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 www.aji.co.uk, email info@aji.co.uk 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 www.easymarkets.com, email pr@easymarkets.com or call +44 203 1500 748.

Risk warning: Forward Rate Agreements, Options and CFDs (OTC Trading) are leveraged products that carry a substantial risk of loss up to your invested capital and may not be suitable for everyone. Please ensure that you understand fully the risks involved and do not invest money you cannot afford to lose. Our group of companies through its subsidiaries is licensed by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (Easy Forex Trading Ltd- CySEC, License Number 079/07), which has been passported in the European Union through the MiFID Directive and in Australia by ASIC (Easy Markets Pty Ltd -AFS license No. 246566).

https://www.statista.com/statistics/267998/countries-with-the-largest-gold-reserves/

http://www.royalmint.com/

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 www.aji.co.uk, email info@aji.co.uk 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 www.propertiesoftheworld.co.uk or call +44 (0)20 7624 5555.

Welcome to Albox – Spain’s Brexit-beating holiday home location for 2017

Welcome to Albox – Spain’s Brexit-beating holiday home location for 2017

Spain
  • Traditionally popular locations losing out to less developed towns like Albox
  • 3% of Brexit-conscious Brit buyers looking for sub-€50k homes
  • Property sales in Almeria have risen 93% since Brexit referendum
  • Apartments are property type of choice for value-focused buyers

Brexit-conscious British buyers took quite a while to let the impact of the referendum sink in, but the imminent triggering of Article 50 has finally shaken up their pursuit of Spanish property.

While no fundamental changes to property rights, obtaining mortgage credit or even inheritance tax are expected, there will be a degree of uncertainty over the coming months, and that’s making buyers more cautious. However, where there’s a threat, there’s also usually an opportunity.

 

“While traditional more established (and expensive) Spanish locations are beginning to feel the Brexit blues, buyers aren’t abandoning the country entirely. Instead, they’re looking for less developed areas, which is giving smaller towns an opportunity to shine.”

Richard Speigal, Head of Research at Spanish property portal Kyero.com

 

The province of Almeria is at the epicentre of the shift, with sales rising 93% in the post-Brexit period.

Prices across the province have lagged behind the rest of Spain, with an average value of €129,000 – almost half the national average. Prices are expected to rise following the post-Brexit spike in sales, but haven’t done so yet, creating an interesting opportunity for buyers with an eye on potential capital gains as well as a sun-kissed second home.

The addition of Almeria to Jet2’s summer 2017 flight schedule is also interesting news to those seeking an easily accessible, bargain holiday home with great potential for capital gain.

Within Almeria, the town of Albox is the one to watch, according to the experts at Kyero.com, which lists more than 200,000 properties each month.

Flanked by the Sierra de las Estancias and the Sierra de los Filabres mountain ranges, Albox benefits from being less than an hour’s drive from the coast and just over an hour from Almeria Airport. The town’s white-washed homes, pretty plazas and narrow streets boast plenty of the kind of authentic Spanish charm that many British buyers are seeking.

 

“Over 50’s British buyers may be sitting on huge equity thanks to rising UK house prices, but sterling’s fall has hit their budgets, which in turn has led to a hunt for value. As healthcare and pension arrangements aren’t guaranteed to remain the same after Brexit, retirees are holding back from blowing their budgets on huge villas in prime locations. Instead, apartments in less well known locations are coming to the fore. The Costa del Sol’s loss is Almeria’s gain.”

Richard Speigal, Kyero.com

 

The average property in Albox costs just €129,000 – the same as the provincial average, based on Kyero.com’s figures.

Those looking for a substantial project can pick up a townhouse ripe for pulling down and rebuilding for €9,000. A quirky, renovated four-bedroom home with a sunny roof terrace can be picked up for €39,950. Albox apartments are priced from €65,000, while buyers with €100,000 or more can enjoy a selection of spacious villas. Villas with their own pools start from €120,000.

Prices in Albox have risen by 2.2% in the last year. Meanwhile, buyer enquiries are running at four times the average for the Kyero.com site. In February alone, 17,000 people searched for property in the town, with British buyers topping the table when it came to the nationality of those looking at Albox homes.

The majority were bargain-hunting, with 62.3% looking for properties costing less than €50,000, and apartments being the first choice when it came to property type. A further 22.4% were looking to spend between €50,000 and €100,000. Just 14.7% of potential buyers were considering spending over €100,000, reflecting the Brexit-inspired push for bargain holiday homes.

While there’ll no doubt be plenty of vocal lobbying from Spanish property owners and expats once Brexit negotiations are underway, for now buyers are voting with their wallets, meaning that towns like Albox are emerging as 2017’s hottest Spanish holiday home destinations.

For further details, visit www.kyero.com.

Taylor Wimpey España launch new contender for Mallorca’s luxurious second home market

Taylor Wimpey España launch new contender for Mallorca’s luxurious second home market

Spain
  • Balearics enjoy busiest regional housing market in Jan 2017 (Spain’s property registrars) 
  • Mallorca features above The Hamptons and Monaco in latest Prime International Residential Index (Knight Frank)
  • Taylor Wimpey España launch luxury Serenity development close to glamourous Puerto Adriano marina 

Spain’s property market enjoyed a positive start to 2017 with sales rising by 18.1% in January compared with the same period last year. Recent figures from Spain’s property registrars highlighted the Balearic Islands as January’s busiest regional housing market with an average of 150 sales per 100,000 inhabitants.

Mallorca has become a rising star of the second home market within Spain and globally, as its golden coastline appeals to an array of buyers. Knight Frank’s latest Prime International Residential Index (PIRI), which tracks the value of luxury homes in 100 key locations worldwide, reveals house price growth on the Spanish island as 2.01% from December 2015 to December 2016.

The PIRI places Mallorca within the top 50 luxury home destinations, even above world renowned second home locations such as The Hamptons and Monaco, as buyers seeking extravagant properties express increasing interest in the Mediterranean isle.

As a resident of the beautiful island himself, Marc Pritchard, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey España can bear testament to the appeal of Mallorca to the global elite:

“Already a popular holiday destination, Mallorca is now emerging as a hotspot for those seeking a certain level of luxury. And although there is still something for everyone, it is the homes offering a more lavish lifestyle that are now enticing buyers to the island.

“We are delighted to introduce a brand new, highly luxurious residential development – Serenity – within such proximity to one of the Mediterranean’s premium ports, ideal for super-yacht enthusiasts and those wanting to experience tranquillity by the water.”  

Marc Pritchard, Sales & Marketing Director, Taylor Wimpey España


Serenity is located next to the Santa Ponsa II Golf Club in Nova Santa Ponsa, one of the most exclusive and highly sought-after areas on the island. This new residential complex offers beautiful 3 bedroom homes from apartments to top floor penthouses.

All units benefit from private terraces, with those on the ground floor enjoying spacious garden areas which are also private. From €535,000 +VAT for an apartment and €790,000 +VAT for a penthouse, residents will enjoy the private use of two swimming pools, surrounded by a solarium area, and luscious communal gardens.

Less than a 30-minute drive from Palma’s international airport, Serenity’s idyllic location is also less than 1km away from the premium Puerto Adriano marina. Designed by Philippe Starck, this superyacht harbour provides berths for boats between 6 and 100 meters long, as well as a wide variety of bars and restaurants and some of the most exclusive designer stores on Mallorca.

For more information, please contact Taylor Wimpey España today on 08000 121 020 or visit http://taylorwimpeyspain.com for more information. If you reside outside of the UK you will need to call 00 34 971 706 972.

Buy-to-let tax changes pushing landlords to alternative real estate investments

Buy-to-let tax changes pushing landlords to alternative real estate investments

United Kingdom
  • New UK buy-to-let tax changes come into effect from 6th April 2017
  • 44% considering alternative real estate sectors in 2017 (PwC)
  • Student housing, leisure and healthcare sectors emerge victorious (PwC)

It’s fair to say that the UK’s buy-to-let property market has suffered quite a few blows at the hands of government in recent years.

The additional 3% Stamp Duty from April 2016 meant that buy-to-let produced lower yields literally overnight and the scaling back of mortgage interest tax relief from 6th April 2017 is also expected to have an impact. Then there’s the whole Brexit issue, which has created a lingering aura of caution and uncertainty when it comes to the property market (though the market has held up well thus far).

 

“The UK buy-to-let market has displayed an impressive level of resilience in the face of these blows. Investors haven’t lost their despite the tax changes and impact of the Brexit referendum. What has been particularly interesting, though, is the scope that the situation has provided for other asset classes to flourish – care home opportunities and even exciting new adventure resorts are all tempting investors looking for strong returns, which many buy-to-let properties can no longer match.”

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

 

PwC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2017 report confirms this. According to the report, 44% of those surveyed are considering alternative real estate sectors in 2017, with ‘alternatives’ boasting the best prospects as the year unfolds.

Healthcare and leisure are cited as two of those alternatives, as is student housing. In fact, “student housing, retirement/assisted living and healthcare” are listed as the three best 2017 real estate investment prospects.

Care homes are an interesting example. At Gramont House in Bingley, investors can enjoy 8% NET returns for 25 years as part of an investment model that has been developed as an ethical, sustainable way to meet the needs of the UK’s ageing population. Investors’ purchases make a difference to the standard of accommodation that can be offered to those in care, as part of a fully hands-off model. Investment is from £75,000, without so much as a hint of Stamp Duty to worry about.

Meanwhile, adventurous investors are turning to new tourism resorts to satisfy their need for healthy returns, as well as to enjoy the lifestyle benefits that such investments offer. The UK tourism sector is booming. The Q4 2016 Hotel Bulletin from AlixPartners projected that 20,000 new hotel bedrooms will open in the UK over the course of 2017. Meanwhile the Hotel Investment Outlook 2017 report from JLL confirms that Europe is expected to continue to show growth in 2017, despite economic uncertainties.

“The tourism industry has shown resilience and travel remains on the increase. The movement of international travellers is expected to grow 4% annually over the next 10 years, resulting in a lot of heads in beds.”

JLL

The long-term prospects of leisure sector investments have caught the attention of many investors who, before the tax changes, might otherwise have put their money into buy-to-let without a second thought.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that overseas residents made 9.2 million visits to the UK over the course of the three months to December 2016, an increase of 6% compared with the same period in 2015. North America and Europe drove the growth, increasing their visitor numbers by 15% and 8% respectively.

Developments such as the extensive Afan Valley Adventure Resort are benefitting from both the booming visitor numbers and the shift in investor attention. Land plots (£25,000) and lodges (from £149,000) are offering promising returns, while the lodges come with the lifestyle benefit of two weeks’ usage per year.

Student housing is perhaps the most established rival to buy-to-let in the UK when it comes to grabbing real estate investors’ attention. The model is proven to the point that PwC’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2017 report noted that it had spread from the UK and Germany to Iberia, Central and Eastern European countries and the Nordics. 61% of those contributing to the report cited student housing as their preferred alternative investment for 2017.

Modern, stylish student accommodation schemes such as X1 – The Campus in Salford, Manchester show why the model has become so popular. Investors enjoy yields of circa 6-7% NET, students experience a standard of living that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, and overcrowded university cities breathe a sigh of relief at the swift resolution of their accommodation struggles.

 

 “The UK remains a safe, stable investment prospect, but investors who are seeking maximum returns from real estate in 2017 are increasingly being drawn to alternatives for their stronger yields. Expect this trend to continue for several years as mortgage interest tax relief continues to be phased out.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

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

A tale of two central banks – what the latest interest rate decisions mean for investors

A tale of two central banks – what the latest interest rate decisions mean for investors

United Kingdom United States
  • Federal Reserve rate rise signals confidence in US economy
  • Bank of England continues to hold rates in anticipation of Brexit
  • Property, bonds and currency investments all impacted by latest decisions (easyMarkets)

It’s been decision time for two central banks this week. On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve decided to raise interest rates in the US to 1.00%, which didn’t surprise anyone as it was in line with expectations.  Stocks rose and the dollar slid as a result. Now, the Bank of England hasn’t surprised anyone either, by keeping interest rates in the UK at 0.25%.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’  The opening line from Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A tale of two cities’ has always been a favorite of mine. Over the last 48 hours, we haven’t seen either the best or worst but we’ve certainly seen interesting times as we have had two very different decisions from two different central banks.”

James Trescothick, Reputation and Education Manager, easyMarkets

But our main protagonists haven’t always announced decisions which met expectations, and those kinds of surprises tend have a big effect on markets.

Just a couple of years ago, there was talk of a race to see whether the UK or the US would raise interest rates first. However, rapid political and economic change meant that though the US economy has carried on its revival after the 2008 financial crisis, the UK economy has stumbled into uncertainty as a result of the Brexit vote.

Interest rate decisions affect different types of investments in different ways, so the team at forex and CFD broker easyMarkets has put together a quick guide on how each type of investment correlates to interest rate decisions.

 

The easyMarkets guide to investment and interest rates

The currency market

One of the strongest influences that drives the forex markets is interest rate decisions, for two main reasons. First, the higher the interest rate, the higher the rate of return on the investment. Higher interest rates can attract foreign investment, which then increases demand and causes the value of that country’s currency to rise.

Second, for day traders, higher interest rates are often seen as an indication of the perceived strength of a country’s economy. This can mean that the country’s currency can gain strength against another country’s currency, if that economy isn’t considered as strong or as stable, hence the potential to make gains in the change of currency movements.

The aforementioned is why, when a nation’s economy is under pressure, a government or central bank can choose to implement a loose monetary policy, by either increasing the supply of money or decreasing interest rates to encourage borrowing. This tends to make credit cheaper and in turn potentially create more spending and economic growth.

The opposite course of action – a tight monetary policy – sees the central bank constrict spending in an economy either because it views the economy to be growing too quickly, or to slow down inflation. Central banks do this by raising interest rates.

Day traders look for hints for when these two different policies may occur to help them speculate on when a currency may decrease or increase against another.

Bonds

There is an inverse relationship between bond prices and interest rates. Bond prices tend to fall when interest rates rise, and rise when interest rates fall.

The reason for this is simple. One way for corporations and governments to raise capital is by selling bonds. Higher interest rates make the cost of borrowing more expensive, which tends to lower the demand for lower-yield bonds. Hence their price tends to drop.

When interest rates fall, so does the cost of borrowing, which usually leads to more companies issuing new bonds for growth. This tends to increases demand for higher-yield bonds, which can then push bond prices to rise.

Property investment

Generally speaking, a raise in interest rates means borrowing becomes more expensive, while an interest rate cut means borrowing becomes cheaper. When it comes to property investors, a change in interest rates can change the value of monthly mortgage repayments.

Logically, when interest rates are low and borrowing is cheaper, property investors are incentivized to purchase new properties. When interest rates are high, they will be less likely purchase, as mortgage payments would be higher.

 

“Interest changes influence different markets in different ways. Indeed, markets can sometimes be affected by the mere speculation of interest rate decisions, before the actual decisions have been made. A good percentage of market movements throughout the year can thus be attributed to interest rates. Thus, regardless of your investment choices or style, interest rates should be of interest to you.”

James Trescothick, easyMarkets

For further details, visit www.easymarkets.com, email pr@easymarkets.com or call +44 203 1500 748.

Risk warning: Forward Rate Agreements, Options and CFDs (OTC Trading) are leveraged products that carry a substantial risk of loss up to your invested capital and may not be suitable for everyone. Please ensure that you understand fully the risks involved and do not invest money you cannot afford to lose. Our group of companies through its subsidiaries is licensed by the Cyprus Securities & Exchange Commission (Easy Forex Trading Ltd-CySEC, License Number 079/07), which has been passported in the European Union through the MiFID Directive and in Australia by ASIC (Easy Markets Pty Ltd- AFS license No. 246566). Blue Capital Markets Limited

Money saving masterclass: Timeshare compensation explained

Money saving masterclass: Timeshare compensation explained

United Kingdom
  • Timeshare compensation claims mirroring PPI snowball effect (Timeshare Compensation)
  • Detailed fact finding essential for successful claims (Timeshare.Lawyer)
  • Most recent Timeshare Compensation client awarded £13k

In much the same way that PPI claims have snowballed in recent years, timeshare compensation looks set to do the same, according to industry experts.

“A series of decisions by the Spanish Supreme Court has set the stage for the volume of timeshare compensation claims to grow significantly. The effects are already being felt – increasing numbers of timeshare owners are finding out if they are eligible for compensation and how they can make a claim.”

Spokesperson from Timeshare Compensation

The Supreme Court decisions have focused on factors that can deem a timeshare’s sale to have been illegal.

According to the Court’s view, a timeshare contract that lasts longer than 50 years, is for floating week products or involved taking money during the cooling off period is illegal.

The selling of timeshares under the guise of fractional property ownership has also been ruled to be illegal, as has the selling of timeshares as ‘investments.’

For British timeshare owners who feel trapped by the properties that they purchased, these rulings have provided new hope that they may be able to exit from their contracts and receive compensation. But where do they start?

“The first step towards winning timeshare compensation is to go over the facts. Dig out all the paperwork from the time the purchase was made. That doesn’t just mean the contract, but includes bank statements and any other documents relating to payments made at the time of purchase.”

Belinda Rollins, Legal Support Manager, Timeshare.lawyer

The fact-finding stage of the process isn’t quick, but can reap big rewards. Over time, memories of precise figures, dates and even currencies can become blurred. All of those details need to be crystal clear before any claim for compensation can be progressed.

According to the experts at Timeshare Compensation, the research part of the process should also focus on recalling how the purchase was presented, including promises made by sales staff and any paperwork that was provided to promote the timeshare prior to the purchase.

Those looking for an early indication of what they might be due can also use the compensation calculator from Timeshare Compensation. Based on the amounts paid, average maintenance fees and the number of years owned, timeshare owners can find out an indicative amount of the compensation that they might be due.

For clients with a decent case for compensation, the next step is to prepare for court. Going through the courts isn’t a fast process, but it can be well worth the wait. The last client to be supported through the court process by Timeshare Compensation – a UK resident who owned a timeshare in the US – walked away with compensation of £13,000.

The final element to consider is whether or not the owner wishes to get rid of the timeshare. While this is often a secondary focus, it isn’t always.

“Even owners who are perfectly happy with their timeshares may have been mis-sold them and be entitled to compensation. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they want to exit from their timeshare purchases, just that they are eligible to be awarded compensation by the courts.”

Spokesperson from Timeshare Compensation

As further legal cases test the industry, it is likely that even more reasons for timeshare compensation will arise. Anyone considering claiming for compensation should seek expert professional advice to find out the latest developments.

For more information, please visit www.TimeshareCompensation.co.uk, call 0800 046 5855 or email Info@TimeshareCompensation.co.uk.

Leading luxury student accommodation provider Collegiate AC heads to the mainland with launch of first European project

Leading luxury student accommodation provider Collegiate AC heads to the mainland with launch of first European project

Portugal United Kingdom
  • Opportunity for specialist student accommodation managers to expand portfolios in Europe (Savills)
  • Collegiate AC announce first European residence in Lisbon, Portugal that serves as an idyllic landscape for thousands of students every year
  • Collegiate Conde Lisboa will be part of Collegiate AC’s Prestige Collection with residents benefitting from a private fitness suite, a 24 hour concierge service, on-site cinema and even a swimming pool (Collegiate AC)

According to Savills World Student Housing Report 2016/17 the PBSA sector in mainland Europe is growing significantly. It highlights that ‘for a globally mobile student population, secure, well managed, quality accommodation from a trusted provider has strong appeal to those unfamiliar with local housing markets.’

However, an absence of specialist student accommodation managers is holding the sector back, creating an opportunity for existing operators to expand their portfolios on the continent. And one potential market, desperate for development, is Portugal with its capital city as a prime candidate.

Naming Lisbon in the top three student cities in Portugal, the Savills report emphasised that the country’s student housing sector is still relatively undeveloped with major universities only providing a small amount of their own accommodation.

After successful expansion across the UK, and keen to lead an exciting era of development in Lisbon’s student accommodation market, Collegiate AC have announced their first European project. Collegiate Conde Lisboa will be part of Collegiate AC’s Prestige Collection with residents benefitting from a private fitness suite and swimming pool, a 24 hour concierge service and an on-site cinema.

Confident in the growing PBSA market throughout Mainland Europe and passionate about answering the increasing demand for student housing in Lisbon, Collegiate AC are delighted to launch this first-class property in the city.

Heriberto Cuanalo, CEO of luxury student accommodation provider Collegiate AC, is excited to be welcoming students to the new residence this September. He comments,

“Lisbon has a unique beauty and internationally acclaimed architecture that serves as an idyllic landscape for thousands of students every year. The Universidade de Lisboa is one of the major institutions of Higher Education in Europe and one of the leading universities in the country.

Collegiate Conde Lisboa will provide domestic and international students with a unique living experience, enabling them to make the most of their university careers both studiously and socially. The lifestyle-led apartments and social spaces have been carefully designed to create an environment where students can feel safe and looked after.”

In keeping with Collegiate AC’s commitment to ‘Superior Living’, the Collegiate Conde Lisboa will provide students with high speed broadband and Wi-Fi throughout the property, as well as an exclusive club lounge, well designed private and group study areas and even a stylish dinner party room.

For more information, contact Collegiate on +44 1235 250 140 or visit www.collegiate-ac.com.