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the top 4 places to buy a home abroad in 2018

It’s not difficult to see why Briton’s find buying a property abroad so attractive. High house prices, a temperamental climate and long working hours in the UK can make buying a property abroad seem like a highly desirable option.

Whether for a holiday property or somewhere to live long term, here are our top places to buy a home abroad in 2018.

Spain
Although buyers have fallen over the last few years, Spain remains Britain’s favourite place to buy property abroad. Spain has a well-established expat community and a warmer, drier climate than the UK (although central Spain is surprisingly cold in the winter), making it an attractive destination.

Affordability is a big driver for Britons going to Spain. In 2008, Spain’s property market crashed and the market only began to recover in 2014. Even though the pound is down on its pre Brexit referendum highs, Spain is still remarkably cheap.

What’s more, prices in Spain are on the rise. Spanish bank BBVA forecasts house prices to rise by 5% in 2018.

Buying in Spain is relatively simple. There is no requirement to be a Spanish resident to buy property – the only requirement is a Spanish NIE tax identification number.

One thing to be cautious of is that, in recent years, many homes have been built across the country without proper planning permission. Using a reputable property agency familiar with the area gives you your best chance of avoiding these.

Portugal
Our next country, lying on the Western edge of the Iberian peninsula, is a similarly ‘hot’ option for foreign buyers. Since 11%, on average, was wiped off the value of Portuguese property between 2011 and 2012, prices have recovered well.

From the Algarve and the Costa Da Prata to Porto and Lisbon, the country has a wide range of attractive options for foreign buyers. Lisbon and the Algarve are substantially more expensive than the rest of the country – bear this in mind when looking for options in Portugal.

France
Although more expensive than Spain and Portugal, France is an incredible place to buy a property. If you look in the right place, the country is still temptingly affordable. And, as the largest country in Western Europe, France has no shortage of variety.

Sunny Mediterranean beaches, chic cities, rolling hills, thick forest, dramatic mountains… you name it, France has got it. The Dordogne, the Charente and the Haute-Vienne in the south-west remain the most popular places for Brits.

However, north France is incredibly accessible. If you live in the south of England, it’s just a short ferry across the Channel. This means you can experience that alluring Gallic lifestyle, without straying too far from your life in the UK.

Croatia
Spain, Portugal and France are old favourites for Brits looking for a home abroad. Now it’s time for something a little less predictable.

This former Yugoslavian country is on the rise as a popular place for Brits to buy abroad. Its Dalmatian coast is among the most stunning in the world and the country is home to many quaint towns, as well as its lively capital Zagreb and beautiful Dubrovnik. The Dalmatian coast is a well-established centre for yachting.

The best time to look for properties is at the end of the main tourist season in the Autumn, when prices are lower than they are at peak times.

However, there are some restrictions for foreigners buying property in Croatia. If you hold only Swiss or Italian citizenship you are prohibited from buying a house in the country unless you intend to live there permanently. In addition, foreign buyers are required to seek approval from the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to attain the necessary documentation to buy a house.

Sources
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/transferwise/buying-property-in-spain-guide/
https://transferwise.com/au/blog/buy-property-in-portugal
https://www.aplaceinthesun.com/articles/2018/08/top-10-best-places-to-buy-a-home-abroad-in-2018

Buying Property in Croatia

what might be in the autumn budget?

In normal years, the Autumn Budget (formerly the Autumn Statement) is announced in November. However, with less than 6 months left on the countdown to Brexit, this year is far from a normal year.

At the end of September, Chancellor Philip Hammond revealed that the Autumn Budget would be released on 29 October which is also, unusually, a Monday – traditionally budgets are announced on a Wednesday. Since the Wednesday would’ve been Halloween, perhaps the Chancellor moved the budget forward by two days to avoid a potential Budget horror show.

Hammond’s Twitter feed indicates that we can expect the Chancellor to balance the books. Aside from this there has been little concrete information about what the Budget might contain. However, Hammond has given us a few hints:

The end of the freeze on fuel duty
It’s likely that the eight year freeze on fuel duty will come to an end this year. Last month, Hammond said that the freeze on fuel duty has meant the Government has “foregone” £46 billion in revenue and, if the freeze continues, will miss out on £38 billion more.

NHS spending
One of the Chancellor’s main concerns will be finding the money to fulfil Theresa May’s pledge to pump an extra £20 billion into the NHS by 2023. The prime minister herself admitted that this would require tax hikes, but was unclear as to which taxes would be raised.

Digital tax
At the recent Tory conference, Hammond said that Britain will impose a new “digital service tax”, even if other countries fail to follow suit. However, what this tax might look like is currently unclear.

He called for a reform of the international tax system for an era where digital companies account for much of global business, with Britain leading the way. Business leaders have mentioned that such a tax could compromise the UK’s reputation as a good place for digital companies to do business.

Of course, what will have the largest bearing on the eventual success of any changes to the budget is any Brexit deal. A good Brexit deal will boost growth and balance public finances without the need for major tax hikes.

We eagerly await the Chancellor’s Budget at the end of the month.

Sources
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/philip-hammond-tax-cut-self-employed-scrap-conservatives-national-insurance-contributions-nic-class-a8526236.html
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/09/11/chancellor-hints-fuel-duty-rise-fund-nhs-campaigners-warn-struggling/

are children’s pensions as good as they seem?

Pensions for children? Surely that’s taking planning ahead to a whole new level?

Nonetheless, if you can afford it, putting money aside in to a pension for your children or grandchildren can be a sensible option.

Under the current rules, you can put £2,880 a year into a junior self-invested personal pension (SIPP) or stakeholder pension, on their behalf. Even though the child won’t be a taxpayer, 20% is added to the amount in tax relief, up to £3,600 per annum. If you think about it, that can result in quite a significant amount over the years, taking compound growth into consideration.

The idea of contributing to a pension may tie in well with your sense of responsibility towards the next generation. You may feel sorry for the youngsters of today with their university fees to pay back and a seemingly impossible property ladder to climb.

However, on the downside a children’s pension can be quite frustrating for the recipient. The money is tied up until their mid fifties. This means that although the amount is steadily growing with no temptation to dip into it, it may not be much consolation for a twenty-five year old desperately trying to find the deposit for a house. Instead of making their financial future easier, you may have, in fact, impeded it.

There are other alternatives which will also give you the benefit of compound growth and help you to maximise tax relief, such as using our own ISA allowances and then gifting the money later. These may have more direct impact if the money is to help pay for a wedding, repay a student loan or enable them to buy a house or start a business.

Pension contributions are often referred to as ‘free money’ because of the the tax relief. In addition, 25% of the lump sum when the recipient comes to take their pension is tax free but it is equally important to remember that 75% of any withdrawals will be taxable. Another consideration is that children’s pensions have the lowest rate of tax relief but once in employment, your children may be higher rate taxpayers so would have benefited from higher rate relief.

One thing is for sure and that is that the rules around pensions and withdrawal rates are frequently changing. Given the extended timeframe involved, it’s likely that the regulations around accessing a pension pot will have altered considerably by the time a child of today reaches pension age. Their fund will have had time to grow handsomely, though. As with most things, it all comes down to a question of personal preference for you and your family.

Sources
https://www.ftadviser.com/pensions/2018/05/09/danger-of-children-s-pensions-laid-bare/
https://www.bestinvest.co.uk/news/are-pensions-for-children-bonkers-or-brilliant
https://www.moneywise.co.uk/pensions/managing-your-pension/start-pension-your-child

financial planning in your forties

It’s well known life begins at forty. Doesn’t it?

It should be an exciting decade, full of plans and aspirations. It’s also likely to be a time of optimum earning potential.

What’s more, it’s a crucial decade to take a step back and make sure your finances are on track to meet your goals.

There’ll be some decisions you’ll already have taken in your twenties or thirties, which will have had an impact. You may have bought your own home, for example, or put some savings away in cash, investments or pensions.

If things don’t look quite as rosy as you’d hoped, though, your forties are a good time to take stock, as there’s still time to make adjustments and give your investments time to grow.

Don’t forget, whatever savings you can make now will enable you to pursue your dreams later on.

Here are four key tips for shrewd financial planning at this important time of life.

Budget ruthlessly

Just because life may feel comfortable with regular pay rises and bonuses don’t fall into the temptation of spending more than you need. Do you really need that Costa coffee or M&S lunch every day?

Apps like Money Dashboard or Moneyhub can be helpful in showing you where your money’s going. Simple steps like cancelling subscriptions or switching bill providers can make a significant difference.

Historic studies show that investments usually outperform cash savings so any disposable income you can invest will be beneficial. If you can put money aside in a pension you’ll also be taking advantage of the tax relief available. Make sure you use your ISA allowance too for more accessible funds.

Carry out a protection audit

Think about what if the unexpected happened. Your forties are a time of life where you may find yourself part of what’s known as ‘the sandwich generation’ i.e. caring for elderly parents at the same time as looking after young children. This can put extra pressure on you. Make sure you’re protected should the worst happen by ensuring you have a good emergency fund in place. Also think about critical illness cover and life insurance.

Property plans

Your home will be a fundamental part of your financial planning at this time of life. If you feel you need a larger property, these are likely to be your peak earning years so now is the time to secure the best mortgage you can and find your dream home. On the other hand, if you’re quite happy where you are, it may be a good time to remortgage to get a better deal.

Family spending

Everyone’s situation is different. You may have children at university or you may still be having to pay for nursery fees. Whatever your position, make sure you budget accordingly and allow for inflation, especially if you’re paying private school fees. Work out the priorities for your family – the best education now or a house deposit in the future. It’s important not to derail your own life savings for the sake of your children as no one will benefit in the long run.

By doing some sound financial planning now, you’ll have more hope of continuing in the style you want to live, well beyond your forties.

Sources
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/smart-life-saving-for-the-future/financial-advice-in-your-forties/?utm_campaign=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&plr=1&utm_content=2144&utm_source=tmgspk&WT.mc_id=tmgspk_plr_2144_AqvZbbk8gXHK&utm_medi

over 60s are jumping off the property ladder. Here’s why….

In 2007, there were 254,000 older people living in private rented accomodation. According to research by the Centre for Ageing Better, over the last decade that figure has skyrocketed to 414,000. If things continue the way they’re going, they estimate that over a third of those over 60 will be privately renting by 2040.

So why the shift? Renting comes with some clear benefits. Having to pay stamp duty becomes a thing of the past, as does worrying about managing property maintenance. A certain sense of freedom comes with renting too, particularly in terms of location. It’s a great opportunity to finally live on the coastline or in the city centre that you’ve always wanted to, but have not been able to afford to.

For example, one couple had previously owned a retirement flat in Torquay which they subsequently sold for £55,000. They dreamed of moving to Bournemouth, where a modest one bed apartment would have set them back closer to £150,000 and so was out of their reach. They found a home to let on an assured tenancy, allowing them to remain in the property for life for a fee of £775 a month including service charges. Selling to rent has allowed them to liquidate their biggest asset, and free up their capital to spend on travel.

Renting needn’t be forever, and for some people it’s a great opportunity to stop and think about your next move. It can give you time to really look at the options out there if you intend to get back on the housing ladder. Your requirements will change as you grow older and downsizing can be a great idea for some. Before you find the perfect property which will suit your needs going forward, renting gives you the chance to release some capital and decide what to do with it.

It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that by selling up and moving into private rented accommodation, your estate could receive a higher IHT bill. The inheritance tax exemption introduced in 2017 allows parents and grandparents an additional IHT allowance when their children or grandchildren inherit their main home, and so selling your home could remove your eligibility for the exemption.https://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/retirement/renting-retirement-over-60s-jumping-property-ladder/
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/financial-services/retirement-solutions/equity-release-service/should-you-sell-up-and-rent-in-retirement/

Is the bank of mum and dad ‘feeling the pinch’?

The bank of Mum and Dad’ will lend enough money to the next generation of UK homeowners in 2018 to make it the equivalent of a top 10 Mortgage Lender. With £5.7bn expected to be handed over to help family members get a foot on the property ladder this year, you could be excused for thinking that things were on the up. Everything is relative, however, and when compared to 2017’s enormous lending figures of £6.5bn, the numbers tell a different story.

L&G are still expecting more than a quarter of home buyers to be getting financial assistance from relatives, with the amount actually seeing a small increase from 25% to 27%. So with close to 317,000 housing transactions expected to take place with parental help this year, how do we account for the £800m drop in lending?

The short answer is that, due to the current position of the economy as a whole, people are feeling the pinch. Although the sheer volume of individual transactions is increasing, the amount lenders are able to provide is going in the opposite direction. In 2017, the average contribution was £21,600, in 2018 that figure is expected to be down 17% at £18,000.

Interestingly, although unsurprisingly, this is a regional phenomenon, with a higher percentage of buyers in London (41%) receiving help from their relatives.The age of the buyer also affects the likelihood of lending, but by no means is it exclusive to younger buyers. Three in five under-35s are expected to receive help, but so are 20% of those between the ages of 45 and 55.

We’re also seeing a growing trend of parents ‘gifting’ their children money that they would otherwise have received years later through inheritance. Not only does this make the money less likely to be liable to inheritance tax, it also means that the buyer can get on the property ladder earlier and thus avoid future increases in house prices. For many in financially comfortable positions, this may well be an avenue worth considering.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44283507
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37220688

why it pays to retire early

Sound financial planning is not only good for your bank account – it could actually improve your life expectancy. If you’re reading this then you probably don’t need to be convinced of the benefits of looking after your money, but here’s another reason to add to the list.

The idea of retiring early can be most appealing. For some, it will already be a reality, while wise saving and investment may mean it’s perfectly achievable for those at the consideration stage. Research now suggests that an early retirement can actually also lengthen your life. Economists from the University of Amsterdam published a 2017 study in the Journal of Health and Economics which confirmed that male Dutch civil servants over the age of 54 who retired early were 42% less likely to die over the subsequent five years, compared to those who continued working.

Researchers put this life-extending phenomenon down to two main factors. First, when you retire you have more time to invest in your health. Whether that means you find more time to sleep, more time to exercise or simply more time to visit a doctor when an issue arises, you’ll see the benefit.

Secondly, work can be a great contributor to stress, creating hypertension which is in turn a huge risk factor for potentially fatal conditions. In the study, retirees were shown to be significantly less likely to fall victim to cardiovascular diseases or strokes.

Of course, there can be benefits to staying in work too. Participating in a work environment is a good way of keeping your mind and body active. On top of that, being part of a team helps develop and maintain a sense of purpose and belonging that is essential to cognitive health and development.

That’s not to say that all these benefits can’t be achieved outside of work; the key is to find a hobby, interest or cause to involve yourself in. As is so often the case, there’s no single solution. It’s important to find the best path for you, whether that’s staying in work, retiring early or going part-time. Whatever you choose, spend your time wisely as it could have a major impact on how long your retirement turns out to be.

Sources
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/27/how-research-shows-you-can-live-longer-if-you-retire-early.html

 

is the Bitcoin bubble close to bursting?

You may have seen Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson make the news at the end of January after becoming a Bitcoin millionaire. The rapper, actor and businessman made his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, available for purchase for a fraction of a Bitcoin upon release, making around 700 Bitcoin from sales. 50 Cent has admitted that he had forgotten about the earnings, which have sat untouched since 2014 and are now reportedly worth somewhere between £5 million and £6 million thanks to the meteoric rise of the cryptocurrency’s value in recent months.

Despite 50 Cent’s good fortune, those in the financial sector continue to warn against Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a sound investment. Alex Weber, chairman of global financial services company, UBS, is one of the latest figures to lend his voice to these warnings, describing cryptocurrencies as ‘not an investment we would advise.’

There have also been warnings from consultancy firms that initial coin offerings (ICOs), which raise funds by providing cryptocurrency tokens, are prime targets for cybercriminals. Ernst & Young analysed 372 ICOs which had raised $3.7 billion in total and found that hackers were taking as much as $1.5 million in proceeds from these each month with approximately $400 million stolen in total.

The announcements from governments worldwide that cryptocurrencies will soon be regulated has resulted in huge price fluctuations, with Bitcoin dropping from its high point of almost $20,000 in December 2017 to around half that towards the end of January 2018. The steep drop is due in part to the announcement by the government of South Korea, the third largest cryptocurrency market in the world, that its planned ban on the use of anonymous bank accounts in cryptocurrency trading would be implemented from 30th January.

Another concern surrounding cryptocurrency technology is the continued hype surrounding it, with companies taking advantage of investor buzz. The US Securities and Exchange Commission has warned that companies will be scrutinised over name and business model changes which have been made to capitalise on the hype.

Due to these developments in recent months, many economists are now predicting the cryptocurrency bubble could be about to burst. When, or if, this will happen remains to be seen, but the risks surrounding these relatively new forms of investment continue to be a worrying reality.
Sources
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/23/bitcoin-ubs-chairman-warns-against-cryptocurrency-investment-currency-falls
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/01/25/50-cent-becomes-accidental-bitcoin-millionaire-forgotten-investment/

millennials on target to enjoy inheritance boom but not until they’re 61

A recent report has revealed that millennials are set to benefit from an ‘inheritance boom’ bigger than that experienced by any other generation in the post-war period. The Resolution Foundation, the think-tank which carried out the research, defined millennials as people currently aged between 17 and 35, and found that those within this age bracket will be left record amounts of wealth by their ‘baby boomer’ parents and grandparents.

The report found that inheritances will double in size over the next twenty years, peaking in 2035, as baby boomers who generally have high levels of wealth move through old age. Additionally, nearly two thirds of millennials have parents who are property owners, of which they may receive a share in the future. This is a stark difference to adults born in the 1930s, of whom only 38% received an inheritance.

However, the Resolution Foundation also stressed that the inheritance boom will not be a ‘silver bullet’ which allows millennials to get on the property ladder or address the wealth gaps which are currently growing in society, as most will only benefit from their inheritance when they themselves are nearing pension age. The average age at which people lose both parents is getting later; people who are currently between 25 and 35 are expected to be 61 years old when this happens.

Another key finding of the report was the strong correlation between the property wealth of millennials and the amount they are set to inherit from their parents, with those who were able to get on the property ladder during their early 20s, destined to benefit the most from the inheritance boom. The new inheritance tax housing allowance will also be fully implemented in 2020, meaning that as much as £500,000 per person will be able to be passed on without incurring tax, allowing millennials whose parents own valuable homes to cut their average tax burden in half.

In comparison, those millennials who do not own their own home by their mid thirties are much less likely to receive a large inheritance from their parents. Additionally, if they inherit this when in their 60s, they’ll then be much less likely to be able to secure a mortgage, meaning that some may struggle to climb onto the property ladder throughout both their working and retired lives.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/12/30/millennials-will-pensioners-receiving-inheritance/
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42519073

one for the kids? – if they’re saving for a home,check they’re making the most of the lifetime ISA

If you’re saving for a home through a Help To Buy ISA or know someone who is, it’s worth being aware of a planning opportunity which could boost your savings by an additional £1,100. But anyone hoping to take advantage of this opportunity needs to be quick, as it will only be available for just under four months more.

Any savings in a Help To Buy ISA which are transferred to the new Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018 will benefit from a top up of 25% from the government. The opportunity has arisen thanks to the Help To Buy ISA small print relating to the transfer of money saved before the launch of the Lifetime ISA on 6th April 2017.

Lifetime ISAs have an annual limit of £4,000, which includes money transferred from another savings account. However, money transferred from a Help To Buy ISA within the first twelve months of Lifetime ISAs becoming available does not count towards the contribution limit for the 2017-2018 tax year. As such, any money transferred into the Lifetime ISA from the Help To Buy ISA will be boosted by the government top-up, potentially resulting in hundreds of pounds being added to your savings.

For example, someone who had saved the £4,400 maximum amount into a Help To Buy ISA before April 2017 could transfer this into a Lifetime ISA before 5th April 2018. As this wouldn’t contribute to their limit, they could then save a further £4,000 into the Lifetime ISA for a total of £8,400. The 25% bonus would then be added to the entire £8,400 in April next year, giving an additional £2,100. In any other year, the maximum top-up which could be earned from the Lifetime ISA would be £1,000.

So If you know anyone using a Help To Buy ISA to save towards a first home, transferring money to a Lifetime ISA to enjoy an additional top-up of up to £1,100 in April next year could make collecting the keys to their own place happen a little bit sooner.

Sources
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/personal-banking/savings/use-isa-loophole-now-1100-savings-boost/