). Beware, whilst the aim is for capital gains, as with any investment, this is not always the outcome. Again, do plenty of research before investing in REITs.

UK REITs are legally required to pay out 90% of their income to investors per annum.

To find out more about UK REITs, click here.

 3. Property Investment Groups

This is effectively combining funds from multiple investors to purchase a property. This can be done either with a view to let out the premises or renovate it and sell on. You get the benefits of owning a property without having the financial and time investment of solely owning it.

This can be a good way to get your first taste of owning a property. However, it’s worth considering that you will be co-owning that property with numerous other people, which can bring with it its own problems. It’s always worth having a clear exit route in case things don’t work out.

For more information on property investment groups, click here.

4. Sharing Economy (e.g. Airbnb)

With the emergence of sharing economy sites such as Airbnb, it is now possible for anyone to essentially become a landlord. Whilst this may initially seem the simplest option on our list, renting your property (or a room in your property) via such a website requires both time and money to manage it well. You’ll need to manage your online listing, enquiries, prepare your property for new arrivals, meet & greet/handover keys and take deposits, be on hand in case your guests have any questions, frequently clean the property and be on hand to collect keys and return deposit at check out. On the positive side, these short term lets can produce much higher returns than a long-term lease, provided you can keep vacancy to a minimum, and cash flow is also good. It’s a great opportunity to meet some incredibly interesting people but it requires considerable effort and hosting skills to maintain strong ratings.

About Luxe Property Group:

At Luxe Property Group, we offer our clients the very best in property development, property investment and property management solutions. With extensive experience and an unrivalled success rate, we’re always keen to explore new opportunities. Call us on 020 7383 8042 or email us at info@luxepropertygroup.co to find out how we can strengthen your portfolio.

Sign up to our newsletter via the form below to stay up-to-date with the latest property insights.

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5 Tips To Enhance Your Living Room With Minimal Effort

 Whether you’re in the process of renovating your living room, looking to reimagine it for 2017 or gearing up for the big ‘spring clean’, here are 5 tried-and-tested tips that can make a world of difference to the look and feel of your living room with next-to no time input or effort.

1. Think Green

Plants-luxe-property-groupWe don’t mean think environmentally (although we’re big believers in sustainable property development and eco solutions). In this instance, we are referring to the use of plants. Plants add life and character to otherwise static/lifeless spaces. They provide cleaner air, which in turn contributes to your general health and happiness and they look great. Nowadays, you can buy hardy, low maintenance plants from IKEA. They cost very little and can make a huge difference to the overall look and feel of your living room.

Bringing an element of the outdoors, indoors, looks set to become one of the hottest interior design trends of 2017. There are numerous reasons for this, not least the fact that people are reaching digital saturation and, as a result, are looking to de-digitalise their homes and move back towards a more natural living environment (touched on in our recent article ‘Interior Design: Top Trends to Expect in 2017’).

If you wanted to take the ‘green’/organic theme one step further, you could consider use of Pantone’s ‘Colour of the Year’ for 2017; ‘Greenery’. Although this would require a little more time and consideration, it can breathe new life into otherwise bland/boring furniture and spaces.

2. Light

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Maximising natural light may seem like an obvious suggestion but you would be amazed at the number of people who don’t take full advantage of it. The slightest increase in natural light can transform a space into a brighter, more spacious and inspirational environment.

Poor artificial lighting can also have an extremely negative effect on the general ‘vibe’ of a room. If you prefer side lamps to overhead lighting, that’s great because you can make significant improvements to a room with very little investment. Get creative. Consider using a variety of mismatched lamps & shades. This can add depth and character. (FYI – The mismatched approach also works well with things such as chairs around a dining table). If you’re more in favour of overhead lighting, consider use of mismatched, suspended lighting as opposed to recessed ceiling lights. Again, this can add more character to a room.

Regardless of your preferred lighting solution, ensure that you keep lightbulbs at the warmer end of the spectrum. ‘White’/clinical light can make a room feel uncomfortable, sterile and cold. Remember, this is your living room; a place where you should feel most ‘at home’, cosy, comfortable and relaxed.

3. Fabrics

How often do you swap or update your cushion covers? Presumably, not very often! However, this simple, affordable tip can have a big impact on how your living room looks and feels. It’s great way to refresh a space at the start of a new year and costs very little. Check out the hottest interior design trends if you’re stuck for inspiration for your new covers. Right now, yellows, greens, botanical patterns and other nature-inspired designs, e.g. dessert themes are very much on trend and tie in nice with an increase in plant-life.

4. Repurpose

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For those of your gearing up to the big spring clean, think whether an item can be repurposed as something useful before throwing it out. If you attend auctions or frequent salvage sites, think outside the box. We’re talking about something as simple as converting a couple of empty wine cases into storage/shelving units. Things like old wooden haulage pallets have infinite uses (coffee tables, dining tables, bed frames, etc…). Stripped pallet wood can produce an interesting finish if sanded and subsequently torched gently.

Basically, get creative. Cut back on waste and create something both beautiful and practical. There’s loads of inspiration examples on social channels, such as this Board on Pinterest.

5. Refine

Take a step back and try to view your living room through the eyes of someone who’s never seen it before. Does it feel cluttered? Clutter builds up slowly over time, meaning we rarely notice it accumulating. The arrival of spring marks the time of year when many people opt to review and refine their clutter. Our advice this year is that everything in a room should have a purpose. A reason to be there. It should positively contribute to the overall functionality or look and feel of the room (or both). If an item serves no beneficial purpose, it shouldn’t be there. Also, don’t feel as though every shelf or surface needs something to fill it. On the contrary, keeping some shelves completely clear can enhance the sense of space and serenity. Carefully consider every item in your living room and how it interacts with other items to contribute to the overall look and feel. You can find a few more useful tips on how to avoid clutter in our recent article, ‘How to make the most of smaller living spaces’.

About Luxe Property Group:

At Luxe Property Group, we offer our clients the very best in property development, property investment and property management solutions. With extensive experience and an unrivalled success rate, we’re always keen to explore new opportunities. Call us on 020 7383 8042 or email us at info@luxepropertygroup.co to find out how we can strengthen your portfolio.

Sign up to our newsletter via the form below to stay up-to-date with the latest property insights.

The Impact Of Crossrail On London Property Prices

Property prices along London’s future transport route, Crossrail, have increased 22% on average over the past two years, according to recent research by Lloyds Bank. Although full service is not scheduled to commence until late 2019, initial services will run from May next year. The benefits of Crossrail to London and the South East will undoubtedly be huge.

To quote Crossrail, ‘From improving journey times across London, to easing congestion and offering better connections, the Elizabeth Line will provide easier, quicker and more direct travel opportunities across the capital.’ This proposition has led vast swathes of people to snap up property in areas surrounding future Crossrail stations in anticipation of its completion, and their investments already look to be paying off. The ‘Crossrail effect’, as it’s frequently being referred to as, shows no sign of slowing and is resulting in dramatic increases in property values in the affected areas.

Despite being several years from completion, average house prices surrounding future Crossrail stations have skyrocketed in recent years. The biggest increases can be found in North-East London, in areas such as Abbey Wood, Forest Gate and Romford. Abbey Wood has seen average values increase by 47%. Forest Gate’s is just behind, with increases of 46%, although average prices there are almost double that of Abbey Wood.

In the west, areas including Burnham, Slough and Maidenhead have also increased in value by 40%, 34% and 32% respectively; more than double the average increase of 15% in the south-east region of London over the same period.

Since the Crossrail project was given the greenlight in 2008, Paddington has experienced the greatest growth; a whopping 99%. Average house prices in the area now surpass £1 million and will continue to rise as the opening of Crossrail draws nearer.

Crossrail coincides with the general exodus from central London caused by the increased cost of living and price of property. Young couples in their 30’s and families in particular are seeking more affordable living solutions in travel zone 2 and beyond. One of the key factors effecting people’s choice of location is good transport links and quick commutes into central London locations. Crossrail’s high speed, high frequency and high volume trains make locations situated along the new route an extremely attractive proposition.

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“Crossrail promises to connect towns in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to Essex and south-east London, via the centre of the capital, by offering a frequent and fast service which will integrate with the existing Underground network,” said Andrew Mason, director of mortgage products at Lloyds Bank.

“This will clearly prove attractive to many commuters, as the new service will make it much easier to reach key destinations such as the City of London, Canary Wharf and Heathrow Airport.”

“Even though we’re still three years away from the launch of the full service, the Crossrail effect is already having a positive impact on house prices near stations on the Elizabeth Line.”

There are still huge returns to be made through careful investment between now and Crossrail being fully operational in December 2019.

About Luxe Property Group:

At Luxe Property Group, we offer our clients the very best in property development, property investment and property management solutions. With extensive experience and an unrivalled success rate, we’re always keen to explore new opportunities. Call us on 020 7383 8042 or email us at info@luxepropertygroup.co to find out how we can strengthen your portfolio.

Sign up to our newsletter via the form below to stay up-to-date with the latest property insights.