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Independent mortgage broker unveils how the slowdown in GDP growth could affect interest rates

After months of telling buyers and owners to prepare for the ‘inevitable’ rate rise at the turn of the New Year, the UK and global economy has continued to slow down, resulting in many economists doing complete U-turns in their thoughts.

Most now predict an increase in Quarter Four of next year but with the jargon the industry is known for, it can be difficult for the average homeowner to understand exactly how economic growth trends will affect their mortgage products, a subject that independent mortgage broker Mortgage Advice Bureau is determined to shed some light on.

The interest rate rise is ultimately decided by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), which consists of nine members, including Governor Mark Carney. The MPC’s main aim is to set a Bank Rate that will enable their pre-determined inflation target (which currently sits at 2%) to be met. Each member of the MPC has extensive knowledge and experience in economics, which is often where the problem lies.

“Currently, the members are divided over when the right time to start the interest rate rise is, and it is for this reason that an exact timescale cannot be predicted,” said Oliver Adair from Mortgage Advice Bureau.

“Firstly, it should be noted that, whilst some are predicting a later increase in interest rates, there are still many that say the latest the rise will take place is in February 2016.”

With oil prices continuing to fall, China’s ‘Black Monday’ stock market crash, the US Federal Reserve’s decision to keep its own base rate at 0.25%, and inflation in the UK returning to negative figures, many believe that hiking the UK Bank Rate could hinder the ongoing recovery. The UK also recently experienced a surprise slump in manufacturing and its biggest drop in construction output since 2012, leading to a slowdown in economic growth that was greater than predicted.

“Add all of this to the fact that the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show inflation falling back to -0.1% after its brief respite at 0.1% (still way below the Bank’s target of 2%), and you can begin to see why a rise could be less likely to happen, in order to help encourage consumer spending, thus boosting inflation,” added Oliver.

The slowdown in growth means that the MPC and policymakers will need to assess where the economy is at, which could postpone any likelihood of a rate rise for a little while longer.

The next MPC committee meeting takes place this month, and whilst we are unlikely to be given any clarity on their thoughts as they continue to debate among themselves, for now, we can only theorise on prospective dates.

Oliver Adair is from Mortgage Advice Bureau – for further information call: 07928 519901. Email: olivera@mab.org.uk or visit www.dawsonsproperty.co.uk

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Dawsons staff pick up prestigious national award

Dawsons Estate Agent is celebrating after picking up a national award.

The Marina office has been named UK Letting Agent of the Month by Rateragent, who quantify success on the feedback they receive from estate and letting agents’ clients.

“This accolade reaffirms the high standards we strive to achieve each working day,” said Ricky Purdy, Dawsons Director of Lettings.

“It is great to see that our clients are receiving and benefiting from the service we provide. What is also nice to see is that these customers are taking time out of their busy lives to acknowledge the individual and group efforts our staff make.”

The award comes on the back of two staff at Mumbles lettings office being awarded Rateragent agent of the week for outstanding customer service.

“Backing that achievement up with our Marina office now being recognised as UK letting agent of the month, is fantastic,” added Ricky.

“Our staff who work so hard to achieve such high standards will ensure that every effort is made to continue the good work, first and foremost for our landlords and tenants.”

Marina Office Manager Emma Bolton said: “As a branch we are absolutely delighted to have received an award especially as it covers the whole of the UK. This supports being members of RAN (Relocation Agent Network) which gives us access to 700 plus agents in the network across the country that we are able to help.

“As a company we strive and take pride in giving continued customer service of the highest quality.”

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Tax changes to buy-to-let – how it will affect landlords

In the first all-Conservative budget since 1997, the Chancellor, George Osborne, announced the amount of tax relief that landlords will be able to claim on the interest of their mortgage payments will be reduced.

The changes mean property investors who currently claim top rates of tax relief of 40% and 45% will only be able to claim relief in the future at the basic rate of tax, currently 20%. Here David Treharne of Mortgage Advice Bureau discusses how this will affect landlords.

What is tax relief?

Tax relief is something that allows you to pay less tax so you can account for money you need to spend on things like expenses. It can also allow you to get tax repaid in other ways, such as straight into a personal pension.

As landlords, as your buy-to-let properties are classed as self-employed businesses, you are currently able to get tax relief and deduct some of your running costs from your taxable profit, so long as they are allowable expenses.

How will the tax rates change?

Under the new rules, landlords will not be able to deduct the cost of the interest on their mortgage from their rental income.

For example, currently, if your property earns £20,000 per year and the interest-only mortgage costs £13,000 per year, you will pay tax on the £7,000 profit. If you currently pay the higher 40% tax rate, this means you will pay £2,800 in tax per year.

Under the same circumstances in 2020, however, the full rental income of £20,000 will be taxable by 40%, if you fall under this tax bracket, meaning, after taking away the new basic-rate tax relief of 20% on your interest-only mortgage payment of £13,000 (20% of £13,000 = £2,600), you are left to pay £5,400 per year – an increase of 93%.

That sounds confusing. Will these changes be implemented over time to give landlords chance to adjust?

The withdrawal of the higher-rate reliefs will be phased in over a period of four years, in order to help landlords adjust to the lower relief level, and nothing will happen until April 2017.

It will then be implemented in four stages:

Stage one
From April 6th 2017, the higher-rate tax relief can still be claimed on the first 75% of your mortgage interest costs. The remaining 25% will have the basic rate of tax relief applied.

Stage two
From April 6th 2018, the amount of tax relief you can claim at the higher rates will drop to 50% of your mortgage interest costs. The remaining 50% will have the basic rate of tax relief applied.

Stage three
From April 6th 2018, the higher-rate tax relief can only be applied to 25% of your mortgage interest costs. The remaining 75% will be at the basic rate.

Stage four
From April 6th 2020, you will only be able to claim tax relief at the basic rate level.

If you have any furnished holiday lets, this restriction will not apply.

These changes will be published and are expected to be passed in the 2015 Summer Finance Bill.

How can you assess the impact these changes will have on you? 

There is still time for landlords to forward-plan so they do not have to suddenly increase rents. For any landlords currently investing in property, or considering expanding their portfolio, it is wise to speak to an independent mortgage adviser to discuss these changes. It is also worth talking to a property tax expert to see if there are any other tax breaks you could take advantage of.

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Dawsons shortlisted for award as Best Agent in South Wales

Leading estate agent Dawsons has been shortlisted by Relocation Agent Network, a national network of selected estate agents, for the 2015 Best Agent Award in the South Wales Region.

The winner will be announced at a black tie evening awards dinner held at the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, London on Friday, November 13th –an event being hosted by comedian Tim Vine.

The nomination comes on the back of Dawsons being crowned ‘Sunday Times Rental agent of the Year’.

“We are delighted to be shortlisted for Relocation Agent Network’s Best Agent Regional Award. It really does highlight the team’s effort, commitment and enthusiasm over the past 12 months,” said Dawsons Senior Director Chris Hope.

Relocation Agent Network’s 2015 Best Agent South Wales Region Award is an annual prize for the agent that has consistently made the best overall contribution to the Network throughout the year and offers nominees the chance to become the Network’s ‘Best Network Agent in the South Wales Region’.

To reach this stage of the award programme, agents must demonstrate excellent customer service, innovative business initiatives and a commitment to the Relocation Agent Network principles.

Richard Tucker, Relocation Agent Network’s Managing Director commented: “As a network of selected estate agents, made up of 16 regions across England, Scotland and Wales, our regional awards recognise those agents that truly demonstrate outstanding customer service and innovative business initiatives. Congratulations to Dawsons for their well deserved nomination.”

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Leading South Wales estate agency earns national recognition

Dawsons is celebrating after winning a national estate agents award for outstanding customer service.

Their Mumbles office has been singled out from 1,500 estate agents to be named UK estate agent of the week by Rateragent.

The two staff members who were singled out for outstanding customer service were lettings negotiators Rhodri Francis-Hopkins and Sammantha James.

“This great recognition once again reaffirms the level of customer service and client satisfaction we strive to achieve,” said Ricky Purdy, Director of Lettings at Dawsons.

“Our customers have taken time out of their busy days to acknowledge the service, the branch they have dealt with and importantly the individual staff members.

“We really do appreciate this. Its great to see our consistency of service levels is meeting the high expectations of our clients.

“This UK agent of the week together with other recent accolades is very much what we aim to replicate during the remainder of this year and the start of 2016.”

Rateragent is Tripadvisor equivalent for estate agents for the UK. It is based on the quality of service and positive reviews received from both landlords and tenants.

“I am really please to have received the recognition, and that our landlords and tenants are taking time to post reviews. We have a great group at our office, and the awards are a result of our team effort,” said Sammantha.

Rhodri added: “It was a great surprise receiving the award. It really wasn’t expected, but it is something I am very proud of.”

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Chris Hope, Dawsons Senior Director

To buy or rent – the great debate that rumbles on

It is one of life’s great debates that often dominate our lives year on year: is it better to buy your own home or rent someone else’s?

The simple answer is: there is not right or wrong decision, but financial trends – a stable or unstable economy – will often dictate that decision.

Here Chris Hope, Senior Partner at Dawsons Estate Agents, weighs up the pros and cons of the buy or rent conundrum.

“People are always asking what is the best course of action when it comes to buying or renting,” said Chris.

“Of course personal circumstances will always dictate and every four or so years the buy/rent debate shifts one way or the other.

“To be perfectly honest at the moment it is probably a 50/50 scenario when looking at a decision to buy or rent.”

Just to put into context Chris gives an example of a three-bedroom terrace in the Morriston area of Swansea.

At around £100,000 to buy that would give you a £385 per month on a typical 25-year mortgage with a 10/15% deposit. That would compare to £500 rent per month.

“So looking at the averages there is not a great deal of difference when you take in consideration the buyer’s initial outlay with a deposit,” reflected Chris.

“Looking at it historically – 20 years ago those that rented were those who couldn’t afford to buy.

“But whereas there has been a social status element with owning your own home it’s nowadays become a lifestyle choice. Renting is now socially acceptable, and to put that into perspective in our Marina Office we only have one or two lettings properties at any one time. The demand is that great.

“Renting now gives young professionals flexibility. The fact the house needs painting or decorating is not longer and issue. You can just move!

“The culture has definitely changed – renting is a socially accepted way of living. Renting has given people freedom and gives you flexibility and latitude, especially when a career may take you around the country.”

But where rent gives you flexibility and no real ties buying is seen more and more as an investment. For instance fairly recent figures from Santander Bank indicated that ‘lifetime renters’ who never manage to climb on to the property ladder are likely to hand over around £300,000 to private landlords during their lives.

“But rental does look attractive especially when you look at people who have bought at the wrong time have been caught in a negative equity situation – that brings it’s stresses and strains,” added Chris.

“Despite that, compared to other countries such as USA and Germany we are still largely a nation of homeowners. Some people see an investment in a property is an extra pension at a time when pensions cannot be relied on to fulfil financial needs in retirement.

“There is still an advantage on buying a property because of the basic economics of what it costs to buy compared to cost of rent.

Having a mortgage-free environment is a comfort blanket.”

To put that into perspective a recent survey from HSBC talked of a growing divide between property ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

Analysing that the generation of owners who bought in the early 1980s tended to become mortgage-free at 56. Recent buyers – average age 29 – are expected to be mortgage-free at 60, whereas young people who say they do not expect to be able to buy until age 35 are likely to be approaching 68 before they own a home outright.

In conclusion Chris says: “There is no right and wrong to be honest – but it changes its balance determined by financial stability.”

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Estate agents’ duo celebrate special accreditation

Corey Ashford and Jaki Staddon from Dawsons are celebrating after becoming accredited Relocation Agent (RAN) specialists.

The accreditation was awarded by RAN and is achieved by completing a comprehensive online training programme.

Corey is based in Dawsons’ Marina Office while Jaki works out of the Gorseinon office.

RAN, a national network of relocation agents of which Dawsons is a member, introduced the training programme to ensure each of their members provides the very highest customer service to those relocating around the UK.

“We take staff development very seriously and Corey and Jaki’s Relocation Network accreditation is a great example of what can be achieved when staff are supported properly to improve their skill set,” said Dawsons Senior Partner Chris Hope.

“Of course, having a Relocation Agent specialist in a team is also great for our relocating customers.”

Jaki said: “I am proud to be part of Dawsons who are the RAN selected agent aiding clients who move out of our area and reassuring them that the agents we refer them to are of the same high standard as ourselves.

“We expect to provide trust and quality of service and along with other elite agents across the country, we aim to provide a special service to ease the transition of clients relocating.”

Corey said: “Involving our clients with other RAN agents across the country makes the transaction progress a lot smoother as we can keep a close link with the other agents involved in the chain.

“Being an Accredited Relocation Specialist gives me a great starting point, which no other local agents can offer, for my future development within the company.”

Richard Tucker, RAN’s Managing Director, says it is important to have reputable local RAN agents such as Dawsons.

“Selected by us as the best independent estate agent to represent the Network in the Swansea area spanning as far as Llanelli, Dawsons have proved themselves as the area’s local expert,” said RAN’s Managing Director Richard Tucker.

“So with the addition of an in-house Relocation Network specialist, they have gone one step further to provide relocating buyers and sellers with the very best customer service.”

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Estate agent hosts coffee morning to raise money for cancer charity

Generous staff at Dawsons Estate Agents raised £300 for Macmillan Cancer Support from a special coffee morning and cake sale.

The event at their branch in Walter Road was inundated with visitors from surrounding offices and members of the public.

“We organised it because I don’t think there is one member of staff here who has not been affected by cancer in some way or another,” said Branch Manager Nicola Fulford.

“All the cakes, cup cakes and sponges were donated by staff and friends. So it’s a big thank you to them that they made the morning possible.”

Added Nicola: “We were delighted by the generosity of everyone including those passers by who just came in off the street. Even our window cleaner came in for a coffee and a cake!”

Dawsons Senior Partner Chris Hope: “A big thank you should go out to Nicola and her staff for organising such a successful event and for such a great cause.”

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Leading Swansea estate agent gets the Relocation Agent Network seal of approval

Dawsons Estate Agents has announced that they have been selected to be part of the Relocation Agent Network, an independent network of agents serving Wales, England and Scotland.

The independent estate agent is now officially Swansea’s Local Expert, and while continuing to deliver a range of property services from their eight branches, Dawsons will provide the national touch to ensure those looking to move in or out of the area have the expertise they need to make their transition with confidence and clarity.

“We are privileged to have been selected as the ‘best of the best’ within Swansea and Llanelli,” said Chris Hope, Senior Partner at Dawsons.

“Besides dealing with clients’ relocation needs, there are many advantages to being involved in such a scheme. With regular forums of representatives from individual regions, Dawsons is in a positive position to receive first-hand information regarding how market trends are changing giving us and our clients the means to adapt to current market conditions.”

As a Relocation Agent Network member, Dawsons will be able to provide great agent contacts for clients moving to a new area. Their representatives will even individually introduce those looking to relocate to an agent so they can get the information they need to make a sound decision about their new home area.

“Those selling will also have a distinct advantage thanks to direct access to the network of motivated buyers who are moving from other parts of the country into Swansea and Llanelli,” added Chris.

“These buyers are initially only introduced to Dawsons as agents of the network, therefore Dawsons clients get the first opportunity to find the right buyers who are moving into the area from around the country.

“No other Swansea or Llanelli based agent can offer this unique service, and we look forward to helping clients throughout the region find their next new home, whether they are moving into the area or a little further afield,” explained Chris.

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Estate agent joins in Mumbles summer night’s extravaganza

Staff at Dawsons Estate Agents office in Mumbles offered free face painting, balloons and sweets as part of the village’s Summer Night’s Dream event on Thursday night.

Newton Road was shut to traffic from 6pm until 10pm on Thursday evening with a host of activities going on including a Samba Parade, a general street parade and The Wave Stage.

“We were busy all night. We gave away more than 60 balloons and it was great to see so many families out and about in Newton Road having so much fun,” said Mumbles Branch Manager Tom Hope. Continue reading

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