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Showing posts from June 10, 2013

Britons target 'cheap' holiday homes as Spanish house prices fall,,,

Bargain-hunting Britons are jumping on to the Spanish property ladder as house prices continue to fall, a specialist mortgage broker has reported. It says there has been a surge of interest in Spanish properties, which have suffered their biggest slump in value over the past year since the onset of the financial crisis in 2007. The country’s economic woes and banking problems have left properties struggling to sell in and across Spain. Normal 0 false false false EN-GB JA X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0cm; mso-para-margin-right:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso

French house prices warning for British owners already hit with 15% tax hike,,,

Britons with homes in France who already face a substantial tax hike on any profits they make if they sell are also at risk of a property slump as transactions dry up. A perfect storm is said to be blighting the market across the Channel. According to a report in the newspaper Le Parisien, property sales are being driven down by a sellers refusing to cut asking prices, higher taxes from the new French Socialist government, tighter credit conditions and would-be buyers stalling to see if house prices will fall. The report claimed 'the market is in freefall' with estate agents and solicitors reporting sales of previously owned homes down between 17 per cent and 40 per cent since the start of the year. In the gite: New French leader Francois Hollande has imposed tax hikes on the wealthy and overseas owners of French property. British owners of French property have already been hit this summer with the imposition of a 15.5 per cent extra social charge on profit on their h

Brits who bought a place in France in the boom turn to renters to make sums add up,,,

Back in the days of booming property prices and a strong pound, thousands of British people realised their dream of owning a holiday home in France. These lovingly renovated farmhouses or grand manoirs were intended to be used by themselves or family and friends for weekends and holidays. But not any more. Today, increasing numbers of holiday homes are being turned into part-time gites. Enlarge   To market: Second home owners are increasingly renting out their holiday houses Sally Stone, whose company Les Bons Voisins manages properties in France, says: ‘When I went into business ten years ago, the vast majority of my clients kept their home for themselves. ‘Over the past five years this has changed — considerably more than half now look to recoup some of the costs of owning a home in France by letting it commercially for holiday guests.’ But maximising a home’s rental potential needs careful preparation. ‘Guests now expect high standards — similar to staying in a good hotel,

Sober man DUI: Result of breathalyzer test leads to custody for 64-year-old Black man

Sober man DUI story took turn when the Result of breathalyzer test leads to custody for 64-year-old Black man. A elderly sober man was charged with DUI, and on Monday, the man who says he was a victim of a wrongful arrest is claiming that he was charged with Driving Under the Influence because he was black. Why would a man make such an accusation? Because he not only was charged with DUI unjustly he says, but the fact that he took a breathalyzer and blew 0.00 and still was hauled off to the police station has a lot to do with it. According to Thorton, he was pulled over by police, and when the officer came to his car door, he accused the older man of being under the influence. "'An officer walked up and he said 'I can tell you're driving DUI by looking in your eyes.' I take my glasses off and he says, 'You've got bloodshot eyes,’ says Thorton, recalling the story. That’s when the officer insisted that Thorton take a breathalyzer test. Thorton obliged, and

Spain offers residency to anyone buying a home worth more than £130,000 in bid to save its housing market,,

Spain plans to offer foreigners residency permits if they buy houses worth more than 160,000 euros - approximately £128,500 - to try and reduce the country's bloated stock of unsold homes.  Spain currently has more than 700,000 unsold houses following the collapse of its real estate market in 2008. Trade Ministry secretary Jaime Garcia-Legaz said the plan, expected to be approved in the coming weeks, would be aimed principally at the Chinese and Russian markets as the domestic demand was stagnant and showed no sign of improving. Badly hit: Spain has more than 700,000 unsold homes sitting vacant after its property boom collapsed in 2008 New measures: Foreigners who buy property worth more than 160,000 euros - approximately £128,500 - would be given residency permits under new proposals The country's economy is still struggling and is currently in recession with 25 per cent unemployment. Thousands of houses have been repossessed by banks and their owners evicted bec

France and Spain most popular places to buy home abroad,,,

Despite ongoing financial problems in the eurozone, the top two destinations for home buyers looking to snap up a property abroad are within the troubled region, research suggests. France tops the list, with 23 per cent of potential buyers looking to own a property across the Channel, according to the HiFX Property Hotspots report. However, interest from would-be buyers has dwindled in recent months - the same survey in March found that 35 per cent were interested in snapping up a property in France - a 12-point drop. French fancy: Properties across the Channel remain popular. Pictured, Moselle, in the East of France The fall could follows a recent property tax hike for foreign owners as the new socialist French government attempts to raise extra revenue. British owners of French property were hit this summer with the imposition of a 15.5 per cent extra social charge on profit on their homes, which cannot be offset against their UK capital gains tax bill. But many of those loo

St Lucia luxury resort turns to nightmare for British investors,,,

British investors who bought holiday homes and time in St Lucia have been left paying bills for their dream apartments, even though the development has been closed. The investors in Marlin Quay on the paradise Caribbean island claim they paid up to £40,000 for shares in holiday villas and apartments they cannot even visit. Some claim they are being forced to keep up maintenance payments to cover the upkeep of their unusable holiday homes, or risk losing ownership. Angry investors have turned on British-born Gavin French, a former car salesman from Aldershot, who is behind the development, dubbing his flagship site ‘the Fawlty Towers of the Caribbean’. French has already lost three legal cases brought by British investors in the St Lucia courts and been ordered to repay money. So far he has yet to pay out a penny. Marlin Bay – closed in 2008 for redevelopment – is not French’s only venture on the island. He has launched three others – Cotton Bay, which has been completed, and Canes an

How endowment payouts have crashed,,,

  Endowment policies have proved disastrous for many savers. We reveal how payouts on a 25-year policy have crashed over 20 years ENDOWMENT CRASH: PAYOUTS ON A 25-YEAR £50 POLICY Year Axa Equity & Law General Accident/CGNU Friends Provident Norwich Union Standard Life Source: Money Management, Money Mail. Benchmark 25 year policy at £50 a month 1992 104,403 110,093 106,948 100,723 110,399 1993 101,296 110,452 103,733 97,645 105,897 1994 104,436 110,639 103,980 98,423 106,632 1995 102,476 108,081 100,271 92,457 103,704 1996 104,944 111,900 103,658 92,535 104,671 1997 100,679 114,578 103,719 93,179 102,674 1998 97,497 120,809 106,188 100,247 107,379 1999 100,412 116,672 106,434 98,037 109,618 2000 98,495 118,567 102,341 89,518 100,373 2001 94,889 106,090 93,145 86,028 110,136 2002 78,666 89,795 82,100 73,640 99,747 2003 60,373

Crippling legacy of endowments revealed,,,

  Payouts on endowment policies have crashed by 75% since the late Eighties and early Nineties when most were sold, according to Money Mail research. Failure: The majority of endowments will not cover the accompanying mortgage. The research lays bare the desperate failings of these investments, which have blighted a generation of homeowners. Millions were sold in a commission-driven frenzy without regard to the risks they posed. More than 250,000 will pay out this year followed by another two million over the next five years. Throughout the Nineties, many policies paid out more than £100,000 to homeowners who had saved £50 a month for 25 years — some paid as much as £120,000. Now most pay less than £30,000 and some little more than £20,000. The vast majority won't produce enough to pay off the mortgage they were supposed to cover. Homeowners have been forced to pay extra each month on their mortgages, divert savings from elsewhere or carry on working past their planned ret

FSA will force insurers to give a better deal on with-profits,,,

  Insurers face tougher rules over the way they manage with-profits funds. Policy police: Sheila Nicoll of the FSA The Financial Services Authority is consulting on changes to ensure funds are run in the interests of more than 15 million savers who still hold plans. One aim is to clamp down on unfair exit penalties when savers want to cash in their pensions, endowments or bonds. Another is to make sure that policyholders get a fair share of any surplus funds. Sheila Nicoll, the director of conduct policy at the FSA, says: 'People are not always getting the treatment that they deserve.' Proposals include tougher regulation of market value reductions (MVRs), the charges levied when customers cash in early. The regulator wants to ensure these are proportional and not used to lock in savers. Patrick Connolly of adviser AWD Chase de Vere in Bath, Somerset, says: 'These MVRs are far from transparent. The new proposals should give policyholders greater confidence that t

Lower endowment payouts at Royal London,,,

  Homeowners with mortgage endowments from Royal London Mutual and Scottish Life will face a shortfall when their policies mature. New figures show a with-profits endowment policyholder at Royal London Mutual can expect a payout of £34,304, down 3.3% on a similar policy maturing last year. This is based on a £50-a-month saving over 25 years taken out by a man coming up to his 30th birthday. At Scottish Life, part of the same group, the figure is £29,313, down 4%. The figures are both less than the £35,837 paid out by Prudential, the largest insurer, on a similar policy. Some 95% of all mortgage endowment policyholders at Scottish Life will face a shortfall — and 53% of those with Royal London. The payout on a personal pension plan with Royal London Mutual is £90,296 based on a £200-a-month saving over 20 years for a man retiring at 65. The payout is 1.3% up on a similar policy which matured last year. At Scottish Life the pension payout is £77,408, 4.3% down on a s

LV= with-profits and endowments investors share £10m,,,

  Some 200,000 investors in with­ profits bonds and mortgage endowments with mutual insurer LV= are in line for an average bonus of £50. This is the first time the mutual, previously known as Liverpool Victoria, has paid out a dividend of this type since its formation in 1843. It says it has been made possible by its 'substantial growth' in the past few years. The bonus, which amounts to £10m, will be paid into the mutual's giant with­-profits fund on September 1. Investors will get the money when their plan matures or when they cash in. It equates to a boost of just 0.5% for each member. But the firm says it hopes to be able to issue a bonus of 1% each year in future, if all goes well. It aims to provide members with another £50 boost on average by the end of the financial year next April. This could make a big difference to savers in the longer term. Without the bonus, a £25,000 investment in a with-­profits bond would be worth £45,900 in ten years. Wi

The returns on my endowment policy are rather small - should I cancel it?,,,

Last year, the value rose by only £309 for an outlay of £496. If I cancelled, what could I expect? Mrs M.G., Derbyshire Dilemma: In October 1996, I took a mortgage endowment with the Woolwich, paying £41.35 per month. I have paid in £7,443 and the value is only £7,601... Money Mail's financial agony uncle Tony Hazell says: One vital aspect of an endowment, because it includes life insurance, is your age. After speaking to your husband, I have discovered you are 45, that he is 20 years older than you, that you have no dependent children and your mortgage is paid off. You have a secure job with a good pension. It is therefore reasonable to question why you would need the life insurance provided by this endowment.   More... ASK TONY: The catalogue of woes that's cost me £1,700 You have what is known as a unit-linked plan, which basically means the value of the investment will go up and down as share prices rise and fall. When I inquired, it was worth £7,286.77.

TONY HETHERINGTON: Adviser's 'help' left me with an unfinished Cyprus apartment,,,

Tony Hetherington, Financial Mail's investigator, takes on readers' problems. This week, an adviser who left a customer sorely out of pocket and a student's Santander difficulty that highlights a cheque fraud menace If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS. P.L.writes: I needed to rethink my finances after a relationship break-up and I contacted the Marcus James Group in Essex for advice. It arranged to remortgage my home to fund a down-payment on a property in Cyprus that it suggested would be a great investment for me. I have had nothing but problems ever since, and have been committed to an arrangement that is unaffordable. I complained, but the firm says it is simply an ‘introducer’ and will take no responsibility. I have lost more than £30,000. Broken dream: Victim's flat in Paphos, Cyprus, is still unfinished When you split up with your partner you wanted to remor

70,000 homebuyers can expect a shortfall on endowment mortgages with Aviva,,

More than 70,000 homebuyers can this year expect a shortfall on endowment mortgages with one of Britain’s biggest insurers.     Aviva, which looks after £50 billion for some 1.8  million customers in its with profits fund, has cut some bonuses paid on its funds.     The payouts for those with policies with the old General Accident and Norwich Union — both part of Aviva — coming to the end of their term this year are down on similar deals which matured last year.      A 25-year policy invested in the CGNU (General Accident) fund produced £31,950, down 5.9 per cent on last year’s £33,937. Policies linked to the Norwich Union fund will pay out £23,465, down 7.4 per cent on the £25,353 last year. The figures are based on a 25-year endowment taken out by a 29-year-old man paying in £50 a month.   More... Mortgage tricks: How to keep your ultra-low tracker AND protect yourself from rate rises Is the mortgage market heating up? Post Office slashes fixed rates by as much as 1% Endowment m

JAMES CONEY: Many find that dreams are turned to dust,,,

Many who lived through the Eighties remember it as holding the promise of untold wealth for those who had previously been unable to share in the country’s prosperity. At the heart of this was a soaring stock market and a boom in house prices. But where there is money there is greed. And this also became a time when platoons of unscrupulous salesmen for financial services companies were unleashed to sell untold dud policies to millions — most devastatingly, endowments. Culture of excess: At the heart of the Eighties' boom was a soaring stock market The cost of these chronically failing investments is only now becoming apparent. The toxic nature of these policies has turned to dust the dreams of millions of borrowers still repaying interest-only mortgages. For nearly a quarter of a century, hundreds of thousands of borrowers have faithfully paid into endowments after being convinced that one day they would repay the capital value of their home. They were flogged by starr

Exiting with-profits: Ten things you need to consider,,,

The Great Escape: If you are thinking about exiting your with-profits investment there are important things to consider first Endowment policies and with-profits investments have proved to be a major disappointment to many savers in recent years. While some with-profits policies have done well, the industry has been dogged by mis-selling and poor performing investments that have failed to meet expectations. With-profits is sold as a cautious investment that helps smooth out the bad years by keeping aside some of gains in the good years. However, for many investors projected growth has proved over ambitious and simply paying into a best buy savings account could have proved more lucrative. An extra level of complexity is added by the fact that due to their complicated structure, it is far harder to work out how a with-profits policy is performing than with an investment fund. All of this means that many savers end up ditching poor performing policies. But another big problem savers

Lettings agents are to be regulated for the first time - what will it mean for tenants and landlords?,,,

MPs are today set to approve rules that are hoped will banish rogue lettings agents, forcing them to sign up to schemes that provide victims of unscrupulous practices with compensation. After years of calls for regulation of the lettings industry the Government is set to bow to pressure to implement rules, via an amendment to the enterprise bill, that will compel agents to repay tenants and landlords they have cheated. While estate agents already abide by a strict set of rules, this will mark the first time that the lettings industry has seen statutory regulation after years of self-regulation. Booming business: But the country's huge demand for rentals allows rogue agents to slip through the gap. What's the problem? There are two redress schemes currently run in the UK - The Property Ombudsman (TPO) and Ombudsman Services: Property - but they are voluntary only. Trade bodies such as the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) and the UK Association of Lettings A

Coastal towns and Northern cities now buy-to-let hotspots as landlords cash in on high yields,,,

Inexpensive property prices coupled with strong rental demand have made seaside towns and areas of the North such as Blackpool, Hull, Manchester and Nottingham the most lucrative hunting grounds for buy-to-let landlords, research has revealed. Southampton tops the list of locations with the highest average rental, at 7.82 per cent per year. Landlords seem to have cottoned on to the high returns as rental accommodation makes up almost a quarter of the housing in the City, according to the data from high street bank HSBC. The average Southampton property costs £138,311, while the average rent is a meaty £901 a month. Buy-to-let winner: The seaside town of Blackpool is one of the top places to invest in a rental property, according to data But making up the rest of the top five are northern areas. Blackpool for instance has an average property price of £75,943 and rents of £494, giving it a rental yield just behind Southampton of 7.81 per cent.   More... Buy-to-let rent calcul

Time to drag buy-to-let mortgages out of the wild west | Bank of Ireland,,,

In the wilderness: Buy-to-let mortgages remain in the regulatory wild west, despite their popularity Imagine a financial product potentially worth hundreds of thousands of pounds a pop and sold a shade under 150,000 times a year, often by High Street banks and building societies. People tempted into these deals are regularly putting down their life savings, or a substantial chunk of them, and many are taking their first foray into such investments. You could be forgiven for thinking that such a concept would be regulated. But, instead, the buy-to-let mortgage remains firmly stuck in the wild west when it comes to consumer protection. This is something some Bank of Ireland buy-to-let borrowers are finding to their cost. Their tracker mortgages have leapt from a pay rate of 2.25 per cent to 4.99 per cent at the lender's whim. A similar hike is also hitting some residential mortgage borrowers, but while they can complain to the watchdog landlords cannot, because buy-to-let loans

Movers cash in on the rental boom to invest buy-to-let,,,

Movers are cashing in on a buy-to-let boom by hanging on to their existing home and then renting it out. The number of borrowers buying a new property and letting their old one soared by 40 per cent in 2012, according to broker John Charcol. And the surge is continuing this year. The average rental yield, which shows rental profit as a proportion of the value of a property, is now 5.3 per cent — compared with 4.7 per cent three years ago, according to LSL Property Services. And buy-to-let mortgage rates have plunged. The average fixed deal has fallen from 5.09 per cent in August to 4.44 per cent today. The average variable rate is down from 4.58 per cent to 4.22 per cent. Plus, there are now 488 buy-to-let loans up for grabs compared with just 283 in April 2010. As a result, many people looking to move home are seizing the opportunity to become a landlord. The first hurdle in this process is working out what you can afford. It can be tricky calculating how to split your borrowing betw

A guide to how to pay off your mortgage early,,,

  Paying off your mortgage early is one of the best investments you can make. You get rid of your biggest debt fast, you are no longer at the mercy of the see-saw property market and you can put the money you are no longer paying on the mortgage to good work. Borrowing heavily makes sense in a world of high inflation, which we saw in the Seventies and Eighties, because inflation reduces the value of the debt. But in a world of low inflation the debt stays pretty much as it is. Inflation may have risen in recent years but it is currently relatively low historically speaking, especially using the Government's preferred Consumer Prices Index measure. Crucially, however, just having inflation is not the key to eroding your debt,  you also need wage inflation. This has been virtually non-existent since the recession hit and if you can't rely on large wage increases reducing your debt then paying it off asap is a wise move. >> Check the current inflation rate Enl

Term life insurance: How to get the cheapest quote,,,

  Choosing the right way to buy life insurance can save you thousands of pounds. We explain how at the bottom of this guide, but first a few other issues... What to buy A range of insurance policies will pay some kind of benefit if your health suffers or you are unable to work. You can read about the different types here. Life insurance is the cover that pays a specified sum if you die. Unlike other health related insurances, there are no criteria that need to be met when the insurer decides if you can claim: you are either dead or you're not. That means that the policies on offer are, broadly speaking, the same and that buyers can hunt for the cheapest policy without having to compromise on the standard of cover. However, there are some important points to remember. You can buy three types of life insurance - level term assurance, decreasing term assurance and whole-of-life insurance. Level term assurance is taken out for a specified period of time - known as the term