2020 has been an unprecedented year, and the UK housing market has weathered many ups and downs. Every year has a few defining moments, but the global Covid-19 pandemic has had world-changing repercussions and has challenged our conceptions of normal life.

Property Market 2020

Looking back over the course of 2020 there is actually a lot to be positive about. The first national lockdown saw the housing market, from viewings to house moves, shut down for seven weeks. But, helped by pent up demand and the stamp duty holiday the housing market has bounced back.

How resilient the housing market will be to the end of the furlough scheme and rising unemployment remains to be seen. And of course, Brexit rumbles on.

As we reflect on 2020, here are our most-read stories from the past 12 months.

Top garden design trends for 2020

27th January 2020

It may still be January, but if you’re thinking ahead to updating your outdoor space this summer, the Evening Standard has a list of key garden trends for 2020, courtesy of the Society of Garden Designers.

garden design

Go wild

With protecting the natural environment such a concern, gardens will be big on wild plants that are a magnet for bees, birds and insects. Don’t worry that your ‘wild’ garden will lack urban glamour. Go for plants such as ox-eye daisies, sweet peas and echinacea in your borders to add style and impact.

Embrace the outdoors

For families who want their children to get some healthy exercise, but don’t fancy a huge trampoline or plastic slide bang in the middle of their outdoor space, play zones will be a thing in 2020. With swings, balance beams, logs and timbers, play zones use rustic materials and integrate them into the overall garden design. Hammocks make a cool and popular addition for older kids.

Be more … Belgian

Apparently Scandi is over. It’s “in the Belgian style” is the phrase to use in 2020. Belgian style is a by-word for simple luxury – think tasteful clay pots with olive trees or structural plants such as cacti and phormiums alongside plenty of natural textures and earth tones.

Plant a pretty patchwork

Minimalism is beginning to look dated too, so add a bit of pattern and texture using organic-shaped paving, gravel and plants to create a natural patchwork effect. Go for Mexican daisies, grasses, ferns and geraniums and use patterned tiles to create the illusion of garden rugs.

Wonder walls

Inspired, perhaps, by Yves Saint-Laurent’s Marrakech garden, many a 90s outdoor space featured a wall in Majorelle blue. Most have probably been painted over in subtle white or grey, but coloured walls are back in 2020. Deep reds and ochres will be in, creating a warm, natural Mediterranean vibe.

Read more about garden design trends in 2020 in Homes & Property.

Beyond Brexit – what now for the housing market?

10th February 2020

It finally happened; the UK exited the EU at 11pm on 31 January – but what will the change mean for the future of the housing market?

Beyond Brexit

Aside from the release of a new 50p coin, and the union flag being lowered from EU institutions in Brussels, it may not feel like much has changed. Britain has now entered an 11-month transition period, during which we will remain in the EU customs union and single market while lengthy trade negotiations take place.

Prolonged uncertainty over Brexit meant a difficult period for the housing market. Prices fell in London, with fears of the UK exiting the EU without a deal putting potential sellers and buyers off.

The decisive election result in December, however, is thought to have brought new confidence to the market and the so-called ‘Boris bounce’ led to a surge in buyer demand in December and January.

According to property portal Rightmove, there are all the signs of a buoyant spring to come. Says Rightmove’s Miles Shipside: “While there may well be more twists and turns to come in the Brexit saga, there is now an opportunity for sellers to get their property on the market for a spring move unaffected by Brexit deadlines.”

Figures also reveal that mortgage approvals rose in December. According to a report from the Nationwide, the month saw the highest increase in mortgages approved by high street lenders in five years. Miles Robinson from online mortgage broker Trussle said: “Following last month’s election people may begin to start having more confidence in the mortgage market. This, coupled with the strong foundation of mortgage lending in 2019, could provide a very solid base for the housing market over the next year.

However, there are warnings that Brexit’s full impact on house prices may remain to be seen. While Boris Johnson’s 31 January speech hailed Brexit as a “new era”, he also admitted there could be “bumps in the road” to come. If the UK fails to strike a deal with the EU by 31 December 2020, the country would still leave on WTO terms, which could impact on the market once more.

Read more about this story in Homes & Property, The Guardian and Metro.

Plans for mansion tax shelved following change at the Treasury

24th February 2020

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has scrapped plans for an annual high value property tax. The new, so-called ‘mansion tax’ similar to a scheme in New York, was due to be announced in next month’s budget.

mansion tax

Exact thresholds at which homeowners would pay the tax had not been announced. However, the aim was to generate revenue to help ‘level up’ areas of the country, previously short on investment.

With only genuine mansions affected by the tax in most of the north, the policy was thought to appeal to the new wave of Conservative voters in former Labour heartlands. However, it has brought a backlash from grassroots Tories – an issue for Mr Johnson despite his 80-seat parliamentary majority.

Critics, including estate agents and Conservative MPs, believed the tax would unfairly penalise Londoners, who pay more for even modest homes as a result of higher property prices. In some areas of London up to 65% of homes are valued at more than £1 million.

It was also seen as a problem for homeowners who are asset-rich but cash-poor, such as pensioners who could be forced to sell the family home to pay the tax.

The tax had previously been discussed with former Chancellor, Sajid Javid, who resigned last week. A national revaluation of council tax bands, which could have left millions of households with higher bills, has also been shelved with both policies said to be “highly unlikely” to feature in the first budget from Mr Javid’s successor, Rishi Sunak.

The budget was due to be delivered on 11 March but may be postponed following the appointment of Mr Sunak, who would have had less than a month to formulate his plans.

Read more about this story in Estate Agent Today and the Daily Mail.

Wimbledon ranked among best places to live by The Sunday Times

13th April 2020

Wimbledon has been named one of the 10 best places to live in London in 2020 by The Sunday Times.  

Wimbledon Ranked Best Place to Live

The newspaper’s eagerlyawaited annual round-up of residential neighbourhoods, in association with mortgage company, Habito, has become the “definitive,” guide to where’s hot, according to The Times’ property editor, Helen Davies. 

Wimbledon is, “a premium slice of town and country, nine miles from the centre of London,” says the guide, which highlights how the area skilfully combines the attractions of the Broadway – a shopping hub with big-name brands and good housing stock – with the village’s rural charm. 

In Wimbledon Village, the choice of upmarket chains, such as Cath Kidston, Le Creuset and Farrow and Ball, gets a mention as do local institutions; food emporium Bayley and Sage and dog heaven, Pet Pavilion – where you can stock up on peanut butter for your furry friends. 

The village’s selection of grand properties is seen as part of its appeal, as is the common with its 1000+ acres of green space for walking, cycling or horse riding. Wimbledon Park, close to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, is also listed as a local draw, for its extensive range of sports facilities – and a current petition to allow wild swimming it the lake. 

Topping London’s best places to live 2020 is Victoria Park Village in Hackney. Joining it, and Wimbledon, in the top 10 are districts including Ealing, Notting Hill, Highbury and previous winner Bermondsey.  

Across the UK, Altrincham in Cheshire takes the top spot – in recognition of a major turnaround from worst high street in Britain to first-class food and drink destination. 

If you’re contemplating a house move, but not sure where is right for you, Helen Davies has some sound advice. “Think about everything you love and everything you hate, then make sure that you have access to the good things while minimising exposure to the bad ones.” 

We agree that there is plenty to love about Wimbledon – to find out more, read our area guides or get in touch with us today. 

Get your legal affairs in order during lockdown, sellers advised

27th April 2020

People looking to move home shouldn’t wait to begin their preparations, according to lawyers. As Chris Salmon of Quittance Legal Services explains, those serious about selling can instruct a solicitor, in spite of the continuing lockdown and before they have found a buyer. 

Conveyancing in lockdown

“If a seller has instructed their solicitor weeks earlier, not only will much of the paperwork already be complete, the established relationship between a vendor and their lawyer should help them get to the front of the queue when a quick response is needed,” he explained. 

According to Mr Salmon, plenty of conveyancing work can be carried out during the lockdown, in preparation for the lifting of coronavirus restrictions. 

“Even if a quick sale is needed, without a buyer it will be tempting for sellers to give up on progressing the move until the lockdown ends. However, much of the sale conveyancing process can be carried out before a buyer is found.” 

Tasks which could be completed in advance include client identification and verification to comply with anti-money laundering requirements. Some of these checks are carried out electronically. Others, such as obtaining a certified copy of a seller’s passport, could, according to Mr Salmon, be completed by a combination of email and video call. 

Work to complete transaction forms for the sale can progress during lockdown. If sellers have more time on their hands, this is an opportunity to pull together the necessary documents, including guarantees for building work and building control, gas and electrical safety certificates. 

If the property is leasehold, the solicitor will need to source a managing agent information pack. As long as the freeholder’s agent is working from home, a solicitor can begin assembling this information before the market reopens and demand increases. 

Read more about this story on the Property Wire website. 

Millions resume their property search as lockdown measures are eased

26th May 2020

London estate agents saw “phones ringing off the hook”, and record numbers of enquiries in the 48-hours after property viewings restarted in England. A large increase in new instructions and valuations has also been reported.

property search

It is believed that more than 450,000 house sales were put on hold when the government introduced its coronavirus restrictions on 23 March, in transactions worth an estimated £80 billion.

Announcing plans to resume the housing market, Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick said: “Our clear plan will enable people to move home safely, covering each aspect of the sales and letting process from viewings to removals. This critical industry can now safely move forward, and those waiting patiently to move can now do so,”

Removal companies and surveyors are allowed to work again, as are tradespeople and fitters, meaning sellers can begin preparing their homes for sale.

Millions of home buyers and renters took up their property searches within hours of the relaxation. According to property portal, Rightmove there were 5.2 million visits to its listings on Wednesday 13 May, the day when trading resumed. This is a 4% increase on the same day last year.

Demand for homes to rent has also increased dramatically, with the portal recording its highest number of enquiries since September.

Miles Shipside from Rightmove said: “The traditionally busy spring market was curtailed by lockdown, but we’re now seeing clear signs of returning momentum.”

But as the market restarts, buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants are getting used to a new normal. Virtual viewings will be encouraged with restrictions placed on physical visits to properties. Face masks, sanitising of door furniture and vacant viewings will also continue to be the order of the day.

Read more about this story on the Homes & Property website.

Give your home security a back-to-work makeover

8th June 2020

As the nation emerges from lockdown, improving your home security could be a good last-minute DIY task before returning to work.

Home security makeover

 

With large numbers of the population home during the day, burglaries fell by 37% during the first four weeks of lockdown.

As people begin returning to work, homeowners are urged to be aware of the risk posed by opportunist criminals.

Here are a few top home security tasks to tackle while you still have time.

Have a home security a spring clean

Burglars are more likely to attempt a break-in if your alarm looks worn or untouched. Dusting down your alarm box and CCTV equipment is a signal to intruders that you’re on the case and checking it regularly.

If you don’t have an up-to-date security system, consider installing a new one. With recent advances in home security technology, now could be the time to look at smart doorbells and keys as well as wireless cameras.

Guard your garden

Overgrown gardens are appealing to burglars as they provide places to hide, so trim overgrown trees and bushes. Adding noisy gravel or stones is a good deterrent too. Make sure that any sheds and outbuildings are secure and don’t leave valuable outdoor furniture where it can be stolen.

Fix your fences

Wooden fences rot over time, making access to your garden easier. Treat ageing fences and shed panels with a weatherproof stain or paint every couple of years to protect them from the elements. If you have a south facing garden, consider treating panels more often, as increased UV exposure can weaken the wood.

Be fire aware

Now is also a good time to check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, replacing batteries if needed.

Read more about this story in Property Reporter.

Wimbledon: “As un-Londonish as if it were a hundred miles out”

22nd June 2020

There’s no tennis this year, but as Wimbledon Village emerges from lockdown, Country Life magazine has been delving into the area’s history to discover more about its enduring appeal.

Wimbledon Village Windmill

Wimbledon has come a long way over the past five centuries. Formerly an estate, ownership of the area has passed between various historical luminaries. They include Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell – anti-hero of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy – as well as Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, who features in the film, The Favourite.

The Duchess passed the estate to John, the first Earl Spencer, who began creating the place we know today. His presence attracted wealthy merchants and gentlefolk, transforming it from hamlet of less than 50 houses to a gentrified place-to-be.

Spencer commissioned celebrity landscape designer, Capability Brown to create a park in his signature style, with woodlands and a lake. Much of it exists today as Wimbledon Park.

The area was so impressive that, writing in 1790, the playwright, Hannah Moore said: “I did not think there could have been so beautiful a place within seven miles of London. The park… is as un-Londonish as if it were a hundred miles out.”

This combination of town and country still draws people to Wimbledon, with the common a big part of the area’s appeal. Public access to this unique wild area was enshrined in law in 1871 after the then Earl Spencer attempted to enclose it – local people made their objections known.

The All England Croquet Club opened in 1868 – who knew the game was so popular, outside of Alice in Wonderland? Fashions soon switched, however, to a faster and more thrilling game – and the area’s association with tennis began. The club was renamed the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club and the first championships (for men) took place in 1877. The women’s event began seven years later.

Before 2020 the tournament had only been cancelled during the two world wars. Wimbledon fortnight won’t be exactly the same without the tennis. But as non-essential shops begin reopening, the special vibrancy of the village means it’s unlikely to be quiet for too long.

Read more about the history of Wimbledon on the Country Life website.

Stamp duty holiday – what does it mean in cash terms?

24th July 2020

In his summer statement, the chancellor, Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty holiday on property transactions of under £500,000, which complete before 31 March next year. The zero rate is also payable on the first £500,000 of more expensive properties.

Stamp duty holiday cash savings

The news has led to a flurry of interest in the housing market, with some estate agents reporting that enquiries have “gone through the roof”.

If the change is making you think about a house move, you might be wondering how much it could save you in real terms.

According to the latest Land Registry figures, the average sold price of a London home is £485,527. Before the chancellor’s announcement, anyone buying at this price would have needed to pay £14,276 in stamp duty within 14 days of completing.

Property portal Rightmove, however, puts the average London asking price for June at £628,000. This takes the buyer over the £500,000 threshold; however, the stamp duty holiday means they would only pay the tax on £128,000 at a rate of 5% – equal to £6,400. This represents a £15,000 saving on the £21,400 they would have paid before the announcement.

People buying second homes will need to pay the 3% stamp duty surcharge for additional properties. However, they are allowed to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday on the main charge, meaning their property purchase will still be cheaper. This could be a big advantage to anyone contemplating buy-to-let, who was previously put off by high stamp duty charges.

March 31 is also a significant date for overseas buyers, as from April 2021, non-UK residents buying in England and Northern Ireland will have to pay a 2% surcharge on top of any stamp duty owed for their purchase.

If you have a property in mind, find out how much stamp duty you will pay using the government’s calculator tool here.

Read more about this story in the Evening Standard, Homes & Property.

Slimmed down Wimbledon BookFest announced for September

10th August 2020

Wimbledon’s much-loved annual BookFest will run again this year – in a slightly different form. The 2020 festival, entitled Last Days of Summer, will take place on 12 and 13 September from an open marquee on the common. Events will also be digitally streamed so that no-one misses out.

Wimbledon Bookfest 2020

Festival director, Fiona Razvi announced the move after government guidance changed, permitting outdoor performing arts events.

She said: “One of Wimbledon BookFest’s USPs is its beautiful setting in Wimbledon Common. There is something quite magical when events are hosted there – on the edge of London but in a place so connected with nature.”

Ms Razvi acknowledged the positive impact which virtual arts events have had during the long months of lockdown, but said there is “no substitute for the live shared experience.”

“We sense a growing desire to do something live, and while we will be filming and relaying events digitally, where possible, we feel we can provide a safe outside space to host a scaled down event.”

From its bespoke open marquee, the festival will feature the usual mix of inspiring speakers and bestselling authors for adults and children. While the full programme is yet to be announced, the journalist, author, broadcaster and table tennis player, Matthew Syed has been confirmed as a keynote speaker.

Festival organisers have followed government guidance and are working with Merton Council and Wimbledon and Putney Commons to prioritise the safety of visitors, performers and staff with ticket-only events and reduced capacity to ensure social distancing.

Wimbledon BookFest’s Word Up education programme will run as usual in October, with ten author events digitally relayed to participating schools. To mark Black History Month, BookFest will donate a selection of books by black authors to the library of every Merton state school.

During lockdown the festival ran the Robert Graves Poetry Prize as well as its Young Writers’ Competition, which attracted a record number of entries from 53 south London schools.

For the latest news on the line-up visit the Wimbledon BookFest website, where tickets will be available in late August.

Wimbledon thanks key workers for serving an ace

14th September 2020

Wimbledon’s All England Lawn Tennis Club has found a new way of thanking essential workers for their extraordinary efforts during the Covid-19 crisis.

Wimbledon thanks key workers

In an initiative called “Rally Together”, 80 staff from NHS hospitals, London Ambulance Service and Transport for London were invited to take part in tennis coaching on the hallowed courts, usually reserved for the likes of Andy Murray, Serena Willians and Roger Federer.

Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club, explained: “We wanted to find a way to say a heartfelt thank you, on behalf of the club, to those who have been on the front line of the coronavirus response, showing extraordinary dedication and selfless contribution. We hope that it will be an experience to remember for all involved.”

The scheme was developed by the club along with London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, who joined the training in his tennis whites. The Mayor said: “Londoners owe a debt of gratitude to every key worker who kept our city going during the darkest days of the pandemic.”

Coronavirus saw the Wimbledon Championships cancelled for the first time since World War 2. At the height of the pandemic, the club opened its kitchens to cook hundreds of meals for vulnerable residents of Merton and Wandsworth boroughs – as well as giving 2,600 punnets of strawberries to south west London NHS staff.

The club’s charity also donated £1.2 million to the capital’s coronavirus response and it has pledged to develop additional ways of showing gratitude to front line staff during the rest of the year and in the build-up to the 134th championships, to be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.

Read more about this story in the Evening Standard

The Growth of the Granny Flat

28th September 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has seen a boom in interest in homes with an annexe, according to a report from insurance company, Aviva.

Worries about the safety of loved-ones, mean more London families are looking to buy properties with their own self-contained apartment – or to build one.

Growth of the granny flat

Traditionally annexes have been used as “granny flats” for elderly relatives who need extra support. However, the housing challenges faced by young people mean they are equally likely to be used by so-called “boomerang” offspring, who have returned to the family home.

“The events of this year have focused many people’s minds on the home,” says Gareth Hemming of Aviva. “We’ve already seen that 85% of householders made some form of home improvement during lockdown, but this study suggests some have more radical developments in mind.

“Lockdown changed the make-up of some households, as young people returned home from university and older people joined support bubbles, so it’s possible that this has helped to crystallise people’s ideas for family accommodation.”

Around 40% of London families are already multigenerational, according to Aviva with almost one in 10 homes in the capital having some form of annexe – and a further 12% of home owners say they plan to build one. London estate agents have also reported a huge increase in house hunters seeking such properties, with buyers willing to pay a premium for the right annexe.

If you are thinking of building a granny flat, you may need to seek planning permission. This will depend on whether the flat will be within your home or in your garden and whether your property is listed or in a conservation area – but you should check with your local council first.

In the past, people buying a home with an annexe would have needed to pay a stamp duty surcharge, however, this was scrapped in 2014 as long as the annexe is in use by a family member.

Read more about this story in Homes & Property.

Five DIY jobs to shift the lockdown pounds

12th October 2020

According to a recent survey, reported by the BBC, almost half (48%) of UK adults say they gained weight during the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re among them, and are struggling to make it back to the gym, DIY jobs could be just as effective at shifting the pounds – at the same time as helping you brighten up your home.

DIY Jobs

Ideal Home magazine and tradesperson site MyJobQuote gave a group of men and women a Fitbit each, to analyse the benefits of different types of DIY. Here are their top five tasks for burning calories:

1 Sanding

Not top of most people’s favourite jobs list but essential preparation for repainting, sanding scored well in the challenge, burning 456 calories in men and 392 in women. Consider that properly sanding down a large piece of furniture might take you half a day, and this job really could make an impact on your daily calorie count.

2 Carpentry

It’s a specialised job but if you are up to it, carpentry was rated second with male participants burning 438 calories per hour and females burning 383. It can be time consuming too, says Kane Hughes, DIY expert at MyJobQuote: “To hang, a door takes about twenty minutes to an hour, and installing a door frame will take around the same amount of time. Skirting boards are a bit more complicated and to fit correctly in a room may take half a day.”

3 Gardening

Often cited as a great form of outdoor exercise, gardening can really help you get fit, while transforming your outdoor space. Whether you’re digging holes, lugging around compost bags or mowing the lawn, you’ll be building muscle and burning 337 calories an hour.

4 Painting

Painting and decorating, along with tiling and plastering, is another high-intensity DIY task, which can burn 300 calories an hour for both men and women.

5 Odd jobs

Putting up shelves and assembling flat-pack furniture came further down the list, falling into the low-intensity exercise range, and burning 291 calories an hour for men and 249 for women. However, it’s worth remembering that the time these pesky tasks can take could add up to a good few hours’ sustained activity.

Read more about this story on the Ideal Home website.

Park Entrance Renovation Appeal

16th October 2020

Robert Holmes - Park Entrance Renovation Appeal

Two thirds of burglaries happen when someone’s at home

26th October 2020

If you imagine that working from home means your property is safe from burglary – think again. A study from insurance company Aviva has revealed more than two-thirds (64%) of break-ins happen when the house is occupied.

Burglar

This number has increased steadily over the past decade. And, as the nights draw in, it’s worth remembering that 15% more burglaries occur during October and November, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The Aviva study found that quarter of people don’t lock their doors when they are at home, despite the ONS data revealing that 76% of domestic burglaries involve entry through the front door. All worth remembering if your home office is tucked away in a loft or garden room.

According to Sarah Applegate, from Aviva: ‘We tend to imagine that burglaries happen when everyone is out, but the unfortunate reality is they can take place at any time, whether we’re home or not. Most burglaries are opportunistic, so if a door or window is left unlocked, someone can be in and out of a house in just a few seconds.”

With dark evenings rapidly approaching, read these five tips for keeping your home safe, whether you’re inside or out.

1. Don’t leave valuables on display

Close curtains or blinds, even during the day if expensive items can be seen from the street.

2. Leave a light on

A low energy light downstairs when you’re working or in bed can deter burglars – set a timer if you don’t want it on all night.

3. Tidy away your tech

Does working from home mean your gadgets are spread all over the house? Keep them safe and out of sight.

4. Consider a video doorbell

Or at least a chain and spy hole. There have been numerous cases of burglars pushing their way in to properties through an opened front door.

5. Get help from your hound

Watchful dogs are great for raising the alarm but if you don’t want the hassle, a ‘beware of the dog’ sign can work as a deterrent.

Read more about this story on the House Beautiful and Property Wire websites.

Order searches as sale is agreed, Phil Spencer warns buyers

9th November 2020

Phil Spencer has warned that buyers risk missing out on the stamp duty holiday because of delays in the conveyancing process. The property expert is advising buyers and sellers to be on the front foot when it comes to ordering searches and getting paperwork in order.

delays in conveyancing

Writing for the website Estate Agent Today, he said: “In recent weeks, there has been increasing concern from within the industry that we are moving towards a cliff-edge and buyers will miss out on the stamp duty holiday.”

The presenter of Channel 4’s Location Location Location added: “It’s no secret that conveyancers are struggling to deal with the sheer number of transactions going through at the moment. This is leading to a backlog and significant delays. Three key bodies published a joint statement asking agents to be patient and understand that transactions are going to take longer than usual.”

The boom in the property market since the announcement of the stamp duty holiday, defied all expectations. Latest figures from property portal Zoopla reveal the busiest autumn ever with 140,000 more buyers waiting to complete transactions than a year ago.

However, Spencer urges estate agents not to pester conveyancing solicitors, which could slow down the process further. Instead, he reminds buyers that they can begin ordering searches as soon as a sale has been agreed.

Buyers and sellers are also advised to have all the information needed for the sale ready from the outset to speed up the transaction.

Spencer calls on estate agents to explain the conveyancing process, in the context of pressure on the system from increased transactions and the impact of coronavirus.

“The more consumers know about the process, the more they can get to grips with what is going on at the moment, how it affects them and what they can do to keep things moving.”

Find out more about conveyancing on our blog.

Call for tax cuts for energy-efficient homeowners

23rd November 2020

People should be offered incentives to make their homes more efficient – such as discounts on council tax or stamp duty – according to the head of energy company Eon.

tax cuts energy efficient homes

Speaking as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson prepares to announce his green energy plan, Eon’s Michael Lewis told MPs that energy efficient homes are crucial to Britain meeting its target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mr Lewis wants the government to “align the tax system to zero carbon” by changing council tax bands and stamp duty rates for the greenest homes. He suggested that home buyers should be offered green loans as part of their mortgages to spend on energy efficient improvements. He also called for VAT cuts on renewable technologies such as heat pumps and solar panels.

He said that Britain’s transition to greener energy, “has to be focused around the customer. If we don’t make the UK’s housing stock much more energy efficient, we will never deliver zero carbon.”

According to Mr Lewis there are 19 million UK homes with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating in the lowest bands – D to G. Upgrading these properties to bands A to C could save the same amount of energy as the output from six Hinkley Point nuclear power plants.

While welcoming the government’s £3 billion green homes grant scheme, which helps fund home improvements such as loft insulation, he said it is “nowhere near enough” calling for a sizeable shift in Britain’s heating systems.

“We need to get off gas, and that means we need to install something like 633,000 heat pumps a year if we’re going to get to zero carbon. At the moment, we’re on 27,800.”

Read more about this story on the This is Money website.

Wimbledon shoppers urged to go local this Christmas

7th December 2020

There’s no denying that it’s a challenging Christmas for UK high streets. But, as lockdown is eased and non-essential shops reopen, retailers are urging Wimbledon residents to pause their internet browsing and check out what’s on offer locally.

Shop local this Christmas

According to Love Wimbledon, the non-for-profit voice of local businesses: “Many of our small businesses have shown great resilience to the constantly changing times through this pandemic, including offering click and collect, takeaway and delivery services during lockdown. So before clicking on that internet basket, remember that within a 15-minute walk or cycle, there are several businesses in Wimbledon still offering great services and products, [while] providing local jobs and supporting our community.”

Each December, and selected weekends throughout the year, Wimbledon town centre’s Piazza market, brings something a bit different to your shop with a range of artisan food, homeware and fashion stalls. You’ll find bespoke decor, sumptuous gifts, delicious cakes and hot food, plus the chance to pick up something genuinely unique for a loved one. The market will be open each Friday, Saturday and Sunday until Christmas.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon Village farmers market continues to operate every Sunday from 10am to 3pm, close to our office on the High Street. Pop by for fresh meats, fish, bread, cheese and fruit as well as speciality products.

While there’s no Winter Wonderland town centre event this year, Love Wimbledon has devised a couple of Covid-safe activities to add a bit of Christmas spirit. If you’re in the town centre, look out for the nine festive reindeer and tick them off as you shop – at three metres tall they aren’t hard to spot. Naturally, the reindeer include Rudolph – find him and be transported to a Christmas wonderland – courtesy of the latest immersive technology and your smartphone.

Find out more about what’s happening in Wimbledon town centre on the Love Wimbledon website. Details of the Wimbledon Village farmers market are on its Facebook page.

Best wishes for 2021

Here at Robert Holmes we are optimistic about the Wimbledon property market in 2021 and are looking forward to working with both our new and existing clients.

We wish you health and prosperity in 2021.

About the author

Nicolas Holmes

Nick joined Robert Holmes to inject fresh ideas and help grow the New Homes department of Robert Holmes as well as helping to inject technology into the business and to grow its client base. Together with one of the Directors Nick is in charge of all Development opportunities that Robert Holmes deals with along with sales. Aged 40, he provides succession together with the two existing directors. Nick has always been focused on building client relationships and sales. He built up his own gallery in Chelsea, where he had a loyal following of customers and artists.

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