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Professional & Surveying Services

Residential Property Services

Driven by a surge in consumer confidence, the UK economy is gathering momentum, which in turn has led to growing interest in property investment.

Currently, savings accounts only pay 1-2% whereas property can offer more attractive returns ranging from about 5 to 10% plus.

Representing the lowest risk but still producing initial yields of 4.5 to 6%, are residential properties, prime offices, retail units and retail warehouses.

Higher risk properties can offer more than 9 %, for example, retail units in secondary locations, older offices and industrial properties.

Property offers the potential for diversification, both in terms of type and location, thereby reducing risk. A typical portfolio may include both residential and commercial property and within the commercial element, a balance of retail, industrial and office property.

Another significant attraction is the prospect of exploiting asset management opportunities. For example, converting disused parts of shops to residential use, thereby enhancing income; renegotiating leases; obtaining planning permission for change of use or by extending or converting the property.

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Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne's 2014 budget saw what has been hailed as the most radical overhaul of the pensions system in nearly a century, and as a result will now give savers the opportunity to withdraw large lump sums from their pensions to reinvest as they see fit, potentially in higher yielding assets such as property.

Prior to the introduction of the changes, due to take effect from April 2015, individuals who have built up a lump sum in a defined contribution or money purchase pension have the option of either keeping their fund invested and receiving an income drawdown, or exchanging their savings for an annuity. There has been the option of making withdrawals of up to £18,000 but some believe very few have taken advantage of this due to the complex rules which surround it.

Closely linked to the return on annuities, the 15 year gilt yield currently stands at 3.22% and has seen increases over the last 6 months, although, some expect it to experience limited growth going forward.

However, the pension changes mean that savers will no longer be pushed into buying annuities. They will instead benefit from the flexibility of being able to access the entirety of their pension at any time after the age of 55, although withdrawn funds will be subject to income tax at marginal rates on 75% of the total amount whilst 25% remains tax-free.

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Police action, recent price falls and a ban on paying cash for scrap metal may well be helping to cut metal theft, but unoccupied commercial buildings are still a lucrative target for thieves.

Criminals began targeting metal, such as lead and copper, after prices trebled and hit record highs in 2011, which have lasted until this year.

Insurer Zurich Insurance plc reports that since 2004 there has been an increase of around 2,500 per cent in the total cost of losses over £25,000 for its real estate clients.

Buildings most at risk are vacant factories and warehouses located on remote or isolated industrial parks.

These buildings often have high power demands and, as a result, service cables are relatively accessible. They also tend to have some form of lead roofing or flashing on or around the roof area.

Offices on business parks are less attractive due to lower electrical demands. However, secluded locations can still make them a target for persistent thieves.

Morag Keohane, insurance manager at Caxtons, said: "If you own a commercial property that has become vacant you need to inform your insurer immediately.

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