Chris Auction_2

The Latest from Chris Hope

Recently, our Senior Partner Chris Hope was asked a few questions regarding the recent election results and about his experience managing people.

Question 1: A reporter seeking reactions to the recent election results and the new Conservative majority government –

Chris Hope: “From my prospective, the property industry is a clear barometer for the country in general and therefore, if the carefully controlled conditions for growth over the past 2 years can be replicated for the next 2 years, clearly the government housing and financial decisions were correct ones.”

Question 2: As a manager of people within an organisation should you close the door? Yes, no, sometimes?

Chris Hope: “Absolutely sometimes. In this day and age, it’s vital that specific messages within some conversations are totally clear and not left to interpretation. For some occasions, delegation is suitable.”

Keep your eyes peeled in the next month for the full articles. For more information about Dawsons and our Visit our main property site

Oliver Adair MAB

Mortgage prices are at record lows – is now the time to take one out?

Analysts have announced that there may never be a better time to take out a mortgage, with figures showing that rates have nearly halved over the past 12 months.

With lenders in an ongoing mortgage price war as they try and persuade people to choose their mortgage deals over their competitors’, the UK’s leading independent mortgage broker, Mortgage Advice Bureau, looks at how potential borrowers could use the next six months to their advantage when buying a property.

“Swap rates can directly influence the interest rate that you pay on your mortgage, and last year the general consensus was that the Bank of England was going to increase the Bank Rate from its record low of 0.5%, which caused swap rates to increase in preparation. However, this increase never happened which has caused swap rates to tumble back down, thus providing lower interest rates for mortgage deals,” said Oliver Adair from Mortgage Advice Bureau.

“With the market finally beginning to catch-up on the slowed activity from last year and house prices continuing to increase, there is an air of confidence around lenders, hence the raft of cuts.”

Banks and building societies are also finding that they have surplus money due to the Funding for Lending Scheme. Launched in 2012, the Funding for Lending Scheme originally allowed banks and building societies to borrow cheaply from the Bank of England on the condition that they then use some of the money to offer mortgages to homebuyers, though it is now focused on funding lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“With the current low level of inflation and the Bank of England concerned that lifting the Bank Rate would destabilise Britain’s ongoing recovery, it is looking increasingly more likely that interest rates will not increase until sometime in 2016,” explains Oliver. “This leaves lenders to fight amongst themselves in a thriving market full of previously struggling homebuyers hoping to take advantage of the low rates.”

The war will continue and fixed-rate deals may well stay at their record low rates for the coming months, alongside typical variable rates that have halved over the past 12 months, and five-year fixes that could go below 2%.

Oliver added, “The rate war is showing no sign of dwindling any time soon and with various new lenders entering the market, competition is heating up. Over the next few weeks, rates could reach levels that may not be seen again for an extremely long time. But the question is – what’s next for interest rates?”

We currently sit at 0% inflation – teetering on the edge of deflation. Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney, announced at a conference in Frankfurt last week that the next move for interest rates will be up, but chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight added that a likely rate increase won’t occur before the early months of 2016.

“Whilst it is looking like low rates may be around for the next few months at least, they could vanish as quickly as they appeared so it is important that you seek the advice of a professional mortgage adviser who can give you advice specific to your circumstances,” concluded Oliver.


What does a Conservative government mean for housing?

So, the Conservatives have won the majority vote in Parliament and David Cameron is set to return to Downing Street as Prime Minister once again. But after this

somewhat surprising victory, how will homeowners, prospective buyers and landlords stand to benefit from the refreshed government?

Amid all of the parties’ manifestos, first-time buyers found themselves at the helm of attention. Labour pledged to give first-time buyers priority on new homes built for a period of two months and the Liberal Democrats proposed a ‘Rent to Own’ scheme where first-time buyers built up shares in their homes through renting.

The party that matters though is the Conservatives. David Treharne of Mortgage Advice Bureau looks at what the Tories plan on bringing to the table.

What have they proposed?

Their flagship policy, albeit a controversial one in the industry, is the expansion of the Right to Buy scheme which will see tenants of housing association properties receive huge discounts, allowing them to consider purchasing their homes.

1.3 million tenants could qualify for discounts of 35 per cent up to a maximum of 70 per cent up to a maximum of £102,700 in London and £77,000 across the rest of the country.

Help to Buy ISA

Announced in the Budget in March, come the autumn, hopeful and prospective homeowners will receive a Help to Buy “savings account” that will see the government top up £50 for every £200 saved towards a deposit, up to a maximum of £3,000.

Aspiring homeowners under a Conservative government would have access to a Help to Buy Isa, which would top up £50 for every £200 saved towards a deposit, up to a maximum top-up of £3,000. This was announced in the March Budget.

Only available for the next four years and being introduced in the autumn, the new savings account will only be available to consumers who are yet to buy their first home and will have no limit to how long people can use the accounts for.

First-time buyers based in London will be able to use the savings to buy properties worth up to £450,000, whilst the rest of the UK will see a ceiling of £250,000.

Discount homes for first-time buyers

David Cameron has pledged to offer up to 100,000 new homes to first-time buyers under the age of 40 at a discount of 20 per cent.

The ‘starter homes’ initiative has been created to encourage home ownership among young buyers and to boost construction of new homes by building on brownfield land – land previously used for commercial uses or industrial purposes.

While this means that, if you qualify, you will be able to afford a property that you would have previously struggled to, it should be noted that you will not be able to sell the home at full market price for five years after you purchase it.

A London Land Commission will also help release brownfield land owned by the public sector in the capital for building by promising a £1bn brownfield regeneration fund to unlock sites for around 400,000 homes.

With the general election now over and done with, new policies from the Conservatives will be coming through thick and fast which is why it is important to speak to a professional mortgage adviser who will have the latest information to help you through the mortgage process.


Overpayment – is it something worth considering?

With the ongoing mortgage rate war, there is some debate over whether now is a good time to pay off your mortgage early. Here the UK’s leading independent mortgage broker, Mortgage Advice Bureau, discusses the ins and outs of early repayments and overpayments.

“Credit cards and unsecured loans are prime examples of debts that charge high rates of interest, with some having interest rates that are much higher than that of your mortgage. It is always more beneficial to pay off these sorts of debts before considering paying off your mortgage, being mindful to not revert back to them once you have paid them off,” said David Treharne from Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Those contributing to a pension scheme may also be considering using their savings to pay off their mortgage a little earlier. The government now tops up your contributions with tax relief, and if the company you work for participates in specific pension schemes, they may also match your payments into a pension pot.

David added, “The sooner you begin to pay into a pension pot, the quicker your retirement pot will grow. So, if you find yourself with money to spare, it may be worth considering using your savings to add to your pension for the future rather than pay off your mortgage early.”

Have you thought about what the monetary consequences would be for your family if you were to pass away? If you have dependants who rely on your income to cover your mortgage, life insurance can help provide for them if you were to die, so this may be something worth putting your spare money into instead of paying off your mortgage.

If you are serious about overpaying your mortgage then it is important to consider any charges that may be incurred. Ensure that you check your mortgage deal carefully, you may need to pay an Early Repayment Charge (ERC), though some lenders allow you to overpay by up to 10% a year without any penalties.

“When interest rates are as low as they are now, overpaying on your mortgage will mean that you will have a smaller amount to be charged on when rates do eventually rise. It doesn’t just mean that you may have to pay less in the future, you could possibly pay off your mortgage completely – sometimes years earlier than the original end date. With prices constantly changing, it is important that you seek the advice of a professional mortgage adviser who can talk you through what is right for your personal circumstances,” concluded David. Continue reading


South Wales estate agent celebrates as student accommodation being snapped up.

Dawsons Estate Agent has successfully secured reservations on more than 50% of 24 purpose-built student apartments right in the centre of Swansea.

The Park Buildings lettings have created a lot of interest across the world from as far afield as Europe, the Middle East, Japan, China and Canada.

The amount of lettings already snapped up is a significant achievement considering the high spec flats are not opening until September.

“We have secured students from many places around the world, and are many weeks ahead of our schedule in terms of securing half occupation reservations through May,” said Ricky Purdy, Dawsons Director of Residential Lettings.

“We are seeing much interest on a daily basis from students currently studying at the university and from those starting in September.

“We are delighted with progress and are sure of securing full reservations prior to the availability date for occupation, as per our intentions at launch.”

Park Buildings is conveniently located in the heart of the city, just a stone’s throw away from transport links and all amenities. The accommodation is also beautifully designed with open plan living and sleeping areas and their very own kitchen and shower rooms.

“Park Buildings is a truly unique addition to Swansea and its student population needn’t settle for second best any longer when it comes to finding a new home from home for the new term,” added Ricky.

“The studio apartments come complete with, cleaning service, laundry facilities and storage facilities, so you have everything you need to start or continue your education in Swansea.”

For further information on Park Buildings, please contact Dawsons’ Swansea office on 01792 633260. Please also visit for more details.

Oliver Adair MAB

The lowest inflation rate on record – How could it affect you?

Sitting at its lowest point since records began, inflation in the UK now sits at 0%. In the short term, this could be good news for most of us – we feel richer and, technically, we are, but we are also teetering on falling into deflation, which wouldn’t be good at all. Here the UK’s leading independent mortgage broker, Mortgage Advice Bureau, explains why.

“With inflation announced as zero, interest rates are likely to be set lower for longer and there is, of course, the possibility that the record low base rate could also fall even closer to zero. The low interest rates will encourage people to continue borrowing money, helping the economy to grow and inflation to increase,” said Oliver Adair from Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Inflation is affected by a number of factors, ranging from household goods and video games to transport. However, with the prices of oil rising slightly from their lowest in six years in February, the price of fuel didn’t really affect the rate of inflation in the UK. That particular trait fell to the ever-increasing strength of the sterling against the euro, thus reducing the cost of imports.

“If these low prices continue for too long, we could find ourselves in deflation,” explains Oliver. “If this was to happen, we could become accustomed to tumbling prices, meaning we wouldn’t spend as much, as we hope that the item we were going to buy today will be even cheaper tomorrow. This could create a ‘chain reaction’ effect as the economy would then become motionless and we could be facing another recession before we know it.”

With oil prices continuing to pick up, we still have a slight cushion against deflation at the moment. For now, average wages are growing by just under 2% per year, and with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) showing that prices haven’t risen at all, you will find that your wages will go further.

The rate rise is also likely to be delayed as the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will no doubt want to see how much zero inflation affects wages.

“With the delay in the rate rise, now could be a good time to consider your next steps, be it looking for your first home, remortgaging on your current property or adding to your portfolio. Whatever the case, professional advice should always be taken from an independent mortgage adviser,” concluded Oliver. Continue reading


First-time buyers to receive help with deposit for first home

In light of the 2015 Budget, David Treharne of Mortgage Advice Bureau discusses the new Help to Buy savings accounts announced by Chancellor George Osborne.

First-time buyers will get £50 for every £200 they save towards a deposit for their first home.

Announced in the budget, first-time buyers are to receive a new ‘Help to Buy ISA’, which will see the government add £50 to every £200 buyers manage to save towards a deposit.

Only available for the next four years and being introduced in the autumn, the new savings account will only be available to consumers who are yet to buy their first home and will have no limit to how long people can use the accounts for.

The account will also be available per person rather than per home, which means that couples looking to buy their first home will receive double the amount.

The accounts will come with no minimum monthly payment, though it should be noted that a maximum of £200 can only be saved in a month. The government has also capped the bonus they will pay in at £3,000.

First-time buyers based in London will be able to use the savings to buy properties worth up £450,000, whilst the rest of the UK will see a ceiling of £250,000.

An example of how the scheme could work was given by the chancellor George Osborne delivering his Budget: “A 10 per cent deposit on the average first home costs £15,000, so if you put in up to £12,000 – we’ll put in up to £3,000 more.

“A 25 per cent top-up is equivalent to saving for a deposit from your pre-tax income – it’s effectively a tax cut for first time buyers. We’ll work with industry so it’s ready for this autumn and we’ll make sure you can start saving for it right now.”

Head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, Brian Murphy, believes that the Help to Buy ISA is a: “crowd-pleasing move and another sign of greater commitment to improving accessibility in the housing market.

“First time buyers will welcome the measure. But in many cases, their next step will be to ask which of the many schemes and incentives on offer is the best suited to their needs?

“Offering the savings bonus on purchases worth up to £250,000 outside London or £450,000 in the capital looks far more sensible than the maximum £600,000 limit that currently applies to house purchases through the Help to Buy equity loan or mortgage guarantee.

“The £600,000 cap has proved unnecessary for the vast majority of homebuyers using either scheme to secure a mortgage. The new ISA is a welcome innovation – but the fact that different rules and timescales exist for the various elements of Help to Buy has the potential to cause confusion, and first-time buyers will want to understand how they work in tandem.

“We are sure to see more pre-election policy ideas to support first time buyers, and politicians must work closely with industry to ensure new measures are as clear and accessible to first time buyers as possible.

“Anyone confronting the array of choices is likely to find that expert advice is essential to make headway and ease their path towards homeownership.”

David Treharne is from Mortgage Advice Bureau – for further information call: 07501 720320 E mail: or visit:

Chris Hope

Swansea estate agent reveals positive impact of Stamp Duty changes on the wider market

According to a recent estate agency survey, revised changes to the UK Stamp Duty Land Tax, as outlined by the Government in December, have already had a positive impact on the housing market.

In December 2014, the Government announced it had cut Stamp Duty Land Tax for the majority of homebuyers, with the aim of making payments fairer. The Government estimates the tax reductions will help 98% of those who are liable to pay for the duty.

In a national survey conducted among its members, Relocation Agent Network found 66% of respondents said that the tax cuts have had a positive impact on the market.

When asked to explain the ‘positive impact’, the majority of survey respondents (68%) indicated the number of buyers entering the market had increased by up to 10%.

Interestingly, aside from the Stamp Duty changes, respondents said that ‘consumer confidence’ was another positive trend impacting the market (63%).

The national network of independent estate agents also asked its members whether the revised Stamp Duty changes has led to price increases for properties that were traditionally around the £250,000 threshold. Indeed, 75% said that they had. When asked to specify on the price increase, a resounding 91% reported up to a 10% rise.

Chris Hope from Dawsons, a member of Relocation Agent Network in Swansea, said: “As Relocation Agent Network reports a rise in the number of buyers entering the UK housing market, this survey brings good news for sellers.

“If you have a property to sell, contact us today. We’re Relocation Agent Network’s appointed Local Expert for Swansea which means we have access to out of town buyers moving into the area.”


Leading estate agent offer special software system for instant conveyancing costs

Dawsons Estate Agent has adopted a state of the art software system revolutionising the way conveyancing is calculated for the customer.
Dawsons has implemented the Hoowla Panel Management Software Solution to help save time generating quotes and improve its reporting and feedback from solicitors.

Based in Swansea with around 115 members of staff, Dawsons is a well established independent estate agents specialising in sales, lettings and property auctions.
The firm boasts an enviable reputation for providing excellent service and value for money to both private clients and commercial organisations.

The Hoowla Conveyancing Panel Management Software Solution will be utilised across all of Dawsons branches, ensuring a secure and consistent approach to conveyancing for clients.

“Hoowla Panel Management Solution improves the way estate agents and solicitors work together and promotes a modern approach to conveyancing. We are delighted that Dawsons have installed our system,” said Hoowla CEO Adam Curtis.

Chris Hope, Senior Partner at Dawsons, said: “From our point of view our industry revolves around innovative software and keeping in touch with people. Hoowla is an excellent way for us to be involved with clients and solicitors.

“It’s a huge benefit for the house purchaser most of all and increases efficiency all round.

Hoowla is a growing software provider for the conveyancing industry. Developed in the UK and using the latest technology to provide cost effective solutions to Estate Agents and Solicitors.

Dawsons will be in full control of which solicitors they include on their panel.

Where solicitors are making use of Hoowla’s other case management tool Dawsons and their clients will also be able to be kept informed at every stage of the conveyancing process automatically.


Established estate agent promotes four staff to key roles

Leading Swansea estate agents Dawsons has appointed four members of staff to associate level.

The promotion of Joanne Sommerfield, Lorraine Evans, Alison Morris and Matthew Mason highlight the success in Dawsons’ growth and expansion. The appointments increase Dawsons’ associates from two to six.

“The success of any business is to acquire, inspire and promote those staff who see the same commercial vision of how a business grows. These are four of those exact people,” said Chris Hope, Dawsons Senior Partner.

“Alison, Joanne, Lorraine and Matthew all have different skill sets but collectively they all look for growth opportunities within their departments, to create the highest ‘customer service’ levels which in so doing, creates additional revenue from client referrals.

“At Dawsons, we are very fortunate to employ many staff who are keen to be ‘the best of the best’, and we look forward to rewarding many others.”

Alison joined Dawsons in 1988 spending most of that time working in Dawsons’ office in Sketty where she has been branch manager for more than 10 years.

Joanne left school at 17 and joined a local agricultural firm of estate agents and progressed through the ranks to eventually head-up their Swansea operation being promoted to sales manager. She joined Dawsons in 2003 working in the Swansea operation and auction department and is now branch manager at the Gorseinon office, a role she has had since 2007.

Lorraine became an estate agent in 1997 after several years in retail management. During her early years in estate agency she worked in Mumbles, Swansea and Killay before joining Dawsons at their Morriston office in 2001. She managed the Gorseinon branch in 2006 for a short period before going to Llanelli in 2007 to manage the sales and rentals departments.

Matthew joined Dawsons in 2006 having graduated with an Honours Degree from Swansea University. He was employed within the Professional Surveying department and then gained a Post Graduate Diploma in Surveying which enabled him to be elected to Membership of the RICS and become a Chartered Surveyor in 2010.

He now heads the Commercial Department and undertakes the majority of professional valuations for Dawsons. He also acts as an expert witness in litigation cases.

Swansea & south Wales estate agents blog