Tens of thousands of first-time buyers are set to benefit from a £26m windfall for affordable homes.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark announced the cash boost as he visited Manchester. It is part of the government’s national Starter Homes initiative.

The cash will support architects, councils, housing associations and developers in creating a new range of homes aimed at first-time buyers.

It will be used to acquire brownfield sites for new houses, with cash from the sales of these sites going back to the public purse.

The government is a providing an additional £10m for local councils to prepare more brownfield sites for development.

It is part of the government’s pledge to build 200,000 starter homes by 2020.

Mr Clark was visiting The Point at New Islington and Louisa Street in Openshaw to see how developers are using new designs to attract young buyers.

Greg Clark said: “This competitive fund will build homes that will clearly show the wide range of new properties that will be available to first-time buyers as they take their first step on the housing ladder.

“We are also helping bring back into use more brownfield land for development – keeping the country building and delivering the homes our communities need.”

The government says house building is a key part of its long-term economic plan, with almost 800,000 extra homes already delivered since the end of 2009.

It says its new Housing Bill and proposed national planning policy changes will ensure hundreds of thousands of starter homes will be built.

It plans to bring forward proposals to ensure that every reasonably-sized housing site includes a proportion of starter homes.

Starter homes will be offered exclusively to first-time buyers aged under 40 with a discount of 20 per cent on market values.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Helping young people achieve their dream of home ownership is a real priority for this government. We’ve already helped more than 100,000 households buy a home through our ground-breaking Help to Buy scheme and Starter Homes are another game-changer.

“This fund will help kick-start that change and show young people across the country the quality they can expect when they buy a starter home.”

Around 500 jobs will be created through the opening of a Manchester office by property developer Scarborough Group International.

The firm is behind the £30m Hot Box development, in the New Islington area of the city. It will see 144 new homes built.

The firm has also secured planning for its Middlewood Locks project, which will see 2,000 homes and a 750,000 sq ft mixed use scheme created.

The jobs being created include a construction team based on the Hat Box site, a sales team in a new show apartment, opening later this summer, as well as a wider team in its new Manchester office, in Castlefield.

Leading the residential sales team is Scarborough’s sales and marketing director Nicola Wallis. She said: “The Hat Box will provide 144 fantastic new homes adjacent to Milliners Wharf, in the popular residential area of New Islington, creating around 500 jobs for the local area.

“The apartments will be light, airy, and spacious, completed to a high specification and most will have a balcony or private terrace. The Hat Box will have excellent facilities including a sky garden, secure parking and bicycle stores and is ideally located close to the Metrolink and within walking distance of the city centre.

“We have been overwhelmed by the level of sales enquiries we have received to date and we are really looking forward to launching our new show apartment this summer when the apartments will be available for sale.”

Simon McCabe, managing director of Scarborough, said: “We are thrilled to be delivering this high-quality, residential scheme in one of the UK’s most vibrant, cosmopolitan and progressive cities. By launching a Scarborough office in Manchester and with a development pipeline of £700m, we’ve demonstrated our commitment to deliver new homes in a dynamic city where there is strong demand for good quality housing.”

The Hat Box is being developed by Scarborough and its joint-venture partners Top Spring International Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed real estate developer in China, and Metro Holdings, a Singapore-listed property development and investment group. Together the group has formed a JV company called Fair Briar International.

172 new apartments and townhouses to be built in Hulme after green light from planners

BY BETH ABBIT

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What the Hulme Living project will look like

A project to build 172 new homes in Hulme has been approved by council planners.

A mixture of two-bed apartments and three-bed townhouses will be built across the two sites ‘Hulme Living’ after planners gave the green light to the scheme.

Building work on the new homes, which will be available for rent, is due to begin in the Spring on Royce Road and Leaf Street.

The new homes will be delivered by One Manchester and is the group’s first new build scheme.

Dave Power, chief executive of One Manchester, said he is delighted that the two planning applications have been approved by Manchester City Council.

He said: “Hulme Living is an extremely exciting project for One Manchester as it gives us an opportunity for the first time to build new market rent homes for people in the city.

“The project will bring direct community benefits including employment opportunities, apprenticeships and supply chain opportunities for local businesses. All revenue we make from the homes will be ploughed back into our work in the local area and our communities across Manchester – demonstrating our ability to find a new and better way to deliver the new homes our city needs.

“Preparations are underway to begin work in the spring and we remain committed to keeping nearby residents up to date with the progress of both sites.”

The new homes on Royce Road will consist of 67 two-bedroom apartments designed by OMI architects and will be situated on a corner site where Royce Road meets Chorlton Road.

The development on Leaf Street will have 105 new homes adjacent to Princess Parkway. Designed by Mecanoo, the site will offer a mixture of two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom townhouses.

All revenues earned from the new homes will be reinvested back into community development programmes, including future housebuilding, to help improve the lives of people living in One Manchester’s communities.

A building contractor for the work is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

Information about Hulme Living is available at www.hulmeliving.co.uk and will be updated as the development progresses.

A global engineering firm has picked the Soapworks development as its new north west base.

MWH Global has signed a 10-year lease at the Salford Quays building, which is now 90 per cent let.

The firm, which operates in the water and natural resources sectors, has taken 25,000 sq ft over two floors of the Soapworks, which is near to MediaCityUK.

It was developed by The Carlyle Group with its joint-venture partners Nikal and Abstract Securities.

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The deal means there is just 25,000 sq ft remaining at the Soapworks.

It followings lettings to TalkTalk and The Home Office.

MWH Global will be the first tenant to occupy the second phase of Soapworks. The lease starts in October 2015.

Ben Du Boulay, director of The Carlyle Group, said: “For an internationally recognised business such as MWH Global to acquire office space at Soapworks is a major endorsement of the new environment we have created.

“Our commitment to provide a working environment that is unique, modern and versatile has seen us successfully let 90 per cent of our space to welcome renowned brands to Manchester and building relationships with the highest calibre of clients as a result.

“We are looking forward to what the future holds for Soapworks, as our new occupiers move in and we continue with the potential to develop this fantastic site of up to a further 160,000 sq ft of space on Block D, into an environment that will mirror the standard already achieved throughout Soapworks.”

Tom Standring, of MWH Global, said: “Our business is made up of a highly experienced team of over 7,000 employees, over six continents: this means that making sure that everyone has the very best working environment possible is extremely important to us.

“Soapworks has provided us with adaptable and contemporary space in a location that allows us to continue to attract the very best talent and further develop our core delivery in the north west – we can’t wait to move in.”

Chris Mulcahy of JLL represented The Carlyle Group and MWH were represented by CBRE. JLL and Canning O’Neill are joint agents on the Soapworks scheme.

You need to match the kind of property you can afford to buy with locations that people would want to live in.

Most people buying to let invest in property near where they live, as they probably know that market better than any other and can spot the kind of property and location that will do well.

They also have a better chance of keeping tabs on the property.

Bear in mind, though, that if you are a homeowner you already have one investment in the local property market, so choosing a different area or property type might leave you less exposed to future market changes.

3 ENSURE YOUR FIGURES ADD UP

Before you look around properties, write down the cost of houses you are aiming at and the rent you are likely to get. Buy-to-let lenders typically want rent to cover 125 per cent of the mortgage interest repayments on a loan and many demand 25 per cent — or even larger — deposits. The best rates for buy-to-let also come with large arrangement fees and even the better deals will be more expensive than residential mortgages.

Before you look at properties, write down the cost of houses you are aiming at and the rent you are likely to get

Before you look at properties, write down the cost of houses you are aiming at and the rent you are likely to get

Don’t forget maintenance costs. What will happen if the property sits empty — known as a ‘void period’ — for a month or two?

Make sure you know how much the mortgage repayments will be, and if you decide on a tracker mortgage, budget for rates to rise.

 

4 SHOP AROUND FOR LOANS

Don’t just walk into your bank or building society and ask for a mortgage. Many High Street lenders don’t handle buy-to-let borrowing.

Speak to a good independent broker. They can talk you through the deals available and help you weigh up which one is right for you, and whether to fix or track.

5 TARGET YOUR IDEAL TENANT

Instead of asking yourself whether you’d like to live in your buy-to-let property, put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant.

Who are they and what do they want? If they are students, the property needs to be easy to clean and comfortable, but not luxurious. If they are young professionals, it should be modern and stylish, not overbearing. If they are a family, they will have their own belongings and will need a blank canvas.

Allowing tenants to make their mark on a property makes it feel more like home for them and they will want to stay longer.

Instead of asking yourself if you would live in your  property, put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant

Instead of asking yourself if you would live in your  property, put yourself in the shoes of your target tenant

6 DON’T BE TOO AMBITIOUS

Experts say invest for income, not short-term capital growth from rising house prices. To compare different properties’ values, use their yield, ie, annual rent received as a percentage of the purchase price. For example, a property delivering £10,000 of rent that costs £200,000 has a 5 per cent yield. Rent should be the key return for buy-to-let.

Most buy-to-let mortgages are done on an interest-only basis, so the amount borrowed will not be paid off over time.

This is tax-efficient, as you can offset mortgage payments against your tax bill. If you can get a rental return substantially over the mortgage payments, then once you have built up an emergency fund, you can save or invest any extra cash.

Remember that running costs, maintenance bills and agents’ fees will eat into your return. You may want to consider whether buy-to-let still beats an investment fund or trust once these costs are taken into account.

Once the mortgage, other costs and tax are considered, you will want the rent to build up over time so you can use it as a deposit for further investments, or to pay off the mortgage at the end of its term. This means you will have benefited from the income from rent, paid off the loan and hold the property’s full capital value.

7 LOOK FOR POTENTIAL

Most buy-to-let investors look for properties near where they live. But your town may not be the best investment.

Cast your net wider and look at towns with good commuting links that are popular with families or have a university. It is also worth looking at properties that need improvement — they can be negotiated on for a better sale price, then spruced up.

Most buy-to-let investors look for properties near where they live, but that may not be the best investment

Most buy-to-let investors look for properties near where they live, but that may not be the best investment

8 HAGGLE OVER PRICE

As a buy-to-let investor you have the same advantage as a first-time buyer when it comes to negotiating a discount.

If you are not reliant on selling a property to buy another, you are not in a chain and represent less risk of a sale falling through. This can be a big help when negotiating a discount. Make low offers and don’t be talked into overpaying. Know your market — and remember it’s useful to find out why someone is selling and how long they have owned the property.

9 KNOW THE PITFALLS

Before you make any investment, investigate the downsides. House prices are rising but growth has slowed and they could fall. If property prices dip, will you be able to continue holding your investment?

Mortgage rates are low at the moment and that is encouraging people to invest, as rental income comfortably covers the mortgage. But what if they rise again?

Homes often need repairing and things can go wrong. If you don’t have enough in the bank to cover a major repair, such as a new boiler, then don’t invest yet.

10 VISIT EVERY SIX MONTHS

It really pays to look after your tenants, then they will look after you. The biggest drag on many a buy-to-let landlord’s investment returns is when they don’t have anyone in the property. Good tenants who want to stay help avoid this — and if they move on, they may recommend your property to someone else.

Keep up with maintenance, make sure your property is a nice place to live and try to build up a good, personal relationship.

Landlords should visit the property every six months for an inspection, giving tenants a week or two’s notice. Most assured shorthold tenancies are for six months, then reviewed. This can help to build the relationship, and it enables you to keep an eye on any possible tenancy problems.

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