Construction Update: Beaumont Square set to welcome Plymouth students this September

Construction Update: Beaumont Square set to welcome Plymouth students this September

United Kingdom
  • Brand new Beaumont Square residence set for completion in August 2017
  • Colossal £266 million investment programme set to transform Plymouth, will no doubt enhance its attraction to students (Aspen Woolf)
  • Investors benefit from an assured 3-year NET return of 8% as early as September, with students to move in for the upcoming academic year (Aspen Woolf)

With the current academic year nearing its exam led conclusion, students will be looking to their accommodation options for September. And with demand vastly outweighing supply, new and existing students will be keen to secure a spot for themselves.

As key university cities continue to attract thousands of students every year, it’s no surprise that many B2L investors are turning to Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). According to figures from HESA, the coastal set Plymouth University was home to 23,155 students in the 15/16 academic year alone. Highlighting an incredibly buoyant market for those investing in PBSA in the city.

To answer this ongoing demand, Oliver Ramsden Director of Aspen Woolf, leaders in providing wealth building opportunities for investors of all levels through property, is delighted to confirm that their brand new Beaumont Square accommodation will be ready for students to move in this September. He comments,

“Plymouth will be the location for a vast array of investment projects over the forthcoming months and years. The colossal £266 million investment programme set to transform the city centre, will no doubt enhance Plymouth’s attraction as a place for students to complete their studies.

“The greater number of students choosing Plymouth will in turn increase the number of student beds required, with PBSA emerging as the savvy investment option. With work on the internal walls of block B due to be complete by the end of next week, we are confident that our Beaumont Square residence is on track for completion as soon as August. Meaning students will be able to choose the luxury accommodation from September 2017.”

Located in an idyllic location, Beaumont Square is less than a mile away from Plymouth University, the bustling city centre and the beautiful harbour of this coastal city with prices starting from just £78,500 for the exclusive studio apartments.

Oliver continues,

“Those investing in Beaumont Square can benefit from an assured 3-year NET return of 8% as early as September, with completion of the development allowing students to move in for the upcoming academic year.”

Every apartment will be offered fully furnished to prospective student tenants and the building will benefit from high end hotel apartment style finishes. Residents will also be able to enjoy an array of additional facilities including a laundry room, staffed reception area and the security of 24-hour CCTV.

For more information, visit or contact Aspen Woolf on +44(0) 203 176 0060.

Q&A: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?

Q&A: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?


Thousands of Brits are believed to have lost deposits put down on holiday homes in Spain over the last decade.

Dreams of owning a second property in the sunshine to enjoy holidays with family or retire to have turned sour, leaving many out of pocket by tens of thousands of pounds.

But hope is not lost, CostaLuz Lawyers, together with “the Erin Brockovich” of Spanish property, Keith Rule, are righting these wrongs having been the first to identify Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 and use it to successfully win over £10 million (€12 million) in lost deposits for their clients.

CostaLuz Lawyers has won almost 850 claims in total from Spanish property developers & banks, helping more than 1,500 clients from across the UK and Ireland as well as Spanish and European nationals.

Last week Maria Luisa de Castro, Founder & Director of CostaLuz Lawyers, secured £1 million from Caixabank for nine British families whose homes in Malaga were never delivered. Working alongside DeCastro’s legal team, CostaLuz Lawyers also has around 100 cases still pending outcomes in the Appeal Courts and more than 500 cases still in progress in the First Instance Courts.

If you paid a deposit on an off-plan property in Spain but did not receive a refund, read the below Q&A with Maria Luisa de Castro to see if you can claim:

Q: Am I eligible to recover my lost off-plan funds in Spain?

A: You are if:

  • You have a cancelled purchase contract, either by Court decision or by the Bankruptcy administrators of the developer
  • Your development was never started or finished on time according to the purchase contract and you have a Bank Guarantee

You do not have an individual bank Guarantee, but you do have a General Guarantee contract signed between developer and the bank

You completed on a property with no First Occupation License—in this case mortgage repayments are also recoverable

You have none of the above but you have copies of all off-plan payments made to the developer’s bank account.  Even if you paid your off-plan deposit to a third party i.e. conveyancing Lawyer or Agent, it may be possible to obtain the evidence required on your behalf to enable the Lawsuit to be filed against the developer’s bank.

Q: What am I entitled to claim back?

A: You can claim all amounts paid off plan, plus legal interests normally from the payment dates.  Legal costs may also be recoverable in some cases.

Q: Are banks actually paying this money back?

A: Yes, they are. Banks are solvent entities that must comply with the law.  All banks with a firm court decision against them are refunding the claimants. Even if the developer’s bank no longer exists, action is still possible against the bank that has taken it over.  For example in the Finca Parcs case the developer’s bank was Banco CAM which was taken over by Banco Sabadell so the action is now against Banco Sabadell.

Q: How safe is this action?

A: Supreme Court has already interpreted the full text of law 57/68 in favour of buyers/consumers, so the success rate is very high.

Q: Are banks settling out of court?

A: In a small number of cases Banks do offer settlement out of court, however this is normally only for the principal amount with no interest or costs.

Q: Does this apply if I bought more than one house?

A: It does, as long as you didn’t do so as part of your professional trade. It also applies if the contract mentioned these guarantees explicitly to secure the success of the business.

Q: Does it apply for commercial premises?

A: It does, if the guarantee was offered in the contract

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith Rule. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit

Derelict to desirable: Regeneration breathes new life into Manchester’s Wilburn Basin

Derelict to desirable: Regeneration breathes new life into Manchester’s Wilburn Basin

United Kingdom
  • Wilburn Basin offers investors an average price per sq ft 30% lower than similar developments (Surrenden Invest)
  • When complete Wilburn Basin will comprise four distinct blocks varying in height from 8 to 21 storeys (Surrenden Invest)
  • Phase one already complete and rented out and the second due this summer (Surrenden Invest)

It was only a short time ago that Manchester’s Wilburn Street Basin was nothing more than a neglected patch of wasteland. However, the area has recently experienced a radical transformation and is now home to a contemporary residential hub.

Surrenden Invest, a property consultancy at the forefront of this movement, believe Manchester’s thriving property market has led to areas outside the city centre undergoing significant redevelopment. Managing Director Jonathan Stephens explains,


“Areas of the city historically seen as outside the core are now providing investors with all the amenities and quality of prime central but at a much lower price point. The Wilburn Basin is the perfect example.

“Falling on the Salford side of the Irwell means that investors are looking at an average price per square foot that is 30% lower than similar developments within a couple of minutes’ walk.”

Wilburn Basin is a brand-new residence situated on the historic River Irwell Basin. It offers an attractive waterside setting to residents in the city centre, within a short walking distance of the central business district and its excellent array of shops and leisure facilities.

When complete Wilburn Basin will be comprised of four distinct blocks varying in height from 8 to 21 storeys which offer fantastic views across the city, setting a new benchmark for combining city centre living with high quality facilities and private amenity space.

Jonathan continues,


Wilburn Basin is a project investors can go into with complete confidence with the first phase already complete and rented out, and the second phase completing this summer, whilst also benefitting from the experience and build quality of Manchester’s largest developer.

“This is an area earmarked for substantial capital growth and given the location, will be perfectly suited to take advantage of both Media City and the city centre.”

From just £165,000, all apartments are built to a high specification with Porcelanosa kitchens and Villeroy and Boch sanitaryware. Additional facilities include a private gym, cinema room, a ‘boutique’ hotel style reception with 24 hour concierge and a residents’ lounge. As well as architecturally landscaped gardens and courtyard.

For more information, visit or contact Surrenden Invest on 0203 3726 499.

Sell your home faster this spring with these expert interior design tips!

Sell your home faster this spring with these expert interior design tips!

United Kingdom
  • Pay particular attention to neutralising colour schemes and brightening spaces
  • Remove all clutter – including pieces of furniture
  • Use soft furnishings and scents to stage your home like a show home

Spring is well known to be the best time of year to sell your home. In fact, research by US firm Zillow found that homes listed for sale between 1-15 May sell an average of 18.5 days faster than those listed outside of that time period, as well as achieving a 1% higher sale price.

For those planning to take advantage of the spring sales season, the experts at Alexander James Interior Design have shared their top 10 tips for selling your home faster through creative interior design.


“First impressions count when it comes to selling your home. Everything has to look, feel and even smell perfect in order to impress prospective buyers. It’s essential to give your home the best chance possible of attracting new owners and interior design can play a key part in that.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Alexander James’ top 10 tips for selling your home this spring

1. Be your own critic

Start by casting a critical eye over your home yourself, picturing it through the eyes of a potential buyer. Try and think about the tastes and requirements of the type of person who might buy your home, whether it be a family of six or a couple without children. If it is a family home, you may gear your changes towards a family-friendly layout.

2. Repaint

A fresh coat of a neutral paint colour can work wonders. Use it where needed to cover up more controversial colours, which could put off potential buyers by restricting their vision for the property.

3. Flooring

If carpets look tired, tatty and threadbare, it’s a good idea to replace them, if your budget permits. At the very least, professional carpet cleaning can make a huge difference when it comes to brightening up a room.

4. Declutter

Make the most of every inch of drawer, cupboard and wardrobe space that you have by removing unnecessary clutter. This will open up the space and leave room for the imagination. If you have somewhere to store it, you can even remove two or three pieces of furniture from each room, to really show your home’s features and create a spacious feel. In the kitchen, clear away toasters and kettles to give a clean finish to the room.

5. De-personalise

You’ve likely spent years personalizing your home to perfection. Now it’s time to undo your hard work! Eliminate personal effects so that your home becomes a place where potential buyers are able to envision themselves living. In particular, replace photographs with more generic artwork.

6. Accessorise

Gently accessorise to make your property feel like a home. Use a soothing colour palette to allow one room to flow into the next, creating a cohesive feel. Adding fresh flowers injects colour and warmth to a room, while green plants can add a contemporary touch, creating a feature within a living space. High end magazines can be displayed on a coffee table for a homely effect.

7. Soft furnishings

Soft furnishings are important and the use of luxury brands can really make a difference. While the brands themselves are unlikely to be noticed by the potential buyer, the overall impact will be to add a quality effect. Any garish colours or worn cushions should be replaced, creating a home that the prospective new owners can feel a sense of pride in.

8. Light it up

Homes should have bright lighting to awaken the buyer’s senses. Good lighting can make your home feel more spacious and enhance its features. It may be worth investing in some brighter light bulbs (but not so bright that rooms appear clinical!) for maximum impact.

9. Add fresh scents

Use beautiful scented candles and diffusers throughout the home, but most importantly in the living area, master bedroom and master bathroom. Studies have found that complex scents can distract a buyers thought process, so we recommend simple, fresh scents such as orange, lemon, pine, basil, cedar, vanilla and cinnamon.

10. Stage your home

Cast your eye over your home once more and stage it like a show home for every single viewing. There shouldn’t be a dirty teacup or overflowing basket of washing in sight! Staging your house like a show home will allow potential buyers to feel that it is a property they would be proud to own.

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Spanish property interest hits three-year high

Spanish property interest hits three-year high

Portugal Spain
  • Spain takes top three most-searched locations
  • Malaga, Almeira and Tenerife most popular places in Spain
  • Portugal occupies eight out of top 50 property hotspots

Interest in Spanish property surged to a three-year high at the start of 2017, reveals’s latest Hotspots Index. The report, which charts the most searched-for locations on the international property portal, saw Malaga soar to first place in Q1 2017 – the first time Spain has ever ranked in the number one spot.

Malaga accounted for 4.01 per cent of all searches on the international portal in the first three months of 2017, climbing 18 positions from Q4 2016 to knock Italy’s Florence off its perch. This is the first time in 18 months that Italy has not topped’s Hotspots Index.

Almeria was the second most sought-after location on the site, with 3.56 per cent of searches, followed by Tenerife (3.40 per cent) and, down three places, Florence (2.63 per cent). Benidorm completed the top five with 2.53 per cent of searches. Indeed, Spain was home to eight out of the 10 most popular locations in Q1 2017, the highest percentage of the Top 10 ever held by a single country since Hotspots Index records began in Q4 2014. Spain was also responsible for 13 out of the Top 15.

Portugal was home to 8 of the Top 50, ahead of Italy (5) and France (3). Portugal’s most popular hotspots were Albufeira (14th), Cascais (18th) and Alvor (19th). Interest in Italy was fuelled by Florence (4th), Rome (8th) and Verona (27th). France’s most sought-after hotspot was Paris (15th), highlighting the capital’s importance as a magnet for romantic lifestyle buyers and a safe haven for wealthy investors.

Thailand’s Pattaya climbed two places in the chart, attracting the 16th biggest share of searches. Greece’s Athens was the 45th most popular hotspot, while the USA accounted for one hotspot: Detroit, ranked in 33rd.

Spain, though, dominated buyers’ wishlists at the start of the year. The country was home to 31 of’s Top 50 hotspots, more than double its share of the index in Q4 2016 and an all-time high for any country.

The figures follow Spain’s similar rise in’s latest Top of the Props report, which saw the country account for 14.02 per cent of all enquiries on the site in February 2016 – its largest share of activity since 2013. Indeed, new data from Spain’s Land Registry shows that sales of property increased 19 per cent in January year-on-year to reach the highest number of transactions since January four years ago.

“Spain is undoubtedly the flavour of the month,” says Dan Johnson, Director of “Searches and enquiries are both at highs not seen for several years, showing that foreign buyers are actively seeking opportunities in Spain and are following through on those searches. Agents have reported a slowdown in enquiries from British buyers since the Brexit vote, but expat favourite Benidorm’s position in Q1’s Top 5 hotspots shows that there is still interest from the UK, despite the pound’s weakness against the euro.

“Foreign buyers are still drawn primarily to tourist hospots, such as the Costa Blanca and Malaga, where they are helping to drive property prices up. With Spain’s economy growing, though, business hubs such as Barcelona are also fuelling overseas demand. Spain’s housing market is still not recovering at the same rate across the whole country, but with property values starting to rebound, the promise of capital growth and the country’s timeless lifestyle appeal mean that Spanish real estate has rarely appeared so attractive.”

Click here to see the full Top 50 Hotspots on

— ENDS –

Notes to Editors

About Lead Galaxy and

Founded in 1999, is the leading independent website for international property, with more than 1.4 million listings in over 100 countries around the world, marketed on behalf of agents, developers and private owners. is one of more than a dozen international property sites operated under the Lead Galaxy brand. Lead Galaxy provides online marketing solutions to thousands of property companies worldwide, focusing on portal listings, email marketing, qualified leads, paid search and social media advertising.

The business is headquartered at 24 Jack’s Place, Corbet Place, Shoreditch, London, E1 6NN.


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The ‘Erin Brockovich’ of Spanish property still fighting a decade later

The ‘Erin Brockovich’ of Spanish property still fighting a decade later

Spain United Kingdom
  • Keith Rule uncovered Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 that allows banks to be held accountable for off-plan property deposits
  • In 2012 Finca Parcs Action Group and CostaLuz Lawyers win case against the bank resulting in a pay-out of almost €1.5 million
  • “With Brexit creating uncertainty, now is the time for investors to begin reclaiming what is rightfully theirs” (Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers)

Back in 2006, Keith Rule, an ordinary man from Milton Keynes, decided to take the plunge and buy his dream holiday home in Spain. Like many other Brits at the time, Keith paid a deposit for the off-plan property to a Spanish developer. A substantial sum of €54,000.

However, his dream was short lived as he did not receive a bank guarantee. And when the developer fell behind on the build schedule and ultimately abandoned the project in 2009, Keith’s investment was at serious risk.

Taking matters into his own hands, Keith’s research led him to Spanish Law LEY 57/1968 in which he found what would become a key phrase in his fight for justice. Just three little words, ‘bajo su responsibilidad’, which means ‘under its responsibility’.

Keith believed that according to this law, the developer’s bank which received the off-plan deposits was responsible for issuing or verifying the existence of the guarantee.

In 2008, needing legal assistance in his quest to hold the bank accountable, Keith was turned away by several Spanish lawyers before contacting Maria de Castro of CostaLuz Lawyers.

Keith gathered a group of 46 other buyers who had invested in the same development, in the Spanish province of Albacete, to act against the developer’s bank.  They were known as the Finca Parcs Action Group and in 2012, together with Maria, they won their case against the bank which resulted in a pay-out of almost €1.5 million plus interest & costs.

After this unprecedented success and landmark case, Maria asked Keith to join the CostaLuz Lawyers team in order to help others. Keith now works exclusively with CostaLuz Lawyers, operating the UK office and assisting thousands of other British, Irish and European nationals to recover off-plan deposits.

Dubbed “the Erin Brockovich” of Spanish off-plan property due to his pioneering work, Keith continues to help other buyers who undertake similar legal procedures.


“There are still a significant number of people that are yet to have their deposits returned to them. The Spanish legal system has definitely transformed over the last decade, in relation to allowing owners a high level of success with deposit reclaims, as more and more cases are being won and trust is beginning to grow. However, with the Brexit process creating a sense of uncertainty, now is the time for investors to ask for help and begin reclaiming what is rightfully theirs.”

Keith Rule, CostaLuz Lawyers


CostaLuz Lawyers has successfully won almost 850 claims in total from Spanish property developers & banks, helping more than 1,500 clients from across the UK and Ireland as well as Spanish and European nationals.

In addition, they have around 100 cases still pending outcomes in the Appeal Courts and more than 500 cases still in progress in the First Instance Courts.

For more information, please contact CostaLuz Lawyers’ UK office on +44 1908 635 111 and speak with Keith. To speak with Maria in the Spanish office, please call +34 956 092 687 or you can visit

Getting to know the ‘Designer with the Dogs’ – Stacey Sibley of Alexander James Interior Design

Getting to know the ‘Designer with the Dogs’ – Stacey Sibley of Alexander James Interior Design

United Kingdom
  • Creativity and organisational skills both essential for interior design work
  • Contemporary use of metals, softened by rustic woods, makes for the perfect modern interior
  • Natural elements and eclectic, ‘lived in’ interiors set the trends for the coming years

Beautiful interior design doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, Creative Director Stacey Sibley has dedicated the last 17 years to Alexander James Interior Design, the award-winning company delivering the most stunning interiors to the UK’s show houses, private homes and rental apartments.

Having trained in graphic design and styling, Stacey began her career at an interior design company that specialised in show homes. Her passion for creating beautiful properties led her to Alexander James Interior Design in 2000.

What began as membership of a team of five has evolved into Stacey heading up a department of 22 designers, while the Alexander James group has expanded to employ more than 100 staff in total.

Much has changed as Stacey has grown and developed with the Alexander James team. She is now responsible for the creative side of the business, overseeing designers and managing creative direction, as well as undertaking design work for key clients and keeping up with the latest industry trends. Here she shares her highlights of the experience.

Why is your role essential to the process of delivering stunning interiors?

At Alexander James I oversee the creative teams and the smooth running of the design studio, ensuring we deliver the best possible result on every project, as well as undertaking design projects myself. My role blends both creativity and organisational skills, which don’t always go hand in hand! That combination of skills is essential to delivering stunning interiors, particularly when it comes to show houses, which have to be incredibly efficient and deliver smooth installations that run to deadline.

How would you describe your own style?

I have quite a varied taste, which has changed over the years. For my own home, I like a relaxed style with a mix of old and new. I’ve developed a homely feel that encourages me to unwind and that perfectly suits my family and my two gorgeous Westies, Alfie and Piglet. I’ve opted for soft colours, as I need a calm sanctuary with plenty of light.  I love styling and finding one-off pieces from vintage shops.

How has interior design changed since the start of your career?

Quite a lot! A good example is window treatments, which have changed massively – they’ve gone from Austrian blinds, chintz, big bows, swags and tails to clean lines, and crisp, functional finishes. The days of matching wallpaper and fabrics are also thankfully long gone!

In recent years, we’ve seen a shift away from chrome, which was everywhere five years ago. We’re also seeing the resurgence of gold, which is now being used in a contemporary way, along with copper, brass and rose gold. The mixture of using traditional, rustic woods with modern metals has been a big change in the past few years as well.

What has been your most challenging project?

Most recently, it was The Chapel at Mill Hill, North London. The vast, vaulted ceiling and huge open living space meant that it was a challenge to make it feel like a home rather than a chapel! It also threw up some interesting challenges in terms of getting the scale of furniture and artwork right. It was a fascinating project to work on, but it did have some very unique challenges. The different finishes – lots of marble and stone – also meant that we had to think carefully about the acoustics in order to produce a warm, homely feeling rather than a chamber full of echoes!

Which is your favourite room to design?

Each property is unique, so I don’t have a preferred room, as such. My favourite types of rooms are those that are an awkward shape. That might be a kitchen in one property and a guest bedroom in another. The challenge of overcoming the spatial complexity is very rewarding.

What are the top trends to look out for in the years ahead?

Things now going more into natural elements – bringing nature into the home. Olive green is big this year and we’re seeing muted pinks coming back as well. We’re also finding that clients are keen for quite an eclectic feel at the moment, which looks like a trend that will develop further over the years ahead. It’s about mixing the old with the new in order to achieve a more ‘lived in’ look.

In terms of particular objects, Tom Faulkner’s Odessa cabinet is just beautiful and very on trend – the geometric lines and inlaid bronze are simple yet stunning, and a great example of the future of designer cabinetry.

Is there anything that one should always avoid when it comes to interior design?

There are several things, but top of my list is making rooms feel dark and oppressive. Rooms should be light, bright and airy, not crammed with oversized furniture and so many dark colours that they make you want to leave the moment you walk into them!

What’s your secret quick win for those looking to transform their home on a budget?

Paint! Light, bright walls can completely transform a room. Just make sure they match the colour palette of the furnishings and artwork already in the room, it the walls are the only element being changed.

Finally, what are your top three interior design tips?

Firstly, look at the space and plan furniture scales correctly – don’t assume anything! Measure the room and check dimensions carefully, as well as thinking about the use of the space. Beauty has to combine with functionality and provision needs to be made for storage as well.

Next, let textures be your friend. Enjoy the variety available and be playful with them, layering contrasting fabrics and finishes in order to avoid too much of any one texture.

Lastly, think carefully about lighting. There’s such a huge variety of lighting options available and each can influence the overall feel of a room. Plan the lighting just as carefully as all the other elements to be sure it will work as part of the overall vision.

For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Will gold shine bright for Britons as EU divorce proceedings start?

Will gold shine bright for Britons as EU divorce proceedings start?

United Kingdom
  • “The future of the Great British pound is most likely be unstable” (easyMarkets)
  • Brexit vote saw gold hit its 2016 high, while sterling crashed to 31 year lows
  • UK’s gold reserve ranks 17th globally (310.29 metric tons)
  • Gold’s correlation with US dollar means it’s not necessarily best option if pound collapses

It has finally happened. After months of speculation and political positioning, starting from the moment the Brexit vote outcome was revealed, on 29 March 2017 Mr Tim Borrow officially served the European Union (EU) with divorce papers. The UK will be leaving its long term partner, the EU.

Anybody remotely aware of market movements will question the next step for markets and the implications of this historic period for the EU. One particular area of interest will be how potential British Pound movements will affect gold.

“Let’s start with the lead in this soap opera: the sterling. Before the Brexit referendum, the GBP/USD was trading around $1.5007 levels. As soon as the results came out, it crashed to 31-year lows, making it the biggest one-day drop ever for the currency. The sterling continued declining and hit fresh 31 year lows at $1.1500 on 7 October 2016, due to an apparent “flash crash.” It has recovered slightly since then and is now trading back above a potential key level of $1.20. The future of the Great British pound is most likely be unstable with the major events happening in its mother country.”

James Trescothick, Chief Global Strategist, easyMarkets

What does that mean for gold? Any investor worth their weight in gold (pun intended) will know that the general rule is that, at times of uncertainty, many investors look to move their money into gold. It is a well-known safe-haven.

This has become obvious many times over, and emphasised by recent events. When the sterling crashed following the Brexit vote, gold sky rocketed to its highest level since March 2014. According to the Royal Mint (the UK’s official producer of gold and silver coins), during that same time there was a 32% surge in sales, as many Brits rushed to buy gold bars and coins. Britons also turned to gold during the subprime crisis in 2008, as well as the European debt crisis of 2012-13.

The UK as a whole does not offer the biggest contributions to gold. It ranks 15th among the biggest purchasers of gold bars and coins. Even the UK’s central bank does not show as much love to gold as others do – the UK gold reserves rank in 17th place globally. At the end of 2016, the UK’s gold reserve stood at 310.29 metric tons. The number only sounds impressive until it is compared with Germany’s gold holdings, which stand at 3,377.0 metric tons, or those of the United States, the number one country in gold holdings, with 8,133.5 metric tons.

“Why is the UK so reserved with its love for gold? Perhaps arrogance! The sterling has a key role as a global reserve currency, and it is still one of the top five most valuable currencies against the USD. However, now that the UK is standing on the abyss of uncertainty, further falls in the GBP may evoke a change of attitude.”

James Trescothick, easyMarkets

So will the pound’s future movements affect gold? That is always a possibility, but what it is important to recognize here is that gold doesn’t always follow the direction of the sterling. When the Brexit vote happened, gold hit its 2016 high while the sterling crashed to more than 30 year lows. However, in December 2016, gold fell to $1,120 oz, while the sterling was still freefalling against the US dollar.

Why would gold both rise and fall while the sterling was still on the same path? Because when gold declined it was mainly correlated to the rise of the USD on the back of Donald Trump’s presidency win, and optimism on the upcoming implementation of fiscal policies.

This demonstrates that gold tends to look at global economic sentiment and has a closer link to the direction of the USD than to the sterling. Future pound movements will not necessarily push gold in any direction, and if the GBP collapses again, there’s no guarantee that gold will be the best option to protect your money.

“Returning to where the story began, with the high profile divorce; if it creates the kind of mess that the market is currently expecting to see, it can potentially lead to a negative impact on global economy. A messy global economy has in the past led traders to gold helping the metal rise, and it may do that again. In the end it all depends on how this political soap opera plays out and unfortunately it will not be as predictable as an episode of EastEnders.”

James Trescothick, easyMarkets

For further details, visit, email or call +44 203 1500 748.

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Best in show: Alexander James’ 5 interior design tips to bring show house style to your home

Best in show: Alexander James’ 5 interior design tips to bring show house style to your home

United Kingdom

With spring sales in full swing in many shops, now is the perfect time to take a critical look at your home and make a few changes to bring it up to show house standard.

“Bringing glamour and style to your home doesn’t have to be about making big changes. There are a few simple tips and tricks that can make a big difference. Try to step back and take a fresh look at your rooms. Which features and objects stand out? How do they coordinate with the other items in the room? What feeling does the room give you? Once you take a long, hard look at your home, you’ll be able to identify which colours and objects dominate it – and to change them if necessary.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


The first top tip from the interior design experts at Alexander James is to declutter. Achieving show home style in your living room won’t happen if there are toys strewn all over the floor, clothes drying on radiators, or newspapers and wine glasses piled up on the coffee table.

Whether you tidy it away, or go one step further and get rid of some of the clutter by selling it or donating it to charity, it’s time to reduce the number of items that are visible – and then make those that are left count.

Thinking about your colour scheme is the next step. A base of complementary neutral tones, with a couple of brighter colours for contrast, will help to create a warm and cosy yet stylish environment.

For those who aren’t naturally good with colours, the Alexander James Interior Design team recommends using a colour wheel, as well as creating a mood board to start brining your ideas to life.

“It’s also really important to think about lighting. You don’t have to start a major renovation project to add in windows in order to brighten up a home – mirrors are ideal for making rooms brighter. Daylight plays a key role in our state of mind – in the simplest terms, if you flood your home with it, you’re likely to be happier.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Mirrors have the added benefit of being able to make rooms feel more spacious, if positioned well. Lamps and candles can also be used to achieve show house style in your home, and a variety of lighting options means that a space can go from feeling bright and airy to comfortable and cosy as evening approaches.

The fourth tip from the Alexander James team is to compare and contrast fabrics and textures. If your sofa cushions are velvet, don’t opt for velvet cushions and velvet curtains – contrast the fabrics while maintaining a complementary flow of colour.

The same is true of other textures. Pair painted wooden chairs with a natural wood mirror frame or cluster of photo frames. Soften the sheen of metallic cabinet doors with jam jars or pitchers full of delicate, tumbling flowers.

“Flowers are the final key to giving your home a show house finish this spring. Not only do they look fabulous, but they also smell wonderful. Opt for locally grown, seasonal blooms to bolster your environmental credentials.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design


For more information, visit Alexander James Interior Design at, email or call 020 7887 7604.

Adventurous families choose the UK for holidays AND investments as Brexit approaches

Adventurous families choose the UK for holidays AND investments as Brexit approaches

United Kingdom
  • Family staycations to jump from 29% to 37% in 2017 (Travelzoo)
  • Inbound visitor numbers hit record levels in Nov 2016, up 17% in 1 year (ONS)
  • Blended UK holiday homes and investments set to benefit from Brexit (Properties of the World)

The UK’s tourism industry is looking forward to a bumper summer this year, if current trends continue to play out.

According to Travelzoo, 37% of Brits plan to take their main holiday in the UK in 2017, compared with 29% in 2016. Pre-Brexit wobbles and an austere budget are no doubt playing their part in families’ plans, but it’s not just cautious Brits who are choosing to spend their leisure time in the UK.

The country is also proving an attractive destination to overseas visitors. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a trend of increasing inbound visitors over the course of late 2016.

Visits by overseas residents to the UK increased by 1.5% in July to September 2016, when compared with the same quarter of 2016. November then saw a record-breaking month for inbound tourism, with numbers leaping by 17% compared with November 2015 and spending up by 14%, at 3.1 million visits and £1.7 billion respectively.


“The charms of the UK as a holiday destination have never been greater. For UK-based families, it’s a chance to take a break without the hassle of long-haul travel, luggage restrictions and bumper flight prices over the summer holidays. For those from overseas, the UK represents great value for money – something which the triggering of Article 50 may well boost further.”

Jean Liggett, CEO of visionary property investment consultancy Properties of the World


It’s not just short-term circumstance that is causing families to look to the UK. Adventurous investors are looking at the country’s longer-term potential, with investments like Afan Valley Adventure Resort in South Wales bringing a new dynamic to family breaks.

Investment at the resort is from £149,000 for lodges and luxury villas, with returns of 8% NET for 7 years. Families who invest can enjoy 2 weeks’ personal use of their investment property each year – ideal for those looking to enjoy one of the most breath-taking areas of the UK during their summer break.

There will be a kaleidoscope of adrenalin-fuelled and health and wellbeing activities at the resort. These will range from fabulous spa facilities to more active pursuits, including a water challenge, high jungle rope zip-lining, parachuting and a host of challenges to test teamwork and stamina. The resort promises an action-packed adventure for the whole family and is the ideal way to enjoy the best of the British countryside.

With so much to do on-site, and the ease with which Wales can be accessed, the appeal of such blended holiday and investment destinations is clear. A holiday home for the whole family that’s also a hands-off investment can provide regular income without the usual hassle of cleaning, repairs and garden maintenance that a fully owned holiday home brings with it.

Afan Valley also offers a lower cost investment option. Land plots are available for £25,000, with a mark-up of 10% per annum for three years and an assured buy-back of 125%. They are ideally suited for families looking to take on a smaller investment, or to spread their investment portfolio across a wide range of assets.

“Resorts like Afan Valley are ideal for adventurous families looking to enjoy the best of the UK, from its scenery to its property investment opportunities. With Brexit about to become reality, UK investments with outstanding lifestyle benefits such as this one are well positioned for a rise in popularity.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

For more information, visit or call +44 (0)20 7624 5555.