Bargain-hunting comes to the fore as investors brace for Brexit

Bargain-hunting comes to the fore as investors brace for Brexit

United Kingdom
  • Brexit bill could total £45.5bn (Sir Ivan Rogers)
  • Investors opting for ‘business as usual’ but with a discounted price tag (Properties of the World)
  • Liverpool’s Victoria House highlighted as one of best value UK investments (Properties of the World)

It’s become part and parcel of the whole Brexit debate to see enormous figures bandied about by both those who support the UK’s departure from the EU and those who oppose it.

Most recently, Sir Ivan Rogers, the former Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the European Union, warned that the EU will demand a £45.5bn Brexit bill. In response, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is believed to be preparing a £51 billion list of liabilities in order to offset the cost.

For many families in the UK, such discussion of such vast sums does little to reassure them as to what the economy may hold in store as a result of the triggering of Article 50 and the formal start of the Brexit process.


“We’re finding that a lot of families are taking a ‘business as normal’ approach at the moment, but with a much more careful eye on costs than before the Brexit referendum. In terms of their investment decisions, this means a focus on exceptional value for money. Bargain-hunting is most definitely back in fashion!”

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

So what makes a good bargain, when it comes to investment property?

According to the experts at Properties of the World, several factors can create the perfect storm for a bargain buy-to-let investment.

As with anything property related, location comes first and foremost. An upward trend in prices, but averages that are below comparable cities should capture investors’ attention initially.

Development plans are another key indicator. If government initiatives and large-scale infrastructure projects are on the cards, prices have the potential to rise swiftly and significantly.


“Think Northern Powerhouse and Crossrail, then combine those with average current prices that are below other cities in the area. The answer has to be Liverpool when it comes to bargain-hunting right now.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World


Liverpool’s Victoria House is an excellent example. Stunning penthouse apartments offer central living in a city where employment is set to receive a massive boost as a result of the Northern Powerhouse initiative. Completion is due later this year, with studios, one and two bedroom apartments available to investors looking for rental returns of 7% NET. For cautious, pre-Brexit investors, the bargain price holds serious charm – apartments are available from just £66,250.

Nor is it just national initiatives that can boost a city’s fortunes. Sticking with the example of Liverpool, the city is about to receive €400,000 of Horizon 2020 funding through the Renewable Heritage in Creative and Knowledge Economies programme. The fund recognises ten ‘heritage role model’ locations within Europe. A key consideration is how heritage can be used as a significant tool for economic growth.


“One final tip is to seek out developments that have nearly sold out. The last few units are almost always discounted, so be prepared to spring into action at the last moment in order to snap up a serious bargain.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World


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

Town vs country – the investment dilemma

Town vs country – the investment dilemma

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  • Risk-averse investors drawn to city centre buy-to-let developments (Aspen Woolf)
  • Interior design giving landlords the edge (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Strong returns tempting investors to newer asset classes in the countryside (Properties of the World)

There’s an age-old debate about whether city living trumps country living, or vice versa.

UN figures show that our world is gradually becoming more urban, with 54% of the global population currently residing in urban areas. The figure is projected to rise to 66% by 2050, emphasising the pull of the city on those seeking economic opportunities and a wealth of cultural and entertainment options.

Just as city and country living appeal differently to different folks, so too do the prospects of investing in such diverse locations.

“Investors looking for city centre properties tend to be those who are keen for long-term returns with lower risk. They’re seeking an established asset class – buy-to-let – which has been around long enough to be proven as a model that generates consistent yields. The solidity of the asset class is paramount, even over and above considerations like the tax relief reductions for landlords, which the government is phasing in from 2017 onwards.”

Oliver Ramsden, Founder and Director, Aspen Woolf


As well as buy-to-let investors looking for brand new developments, cities tend to attract those investors who want to take an active role in their property investment. Buying a house and refurbishing it can result in capital gains as well as healthy rental yields and many investors enjoy the buzz of managing their own properties. It can be a competitive occupation, and those at the forefront of the industry are continually seeking new ways to ensure that their properties stand out from the crowd. Engaging professional interior design consultants is the hottest new trend.

“We are working with a growing number of individuals who never imagined they would be employing interior designers to create a beautiful interior for their home. Interior design used to be the preserve of the very wealthy. Now, there’s a growing trend for people at every level of the property ladder to use expert services of this nature.”

Robert Walker, Managing Director, Alexander James Interior Design


Those investors who favour properties in the countryside tend to have a different focus than their city investor counterparts. They’re prepared to take on newer and more innovative asset classes in the pursuit of higher returns and lower taxes.

“Hotel investment can generate excellent yields, and buyers are free from the concerns of Stamp Duty Land Tax and the hit to income that void periods can cause. Strong returns and fewer taxes to worry about is an attractive combination. Many countryside investments also come with a personal usage element, meaning that investors essentially get two weeks of free holiday accommodation thrown into the deal each year.”

Jean Liggett, CEO, Properties of the World

The restrictions on tax relief for residential landlords has the potential to mark a step-change in investor preferences. From 2017 to 2018, only 75% of finance costs will be deductible from rental income. The figure will reduce annually, until it reaches 0% for the 2020 to 2021 financial year.

As city centre buy-to-let developments become gradually less profitable for all those other than cash buyers, will former city investors head for the hills? Only time will tell.


On the market:

The perfect city investment: Set on the edge of the vibrant Liverpool city centre, the New Eldon Grove offers the perfect balance of past and present comprised of 45 apartments including 1,2 and 3 bedroom units. Carefully designed to preserve the heritage of the site while serving the needs of a new generation, from just £94,950, New Eldon Grove provides investors with an assured 2-year NET rental of 7%. Available through Aspen Woolf.

Escape to the country: In the Valleys of South Wales, lodges and land plots at Afan Valley Adventure Resort allow investors to be part of a thrilling new adventure experience. Lodges are priced from £149,000 and offer 8% NET returns for seven years, with two weeks’ personal usage. Land plots offer a mark-up of 10% per annum for three years, from just £25,000. Both available through Properties of the World.


For more information, please contact:

Aspen Woolf: +44 203 176 0060 or

Alexander James Interior Design: 020 7887 7604 or

Properties of the World: +44 (0)20 7624 5555 or

Can’t buy me love? Plummeting cocoa prices make chocolate cheaper this Valentine’s Day

Can’t buy me love? Plummeting cocoa prices make chocolate cheaper this Valentine’s Day

United Kingdom
  • Cocoa prices down by nearly $1,000 per ton in last 12 months (easyMarkets)
  • 94% of people celebrating Valentine’s Day want chocolate (wallethub)
  • Over-supply and decreased demand combining to drive down prices (easyMarkets)

As men and women around the world rush to buy that last minute gift for their loved one, to cover up the fact that they forgot that Valentine’s Day was approaching, many of them won’t be paying attention to the price they are paying. However, there’s good news for all those last minute shoppers this year.

The most popular gift bought to show affection to one’s Valentine is chocolate. According to wallethub, 94% of people celebrating Valentines in the US want to receive chocolate, and it is estimated that $1.7 billion will be spent on sugary treats alone.

The good news for all the Romeos and Juliets out there is that cocoa, the main ingredient of chocolate, has been in a downfall since August 2016. In fact, New York cocoa futures fell by 33% in 2016, the biggest drop since 1999.

If you turn the clock back a year, cocoa was soaring due to a rise in demand in China and other Asian markets, combined with the poor weather that swept across major cocoa producing countries in West Africa in December 2015.

Back in February 2016, cocoa was trading around $2,988 per ton. Now it’s trading around $1,993 per ton.

So what happened?

“It’s a simple case of supply and demand. Production from the Ivory Coast, which is West Africa’s top producer of cocoa, has a median forecast of 1.90 million tonnes. This is an increase of 20% from the International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) estimate of 1.58 million for 2015/16.

“Ghana, which is the second most productive grower, has also seen a rise in production, up 9% from the ICCO estimate for 2015/16 to a median forecast of 850,000 tonnes. Quite simply, there’s far more cocoa available than there was in advance of last Valentine’s Day, which has driven down the price.”

James Trescothick, Reputation and Education Manager at forex and CFD broker easyMarkets

Not only has the impressive crop from West Africa created a surplus, but demand has also impacted on prices this year. A recent industry report is indicating a lower than anticipated demand in North America in the fourth quarter. Nor is it just North America showing a slowdown in demand – Europe is also eating less chocolate. Health-conscious westerners are finally ditching their much-loved sweet treats in favour of more nutritious choices.

It is only Asia that is keeping its appetite for cocoa, but even with demand increasing in that region, it is still not enough to stop the decline.

The International Cocoa Organization is set to release its first forecast for 2016/17 later this month, so only time will tell if the fear of over-supply is real and how prolonged the price decline might last.

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. Please refer to our full risk disclaimer. Easy Forex Trading Ltd (CySEC – License Number 079/07). 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).

Purpose-built student accommodation welcomed by Exeter Council as universities become reliant on accommodation providers for expansion

Purpose-built student accommodation welcomed by Exeter Council as universities become reliant on accommodation providers for expansion

United Kingdom

Growing student population

During the last academic year, 2015/16, Exeter University had 17,425 students at an undergraduate level. A 7% increase from the year before and a significant 24% increase just 5 years previous. With the student population rising at such speed, the city has had to adapt in order to house its newest residents.

PBSA welcomed by local councils

Purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) has become an integral part of this process. Karime Hassan, the chief executive of Exeter City Council, recently explained how PBSA is an area which is defining the city. He explained that,

“The council currently has a policy of encouraging PBSA for a variety of reasons. It means more money for the community, frees up more alternative accommodation for families, helps manage the need for student parking and often turn properties that have little chance of alternative regeneration see new life.”

University expansion reliant on PBSA

Exeter University has now joined forces with nearby Falmouth University which is applying to raise the student cap from its present 5,000 enrolled students – a condition attached when the Penryn campus was developed in 2009 – to 7,500 students by 2025.

Peter Cox of Falmouth University described the plan as a “stepped approach” which would only allow more students once accommodation was available for them.

However, having met to discuss the proposal just last week, Cornwall Council’s strategic planning committee have deferred a decision until additional details are provided. Councillor Webber confirmed that “further information on purpose built accommodation figures to improve the situation in Falmouth” would be required before anything is finalised, highlighting its importance in today’s student accommodation sector.

PBSA to become the primary accommodation choice

Heriberto Cuanalo, CEO of luxury student accommodation provider Collegiate AC, which already operates PBSA sites in Exeter, comments,

“2017 will see PBSA continue to flourish, becoming the primary accommodation choice in a growing number of UK university towns and cities. And the city of Exeter is leading the way by embracing this change and answering the growing demand from both the student population and local councils.

“With three premier sites in the city already, and another new residence to be announced imminently, Collegiate AC are proud to lead the way in such a transformation and look forward to welcoming Exeter’s undergrads to the superior student lifestyle our properties provide.”

What PBSA is available in Exeter?

Hot off the press is Collegiate AC’s newest addition to its PBSA offerings in Exeter, Clifton Place. A community comprised of six bedroom townhouses, two and three bedroom apartments and individual studios. With prices starting from £153 a week, residents will have access to a communal gym, private cinema room, and a student lounge and games room. Bookings will be available soon for September 2017.

An existing, and extremely popular, residence in Exeter is Picturehouse Apartments. Just a five-minute walk from Exeter city centre, Picturehouse Apartments are ideal for both individuals and friends. With CCTV, secure electronic entry, on-site concierge and 24-hour on-call support, these secure properties are both beautiful and fully functional.

From £122 a week, and with a range of contemporary studio, two, three and five bed apartments, Picturehouse also offers additional facilities that include a private on-site gym, games and reading rooms, in-house cinema and free high-speed broadband and Wi-Fi.

For more information, contact Collegiate on +44 1235 250 140 or visit

2017’s ultimate kitchen trends

2017’s ultimate kitchen trends

United Kingdom ,
  • Zoning being used to create cutting edge kitchens
  • Metallic finishes featuring strongly this year
  • Kitchen tech providing everything from hidden hobs to vanishing taps

The kitchen is the heart of the home. The epicentre of a family’s nourishment, a space for informal socialising with family members and close friends, and the place from which all manner of delicious scents and flavours emanate.

An outstanding kitchen should also be a feast for the eyes, as well as the other senses, explains John Harvey, Managing Director at Lida Cucina. He comments,

“We’re seeing some amazing innovations in terms of kitchen design and dressing at the moment. 2017 is going to be an exciting year from new tech to exciting materials, there has never been more choice when it comes to kitchen interior design.”

The kitchen designers at Lida Cucina are experts at creating kitchens that both serve a practical purpose and look superb. Based on their knowledge, MD John Harvey has put together his list of top kitchen interior design trends for creating the ultimate 2017 kitchen.

Lida Cucina’s 2017 ultimate kitchen interior design trends

  1. Zoning

“The concept of the traditional working triangle has gone,” comments John Harvey. “It’s all about zoning in 2017 – the ultimate kitchen this year will have a prep zone, a cooking zone, a wet zone and a refrigeration zone.”

The type and number of appliances in the kitchen has changed dramatically in recent years. Oven types now include single, combi, steam, sous-vide, microwave, and those complemented by warming drawers. The cooking zone needs to accommodate these and a wide range of other appliances.

The prep zone is also gadget-heavy, with everything from juicers to spiralizers needing to be accounted for, along with a prep sink. The main sink is obviously in the wet zone, along with the dishwasher.  Meanwhile the refrigeration zone is home to the fridge, freezer and wine chiller.

  1. Islands

Islands remain a hugely popular trend, and 2017 sees them combined with the zoning concept to create a kitchen that is at once practical and beautiful.

The ultimate kitchen this year has islands linked by bridge-style counters and a breakfast bar. A formal, built-in table connecting the islands is also on trend.

  1. Kitchen tech

Kitchen tech is certainly not limited to portable appliances. Hidden features and opening functions are allowing kitchens to appear incredibly sleek and stylish, with only a wave of the hand or the push of a button needed to make taps, sinks, hobs and more miraculously appear.

Under-worktop induction hobs will be a key trend in 2017, according to the Lida Cucina team, with just a small panel used to control an essentially invisible hob.

Boiler taps are also coming of age, with more manufacturers joining the marketplace and driving both innovations in design and reductions in price. Top brand ZIP’s latest tap, for example, now supplies not just boiling water, but also hot, cold, chilled and sparkling filtered water.

  1. Metallics

Kitchens are all about metallics when it comes to appearance in 2017. Warm metal finishes, achieved either through multi tonal lacquers or the use of actual metals, will be present for doors and cabinetry. For doors, a range of superb, ultra-thin metal doors is about to hit the market and will be an important trend this year.

“2017 kitchen design is all about sleek design that accommodates the latest advances in technology while also looking stunning,” concludes Lida Cucina’s John Harvey. “Taking a professional approach to designing or redesigning your kitchen can make it the true heart of your home, while also adding value to the property. It’s going to be a big year for kitchens!”

For more information, visit Lida Cucina at, email or call 0118 932 0828.

All you need is love to succeed in Liverpool’s lucrative property market

All you need is love to succeed in Liverpool’s lucrative property market

United Kingdom
  • “Parts of the city that never benefitted from the early 2000s property boom are starting to come to life” (Aspen Woolf)
  • “Everybody buys with some sort of emotion, even if you’re an investor” (Aspen Woolf)
  • New Eldon Grove carefully designed to preserve the site’s heritage while serving the needs of a new generation

“Liverpool has grown at an unprecedented rate in recent years and this is set to continue over the short to medium term. There are parts of the city which never really benefitted from the early 2000s property boom; so many areas were left behind compared to neighboring Leeds & Manchester. Now Liverpool’s certainly making up for lost time and we’re seeing run down areas of the city really start to come to life.”

Oliver Ramsden, Founder & Director, Aspen Woolf


Speaking with Oliver Ramsden, Founder & Director of Aspen Woolf, leaders in providing wealth building opportunities for investors through property, it’s clear that Liverpool’s housing market is definitely one to watch in 2017.

Sharing his expert insight into the city’s current property climate, he advises that savvy investors will start to use both heart and head when choosing the next addition to their portfolio.

“Whilst of course there’s a lot of new stock coming to market, we would advise investors to go for strategic locations and unique builds like historic Grade II listed Eldon Grove. With new builds sprouting up, it is the historical developments, the ones with a real story behind them that have the highest resale value.

“At the end of the day, everybody buys with some sort of emotion, even if you’re an investor. Eldon Grove is one of those buildings, it instantaneously invokes emotion. It’s a beautiful building and there’s nothing that compares on the market today.”

Eldon Grove provided some of the best pre-war social housing built by Liverpool city council. Forming part of a labourers’ village, it set a new standard for the whole country and was officially opened by the Countess of Derby in 1912. The layout, with its central square, well-maintained garden and bandstand, along with the chocolate-box look, helped create a vibrant community, lifting up some of Liverpool’s poorest residents. Eldon Grove was deemed an integral part of local history in 1993 when the building was granted Grade II-listed status.

Oliver continues,

“I think there is definitely room for more new-build homes within Liverpool but investors should start looking more selectively. Don’t just go for any new-build simply because there is a demand for housing. Even though there are about 11 people scrambling to buy any one property, an investor should really start paying stronger attention to the resale value of an investment. As mentioned, a building that has strong local roots will really go a long way as it offers the same benefits as any new build development would but with the added value of having a real ‘life’ behind it.”

Oliver goes on to explain how Eldon Grove, exclusively available through Aspen Woolf, is strongly supported by the council and that the local community is excited to see the building brought back to life.

We are excited to help revitalise such a beautiful and historic part of Liverpool. The New Eldon Grove is investing in the community and bringing new possibilities to this proud area.”

Set within peaceful surroundings, yet on the edge of the vibrant Liverpool city centre, the New Eldon Grove offers the perfect balance of past and present comprised of 45 apartments including 1,2 and 3 bedroom units.

Incorporating three original Grade II-listed blocks alongside three new blocks of stylish and contemporary apartments, New Eldon Grove has been carefully designed to preserve the heritage of the site while serving the needs of a new generation.

Apartments situated in the original blocks have been re-imagined for 21st century living, with fully modernised fitted kitchens and bathrooms, while benefiting from the character of the Victorian buildings, with mullioned bay windows and their own front doors leading from the external walkways.

New Eldon Grove residents will also benefit from a community garden and shared landscaping, as well as parking, bicycle storage and secured entrance hallways. From just £94,950, with ready to rent furniture packs available, New Eldon Grove provides investors with an assured 2-year NET rental of 7%.

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

The high street is dead – long live online shopping!

The high street is dead – long live online shopping!

United Kingdom
  • Online retailing took highest share of retail spend on record in last quarter (BRC-KPMG)
  • £1 in every £4 of non-food spending now consistently online (BRC)
  • “Online will be the primary driver of like-for-like sales growth” (HSBC)
  • New Jive Hippo® online membership site saves £9,812 per year for the average member

New figures from the BRC-KPMG Online Retail Sales Monitor have shown that online retailers captured the highest share of the total retail spend (excluding food) on record in the three months to January 2017.

A spokesperson for brand new online membership brand Jive Hippo® comments,

“Both on-and off-line retail is slowing at present, as money-conscious consumers recover from their Christmas spending and wait out the build-up to Article 50 being triggered. However, the shift to online retail presents a significant trend – one which traditional high street brands need to think very carefully about if they are to remain relevant in the UK marketplace.”

Online sales (excluding food products) grew by 8.6% year-on-year in the three months to January. That compares to total non-food sales growth of just 0.3% for the UK.

Almost a quarter (24.9%) of all retail spending on non-food products was conducted online in the three months January 2017, with online sales contributing 2.9% to year-on-year growth (compared with a contribution of -2.6% by in-store sales).

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, comments,

“As with total sales, online sales in January were set against a strong comparative period, as January 2016 recorded the highest growth of last year. However, with £1 in every £4 of non-food spending being spent online consistently over the last three months, this provided enough momentum to largely shield online growth from the slowdown of non-food sales overall. It was stores that bore the brunt of the slowdown; posting their deepest three-month decline on record as the demand during retailers’ clearance sales was predominantly online.”

For many traditional high street stores, demand simply failed to pick up after their seasonal clearance events ended. Consumers are too focused on battening down the hatches in advance of whatever storm the Brexit process may or may not bring.

With considerably lower overheads, online retailers are suffering far less. The ease with which consumers can shop online and the growing purchasing power of Millennials have led to a shift in the market that continues to be felt. Analysts at HSBC have confirmed,

“Online will be the primary driver of like-for-like sales growth… This confirms the structural shift away from high fixed cost bricks and mortar retailing.”

The new Jive Hippo® membership site,, blends the growing relevance of online retail with shoppers’ need to save money. It offers members significant savings on everyday products, from electronics to travel to household items. Jive Hippo’s® spokesperson confirms,

“The new Jive Hippo® site is certainly of the moment. It balances out consumers’ lifestyle requirements with the reality of living in a time of such political uncertainty. Member discounts mean that shoppers can still purchase the goods they desire, but make a saving at the same time. A typical customer using Jive Hippo® for their everyday purchases, as well as two holidays per year, can save £9,812 each year. That’s what consumers really need right now.”

Paul Martin, UK Head of Retail, KPMG, echoes the comment,

“Online retail channels will continue to grow in popularity, and with increased pricing pinching the consumer purse, retailers will need to balance price, personalisation and customer experience seamlessly in order to grab the attention of their customers.”

With the high street struggling, it is the new generation of retailers such as Jive Hippo® that will become the cornerstone of the UK marketplace.

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

Add romance to your room this Valentine’s Day (for less than you’d think)

Add romance to your room this Valentine’s Day (for less than you’d think)

United Kingdom
  • Look, feel and scent of a room all impact on its romantic credentials (Alexander James Interior Design)
  • Romance doesn’t have to cost the earth – fresh flowers can be used to great effect
  • Create a mood board to get a sense of the completed room before you spend a penny

The approach of Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to give your property a makeover and bring some romance into your home.

There is a growing trend for individuals with smaller homes to seek out the professional talents of interior designers, and this is the ideal solution for those looking to add romance to their rooms.

However, you don’t have to be a pro to add some pre-Valentine’s Day romantic touches, as

Stacey Sibley, Creative Director at Alexander James Interior Design, explains,

“There are some really cost effective quick wins when it comes to adding romance to your home. Look at your rooms not just with your eyes but with all your senses. How does a room feel? What scents are in the air? Then drop in a little instant passion and love with a few additional touches.”

Fresh flowers are the obvious place to start. In this traditional Buckinghamshire home, dressed by the team at Alexander James, oversize vases of cream roses, with the fireplace in the background, add the scent of romance beautifully. Giant displays of lilies, roses and gypsophila all work wonderfully, as do simpler touches like single vases of red, pink and cream tulips.

Scented candles are another quick win. They look and smell appealing and the vast range available means that they can be chosen to suit any colour scheme. Antique silver hurricanes and glass holders with long, elegant stems both work particularly well when it comes to creating a romantic feel.

Candles are perfect for providing soft lighting, which adds a really romantic element to a room. Table lamps, uplighters and standing lamps can also be used to great effect and again don’t have to cost the earth.

“When it comes to selecting accessories, soft furnishings and artwork, picture how it’s all going to connect before you buy everything,” advises Alexander James Interior Design’s Stacey Sibley. “Put a mood board together with the pieces you have in mind – from lamps to rugs to paintings – and build a vision of how well it’s going to blend and how romantic it’s going to feel. If one or two elements don’t fit, don’t try and force them in. Find alternatives instead.”

For those going for a large-scale overhaul, Stacey advises steering clear of anything too dark when it comes to colour schemes. Pastel colours work well for romantic interiors, with splashes of bold colour used sparingly for a touch of passion. Metallic fabrics are big news this season and silvers and golds, when used delicately, can add a lovely element of romance to a room. Little touches like antique silver photo frames can also make a big difference.

“Ultimately, the room needs to emanate a sense of warmth and safety,” concludes Sibley, “but with a streak of passion thrown in as well. Creating the ultimate romantic interior is a really delicate balance but can have a fantastic impact on a home when done well.”

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

Lies, damned lies, and timeshares!

Lies, damned lies, and timeshares!

United Kingdom World
  • Lie: “It’s not a timeshare!” Truth: It’s a timeshare
  • Lie: “You can cancel at any time!” Truth: You can’t cancel after the cooling off period
  • Lie: “This investment won’t lose value!” Truth: All properties can lose value

The phrase “lies, damned lies, and statistics” refers to the use of persuasive numbers and statistics to bolster weak arguments. This is precisely what many of those who have mis-sold timeshares have done, along with telling some outright lies not even thinly veiled by statistics.

In recent months, a rise in compensation claims – and significant payouts – has led to some of these lies (“This is really a fractional ownership property, not a timeshare”) being exposed during important legal rulings.

A spokesperson from Timeshare Compensation explains,

“Each judgement that goes against a timeshare company is clarifying the picture of the kind of mis-selling that can lead to compensation. This has so far included floating week products, contracts that last longer than 50 years and sales that saw money being handed over during the cooling off period.

“Timeshares that were dressed up as fractional ownership properties have now also been deemed illegal. This is excellent news for many of those who bought timeshares in good faith, only to find that they weren’t signed up to quite what they were expecting.”

To aid families who have been mis-sold timeshares in the past, along with those who are currently thinking of investing in a holiday property of some sort, the Timeshare Compensation team has put together a list of the most common lies, half-truths and misrepresentations used by timeshare companies.

The Timeshare Compensation Guide to Timeshare Lies

“This is not a timeshare!”

In any kind of arrangement that involves you sharing the use of accommodation without owning a share of that property, this is a timeshare. Whether the accommodation is a villa, club, apartment, or even a boat, where you use it for a short period of time on an annual or bi-annual basis, you are in a timeshare agreement.

“You can get a bonus week (or ‘extra week’) for both you and your friends, on an unlimited basis!”

You would actually be very lucky to even get one ‘bonus week’ a year. These are almost impossible to get, and definitely not available on an unlimited basis.

“This is ‘gold crown’ accommodation. That’s the highest quality rating in the exchange system!”

Many salespeople claim that a resort is ‘gold crown,’ even though it’s not true.

“Your ‘sleeps 4’ accommodation can easily be exchanged for a ‘sleeps 6’ whenever you need it!”

This is absolutely not guaranteed.

“You can cancel any time, just by getting in touch!”

Once the cooling period has passed, they will definitely not accept a cancellation.

“This offer is only valid if you sign today!”

This is something they tell everybody, every single day. In fact, you could probably get all the same benefits elsewhere at a fraction of the price… they just don’t want you to have time to find this out.

“Your loan repayments will be just £300 a month!”

You’ll probably find this not to be the case when the loan details actually arrive. Nor does it take account of annual maintenance fees.

“Your ownership will allow you to exchange for another destination anywhere in the world, whenever you like!”

This is almost never the case. In particular, if you buy a low season period, you will find that you are not eligible to exchange for a period in high season. If you buy into a points club, or a floating week system, this is all the more unlikely to be true.

“Don’t worry about reading the paperwork.”

If you aren’t given the opportunity to look over the paperwork, it’s probably because there is something in there that contradicts what they have told you.

“You only have to pay the annual fees if you use the accommodation!”

Whether the accommodation is used or not, you will be eligible for annual fees. If your ownership is bi-annual (every two years), it may be payable only on those years. But otherwise, those fees will be payable every year.

“The annual management fee is limited by control of the owners, and is limited to the rate of inflation!”

Many resorts have increased fees by three times the rate of inflation in recent years.

“This is a great investment, and will not lose value!”

The price of your timeshare accommodation will plummet the very moment you sign on the dotted line. This lie has left many timeshare owners feeling entirely helpless, as they cannot sell the timeshare at any price.

For those who have been taken in by lies like these, it’s time to use the Timeshare Compensation online compensation calculator. Mis-sold timeshare owners are finally taking back the power.

For more information, please visit, call 0800 046 5855 or email

The best and brightest cities of 2017 – who’s ready for Brexit?

The best and brightest cities of 2017 – who’s ready for Brexit?

United Kingdom
  • Trade and investment top the priority list (Properties of the World)
  • North/South divide showing strongly for goods and services (Centre for Cities)
  • Liverpool and Manchester standing out from the crowd (Properties of the World)

Figures released only yesterday from Centre for Cities have highlighted the shape of the UK’s 63 biggest cities in the run-up to the triggering of Article 51.

The 2017 data reveals a clear divide between the North and the South, with goods being exported mainly from the North and services from the South. Centre for Cities has emphasised the relevance of trade and exports in the run-up to Brexit, while visionary property investment consultancy Properties of the World has stressed the importance of inward investment.

Jean Liggett, CEO of Properties of the World, comments,

“2017 is going to be a landmark year for the UK’s cities. Seven of them will be electing metro mayors in May, with the newly elected officials having to hit the ground running in terms of dealing with the fall-out from the government’s triggering of Article 51, which should take place by the end of March. Trade, exports and investment will require firm, decisive management in order for cities to thrive over the year ahead.”

Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region are two of the cities that will be directly electing their own metro mayors in May. The devolved powers associated with the move means that the two cities should benefit from greater ability to respond swiftly to the changing environment post-Article 51. Their ability to place a local emphasis on their reactions should help them to weather the storm and ensure that their manufacturing and services sectors respond appropriately to shifts in focus and demand.

Centre for Cities’ finding that the North relies far more on goods for its exports, while the South relies on services, is also likely to have an impact on cities’ resilience in the face of Brexit.

It’s easier to move services overseas than it is to move manufacturing operations: moving services simply means setting up office space and relocating people, but moving manufacturing involves specialist premises, supply chain changes and import/export considerations, as well as moving staff. The result is that the UK’s goods-producing cities are less likely to see a sudden outflow of businesses during the Brexit process.

Both Manchester and Liverpool stand out from the crowd in terms of their ability to face Brexit head-on, according to Properties of the World. Not only will their metro mayors and reliance on the production of goods stand them in good stead, but the cities have unique attributes that should be of use. Properties of the World CEO Jean Liggett explains,

“Manchester and Liverpool both enjoy property-related factors that will help to see them through the choppy waters of the Brexit process. The latest Hometrack data shows that Manchester’s property prices grew at the second-highest rate in the UK during 2016, while Liverpool topped the table for growth rate over the past three months. These dynamic urban areas are perfectly positioned to lead the UK’s cities into Brexit and out the other side.”

The Hometrack UK Cities House Price Index reveals that Manchester’s property market is growing at the fastest rate for more than a decade. It is second only to Bristol in terms of its 2016 growth rate, and is widely believed to be ready to overtake it during Q1 2017. The 8.9% year on year rise in prices experienced in Manchester is a result of a significant lack of supply – something which all UK cities are struggling with thanks to urbanisation and a rise in popularity of city centre living.

Liverpool, with 21.57% of households renting privately (or living rent-free) according to Centre for Cities, is also enjoying a property market boom. Prices there rose by 3% over the last three months – the highest rate of any UK city analysed by Hometrack.

Factor in rent rises as well and it’s easy to see why both Liverpool and Manchester are key UK locations for property investment from overseas buyers (as well as from domestic investors). Rents rose by 1.2% in the North West over the past year, according to the Office for National Statistics, but regional variations within the area’s cities resulted in much higher rises in urban locations. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, rents in Manchester city centre rose by around 11% in 2016.

In Manchester, it is city centre apartments like those at Barrel Yard which are attracting considerable attention currently. The brand new development offers stylish apartments from £165,000 and smart townhouses from £240,000. Jones Lang LaSalle has projected that Manchester house prices will grow by 4.5% per year for the next five years, while HSBC has identified the city as one of the top four buy-to-let hotspots in the country, reporting rental yields of 7.6%.

In Liverpool city centre, the just-released penthouse apartments at Victoria House are attracting buyers looking for something a cut above the average. Completion is scheduled for Q4 2017, meaning that investors can look forward to enjoying rental returns of around 7-10% by the end of the year. Prices start from as little as £66,250.

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