The Future of Property Demand in the UK

Sheree Foy, founder of Source Harrogate, has told the Yorkshire Post her predictions for the future of property demand in the UK.

Firstly, she dismissed ideas that Brexit will have a long term effect. On the supply side, she says, not a great deal will change. Demand, however, may be affected. Growth forecasts show reductions over the next two years, and there are rumours amongst financial analysts of a 50-50 chance of recession.

Along with base rate reductions by the Bank of England to a record low of 0.25%, cheaper mortgage rates, and the prospect of further interest rate plummets, property demand may be a bigger issue.

But Foy is less interested in these matters, looking to the longer term.

So what are the big issues around property demand in coming decades?


Property Demand by Demographics

Over the next ten years, we will see a significant rise in the over 65 age group, combined with a dramatic rise in over 85s. One in five people in the UK right now will live to see their 100th birthday, according to the Department of Work and Pensions.

From this, Foy predicts a rise in property demand for bungalows, and other homes suitable for later life living. Foy labels these properties as “rare asset[s] with a guaranteed increase in demand” – and notes that those who plan ahead with their investments to meet this upcoming property demand are set to reap rewards.

Homes with smaller gardens, close to towns, with adapted kitchens and bathrooms, are all winners.

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Property Demand by Location

Over the last ten years, farming has become increasingly more automated, leading to an inward flow to towns, which are more attractive than ever.

On the other hand, public transport is becoming less available, with journey times taking longer and longer. Without a drastic overhaul of the public transport network, property demand in cities and towns could continue to rise.

Nonetheless, Foy is banking on a return to the country facilitated by technology. Better broadband connections and speeds are making home working an increasingly available option for many, whilst the predicted adoption of driverless cars in coming years will also relieve much of the strain of commuting. With this eventuality on the horizon, country living could equally be set to rise in popularity.

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Property Demand By Energy

As we move further away from dependence on huge power stations in favour of multiple source and sustainable energy sources, EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates) are set to become crucially important to the desirability of a property.

More locally generated power, from solar powers to wind turbines, are growing in use in domestic settings. Homes with adverse EPCs, Foy states, just aren’t selling like they used to.

To increase the desirability of your property, Foy recommends staying on top of energy efficiency in the home. Replace old boilers, insulate walls and roof spaces, double/triple glaze those windows, and look into home power generation options.

 


Planning ahead for future property demand is a key factor to take into account when investing in property. Choose your weapons wisely, and build a portfolio that will stand the test of time.


 

5 Ways To Find The Best Property Investment Areas

Whether you’re buying a property investment in the rental sector, or to sell on within the residential sales market, you’ll be looking to get the best return on your investment. So how do you go about ascertaining the best property investment areas to target?

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We take a look at the top five factors to consider before investing in property, and the questions you ought to be asking yourself to ensure you’re looking in the best property investment areas for your money.

  1. Local Trends

  • What are the current cost trends in the region?

  • Are housing prices here rising quicker than other regions?

  • What is the average cost within other neighbouring towns, and how does your town compare?

It’s worth starting with a broad area you’re hoping to target, and zoning in from there on the best property investment areas to focus on.

  1. Indications of Growth

  • What new infrastructure developments are being constructed in the area (schools, transport networks, shopping areas)?

  • What industrial growth is going on (businesses putting down roots, new job opportunities)?

  • What residential regeneration projects might you be able to get in on?

Spend some time in your desired area, and do plenty of research into what’s going on at ground level. Where there are concrete signs of development for the future, there is opportunity, as potential buyers (or tenants) flood to the area for work and leisure.

  1. Tax Implications

  • What is the tax charge likely to be?

  • How are property taxes likely to increase in the near future?

It’s a good idea to have a chat with a local tax assessor, and gain some trustworthy advice from a tax expert. Find out about tax structures, and any that will specifically apply to your area.

  1. Schooling

  • What are the OFSTED reports of local schools?

  • What do the GCSE and A Level results look like of catchment area secondary schools?

  • What family demographics dominate your desired area?

Any families looking to buy (or rent) a property are very driven towards areas in catchment for the best schools. In many cases, good catchment areas are reflected in the house prices in the area. Schools are a key factor that indicate the best property investment areas to focus on. Don’t underestimate the value that parents place on where their children will be educated.

  1. Outlying Regions to Cities and Towns

  • What are the transport networks like from outlying towns and villages into the main city/town?

  • Where are the job opportunities for those likely to buy in your desired area?

Whilst prices will be high, and supply low, within cities and affluent towns, some of the smaller towns and villages in the outskirts can be particularly desirable.

Rural areas where public transport is less freely available are actually more desirable for many buyers, where village schools are often well-appointed, and space and scenery make a pleasant contrast from working in the city, are very desirable. Such rural regions are very likely to see high value rises over time.

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Understanding the market will help you identify the best property investment areas to target.

These five factors to consider are perhaps the best ones to implement if you’re hoping to generate an income from investment in property. As always, it’s best to do as much research as possible, and to seek as much expert advice as you can.


 

UK Property Market Growth Slows

… but prices continue to rise!

The latest Hometrack UK Cities Index has shown that the annual rate of house price growth in twenty of the UK’s largest cities slowed to 8.2% in August 2016. In July, growth had been at 9.5%. The average house price in the UK, as a result, was £239,400. Prices are still rising, but just not as fast at the moment.

Why Is the UK Housing Market Slowing?

People are finding it increasingly difficult to buy a home whilst the UK housing market continues to inflate quicker than earnings, particularly in the south, where many potential buyers are finding themselves completely priced out of the market. This fact is what is probably most of the reason for the slowdown in house price growth over the last couple of months.

There’s also the factor of the shock outcome of the EU Referendum, which gave lots of potential buyers reason to pause for thought. And, of course, is also in part due to the recent interest rate cut by the Bank of England.

So What’s the Good News?

Nonetheless, these disruptions to the UK housing market don’t seem to have had a lasting effect, and we’re seeing the market begin to settle down again now. This is good news that suggests an underlying strength within the residential UK housing market, which will hopefully see us optimistically into the long term.

What Does this Mean for Investors in the UK Property Market?

There is still a massive imbalance between supply and demand of properties on the market. This goes some way to explaining the continuing growth of the rental sector, and why property investors are increasingly leaning towards buy-to-let investment, including HMOs, as their investment of choice.

If residential property as an investment is still on your radar, however, then it’s still a good time to buy. There are signs that house prices are going to continue to rise, and getting in whilst there’s a chance you can afford to could pay in the longer term.

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For investors in the property market wishing to take the sensible route of diversifying their portfolio, record low interest rates make the potentially higher returns of equity crowdfunding and P2P lending for Real Estate an appetising option.

So choose your weapon… all signs point to a continually promising future for the UK property market.

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Our August 2016 Statistics: P2P Secured Loans

Our August 2016 Statistics: P2P Secured Loans

In addition to our equity-based crowdfunding investments, did you know we also offer peer-to-peer secured loans for real estate? We’ve been offering these since 2015, with much success. See below details of our August 2016 statistics to find out how these performed last month.

What is secured peer to peer lending for real estate?

Peer to peer lending is a type of debt financing, allowing individuals to borrow money without backing or by using traditional financial institutions. By lending through P2P on real estate, there is the chance for higher return yields (though, of course, this comes with some risk to capital). You can find out more with our free Guide to Making Peer To Peer Secured Loans.

Check out how these performed in our August 2016 statistics…

Here’s the stats to show how these P2P secured loans are doing as of August 2016 (Gross):

  • Total Sum Loaned –£8,784,684
  • Total Returns Paid – £127,241
  • No of Loans – 22
  • No of Loans Repaid – 7
  • Average Loan Period – 10 months
  • Default Rate – 0%
  • Average Loan Size – £399,304
  • Average Loan to Value – 68%
  • Average Interest Rate Paid – 9.00%

You can learn more about our secured peer to peer loans by downloading our free guide here.

You can also read more about our new peer to peer loans, equity investments and property crowdfunding by simply registering on our website by hitting the purple button. Alternatively, have a browse through our current investment opportunities by clicking the blue button!

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If you have any questions about investing in peer to peer secured lending or property crowdfunding, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We’re always happy to offer advice and information on all aspects of property investment to help you choose the right investment method for you.

HMOs: Targeting Young Professionals in Shared Accommodation

Specialist commercial lender, Shawbrook Bank, has released a report highlighting HMO Investment Growth as a result of the increasing popularity of shared accommodation.

Young professionals, as you may already be aware, are focusing more on the rental sector. Of course, this is partially down to high house prices. However, the report notes that this demographic are sticking to the rental sector, and shared accommodation in particular, due to the capacity for higher levels of disposable income.

A further survey undertaken by Spareroom.co.uk, which studied 10,000 tenants living in shared accommodation, found over 70% of participants to be under the age of 30, with over 50% identifying as ‘single’.

The combined factors of high house prices and desirability of higher disposable income is compounded by the importance of social life to this group. The Millennial generation is one where friends and fun are key to life satisfaction. It’s no wonder then that living with a group of friends is the accommodation choice for young professionals and recent graduates.

HMO Investment Growth Fuels Landlord Interest

From the property investor’s point of view, HMOs, therefore, are becoming an increasingly popular choice of investment. Compared to other buy-to-let investments, HMOs yield an average of 10% per annum. This compares favourably compared with the 6-7% rental yield to be expected from standard buy-to-lets and blocks of flats on a single freehold title.

With HMO Investment Growth fast coming under the radar of landlords, competition is stiff. As such, investors seeking to cash in on these high rental yields are increasingly finding ways to set their property apart from the rest.

Higher spec HMO properties are springing up, particularly in the popular urban centres favoured by shared accommodation-loving young professionals. Included wifi, flat screen TVs in communal areas of the property, high quality fixtures and fittings, and other features perceived as appealing to their desired tenants, are outlays investors are prepared to make in order to reel in those 10% yields.

Shawbrook’s report concludes with these words:

“Demand for this asset class is on a consistent upward trend… with the supply/demand challenges across the UK housing landscape, and the resulting importance of the Private Rented Sector, HMO property is and will remain an essential and affordable source”.

That being said, local authorities are quickly catching on. Licensing schemes for HMOs are being considered and implemented in some areas, which will limit the number of such properties available in particular districts. As such, anyone considering HMO investment will need to look into this before deciding on their purchase.

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10 Key Facts About Property Crowdfunding and P2P Lending

Whether you’re a seasoned investor, or are just getting started in the world of property investment, property crowdfunding should already be on your radar. Allowing yourself the opportunity to build a diverse portfolio of properties with a significantly lower outlay (not to mention a lot less work!) is shaping up to be the investor’s model of choice.

The buy-to-let market seems to be on the rise, particularly in cities like Manchester where rental yields are the highest in the country. However, becoming the landlord of a buy-to-let property comes with a range of challenges that you might not fancy. From dealing with tenants, who can sometimes be problematic, to maintaining the property and dealing with management company fees.

That’s probably the main reason that aspiring investors are turning to crowdfunding and P2P lending as a way to get on the property ladder. You can create a diversified portfolio and cash in on potentially lucrative returns for less than the cost of investing in whole properties, and without the additional costs associated with it.

If you’re new to crowdfunding, then you might have some questions. No problem! At The House Crowd, we’re always here to keep you in the loop. So, with that in mind, we’ve put together ten key facts about the world of property crowdfunding and P2P lending in Real Estate! You can thank us later.


  1. In 2015, Real Estate and Housing was the leading sector in the alternative finance market.
  1. Equity and debt-based funding for Real Estate Alternative Finance amounted to nearly £700 million in 2015. That far surpassed any other industry.
  1. Equity crowdfunding in property investment means that pooled investment from a number of individuals comes together to fund the purchase of a property development.

A management company then purchases the property, once the full amount has been raised, and each of those who have invested receives a proportion of rental income corresponding to the value of their investment.

  1. Over 600 developments in both commercial and residential property were financed through P2P real estate lending last year.
  1. At present, it’s not possible to use P2P real estate lending to finance your own personal residential mortgage.
  1. The House Crowd was formed in 2012, and was the first property crowdfunding investment company in the UK.
  1. By using the new Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA), any returns you receive from your crowdfunding or P2P lending will be tax-free, up to the amount of £15,240 (at time of writing).
  1. The Government are totally behind the Real Estate Alternative Finance sector. Tax incentives, such as the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) and SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme), are all part of Government backing that’s helping the industry to grow.
  1. The IFISA is a real winner for the Real Estate Alternative Finance industry. P2P Real Estate lending platforms expect over 50% in transactional growth this year, as a result of the IFISA’s launch in April 2016, and over 30% for the property crowdfunding sector.
  1. Whilst there is often a lack of support for investors in the case of a property crowdfunding platform going bust (this form of investment is not covered by the FSCS), at The House Crowd you’d still continue to own your proportion of the property, and would get together with the other investors to decide what to do. You’d collectively decide to either sell the property, or get someone else to manage it.

Also, if you want to exit from your investment term early, The House Crowd will help you find a buyer for your shares (in which case, you’ll get back what you invested, plus your dividend payment), or you are free to find your own buyer (and make a private arrangement regarding the financials).


These are some of the key aspects of the property crowdfunding and P2P alternative finance market for Real Estate. These should give you some idea of what the sector looks like, and help you decide whether this form of investment is right for you. Of course, as with any investment, you’ll have to take a good look at your risk tolerance, as there are risks involved.

If you want to learn more about the sector within which The House Crowd works, take a look at our in-depth report into the industry here.

The Alternative Finance Marketplace: How is Real Estate Shaping Up?

We’ve been eagerly poring through NESTA’s 2015 UK Alternative Finance Industry Report, ‘Pushing Boundaries’, since it was published in February this year. The report offers a fascinating, in-depth look at all areas of the alternative finance industry, including – crucially – the Real Estate Alternative Finance (crowdfunding and Real Estate P2P lending) market.

If you like data, you’ll love it. But if you’d prefer something a bit more readable, you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve put together our own guide to the state of the alternative finance industry, keeping the emphasis squarely on Real Estate Alternative Finance, of course.

Things have changed since NESTA published its report, ‘The Rise of Future Finance’ in 2013. At that time, the alternative finance industry was worth £939m.  In 2015, NESTA reported its value at £3.2bn. The market is on course to surpass the £5bn mark in 2016.

Real Estate Alternative Finance - QUOTE 1

It’s not just financially that the alternative finance sector has grown. It has evolved taxonomically, too.

In the 2013 report, NESTA identified a range of distinct funding models operating in the sector. Two years later, 28% of alternative finance platforms surveyed reported that they were operating a ‘mixed’ or ‘other’ business model, which does not fit into the existing taxonomy.

Real Estate Alternative Finance: Crowdfunding and P2P Lending Tops the Tables

The 2013 report has no mention whatsoever of the terms ‘real estate’ or ‘housing’. And yet, by 2015, NESTA’s report segments data on Real Estate Alternative Finance into its own category, such is the proportion of the industry it covers.

In 2015, Real Estate and Housing was the most popular sector for the alternative finance market.

  1. Real Estate and Housing
  2. Technology
  3. Manufacturing and Engineering
  4. Food and Drink
  5. Retail and Wholesale
  6. Leisure and Hospitality
  7. Community and Social Enterprise
  8. Finance
  9. Construction
  10. Education and Research

Combined debt and equity-based funding for Real Estate Alternative Finance amounted to nearly £700m in 2015, with P2P business lending in Real Estate (for mortgages and property development) taking the lion’s share: £609m – 41% of the total volume of P2P business loans in 2015.

The market volume of equity-based crowdfunding is much more modest, coming in at £87m for 2015, still a very significant sum.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 2

P2P Business Lending in Real Estate

In 2015, P2P real estate lending financed over 600 commercial and residential developments, mostly by small to medium sized property developers.

Of that hearty £609m funding sum for 2015, Real Estate P2P lending saw increased growth throughout the year:

Q1 → £120.78m

Q2 → £146.81m

Q3 → £152.96m

Q4 → £188.12m

Perhaps some of this extraordinary success has something to do with institutional funding in the P2P Real Estate lending sector? Institutional funding was around 25% in 2015, and up to 75% on some platforms.

P2P business lending for Real Estate comprises a range of financing models and products. There are the short term bridging finance loans, which run for a 12 to 18 month period. Them, there are the longer term (3-5 years) commercial and residential mortgages, and construction/development debt finance.

In 2015, the average size of P2P loans for Real Estate came in at £522,333, slightly under 2014’s £662,425 average. The figure for 2015 was more in line with the average UK house price than the previous year. This may be due to the growing use of P2P lending in funding residential and commercial mortgages, rather than the larger developments focused on in 2014.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 3

Just a quick clarification point here: regulatory constraints mean you cannot use P2P Real Estate lending for your own residential mortgage.

It’s also not a done deal to apply for a loan for a Real Estate development: in 2015, 27.5% of loan applications in P2P Real Estate lending were accepted.

The average number of lenders required to fund a typical P2P Real Estate loan? 490.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 4

Equity-Based Crowdfunding for Real Estate

This model enables investors to acquire ownership of a property asset, via the purchase of shares, either of a single property, or a number of properties as part of a portfolio.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 5

In 2015, equity-based crowdfunding for Real Estate raised a total of £87m, for 174 development projects. This is how the annual quarters looked:

Q1 → £13.09m

Q2 → £23.16m

Q3 → £35.70m

Q4 → £14.63m

Equity-based crowdfunding for Real Estate had a great year in 2015. The record for fastest funding for a development project was set: £843,100 was raised in just 10 minutes and 43 seconds, from a total of 319 investors!

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 6

Unlike P2P Real Estate lending, with equity-based crowdfunding, there is scarcely any institutional involvement. Of the 10,626 funders participating in Real Estate crowdfunding, NESTA found that only 3% were categorised as institutional investors by the platform. This contrasts with the 77% of sophisticated or high net worth investors in the model.

Yes, equity based crowdfunded property investment is much more grass roots in many ways than the P2P Real Estate sector. The recent inclination to lower minimum investment thresholds in this area, with the aim of enticing more retail investors attests to this in a very clear way.

Whilst 27.5% of loan applications in P2P Real Estate lending were accepted in 2015, in equity-based crowdfunding for Real Estate, platform acceptance rate was much lower. Only 2.9% of deals made it onto the platform, on average.

However, deal success rate for those who did make it onto the platform was pretty high: 87%. There are also far fewer investors required for an equity deal – NESTA reports an average of 150 per deal. The average deal size for 2015 in the crowdfunding sector for property was fairly high, too: £820,042.

Real Estate Alternative Finance and Manchester

Of the 58 alternative finance platforms surveyed by NESTA for their report, 62% were – unsurprisingly – London-based. However, a significant 5.2% hailed from our home city of Manchester.

Manchester is also one of a number of regional and local authorities that have either partnered with online alternative finance platforms to fund local SMEs, or have used alternative finance methods to fund community projects.

NESTA’s data shows that the most active regions receiving funds from Real Estate crowdfunding were London (of course), the North East, and the North West. The North West was also found to be one of the top 3 regions actually providing funds.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 7

This isn’t terribly surprising given the growing trend for emphasising Real Estate crowdfunding within areas in need of regeneration. Manchester has, as we know, come a very long way. The economy of the North West has been transformed over the last few years, in no small part due to the heavy investment in regeneration projects, in the form of development funding from both the public and private sectors.

It is these regeneration areas that are being identified as some of the potentially best investment opportunities. Not only do they cost investors less than prime locations, but these areas are also the ones that will experience the highest growth over coming years.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 8

Real Estate Alternative Finance and The Government

Direct investment from the government has helped support the growth of both peer-to-peer and crowdfunding markets. In 2015, £60m was lent by the British Business Bank via P2P lending platforms, specifically for SMEs.

Tax incentives have also been applied, including the EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme) and SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme). These schemes have been widely used, by a large proportion of investors using alternative funding platforms, and have been especially popular within the equity-based crowdfunding market.

The launch of the IFISA (Innovative Finance ISA) in April 2016 is also an exciting development in the alternative finance sector.

In particular, P2P business lending platforms for Real Estate expect the IFISA to generate a whopping 51.9% growth in transactional volume this year, whilst equity-based crowdfunding platforms for Real Estate predict 30.31% growth as a result of the IFISA.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 9

The figures for Real Estate Alternative Finance outmatch those elsewhere in the alternative finance market. P2P consumer lenders, for example, expect a 26% increase in total volume as a result of the IFISA. It’s clear that Real Estate lending stands to benefit the most.

In anticipation of the influx of retail investors expected by the onset of the IFISA, some P2P Real Estate lending platforms are even lowering their investment thresholds.

What is the IFISA?

At its most basic, the Innovative Finance ISA allows UK investors to lend money using P2P lending platforms to invest up to 100% of their £15,240 annual ISA allowance, and to receive any interest and capital gains tax-free. You can find out more here.

Institutional Investment in Real Estate Alternative Finance

Catching the scent of a good thing, institutional investors are also muscling in on the peer-to-peer real estate lending market, as they are across the alternative finance industry.

It is estimated, based on platform reporting, that in the UK in 2015, 1,031 institutional funders were at the bottom of financing loans and equity deals in alternative finance.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 10

45% of all alternative finance platforms reported institutional involvement in 2015. In 2014, this was 28%, and in 2013, just 11%.

For P2P business lending, in 2015 26% of total funding was attributable to institutional funding. In peer-to-peer Real Estate lending specifically, a total of 25% institutional funding was reported, with significant increase between the 3rd and 4th quarters of the year, in particular:

Q1 → 22%

Q2 → 22%

Q3 → 23%

Q4 → 31%

By contrast, however, in equity-based crowdfunding, 2015 saw just 8% of funding coming from institutions.

With institutional funding growing in the alternative finance market, as well as the influx of more high net worth investors, there is some discussion about whether the disruptive force of the alternative finance market is at risk of being stemmed.

Banking institutions have found themselves burdened with heavy regulatory compliance, cumbersome legacy systems and bureaucratic complexity. Since the debacle at the end of the last decade, the general populous has been hungry for new alternatives to the traditional financial system. Confidence has been lost, and – at the retail end of the investment spectrum at least – making one’s savings grow within the received systems has less potential for gains than what’s promised by alternative finance.

Alternative finance has become a key player in the development of a whole new generation of financial products. Along with a range of other FinTech solutions to saving, banking and investment, this revolutionary rumble has got the banks concerned.

It’s no wonder that, as such a disruptive movement grows, it finds itself on the precipice of being co-opted into the corporate world. But all the time that interest rates on savings accounts remain shockingly low, and first-time buyers view getting on the property ladder as likely as a winning Euromillions ticket, the prospect of a less suffocating alternative for growing money will continue to be thoroughly desirable.

And, focusing on Real Estate specifically, research conducted by Crowdstacker found that 44% of retail investors would like to increase their exposure to the UK property market, not only owning their own home, but also by investing through P2P lenders, like The House Crowd. Investor reluctance was found to centre around the time consuming nature and costs of property management, as well as affordability. The alternative finance model of crowdfunded property investment and P2P lending in Real Estate removes those factors from the equation.

2015 also saw the emergence of self-managed, platform-owned listed investment trusts, funds and vehicles: a sure sign that platforms are preparing to challenge the fund management space.

And as the alternative finance world continues to evolve, we are also seeing the emergence of a number of independent online aggregators, such as Informed Funding, FinPoint and ABF. These are rising up to provide additional channels and services for connecting business fundraisers to alternative finance platforms.

That being said, corporate interjection into the alternative finance space should not be considered a negative. It is this involvement that is allowing the industry to grow and evolve.

A number of P2P consumer lending platforms have struck high profile partnership deals with some big-name corporates.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE - QUOTE 11 - THE HOUSE CROWD

Corporate partnerships have been witnessed between alternative finance platforms and large brands such as Virgin, Amazon, Uber and Sage. As NESTA puts it, these partnerships are “fusing the traditional corporate world with the disruptive models of alternative finance”.

It is these partnerships that will aid in increasing public awareness of the alternative finance sector, but not only this. Corporate partnerships will also attract high quality borrowers, reducing default rates on P2P loans, and also offers the potential for data gathering, which will enhance the industry’s credit scoring capabilities, and inform risk management.

The increasing involvement of high net worth investors, along with institutional funding and corporate partnerships is what is allowing alternative finance to push boundaries, blur definitions, and limit the dangers of orthodoxy: it is a catalyst for rapid evolution.

Conclusion

The extraordinary growth of the industry that we have witnessed over the last few years has begun to level out.

In 2015, the UK’s alternative finance industry facilitated investments, loans and donations totalling £3.2bn. In 2014, this figure was £1.74bn – a YoY growth rate of 83.91%, which is not to be sniffed at. But when you compare this to the 161% growth between 2013 and 2014, it looks positively small.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE REPORT - QUOTE 12 - THE HOUSE CROWD

In 2014, 24 new alternative finance platforms began trading. This was down to 14 in 2015. Fewer new entrants are joining the market, whilst existing platforms continue to increase their total volumes at a steady rate.

Up until now, the industry appears to have been actively pushing its boundaries, both in its evolution, and in its rate of growth. Whilst the figures continue to be staggeringly impressive – with the market on course for a £5bn year in 2016 – plateauing figures are a good sign that the industry is maturing.

Alternative finance is coming of age with intelligence and dignity. It is listening to influential voices from big corporates, accepting helping hands where they are offered, and maintaining its grass roots persona. Most of all, however, it’s making money, not just for a few, but for a large body of investors all along the wealth spectrum. In Real Estate, it’s helping to regenerate run-down neighbourhoods, keeping a stagnant housing market moving, improving living standards across the board.

REAL ESTATE ALTERNATIVE FINANCE REPORT - QUOTE 13 - THE HOUSE CROWD

In short, alternative finance may have been a disruptive teenager, but it’s growing up to be a real force for good in the middle of a blighted financial landscape. The future of finance is looking promising.

 

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Is Property Investment Really Better Than Pensions?

Bank of England Chief Economist : “Property is better than Pensions” (and our view on property investment in Manchester as an alternative)

A couple of weeks ago, the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane claimed that property is a better investment for retirement than a pension.

Haldane believes that property investment is a better bet for retirement planning than a pension. “It ought to be pension but it’s almost certainly property,” he told one newspaper.

However, former pensions minister Ros Altmann mentioned that Mr. Haldane’s views were “divorced from reality” and it was “irresponsible” to suggest people should rely on property rather than pensions.

Haldane has admitted to the media that he is moderately financially literate and has admitted that pensions to him at times seem relatively confusing.

Other commentators in the financial sector also disagree with Haldane’s recent comments. Many have pointed out that Mr Haldane earns a basic salary of more than £180,000 a year, and it is believed that his accumulated pension pot that will pay him £84,000 a year when he retires from having a long tenure with the Bank of England.

In contrast, wealth manager company Charles Stanley stressed that many people underestimate how income can be made from a household.

For example, if a property is worth £500,000 and the owner(s) downsizes to a £250,000 property, they can release £250,000 that can go towards their retirement.

Mr Haldane is not alone when he admits he struggles with Britain’s “complicated” pensions system, we believe that as well as having a pension, investment is also key.

Property Investment in the North West

We are a passionate bunch here at The House Crowd, especially when it comes to investing in our beloved North West.

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Unlike the confusion about the country’s pension system, when it comes to investing in geographical areas of the UK, the north west remains robust despite the recent Bexit vote.

Commercial property consultancy firm Lambert Smith Hampton’s quarterly UK Investment Transactions shows that despite expectations that investment activity would drastically slow down in Q2 in the run up to the referendum, there was a 42 per cent uplift to £501m compared with the same period in the previous year of £353m. (MEN, September, 2016).

In addition, their research reveals that investors have now turned their attention to defensive assets to counter the volatility in the current market.

Moreover, the level of economic uncertainty still looms, however due to recent low interest rates and an attractive exchange rate means that investors are hungry to invest into a very appetising region.

It’s not only domestic investors that have been drawn to the Northern Powerhouse city. Last month research indicated that Manchester has one of the highest proportions of foreign property investors in the UK, while the city has also been recently described as a ‘magnet for investors’ post-Brexit.

During these uncertain times, we’ve heard many say post-Brexit, that they don’t want to take the risk profile that they did beforehand and that’s why they have looked to the north for an alternative, many have also looked at specialist property due to the fact it tends to be less risky and slightly more defensive.

The likes of student housing, hotels and health centres had become “more institutional, liquid sectors” due to their less cyclical nature and long leases as mentioned by Mike Sales, head of TH Real Estate in a recent Reuters article on UK property post-Brexit.

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To sum it up, whether you agree or disagree with the Bank of England’s chief economist views on property investment is better than a pension or not, one thing is clear that an alternative is needed, the likes of property crowdfunding can be used a vehicle for obtaining relatively good returns with property yields in the north west at around 6-7%.

In addition, as Mr. Haldane put it in a recent article : “As long as we continue not to build anything like as many houses in this country as we need to meet demand, we will see what we’ve had for the better part of a generation, which is house prices relentlessly heading north.”


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All About MangoPay: What You Need to Know About Our New Secure Payment System

You may have noticed, along with the launch of our shiny new website, that we have integrated a new payment system named MangoPay. So what is this new, fruity-flavoured payment system? We’ve been getting a few enquiries since the system launch, so I thought it would be a good idea to give you some background.

What is MangoPay?

MangoPay is a well-respected, pan-European company, which was set up directly by The Leetchi Group in 2012. At that time, Leetchi was a crowdfunding platform, and developed MangoPay to meet the payment service needs of their own platform. So successful was their development, that they turned this internal system into a standalone product: MangoPay. Leetchi now provides financial service solutions across Europe.

MangoPay currently has over 1000 business platform customers, and is available in 22 countries across Europe, offering multiple currencies, as well as domestic and international payment methods. It was acquired by the leading French banking group, Crédit Mutueal Arkéa, last year, and have also recently partnered with London-based GoCardless. It’s also partnered with large banks, including Barclays, Commerzbank and Sabadell.

What does MangoPay do?

MangoPay itself is a secure payment flow system that allows both bank transfers and debit card transactions to be tracked automatically within the system. Deposited investment sums are held in escrow until the property has become fully-funded, at which point your balance is moved to the relevant SPV account and sent to our legal team in order to complete the property acquisition.

Where you earn rental income, interest, and so on from your investments, credit is paid into your personal MangoPay account, directly on The House Crowd platform, in your e-wallet. From there, you can automatically collect your money by withdrawal, and also add to it at any time.

What about security?

All client funds are segregated and administered by MangoPay within The House Crowd’s system and Mangopay itself is regulated separately by the EC (European Commission). As such, the FCA compliance within which we work at The House Crowd, combined with the regulations under which MangoPay is regulated, equates to a double dose of regulatory rigour!

In the event that the target sum for a property is not raised, all deposited sums are returned directly to the investor.

In terms of fraud prevention, MangoPay has a few set rules:

Firstly, no more than 10 transactions are permitted to be performed with the same card within a 24 hour period. After this number, no further transactions will be accepted.

Secondly, MangoPay refuses payments from blacklisted countries. These blacklisted countries are ones which are considered to have insufficient measures in place to combat both money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Thirdly, MangoPay refuses all transactions that do not benefit from liability shift (applies only to payments in Euros). Transactions must pass MangoPay’s 3D Secure Authentication procedure.

FCA Compliance

MangoPay do have a reciprocal relationship with the FCA, with every financial regulator within the EEA, and have passported their licence. All data is held in a secure data centre called EBRC in Luxembourg, in accordance with very stringent data protection laws. Funds are acquired in the UK, via Barclays and each day said funds are settled in a segregated client account, held in trust at ING Luxembourg, which means the funds are 100% guaranteed, unlike the FSCS which only guarantees £75k.

There are no more risks holding the data at a Luxembourg based data centre than a UK data centre.

We have taken a lot of time to decide on the right payment system for The House Crowd. We were adamant that the system we used was fully secured, both in terms of financial data, and personal information. So, if you had any concerns about the new MangoPay system, please rest assured that we have ensured it’s as watertight as it gets.

As always, if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We are always here to answer your queries, and to help in any way we can.

Happy investing!

Why The UK Rental Market Is Surging

A recent report has revealed that property in the UK is swinging more towards the rental market. As many commentators have mentioned, there has been a significant reduction in home ownership in the past number of years and many expect that this trend will continue.

The summer slowdown has seen properties with four bedrooms or more are struggling to sell, and as a result have remained on the market for an average of 74 days, according to data from RightMove.

Property analysts are speculating whether the property market will gain strength again during the Autumn and also get a clearer picture of the market and hopefully shake off that post-referendum hangover.

The Bank of England’s recent interest rate cut should give buyers some confidence with cheap-to-borrow money.

Although a lot of uncertainty still looms following June’s Brexit vote, the question remains:

Why is the UK is switching to a property rental market?

Firstly, this is linked to the surge of investors who were rushing to complete buy-to-let deals before stamp duty was hiked by 3% in April.

The demand for rented properties in the UK has increased by 10% due to Brexit uncertainties. Recently, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICs) reported the number of properties on the market was at a record low.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is employment mobility. For example, if we look at millennials and their lifestyles, they are known for being constantly on the move, and renting a space is more practical to them than saving for a deposit.

In addition, they are very sociable. Figures from Statista highlight the importance of socialising to millennials. Their research shows that 51% stated that socialising was where their remaining disposable income was most likely to be spent. Therefore, the likes of build to rent properties are appealing as they provide communal areas for their residents, hoping that they will stay in their rented accommodation for some time. They are one demographic in particular that are currently reshaping the UK housing market.

From millennials, now turning our attention to investors. Long term investors are willing to pay just that little bit more compared with the likes of first time buyers who are looking at settling into their first home.

These are the type of investors who may have a number of buy to let properties in their portfolio and realise that as their financial liabilities reduce they will actually be able to increase rental income (providing they have done their homework properly and invested in areas that pay out suitable yields).

Whether the recent increase in buy to let related taxes, which were set by the former chancellor, will have an impact in the short to medium term still remains to be seen. If rental yields bring in enough money to cover all liabilities, and leave a wee bit extra in their bank accounts, the question is would BTL investors really pull out of this market?

If you are a BTL investor and HAVE done your homework, you’ll know that the north is the place to be. If you haven’t, we recommend Manchester. The Northern Powerhouse city has an average rental yield of 6.2%.

Investors can benefit from significant demand from the city famous for its two Premier League clubs and music scene, as well its big student population. Average property prices in Manchester stand at £135,000.

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As we’ve previously mentioned, there are numerous factors as to why the UK property market trend has now switched from home ownership to rental.

The Brexit vote has caused some concern and confusion for now, and until the Brexit mist clears we will see fewer people committing to long-term property purchases. The likes of millennials are also changing the housing model and with lucrative investments across both sides of The Pennines, the rental market switch in the UK looks very buoyant indeed.

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