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Muse’s Matt Bellamy’s Lake Como Home for Sale

He’s a multiple Grammy award-winning artist who’s ruled the airwaves fronting his band Muse for over two decades, and now you can live like the other half lives in his Italian getaway paradise

Matt Bellamy’s stunning penthouse home in Lake Como, Italy, is currently listed on Rightmove and has gained a lot of attention in the press thanks to its beautiful design, vista… and the fact that he and his band-mates recorded their 2011 album, ‘The Resistance’, in the residence.

Take a tour inside Matt Bellamy’s home

Muse's Matt Bellamy's Lake Como Home for Sale

The four-bedroom property features on the top two storeys of a 19th century building in the village of Moltrasio, originally built way back in 1829.

Muse's Matt Bellamy's Lake Como Home for Sale

The home has been magnificently refurbished by Matt, who is said to have lived there alongside ex-fiancee and Hollywood star, Kate Hudson, for a time – and boasts a truly spectacular lake view terrace complete with a swimming pool.

Muse's Matt Bellamy's Lake Como Home for Sale

As an interesting fact listed by the agent Sothebys, another world-famous music composer – Vincenzo Bellini – also called the property home once upon a time.

Muse's Matt Bellamy's Lake Como Home for Sale

The Lake Como property is listed on Rightmove Overseas by Sothebys for £1.5m or €1.75m.

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Top 10 home improvements

Bathrooms, kitchens and new central heating systems top the list of improvements for this year, but homeowners are warned that major works could invalidate their home insurance.

A new study from GoCompare Home Insurance has revealed that a new bathroom is the UK’s most popular home renovation with 39% of homeowners who carried out a major home improvement in the last five years splashing out on one. New kitchens came in second place with 38% and a new boiler or central heating system made up the top three with 34%.

Top 10 home improvements carried out in the last 5 years
1Installed a new bathroom39%
2Fitted a new kitchen38%
3Installed a new boiler or central heating system34%
4A garden make-over26%
5Installed double glazing26%
6Built an extension17%
7Knocked through rooms12%
8Fitted solar panels12%
9Created an attic conversion10%
10Added an extra bedroom9%

However, the study also revealed that 41% of those carrying out renovations did so without telling their home insurer, potentially invalidating their policy.

Matt Sanders, home insurance spokesperson for GoCompare explained, “While you don’t need to inform your insurer about routine decorating or maintenance, you should inform your provider if you’re planning on carrying out any major building or renovation work, otherwise you could risk invalidating your policy.

When planning a major renovation project, one of the first things you should do is to review your buildings and contents insurance to make sure that you have adequate cover both during and after the work has been completed.

Another important thing to note is that most home insurance policies don’t cover tradesmen or their work, so you should always check that they have their own insurance in place.  It’s also sensible to check that any tradesmen you employ are qualified to carry out the work and registered with a recognised governing body.

Remember, after completion of the work, you may need to increase your sum insured to reflect any increase in the rebuilding costs of your property and any increase in the value of your possessions.”

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Top tips to keep your home protected while you’re on holiday

With the school holidays imminent, many families are planning summer holidays leaving millions of homes vulnerable to burglary throughout July and August.

According to a recent report by the Office of National Statistics, over 16.2m Brits travelled overseas in July and August last year.

With sales of holidays abroad up seven per cent this year, this number is expected to increase suggesting that even more homes will be left vacant this summer. With opportunist burglars using social media to track the whereabouts of property owners, it is more important than ever for families to adopt a belt and braces approach to home security by re-considering the privacy settings of the whole family’s social media accounts and using smart home technology to compliment traditional security methods such as alarm systems and window locks.

To ensure family homes and neighbourhoods are kept safe this summer, Ring, the outdoor home security company, has compiled its top tips for protecting neighbourhoods through technology.  With Ilford, London, Leeds, Manchester and Cambridge being the most burgled cities, homeowners across the UK can spend more time enjoying a summer break to remember, rather than worrying about the safety of their most prized possessions.

Lock all doors and windows

It sounds basic, but a surprising number of burglaries take place because people have forgotten to lock all the doors and windows. Some people even leave a few windows open for air flow whilst they’re away. Leaving your doors and windows unlocked is an open invitation to burglars, so always double-check them before you leave and to be extra safe install a double lock on your front door.

Avoid hiding spare keys

Many homeowners still keep a spare set of keys somewhere in front of their house. This is a bad habit and a major security risk. Your key is never hidden as well as you think it is and experienced burglars will know all the common hiding places. If you have arranged for a neighbour or friend to check your post whilst you’re away, lending them a spare key is a far safer alternative.

Make it look like you are at home

Very few burglars have been known to strike when they think someone is at home. Many thieves are opportunists and if it looks like you’re on holiday they will be more inclined to try their luck. Making it look like you’re at home, is a simple and effective security measure you should take. Keep up appearances by opening your curtains, mowing the lawn before you leave and installing an outdoor light which automatically turns on for a couple of hours each evening. Better still, invest in an outdoor light with motion detectors, so that anyone who walks past triggers the light to come on.

Think twice about who can see your social media updates

Holiday makers who share updates about their upcoming trips months in advance and then check in and share snaps of their holidays put their homes at great risk of burglary. Criminals are increasingly using social media to check when homes are empty and the summer months can provide rich pickings.  Before you go on holiday think twice about who can see your family’s social media profiles and ensure that privacy settings are switched on.

Visible Security

Burglars will not try to break-in if they fear they will get caught. Savvy burglars will know of all the latest security devices, and they’ll avoid homes if they know that there are effective security solutions in place. Sometimes, even just a security sign can deter a burglar from breaking in, so get your devices set up, and make sure burglars know that your home is protected.

Smart Technology

Whilst traditional security systems are important, they cannot be relied upon to prevent crime from taking place. Unfortunately, most traditional security systems, such as alarms, are reactive solutions that will let you know when a burglary has occurred, but there is little you can do thereafter to stop it. Smartphone connected security devices, equipped with cameras and motion detectors, can send live video footage straight to you or your neighbours’ fingertips, meaning you can respond to and prevent suspicious activity before it happens.

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10 ways for landlords to beat the tax man

A successful landlord, amongst other things, is a tax efficient landlord. So London based estate agent, Portico, asked the experts for 10 legitimate ways to reduce your tax bill and the results are below.

1. Expense, expense, expense

The first step in making your property tax efficient is knowing what expenses you can offset.

Seasoned landlord, Richard Blanco, has this to say:  “Religiously keep all of your receipts so that you can offset absolutely every expense against your profits. Talk to your accountant about travel costs, certain motoring expenses or types of vehicles that can be set against your profits.”

Here’s a list of some of the most common types of expenses:

• Water rates, council tax, gas and electricity
• Business and contents insurance
• Letting agents’ fees
• Legal fees for lets of a year or less, or for renewing a lease of less than 50 years
• Accountant’s fees
• Rents, ground rents and service charges
• Direct costs such as phone calls, stationery and advertising for new tenants
• The associated costs of running a home office

2. Reduce your stamp duty bill

Richard advises to “Avoid mega stamp duty by extending or expanding your current rental property(ies). Ultimately, the more expensive the property, the greater the theoretical savings.

Now is a good time to extend because permitted development rights are more generous than they have been in the past. However, be mindful of the change in the HMO definition due to come into force in October. From then on, any property with 5 or more sharers will need an HMO license, so if you extend your property and it becomes suitable for more sharers, check it’s up to mandatorily licensable HMO standards. Ask your council’s licensing department if you’re in doubt.

The golden rule for expanding an existing property is that the uplift in value should be more than the cost of the works. There will be a ceiling price for properties in some areas however, which means your property may not increase over a certain price even if you expand it – unless the area improves.  We’re in a tricky market at the moment so do your sums and expect conservative price growth.”

3.  Transfer your assets

Another way to potentially cut your tax bill is to use your spouse’s 0% and 20% tax bands.

Richard explains that “Generally no Capital Gains Tax is payable if you transfer assets to your spouse, plus if their earnings fall into a lower tax bracket you could pay less tax on the rental profits.”

Stamp duty land tax is not payable on the so long as the property is not mortgaged, and the husband or wife who is passing on the property doesn’t want any money for it.

4.  Save when you sell

If you are selling your rental property, make sure you claim all of the available relief.

Richard states: “If you’re a multi-property landlord, it’s often more tax efficient to sell one property in each tax year to take advantage of the 0% CGT band up to £11,300. Effectively this means you can make gains of up to £11,300 in a given tax year without any tax being due.”

5. Landlord Ltd?

Some landlords find it is more tax efficient to manage their properties through a limited company which effectively acts as a letting agent.  The Company could employ the landlord, relative or member of staff to manage the properties.  Richard advises you to talk to your accountant or tax adviser about this before proceeding.

6. Restructure your portfolio

You can also set up an LLP and Ltd company as a way of allowing all finance costs to be set against profits. This is complex and expensive to set up but it might be a positive way forward for landlords with larger portfolios.

Always be wary of spending a lot of money restructuring your portfolio around tax legislation. The government could change the rules in the next budget and you might then kick yourself for spending money on an expensive restructure.

7. Buy property through a company

If you’re thinking of buying property, setting up a limited company is more tax efficient in the sense that all finance costs can be set against profits. Richard urges landlords to “Beware of the extra cost of commercial mortgages.  This could offset any savings you make in tax.”

If you’re considering setting up as a company to save tax, make sure you read and digest our landlord’s guide to incorporation.

8. Remortgage!

Landlord and property expert Mark Lawrinson says that “A great way of cutting your interest costs is by re-mortgaging. Buy-to-let mortgage interest rates have fallen significantly in recent years, so deals currently on the market may well be substantially better than on products arranged a few years ago.”

9. Get your rental property revalued

With large increases in property prices in London, another tip is to get your rental property re-valued. This will make your lender recalculate your loan to value, and a lower loan to value means a better interest rate and a larger choice of lenders.

10. Fill the voids

If your buy-to-let property is empty for any period of time, remember that expenses such as utilities or council tax incurred can be claimed as an expense.

But more importantly, rather than losing money while your property sits empty, why not Airbnb the property until your find a long-term tenant?

Hosts typically earn up to 50% more on a short-term let than a long term-let, and we offer a premium Airbnb Management service in London so we can take care of the whole process. All you need to do is let us know when the property is available and we’ll organise guest bookings, arrange for 24 hour access, take care of cleaning and organising hotel standard towels and linen, and even kit it out with furniture if needs be.

Thanks to Portico Estate Agents for the above article.

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House prices gain 5.6% according to UK HPI

The latest data and analysis from ONS and Land Registry has revealed that average house prices in the UK increased by 5.6% in the year to April, up from 4.5% in the year to March.

According to the UK HPI, the monthly price change for a property in the UK was recorded at 1.6% with the average UK house price now standing at £220,000.

The figures also revealed that the East of England showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 8.1% in the year to April 2017. This was followed by the South West at 6.8%. The lowest annual growth was in the North East, where prices increased by 0.6% over the year.

However while up against March 2017, the Index notes that there has been a “general slowdown in the annual growth rate since mid-2016”.

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Bank of Mum and Dad risking IHT gift trap

The latest research from Key Retirement has revealed that 47% of parents and grandparents do not understand the tax rules on gifting, and nearly three out of four (73%) say the rules are very complicated.

Key’s research found 38% are not aware their estate might be liable for inheritance tax on gifts to family members.

The research, which focusses on the gifting behaviour and plans to gift from the Bank of Mum and Dad, shows 58% want to be able to help children and grandchildren on to the property ladder, which with average house prices at £217,0002 will mean paying out more than £40,000 for a 20% deposit. Around 18% of parents and grandparents would want to help pay off debts and student loans, while 13% would want to fund a wedding for children or grandchildren.

New inheritance tax rules introduced last month mean single homeowners have new higher IHT allowances of £425,000, and couples allowances of £850,000, rising in stages to £1 million for couples by 2020/21. However, the higher allowances only apply to family homes and only after death. The allowance otherwise is £325,000 (£750,000 for couples). Any gifts over the value of £3,000 need to be given more than seven years before death or they are potentially liable to 40% inheritance tax, if the threshold has is exceeded. The good news is that for the majority of people gifts should be exempt where wealth is predominantly in the home. However, for those whom this would not be the case there should be greater incentive to gift.

Key’s Equity Release Market Monitor shows equity release customers are cashing in an average £73,610 tax-free from property wealth, with around 22% of customers using some or all of the cash to help families.

Key believes encouraging intergenerational gifting for major purchases through tax breaks could play a major role in tackling intergenerational wealth issues by helping families get on the property ladder or paying off student loan debt. The research revealed that 37% of those questioned would be prepared to gift a ‘living inheritance’ were there tax incentives in doing so.

Dean Mirfin, technical director at Key Retirement, said: “At a time when the financial squeeze on younger generations is getting worse it makes sense that grandparents and parents want to help their family now rather than waiting till their death.

But there is real nervousness and confusion when it comes to the awareness around the rules of financial gifting.

We would support tax breaks on gifts and early inheritance in those instances where the incentives can be used for major intergenerational gifts, which have a greater perceived societal benefit. From rising student loans to property prices younger generations need a helping hand more than ever. Early inheritance can have life changing consequences for some families and our study shows that equity release could be a major source for these gifts.”

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Nationwide claims house price “fall” for third month in a row and why it’s baloney

You may have woken up this morning to the news that the latest data and analysis from Nationwide has revealed that, for the first time since 2009, UK house prices have “fallen” for a third consecutive month.

The data for May showed that annual house price growth dipped to 2.1%, the weakest in almost four years, providing “further evidence that housing market is losing momentum”.

Well, that’s not a price fall, it’s a slow down in growth which is a completely different matter and a proper grown up institution like the Nationwide should know better than to scaremonger and misrepresent the facts.

The Nationwide supposedly analysed house price movements in the months around previous elections, and also last year’s EU referendum, and found that past general elections do not appear to have generated volatility in house prices or resulted in a significant change in house price trends or mortgage approvals.

Well, the details of that analysis are a mystery, but ask any estate agent and they will tell you that every election (and the referendum) leads to a hiatus in the market as buyers and sellers await the outcome of the inevitable uncertainty that surrounds an election process.

Michael Foundly


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Biggest-ever study reveals why most vendors choose traditional agents

A study described as the biggest of its type seeks to explain why vendors choose – or avoid – online agents.

The Home Moving Trends survey undertaken by Property Academy surveyed 14,530 vendors.

Those sellers who chose to use a traditional agent were asked whether they had considered an online alternative. Precisely 30 per cent considered using an onliner but eventually decided against; the other 70 per cent said they didn’t even consider using an onliner.

When asked for the primary reason why they went on to choose a traditional agent, 38 per cent said because the local knowledge was important; 35 per cent because they could have face-to-face meetings; 17 per cent because of the importance of a local presence in the shape of a High Street office; and 10 per cent because it was simply more convenient.

Of those who went on to use an online operator, 74 per cent were persuaded primarily by cheaper fees; 11 per cent had a personal recommendation; nine per cent went online because those agents were “more innovative” and six per cent chose the option because online agencies were easier to deal with.

Around one third of sellers did not visit their selling agent’s office at any point in the process.

In other aspects of the survey, 85 per cent of respondents said Brexit “has not impacted my decision to move” although two per cent decided not to move because of the decision and seven per cent felt property prices had decreased in their area as a result of the referendum vote.

Movers are also showing increasing confidence in new technologies such as Virtual Reality – 60 per cent said they would consider viewing online prior to a physical viewing in the future.

KeyAGENT has produced an infographic of the results below.

Biggest-ever study reveals why most vendors choose traditional agents

Biggest-ever study reveals why most vendors choose traditional agents

Biggest-ever study reveals why most vendors choose traditional agents