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.

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.”


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 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.


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, email 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,

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, call 0800 046 5855 or email

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

Essential Spring scents to transform your house into a home

Essential Spring scents to transform your house into a home

United Kingdom
  • Sea salt, peppermint, freesia & lemon verbena top the list of spring scents (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Diffuse rosemary oil in the office to boost brain power (Northumbria University)
  • Boost your performance in the gym with the smell of peppermint (University of Mohaghegh Ardabili)

After the cold, grey winter months, spring brings with it a welcome assault on the senses. From the feeling of sun-warmed skin to the chirping of birds and the scent of freshly mown grass and blossoming bluebells, it’s a time for celebration that the winter is behind us once more.

“Spring is a wonderful time of year, and one to be enjoyed within the home as well as outside. The season is all about awakenings, and that can be reflected beautifully with scent. From vases piled with locally grown, freshly cut flowers to artfully styled diffuser reeds and statement candles, the olfactory delights of spring can bring a real sense of joy and renewal into the home.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

According to Alexander James Interior Design, this spring’s hottest scents are those which evoke warmth, freshness and calm. They’re suited to a range of uses, from individuals looking to awaken their senses within the home, to those seeking to make their property more desirable to buyers or renters.

2017 spring season quick wins for scent include Jo Malone’s wood sage and sea salt home candle, which brings to mind holidays by the ocean, and The White Company’s spa relax diffuser, which offers a relaxing hint of lavender to calm and peppermint to refresh, according to the Alexander James team.

Also high on the spring scents list is Daylesford Organic Farm’s freesia alba scented botanical candle, with an uplifting, refreshing floral scent that’s akin to a spring day encased in wax.

“Diptyque’s fabulous lemon verbena candles are also a must this spring. The zesty lemon scent awakens the senses and brings to mind the mingled scent of lemons ripening on the branch, alongside newly budding blossoms marking the start of the next year’s bounty.”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

Studies have shown that different smells can evoke feelings of happiness, safety, calm and relaxation. Citrus scents are ideal for brightening moods and providing energy, so are particularly well suited to kitchens and living areas. Lavender and jasmine are known to create feelings of relaxation, so are perfect scents for bedrooms.

Meanwhile, peppermint stimulates the mind and body. It lifts the mood, enhances breathing and even increases athletic performance, according to sports science studies at the University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, so is the perfect scent for a home gym.

A study by Northumbria University has shown that the scent of lavender oil significantly decreases memory function, while diffused rosemary oil can markedly enhance it. Thus rosemary is the ideal scent for home offices and other areas of the home where mental functionality needs to be at its best!

Whatever your goal – whether a bright, energizing kitchen or a calm, sleep-inducing bedroom – scent can play a powerful role in ensuring that your home is the perfect environment.

“The right scents can transform a house into a home. No interior design project would be complete without serious attention to olfactory elements, so no home should be either!”

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director, Alexander James Interior Design

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

5 stunning savings to Brexit-proof your family finances

5 stunning savings to Brexit-proof your family finances

United Kingdom
  • Jive Hippo® offering families a new way to save
  • Electronics, holidays, fashion & homeware products all discounted in preparation for Brexit
  • Sample saving across just 5 products is over £2k

New online membership brand Jive Hippo® is helping families across the UK to Brexit-proof their finances in advance of the triggering of Article 50.

The membership works by offering discounts across a wide range of everyday products and services including high street fashion, supermarkets, shopping, eating out, entertainment, holidays, electronics and health and beauty.

“Nobody knows quite what impact the unfolding Brexit process will have and many families are proceeding with caution in terms of their spending. That’s why we’re offering a new way to make great savings on a vast array of products, from everyday essentials to larger items like travel and electronics.”

 Jive Hippo® spokesperson

The Jive Hippo® team has shared some superb offers that members are currently able to enjoy, in order to show families, the savings that the membership service can provide. These include:

Product Average/RRP Jive Hippo® Price Saving
London to New York one week break for 2 adults, including flights and hotels £1,958 £1,540 £418
Large Samsung flatscreen TV £3,966.02 £2,386.75 £1,579.27
Russell Hobbs Clarity kettle £59.21 £35.63 £23.58
Lego City Volcano Starter Set £9.26 £5.57 £3.69
Beurer fitness watch and scale bundle £106.46 £64.07 £42.39

That’s a total saving of £2,066.93 across just five products!

The site works by offering goods without the usual retailer mark-up. Jive Hippo® also offers discounts for leading retailers. At the time of writing, an in-store discount of 5% at Game, a discount of 3.5% at Ikea and a 10% discount at Cycle Surgery were all available. Members also enjoy instant SMS discount codes for restaurants and other savings innovations.

Only the history books will reveal the full financial impact of Brexit. The latest survey conducted by BMG Research found that 43% of the public believe the impact will be bad, while 33% believe it will be good (24% believe it won’t have any impact whatsoever). With so much uncertainty in the pipeline, caution around expenditure seems only prudent, and new ways to save are a welcome addition for families looking to prepare for the turbulent years ahead as the UK uncouples from the EU.

“By taking a careful approach to spending now, families are doing all they can to brace for the potential economic impact of Brexit. Of course, if there is no negative financial impact, Jive Hippo members have still made substantial savings. Either way, they win!”

Jive Hippo® spokesperson

For more information, please visit,, and You can also email or call 0800 0664 692.

Spring flower secrets from Alexander James Interior Design

Spring flower secrets from Alexander James Interior Design

United Kingdom
  • Tulips, hyacinths and long, elegant stems are spot on for spring
  • Large leaves and plentiful foliage are the latest essentials
  • Consider high-end silk blooms for lasting beauty

As March brings the first hints of spring sunshine, buds are swelling on branches all around. The turning of the seasons means that it’s time for the use of florals within the home – as well as without – to come into focus once more.

Florist Lisa Caulton is part of the team of outstanding interior designers at Alexander James Interior Design. With spring approaching, she shares her secrets on using flowers to maximum effect and the most inspiring 2017 floral trends.

How long have you worked for Alexander James Interiors?

I have been working for AJI for 4 years now, and absolutely love it. It is great working with such a great team and alongside such talented designers.

What is your background as a florist?

I have worked in floristry for the past 20 years, designing and creating displays for corporate events, hotels and designing weddings. I’ve also worked in local florists. Working with silk flowers has allowed me to be much more creative, with floral designs creating life-like displays in beautiful luxurious properties.

How does the process work in terms of creating floral arrangements for a project?

Our designers come to me with their mood boards and images of the property. Flowers are then selected based on interior style and colour scheme. For some projects I go and create the floral displays on site, especially if it is a big project. Flowers are used in every room, with the quantity of flowers depending on a client’s budget.

All flowers used are silk faux flowers, as real flowers would perish in our show home projects. The silk faux flowers we use are very high quality, so they are still very realistic and deliver the same great effect.

Flower arrangements are made to co-ordinate with the style of interior. We cover everything from rustic and country style to eclectic and contemporary.

What are your favourite flowers?

My favourite flowers are tulips, and my favourite plants are succulents, both of which are spring-like and currently on trend. I often go to flower shows to keep up with current trends and have attended shows in Paris and Holland. I often find inspiration for my work at these shows.

Do you incorporate your personal taste into your work?

No, it is important to always follow the current trends of flowers and plants in interiors. It is also important to think ahead to the next season due to our lead times. It is important to remain unbiased, using only the brief and mood boards to coordinate the flower arrangements for a project.

What has been your favourite project to date?

I really enjoy large projects, where I need to create arrangements to the scale of the property. Recent projects such as The Chapel at Mill Hill and Windlesham’s Woodrow mansion have been amazing to work on, as I have been able to create such large arrangements and stunning centrepieces.

What is your favourite interior design style?

My favourite interior style is eclectic, such as the style used in quirky London apartments.

What are the latest trends in floral design?

Trends often depend on interior style. For example, in a rustic property, stone pots, lavender baskets and flower jugs are perfect.

Current trends are very plant-orientated, with lots of foliage and big leaves. Trends often move with the seasons: spring projects will feature spring flowers such as hyacinths, tulips and the prettier, more elegant flowers.

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

PBSA demand at all-time high in “structurally undersupplied student market” – Plymouth

PBSA demand at all-time high in “structurally undersupplied student market” – Plymouth

United Kingdom
  • £3.1 billion invested in the UK PBSA market in 2016 (Knight Frank) 
  • Student accommodation from Plymouth University caters for just 12% of student population (Aspen Woolf) 
  • Beds at Beaumont Square priced 30% less than the SW regional average (Aspen Woolf)


The most recent data on the UK Student Housing sector has been released by Knight Frank revealing that some £3.1 billion was invested in the UK Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) market in 2016. More than double the levels seen in 2013 and 2014.

Although the latest figures show that last year’s total spend was lower than the record of £5.1bn seen in 2015, it does demonstrate that interest in PBSA remains strong. And this certainly seems to be the case in the South West as demand for much needed PBSA continues to rise, especially within the city of Plymouth.

According to figures from HESA, experts in UK higher education data and analysis, Plymouth University welcomed 23,155 students in the 2015/16 academic year. Yet, the Complete University Guide notes that there are only 2,800 rooms available for students from Plymouth University itself.

“Plymouth is a structurally undersupplied student market in the UK today with the accommodation available through Plymouth University itself catering for just 12% of its student population. Existing University owned and private HMO stock just cannot keep up with the demand from Plymouth’s thriving higher education sector.” 

Oliver Ramsden, Director of Aspen Woolf 

And, it seems that keeping the city’s student population happy is important to the region’s economy with a recent event held at City College revealing that Plymouth’s student population is worth nearly £8.5 million weekly and over £39 million every month, as they spend a staggering £305 million annually.

Tim Jones, Chairman of the Devon & Cornwall Business Council, said: “the student economy is a valuable and unrecognised sector with lots of opportunities to grow with the right support, and a massive asset to the Plymouth and SW economy.”

And it is just this opportunity that the experts at Aspen Woolf are presenting to their investors through PBSA developments such as the brand new Beaumont Square in Plymouth.

“As Knight Frank indicate in their latest report, PBSA stock availability is an issue for both investors and end-user students which is why we are very excited to be launching Beaumont Square. The 39 self-contained studio apartments are already under construction, with delivery expected by the end of the year.” 

Oliver Ramsden, Director of Aspen Woolf 

Prices for the exclusive studio apartments at Beaumont Square start at just £78,500, 30% cheaper than the average price of a student bed in the South West as revealed by Knight Frank (£112,693). As well as a substantial below market value discount, investors will also enjoy an assured 3-year NET return of 8%.

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. 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.

Buy-to-let makes way for buy-to-NET as April tax changes approach

Buy-to-let makes way for buy-to-NET as April tax changes approach

United Kingdom
  • “Buy cheap and buy smart” to lessen impact of tax changes (Properties of the World)
  • 440,000 landlords could move up a tax bracket in April (National Landlord’s Association)
  • Cash is king when it comes to beating new taxation rules (Properties of the World)

It’s fair to say that buy-to-let investors haven’t had the easiest time of it in recent years. With the government squeezing an increasing amount of tax out of them, the National Landlord’s Association has estimated that some 440,000 landlords will find themselves pushed up a tax bracket next month.

So, will the April tax changes finally ring the death knell for buy-to-let? Not according to industry experts…

“Yes, the taxation landscape for buy-to-let investors is becoming harsher, but there’s still plenty of profit to be made for those looking in the right places. Investors need to focus on buying to NET profits by seeking out developments with strong yields. The right properties can still produce healthy returns. Instead of the death of buy-to-let, we’re seeing the birth of buy-to-NET.”

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

Landlords have already swallowed the 3% stamp duty land tax on second homes that was introduced in April 2016. Now, from April 2017, they’ll see the tax relief from their finance costs phased out, with the percentage of these costs deductible from rental income dropping by 25% per year until it reaches 0% in the 2020 to 2021 financial year.

The restricted finance costs include interest on mortgages, loans, and overdrafts, including borrowing used to buy furnishings, as well as to cover the purchase cost of the property. For those already in possession of one or more buy-to-let properties purchased on finance, the change means a gradual reduction in profitability over the coming four years.

So what can potential landlords do?

“The simple answer is to buy with cash and thus avoid the tax relief deductions entirely. However, that’s not always an ideal solution for some investors. For those still using mortgage or other finance to purchase a buy-to-let property, the best plan is to buy as if it’s 2021.

Calculate the property’s yield based on the end of the phasing in period in order to ensure that it will still be a profitable venture once the tax changes are fully implemented. Work out now whether the changes will push you up a tax bracket and make your investment decision with full knowledge of that fact.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

There are certainly still plenty of options available to investors looking to avoid being stung by April’s taxation changes. Purchasing lower cost properties that are more achievable as cash purchases is one strategy.

At Victoria House in Liverpool, superb penthouse apartments are available from as little as £68,750. Such a purchase may well prove a better longer-term prospect than opting for an investment of double that value (or more), which would require borrowing.

Opting for a city flagged as a hotspot is another good approach. HSBC has identified Manchester as one of the UK’s top four buy-to-let hotspots, while Jones Lang LaSalle has projected that house prices there will rise by 4.5% per year for the next five years. Such strong figures can serve to offset reductions in tax relief for investors interested in properties there, such as the brand new development at Barrel Yard.

“Really it’s about going back to basics. Buy cheap and buy smart. Don’t be deterred by the spectre of increasing taxation – those who plan carefully should be able to minimise the impact of April’s tax changes and ensure they still buy to net a healthy profit.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

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