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Japanese knotweed-not such a problematic plant

Japanese knotweed-not such a problematic plant

Homeowners whose property values are weighed down by Japanese knotweed could have found a reprieve. A new study suggests the plant is relatively harmless and refusing mortgages on properties where Japanese knotweed is in evidence is out of proportion to the risk associated with the plant.

Research by the University of Leeds and engineering firm Aecom, assessed the potential of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) to cause structural damage compared to other plants.

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica)

The Seven Meter Rule

In the UK, Japanese knotweed has been historically thought to pose a significant risk of damage to buildings that are within seven metres of the above-ground elements of the plant – the so-called ‘seven metre rule’. This rule takes into account that due to its underground shoots, known as rhizomes, the plant can spread significantly under the surface and warrants investigations into the reach of the plants roots. It is believed that in London the presence of this plant can cause a reduction in value of up to 25% on a property.

Once knotweed is identified in homebuyers’ surveys, mortgage lenders often require evidence that a treatment programme is in place. Specialist treatment can cost between £2,000 to £5,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house.

Property values can be affected, even after action is taken to control it, so this new research should help to alleviate homebuyers fears when faced with the invasive plant.

Dr Mark Fennell, Principal Ecologist at AECOM, who led the study, said: “Our research sought to broaden existing knowledge about the risk to buildings of Japanese knotweed compared to other plants. We found nothing to suggest that Japanese knotweed causes significant damage to buildings – even when it is growing in close proximity – and certainly no more damage than other species that are not subject to such strict lending policies.”

 Unwelcome Visitor

Knotweed was introduced in the 19th century as an ornamental plant and is widely spread across the UK.  The Government has estimated that it would cost £1.5 billion to eradicate in the UK. An infestation plagued Hampstead near the homes of Thierry Henry, Tom Conti and Esther Rantzen.

The report examined 68 homes where knotweed was found, plus 81 additional sites. Ecologists investigated existing theories on knotweed damage and approached surveyors and invasive species experts.

“This plant poses less of a risk to buildings and other structures than many woody species, particularly trees.” states Co-Author of the report Dr Karen Bacon from the University of Leeds.

A spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors backed the research and said that “while knotweed has caused concerns, some are based on misunderstanding”.

The Impact of The Report

Henry Knight, Managing Director from Springtide Capital commentated: ‘While lenders are unlikely to relax their rules around knotweed overnight, this new research into the issue should help inform changes in lending criteria and mould thinking about the severity of the issue, helping to make lending more probable going forward.”

Springtide Capital offer impartial advice from a dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced team.

Contact us on 0203 040 4400


Gross Mortgage Lending for June


According to the latest Household Finance Update from UK Finance, gross mortgage lending for June 2018 is £23.5bn, 2.1% higher than a year earlier.


The Office of National Statistics reported the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 2.3% in June 2018, unchanged from May 2018.

  • Credit card spending was 4.7 per cent higher than a year earlier, with outstanding levels of card borrowing having grown by 5.6 per cent over the year.


  • Estimated gross mortgage lending for the total market in June is £23.5bn, 2.1 per cent higher than a year earlier.
  • Within this figure, remortgaging approvals increased and were 3.4 per cent higher than for the same period a year earlier, this was offset by the 4.7 per cent fall in house purchase approvals and 4.3 per cent fall in other secured borrowing.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director, Personal Finance at UK Finance commented:

“Lending to households has continued to grow modestly in line with recent trends. Meanwhile growth in mortgage lending continues to be driven by remortgaging, as borrowers take advantage of attractive deals ahead of an anticipated Bank rate rise.”


House prices continue to remain broadly flat, with the annual growth rate marginally slowing from 1.9% in May to 1.8% in June. The average Price of a UK home is currently £225,654.


  • On the 2nd August 2018 the Bank of England increased their base rate from 0.5% to 0.75%                                                                                             
  • This is only the third base rate change in almost a decade – and only the second time it has been increased during that time.
  • The rise was already predicted by most experts, financial insiders and mortgage providers, lenders and banks had already begun to make small adjustments to their product offerings and deals.
  • The impact for homeowners and mortgage holders should be minimal. Many UK homeowners are locked into fixed-rate mortgages and will not feel the immediate impact from a base rate rise. Rates are still very low by historical standards. The base rate was at 5% when the Global Financial Crisis hit in 2007.


  • Bank of England figures show 65,619 mortgage approvals were made to purchasers in June. This represents a five-month high, although still down year-on-year.

Henry Knight, Managing Director of Springtide Capital commented:

‘The number of mortgages approved for house purchases increased in June, to just short of 66,000. This is a modest rise but encouraging to see in the current market’






Multiple benefits of using a Mortgage Broker in today’s fast paced world


Securing the property of your dreams often means moving quickly. For those who are generally time poor, the service a broker provides can take the pain and hassle out of the process and ensure that deadlines are met.

In a recent survey by Legal and General, in the UK, up to three quarters of first time buyers said they expect to use a broker when looking for a mortgage.

‘This figure is relatively high due to the average age of the first time buyer being around 30 years old” comments Henry Knight, Managing Director at Springtide Capital.

“Applicants in this age group are living in a particularly fast paced, stressful, and time crunched world and use us because we take away the hassle of filling out multiple forms and applications.”

Searching through mortgage deals can be a time consuming exercise. 53% of all surveyed used a mortgage broker because they could access a wider range of mortgage deals, the product choice that brokers offer currently provides consumers with access to 30,482 products compared to only 3,408 for those who go direct.

In recent years as tougher criteria has been applied to mortgage applications mortgages have become more difficult to secure. Complex cases can be expertly steered through by experienced brokers as they have close working relationships with key decision makers and understand the systems used in the process. A mortgage broker will look at a variety of lenders to suit individual circumstances and won’t take up time offering mortgages from a lender that they think are not viable. And while price comparison websites may seem to save time, using a mortgage broker provides specialist industry knowledge with the reassurance of talking to a real person.

The recent survey also found that 67% said they would be likely to speak to a broker about buy to let mortgages. While 81% of UK buyers recognise the value of using a Mortgage Broker.

Henry Knight at Springtide Capital highlights:

“In using a mortgage broker, you will receive an expert opinion on which is the best mortgage for you in terms of the interest rate and the likelihood of your application being accepted. This expertise will save significant time and by having an in depth understanding of the whole market, a broker is able to add value by advising on what is and isn’t possible from the outset.”

Springtide Capital look to assist borrowers in obtaining competitive, bespoke mortgage solutions often on exclusive terms for the following:

We also provide personal and property protection advice.

To speak to us today, call Springtide Capital on 020 3040 4400 to book an appointment with a mortgage consultant.



Housing highlights from the Spring Budget 2018


As the Government comes under continued pressure to deliver on their new homes target, Philip Hammond reaffirmed his commitment in the recent Spring Budget announcements.

As expected there were no major surprises, with rumours that Mr Hammond will keep any significant policy changes until the Autumn budget.

London gets a boost

  • Confirmation was given on the £1.67 billion funding package for London to build affordable homes for families living in the capital.
  • This package will help to build 26,000 more of the affordable homes required. This is another step towards delivering an additional 116,000 affordable homes and will bring the total funding in London to £4.8 billion.
  • The Government has already delivered nearly 82,000 affordable homes in the area, including 58,000 homes, specifically for rent since 2010.

Sir Oliver Letwin’s interim report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer

  • Sir Oliver Letwin has also set out the next steps of his independent interim review investigating the gap between planning permissions granted and number of homes completed.
  • According to the Government “The first phase, which aimed to identify the main causes of the gap by reviewing large housing sites where planning permission has already been granted, focused on information-gathering sessions with local authorities, developers and non-government organisations and visits to large sites.
  • “Sir Oliver’s review has found that the absorption rate – the rate at which newly constructed homes can be sold into the local market – appears to be a fundamental driver of the rate at which houses are built.”
  • His final report will be produced in time for the Autumn Budget.

West Midlands Funding Boost

  • The West Midlands has been given a £100 million boost to fund a housing package to support the delivery of 215,000 new homes. The funding will help to acquire land and prepare it for housing.
  • The Mayor of the West Midlands announced that he would be taking the Housing Infrastructure Fund Forward by funding a bid for Housing Growth Areas including the Commonwealth Games site at Perry Barr in Birmingham.

 Getting Britain Building again

  • A £60 million investment has also been announced to boost the Housing Growth Partnership fund that supports small and medium-sized housebuilders.
  • Lloyds Banking Group has match funded bringing the total additional investment to £120 million.

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “The Spring Budget didn’t reveal anything drastic; however, it does detail the funds, and more importantly measures and research, which when combined will begin to deal with the housing crisis. Our client base is centred around London, where there is a severe lack of affordable housing; we see more property purchases on the borders of London because of this.”


Gross mortgage lending for March at £20.5bn


According to the latest UK Finance Update on Lending report, gross mortgage lending for March 2018 is £20.5bn, a 2.3 per cent decrease on the same time last year.


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) 12-month rate had dropped to 2.5 per cent in March 2018, which had decreased from 2.7% in February 2018. According to the ONS, the decrease in rate is primarily due to prices for clothing and footwear rising by less than a year ago.

Unemployment sits at 4.2 per cent according to the ONS; there were 32.34 million people in work in March, which is 396,000 more than a year earlier.

UK Finance reported that credit card spending grew at a rate of 5.8 per cent over the year, while repayments outstripped new lending in the first quarter of 2018.


  • In April, James Brokenshire was appointed as the new Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
  • Following his appointment, Brokenshire tweeted: “Honoured to have been asked by the Prime Minister to serve as Secretary of State at the Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government. Looking forward to taking the government’s agenda forward especially on building the homes our country needs.”
  • Former Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire has been appointed to this role after Sajid Javid was named Home Secretary following Amber Rudd’s resignation.


The UK’s gross mortgage lending is estimated at £20.5bn, 2.3 per cent lower than the same time last year. UK Finance cited a 15 per cent decline in the number of total mortgage approvals, with house purchase approvals falling by almost 21 per cent, compared to a year earlier.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director, Personal Finance at UK Finance commented: “There was a rising trend in mortgage approvals for the first three months of 2018 although the number is slightly lower than the same period in 2017. March figures show that consumer borrowing was fairly modest.”

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “Despite March’s figures showing a slowdown in mortgage lending, the quarterly figures indicate a more positive trend with some encouraging movement in the market. Ahead of the spring period we expect to see a stable market, although ongoing sentiment may depend on any further interest rate rises.”


UK’s mortgage market off to a flying start in January with a 9.7 per cent boost in mortgage lending

According to the latest UK Finance Update on Lending report, the UK’s mortgage market has had a great start to the year, with January’s gross mortgage lending sitting at an estimated £21.9bn.


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate remained unchanged at 3.0 per cent in January 2018. The lack of change has been primarily down to a reduction in prices of motor fuel, which rose by less than they did a year ago; this has offset an increase in the prices of other goods.

Unemployment rose to 4.4 per cent according to the ONS; there were 32.15 million people in work, which is still 321,000 more than a year earlier.

UK Finance reported that credit card spending rose slightly in January, sitting 5.8 per cent higher than in January 2018.


The UK’s gross mortgage lending is estimated at £21.9bn, almost ten per cent higher than the same time last year. Although UK Finance is yet to release the breakdown of mortgage lending, the increase is likely to be down to the continued strength of first-time buyer and re-mortgage activity, which is reinforced by Eric Leenders’s statement on customers taking advantage of competitive mortgage deals.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director, Personal Finance at UK Finance said:

“January saw higher levels of repayments on credit cards, which is expected at this time of year as customers pay off their festive spending. Meanwhile, households were careful with their outgoings as wage growth remains below the inflation rate.

“Gross mortgage lending in January increased by almost 10 per cent compared to the same period last year, and was higher than the monthly average, as customers took advantage of mortgage deals on offer at the end of 2017.”

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “It’s good to see a positive start to mortgage lending in January, with an almost ten per cent increase compared to the same time last year. We’ve also seen this trend at Springtide Capital, with competitive mortgage deals providing existing borrowers with the opportunity to re-mortgage; Government incentives also encourage continued first-time buyer activity.”


Property hotspots for London’s commuters

According to a recent Homes & Property article, there are 20 property hotspots that are now serious contenders for London’s commuters.

With Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent frequently popping up in the list of favourites, commuters are choosing these beautiful towns and more affordable homes, which are less than an hour away from London.

Haslemere, Woking, Salford and Dorking in Surrey

With its pretty streets, good educational choices and a short trip to London, areas like Dorking are quickly becoming a viable option for those who need to travel to London for work. Surrey offers great value for money. With an estimated average property price of £485,360, and under an hour (51 mins) away from London, Dorking has all of the beauty without the price tag.

Sawbridgeworth, Kings Langley, Letchworth, St Margarets and Hemel in Hertfordshire

Benefitting from a delightful town with a coffee shop culture and the picturesque River Stort, Sawbridgeworth’s properties average out at £363,908. At the more affordable end of the scale, this Hertfordshire town is also a slightly shorter commute of 40 minutes into London. Many local schools have achieved an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted report, making this town an excellent choice for families.

Charing, Rochester and Borough Green in Kent

Sitting at the slightly higher average property price of £512,218, Charing in Kent is still more affordable than living in the city. It’s easy to see why Charing is appealing, sitting on the edge of the Kent Downs and with a town that has period charm – it offers the best of both worlds. Kent’s grammar schools are known for their popularity, and Charing can still be reached in 54 minutes from London.

Other hotspots include Grays and Southend-on-sea in Essex, Newbury in Berkshire, Princes Risborough, Monks Risborough and Marlow in Buckinghamshire, Fleet in Hampshire and Hassocks in Sussex.

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “The outskirts of London can offer those working in London a feasible commute while providing them with much more property for their money. A sizeable house in one of these popular towns can often be less than the price of a flat in London. If a mortgage applicant can lower the loan-to-value to 60% or less, they will also find themselves in a position to be offered some of the best mortgage rates on the market – reducing their monthly mortgage payments even further.”


Renovation versus return

Whether you are considering purchasing a property that requires renovation, adding an extra bathroom or converting a garage, cellar or loft space – it pays to know which investment will yield the greatest return on investment.

At Springtide Capital, we work closely with lenders and estate agents; we understand that deciding how to invest your money and make the correct decision can be tricky. Nationwide Building Society’s survey provides rough guidance on the returns that could be expected from different types of work, which we hope will help you to make a decision.

The percentages here are an indication and will fluctuate dependant on a number of factors including area, property type, market and demand for that type of property at the time of sale.

Source: Nationwide Building Society

  1. A cellar conversion

Converting a cellar into a habitable space will increase the floor area in your property, potentially increasing its value by 5-11%; and if you don’t have a cellar, then you can always employ a professional company to dig.

It’s worth finding a cellar-conversion specialist for the job, as special systems are often put in place to consistently remove moisture from the walls and leave a gap between the exterior and interior walls. Although cellar conversions are usually classed as ‘change of use’, which is permitted, any structural changes require planning permission, so it’s best to check before commencing work.

It’s advisable to consider the cost per square foot versus the house price per square foot before commencing any work, so you can ensure you’re increasing the value of the property.

  1. Converting a garage

The majority of homeowners in the UK do not store their car in their garage, and this unused space can be an ideal way of creating additional space for growing family or renovating a property to re-sell.

You’ll need to check whether the garage walls are suitable for the new purpose, and adding a two-storey extension often requires the garage to be removed, new foundations to be put in place and re-built. An existing garage conversion is usually a permitted change but consult with your local planning department before commencing any work.

  1. Add one or two bedrooms plus a bathroom with a loft conversion

By far one of the least intrusive conversions is re-modelling the loft space: scaffolding is usually used to provide access to the roof for the entire conversion (in as little as six weeks). A skilled architect will carefully plan the space, stairs and light to maximise the usable space. There is an opportunity to add one or two bedrooms and a small bathroom in most loft spaces.

Planning permission is not usually required. However, you should consult your local planning department to check, as Dorma extensions in conservation areas do require planning.

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “Renovating a property that is structurally sound can yield a good return in most cases; we often work with property owners to obtain funding to renovate or extend a property. You may need a valuation to demonstrate that value will be added to the property, have a good credit rating and satisfy affordability criteria to obtain approval.”

One of Springtide Capital’s dedicated mortgage consultants would be happy to discuss any projects you may have that require additional funding; you can call us on 020 3040 4400.


Mortgage lending reached £20.2 billion in December

According to the latest UK Finance Update on Lending report, December’s mortgage lending figures reached £20.2 billion, which shows gradual improvement.

Other highlights included:

  • First-time buyers have helped to improve mortgage lending figures.
  • Credit card spending has decreased slightly.


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) recently reported that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate had dropped back to 3.0 per cent in December 2017, a 1 per cent decrease from November 2017. The decrease has been primarily down to a reduction in prices of airfares and recreational goods including games and toys. However, it’s likely that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will see this as a result of increased lending rates, which aims to stem inflation.

Unemployment sits at 4.3 per cent according to the ONS, who also state that between September and November there were 32.21 million people in work, an increase of 102,000 from the previous quarter.

UK Finance reported that credit card spending had decreased slightly in December 2017, sitting at 5.3 per cent.


UK mortgage lending reached £20.2 billion in December, which is 1.2 per cent higher year-on-year. The continued improvement in mortgage lending is due to increasing numbers of first-time buyers being able to purchase their first home.

Eric Leenders, Managing Director of Personal Finance at UK Finance said: “December is traditionally a quieter month for mortgages, although the underlying trend of increased numbers of first-time buyers, supported by government initiatives such as Help to Buy, continues. Mortgage rates remain low, driven by a competitive market, so customers should shop around for the best deals.”

Prior to December’s mortgage lending report, UK Finance reported in its Mortgage Trends Update that in November there were 34,800 new first-time buyer mortgages, which is 15.2 per cent higher year-on-year.

Other statistics from the November report included:

  • The average first-time buyer is 30 and has an income of £40,000.
  • There were 36,200 new home mover mortgages, which is 16.8 per cent more year-on-year.
  • The average home mover is 39 and has an income of £54,000.
  • There were 38,400 new homeowner remortgages, which is 8.5 per cent more year-on-year.
  • There were 6,600 new buy-to-let purchase mortgages, which is 1.5 per cent lower year-on-year. There were also 13,500 new buy-to-let remortgages, 3.6 per cent lower year-on-year.

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “Although the figures released show a somewhat subdued housing market, particularly in the London region, there are signs of a gradual improvement in mortgage lending. It is particularly positive to see first-time buyer figures increasing, which is vital to keep the housing market moving in an upward trend, reflecting historically low interest rates and a competitive marketplace.”


Housing highlights from the Autumn Budget 2017


Of the 25 key elements of the Government’s Autumn Budget, there are three areas that are set to boost the housing sector by helping first-time buyers, building more homes and boosting skills in the construction sector – ‘no silver bullet solution’ but a step in the right direction.

Image source: BBC

The key areas included:

  • The Chancellor has promised £44bn in capital investment to boost the housing market and
  • 300,000 homes to be built every year by mid-2020s;
  • Mr Hammond has abolished stamp duty for all first-time buyers (FTB) for homes up to £300,000.

Abolishing stamp duty for FTBs

Any incentive that helps first-time buyers to purchase their first property is welcome, however, the previously mentioned £5,000 saving announced by the Chancellor is more likely to be £1,660 as detailed in the official Budget documentation. Why? Because the average first-time buyer across the UK will not be able to purchase a property at £300,000. Londoners, however, are used to far higher property prices for a one or two-bedroom property and will most likely feel the benefit of a £5,000 saving.

According to the Government, 95% of first-time buyers who pay stamp duty will benefit. First-time buyers of homes worth between £300,000 and £500,000 will not pay stamp duty on the first £300,000; they will pay the normal rates of stamp duty on the price above that. This will save £1,660‎ on the average first-time buyer property; with 80% of people buying their first home paying no stamp duty. There will be no relief for those buying properties over £500,000.

300,000 new homes a year

The Chancellor is injecting funds to support the home building industry, specifically helping those businesses that are not already dominant in the sector. Mr Hammond pledged £15.3 billion in new financial support for house building over the next five years – taking the total to at least £44 billion. This includes £1.2 billion for the government to buy land to build more homes and £2.7 billion for infrastructure that will support housing.

In addition, the government will also create five new ‘garden’ towns and make changes to the planning system to encourage better use of land in cities and towns. This means more homes can be built while protecting the green belt. To address the UK’s vacant property issue, the Government announced an increase in the maximum empty home Council Tax premium to 100%.

£64 million for construction and digital training courses

One of the biggest challenges faced by the construction industry is a skills shortage, which is why a new pledge of £34 million towards teaching construction skills like bricklaying and plastering, and £30 million towards digital courses using AI will be more than welcome.

This funding is provided in advance of launching a National Retraining Scheme that will help people get new skills. It will be overseen by the government, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). They will decide on other areas of the economy where new skills and training courses are needed.

Henry Knight, Managing Director, Springtide Capital commented: “It is good to see further support for the housing industry, specifically digging deeper into the fundamental issues facing the construction industry. The abolishment of stamp duty land tax for first-time buyers purchasing a property up to £300,000 is another positive move, and contrary to some opinions, I can’t see it impacting house prices dramatically.”