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Property news from across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire - February 2014

PUBLISHED: 12:59 07 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:59 07 March 2014

Typical interior of the the Oakbrook homes

Typical interior of the the Oakbrook homes

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Warming to a theme

Quite rightly, we’ve all done our share of ‘tutting’ over rising electricity and gas bills, nicely timed to leap yet again just as we want to adjust the central heating thermostats at home.

For builders of new homes there is another interest – a chance to demonstrate that the most modern properties are well-insulated and stacked with features to keep down heating costs.

A good example is Linden Homes, where nearly a third of the properties at their Oakbrook development in Langley, Berkshire, have been snapped up many off plan. Oakbrook includes four-bedroom townhouses from £450,000 and its location – just 17 minutes from Paddington as rail fare increases also bite – is an added advantage.

But, as marketing director Simon Pendlebury explains, one very distinct advantage of buying a brand new home is the fact that it has to be, by law, extremely energy efficient: “Current building regulations mean new homes like the ones at Oakbrook are six times more energy efficient than existing homes and produce over 60 per cent less CO2 emissions than older properties. And energy efficiency within the home is currently a very hot topic: The Office for National Statistics figures released in December showed that fuel, electricity and maintenance have all helped to make housing the more expensive item in the family budget – overtaking the cost of transport for the first time. Campaigners and charities have again been pointing to Britain’s ‘leaky’ housing stock and highlighting what they call the ‘woeful’ levels of insulation seen in many of the UK’s older homes. With a brand new home, these problems just aren’t an issue.”

To find out more about visit www.lindenhomes.co.uk or call 0844 644 1508.

Taylor Wimpey, currently building in Bracknell and just over the Oxfordshire border at Bicester, Chinnor and Didcot, make a similar point.

They say the average household’s dual-fuel energy bill at a new-build property built to current regulations will be 55% cheaper than a typical modernised Victorian home, for example, according to the Zero Carbon Hub. That could equate to savings of around £1,300 a year before you add in savings on repairs and maintenance bills.

Taylor Wimpey homes include energy efficient central heating, double glazing and a fitted kitchen with integrated oven, hob and hood and are backed by a two-year warranty and a 10-year guarantee from the National House-Building Council.

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2014 predictions from Peter Coles, Romans managing director

I am not predicting a property bubble; allowing for inflation, prices in the South East are still 10-20% below where they were in 2007, and because interest rates are so low the key driver, affordability, is still below the long-term average levels (from the last 30 years). This means that even if rates increase a little over the next few years this would not cause a problem.

Most people are predicting that house prices will increase throughout 2014 but I anticipate that the most significant increases will be in one and two bedroom properties. This will be due to increased demand from first time buyers, aided by the Help to Buy schemes and Buy to Let investors.

This is positive news for ‘second-steppers’, as the demand for their properties will make it easier for them to move up the housing ladder. Landlords and investors will also see a great return with significant capital growth on top of already strong rental yields

The rest of the market will see increases of anything from 0-10% with well-presented properties in good locations seeing stronger increases and selling quickly.

It’s also worth noting that transaction numbers and prices at the top of the market have been impacted by the punitive increases in Stamp Duty Land Tax in recent years and I foresee this continuing. This is no surprise when you consider that it would cost the equivalent of over £130,000 of salary before tax to pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax bill on a £1.5m purchase price!”

Points to remember:

• Affordability is still far better than the long-term average levels

• Well-presented properties in good locations will see the higher increases

• Inflation prices in the South East are still 10 -20% below what they were in 2007

• The increase in Stamp Duty Land Tax has particularly affected the top end of the market

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