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19 December 2006

Energy performance certificates

These are soon to be required for each completed new home and will give purchasers an indication of the energy performance of their new home. The NHBC intends to extend their services to include providing Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) which are required for each completed plot with effect from 1 July 2007.

19 December 2006

New legislation known as the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order came into force October 2006

This replaces the Fire Precautions Act and places responsibility for fire safety and ongoing risk management with the building owner or employer. The additional effect on dwellings is that Building Control is required to consult with the Fire Authority on the common areas of flat developments (stairwells, corridors).

19 December 2006

Terraced houses becoming more popular

According to the NHBC’s statistics for the third quarter, 18% of new homes started are terraced houses. This compares to 14% semi-detached and 18% detached.

The north of England has seen the biggest increase, with 19% of new homes being terraced, compared with just 9% in 2000. House builders looking to provide a greater proportion of more affordable housing, together with land and planning constraints being likely reasons for this increase.

30 November 2006

House Prices continue to rise

Both Halifax and Nationwide show average house price rises of 9.6% for the year to 30 November 2006. The average price of a home has risen to £187,995 (Halifax) and £172,185 (Nationwide)

30 September 2006

House prices rise 8.6%

Figures from the Land Registry for the third quarter of 2006 show the average annual price rise of 8.66% with the average house price now at  £211,453.

18 September 2006

The Land Registry launches "Chain Matrix"

The land Registry is testing a prototype of a system that will allow buyers and sellers to check how many other people are involved in their particular property chain. The scheme is named Chain Matrix and it will be tested in the Bristol, Fareham, and Portsmouth areas from November 2006.

The Land Registry’s website states that ..... "most residential property sales are part of a chain - with each transaction dependent on the progress of others further up or down the line. Hold-ups in the chain can cause long delays for everyone involved, made worse by the difficulty of locating the bottlenecks. Chain Matrix will make the process clearer and more understandable by allowing conveyancers, estate agents, lenders, buyers and sellers to keep track of their chains. Conveyancers will update the information on screen at each key stage of a sale or purchase. The professionals will then be able to pinpoint and sort out any problems while buyers and sellers are kept fully informed of the progress of their counterparts up and down the chain."

This system will be of particular interest to the new home buyer as they are invariably at the head of the property chain and therefore more likely to suffer should there be any problems further down.

16 September 2006

Portman and Nationwide building societies announce proposed merger

Portman Building Society have recently announced that they propose "merging" with the Nationwide in September 2007. Robert Sharpe, Portman Chief Executive will retire on the date of the merger. Portman members have been informed they are likely to receive minimum "merger bonus" payments of just £200.

Is this bad news for Portman savers and borrowers? Nationwide savings rates are for most part not as attractive as those offered by the Portman. Nationwide mortgage rates are higher, Nationwide rates for both are seldom in the best-buy tables!

According to the Mail on Sunday, "Nationwide has more to learn from Portman about prudent management. A review of the latest accounts indicates that Portman generates more profits and fewer management expenses per pound of assets managed than Nationwide" Nationwide boss Philip Williamson has admitted that Nationwide "suffers from a poor back office"

Should Portman savers should think very carefully before agreeing to this takeover? - because that is what it is. The Nationwide has assets of £121 billion whilst the Portman has a mere £18 billion.

29 August 2006

Builder’s end of year approaching

Time is running out to reserve a new home to avoid a rushed "end of year" home. This run up to the year end is known in the industry as the silly season. If your new home still has scaffolding after the end of September it has the potential to be a rushed, lower quality home.  Click on the link to see builders end of year dates.

18 August 2006

NHBC News Online release

Increase in number of new  home applications:

The number of homes registered with the NHBC during the first six months of 2006 was 101,622 (Private : 88,358 and Housing Associations : 13,264) an increase of 8% on the same period for 2005.  The average anticipated selling price by builders is also up by 6% (from Q2 2005) to £190,000.

Drainage defect claims on the increase:

The number of drainage defects is increasing. Feedback from 2700 surveys carried out by the NHBC, found that whilst the drainage was being laid in accordance with manufacturer’s and NHBC standards, valid claims were increasing. This is thought to be caused by the increasing use of brownfield sites which may cause settlement to the drainage, the drainage being laid shallow with minimum falls and the increased use of forklift traffic on sites in recent years causing damage to shallow, unprotected drainage.

18 July 2006

Government announces phased HIP roll-out to begin with energy certificates

DCLG News Release 2006/0061

The Government today announced plans for the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates as part of the phased roll-out of Home Information Packs to help consumers cut costs and waste when buying a home and help the environment too.

The Home Information Packs will not now be required to include a costly (up to £400) Home Condition Report. This may be required at a later date “on a market-led basis.” The packs will still be required to include energy performance information and Energy Performance Certificate, together with local planning searches and ownership (Title) checks. This is thought to reduce the cost from around £600 to about £200.

April 2006

NHBC publishes it’s revised Customer Service - A Code of Conduct for house builders

This guidance document sets out to encourage house builders to establish their own customer charters and to improve their performance and standards of service to their customers.

NHBC's updated Code aims to encourage all NHBC registered builders to introduce a customer charter, or develop existing charters, to address the needs of home buyers from the first enquiry through to after-sales support. A charter which complies with the revised Code will commit house builders to explain to customers what standards of service, procedures and information they can expect. NHBC's new Code will help all house builders make clear customer-service commitments and live up to them. Many will wish to go beyond the standards stated in the updated Code and many already do.

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New Home News 2006