Quarter of UK home-owners worried they will not be able to renew mortgages

A quarter of UK home-owners are worried about renewing their mortgage during the pandemic according to a poll.

A third said their income was less secure now than before the pandemic according to the poll.

While more than 1 in 10 mortgagees have had to take a payment holiday on their mortgage during COVID according to the poll of 2,000 British adults by Yonder (formerly Populus).

The proportion of those feeling less financially secure during COVID rises to 63 percent among the self-employed.

The government’s mortgage support scheme allowing people to take mortgage holidays comes to an end on October 31.

From next month lenders can start repossessing homes of those who have been unable to pay.

Those who have taken mortgage holidays will have their missed payments spread over the rest of the payment term meaning larger payments from next month.

Wesley Ranger, Managing Director of Willow Private Finance, who commissioned the poll, said: “This is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Millions of mortgage holders in Britain are up for renewal in the next 12 months with changed circumstances.

“On top of all the other fears at the moment they are having sleepless nights worrying if they will be able to renew or even pay they bill.

“We are calling on the industry to show leniency for people with changed circumstances and for the government to extend its mortgage support scheme with urgency.”

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Solar panel orientation to east and west could save homeowners and the grid, SA researcher says

Facing rooftop solar panels east and west instead of north may save homeowners money and help with electricity grid stability, new research suggests.

Kirrilie Rowe, a scientist at the University of South Australia, said the electricity use of most households peaked in the morning, dipped in the the middle of the day, and peaked again in the late afternoon.

“So if we were to face our panels to catch more of the morning sun, we can better match electricity load in the morning,” she said.

“And similarly, if we face our panels to catch the late afternoon sun, we can better match our electricity use in the late afternoon.”

Ms Rowe said she was not the first person to think of pointing panels more east and west, but what she had done was quantify the benefit.

“We’ve calculated for an average-sized system you could reduce the amount of power you need to purchase by between 4 to 5 per cent,” she said.

“But I think one of the critical things to note is that you’re reducing it in the peak demand periods.”

The deceptively simple idea to face panels east and west got the thumbs up from the AEMO chief.(ABC News)

Facing panels east or west could also help stabilise the grid by generating less power during the middle of the day, she said.

picture of Audrey ZIbelman at a microphone
Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Audrey Zibelman says it’s great to get a simple solution.(ABC News: Angelique Donnellan)

The deceptively simple idea received the thumbs up from Audrey Zibelman, CEO of the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

“I think that would be fantastic,” she said.

“And that’s exactly why we alert people to these problems, because then you have very clever people say, ‘Well, here’s an easy solution’. And that’s what we’re looking to encourage.”

The rise and rise of rooftop solar causing new challenges

Around Australia, the massive uptake of rooftop solar has led to a surplus of power in middle of the day and less need for traditional power generators such as coal and gas.

“We have a whole lot of people with photovoltaics on the roof that are generating power. But they’re not using power,” said Peter Pudney, an associate professor at the University of South Australia.

“And one of the things about the grid is that you have to keep it in balance all the time. The amount of power being generated has to match the amount of power that’s being used,” he added.

Currently, traditional generators like coal and hydro are needed to keep the supply of electricity stable in a grid that was never designed to handle large amounts of rooftop solar.

Without new solutions, traditional generators won’t be able to be switched off completely without risking power outages.

Solar installers place solar panels on the roof of a home.
There are now more than 2.3 million rooftop solar systems in Australia.(Reuters: Mike Blake)

The biggest generator of electricity

There are now more than 2.3 million rooftop solar systems in Australia, according to the Clean Energy Regulator, with almost 20,000 new installations every month.

In South Australia, rooftop solar is now the state’s largest generator of electricity and records for minimum demand for grid power are regularly being set.


The AEMO has warned that within three years South Australia could become the first large electricity region in the world to effectively eliminate the need for traditional generators in the middle of some days, due to the increase in rooftop solar.

“Rooftop solar has grown so fast. And now it’s a very significant portion of the power system,” Ms Zibelman said.

“And one of the things we worry about, of course, is that when the sun is shining and there’s too much solar, and there’s excess, how do we manage that so it doesn’t create a problem for the system?”

New solutions urged

Changing the direction panels are facing is only one of a series of solutions homeowners can take to help solve the midday solar surplus problem.

“What people need to do is use as much of their high-draw power appliances like spas, pool pumps and dishwashers, and have them running during the middle of the day,” solar installer Tracey Barnett said.

A woman stands in front of a fence in Kalgoorlie
Kalgoorlie solar installer Tracey Barnett says there are many ways to help solve the midday solar surplus problem.(ABC: Madison Snow)

She said changes to the solar tariff in Western Australia made installing home batteries more attractive.

“The new system is now going to be paying 3 cents during the day. And then from 3 o’clock to 9 o’clock they’ll pay you 10 cents for whatever you export out,” said Ms Barnett.

“If you’ve got batteries and your batteries are full, then that will still get exported out to the grid even when the sun has set, and you’ll still be able to make some money out of the network.”

AEMO wants more control of rooftop solar

But even with changes in the way homeowners use and generate power, Audrey Zibelman says the AEMO will increasingly need more control and visibility of rooftop solar to avoid blackouts in extreme circumstances.

“Now that it’s a significant portion of the system, we want to make sure that we’re making the best use of it and have all the right kind of arrangements so that people are protected,” she said.

A workman attaches a solar panel to a roof.
The AEMO says it will need to control rooftop solar to avoid blackouts in extreme circumstances.(ABC News)

In South Australia, the AEMO recently mandated new solar installations be connected to the internet in an attempt to better manage the export of electricity to prevent blackouts.

Peter Pudney said the way the AEMO controlled rooftop solar would need to be designed very carefully to not impact all rooftop solar owners.

“It’s important to control the amount people are exporting to the grid without reducing their ability to generate and use their own power without exporting,” he said.

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Homeowners plea for inspections ban to end

Melbourne homeowners and tenants facing homelessness and financial strife are pleading with Premier Daniel Andrews to allow physical home inspections to resume.

The crucial element in the buying and leasing processes has been outlawed in Melbourne since early August.

The government plans to extend the ban to October 26, assuming Victoria records fewer than five daily coronavirus cases over the two weeks prior.

Real Estate Institute of Victoria president Leah Calnan said the harsh ruling had been made despite none of the state’s coronavirus cases being directly linked to real estate activity.

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Ms Calnan said the institute met with the government last week to push for private inspections to be brought forward to the second step on the state’s road map to reopening, due to kick in from September 28.

She said the road map announcement had sparked dozens of “heartbreaking” calls from buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords, including people who had already bought new homes and now couldn’t sell their old ones.

“Tenants, too, are needing to move out to meet new COVID-19 budgets but they can’t view properties,” she said.

“Providing shelter should be an essential service.

“In the meeting, we also raised that … we’ve continually mentioned to the government if they’ve heard of any cases (linked to real estate activity), please let us know. But we haven’t heard of any cases.”

Mr Andrews said on Sunday he was “happy to have a look at” reviewing the inspections ban in certain circumstances. But he added: “People are buying houses they haven’t seen. Online auctions are still happening.”

OBrien Keysborough director Darren Hutchins said very few people were willing to “take on property they can’t physically inspect”, and many of his vendors and landlords were “struggling” as a result.

Debra Wilmot’s Skye home of 13 years was stranded on the market due to the “ridiculous” private inspections ban.

Ms Wilmot said she “had to sell” after being stood down from her catering and events job as she “didn’t know if I’d get my job back at all”.

She was initially delighted when it appeared her house had sold after six days on the market, but the deal fell through when the purchasers couldn’t get finance.

Her agent, Ray White Langwarrin’s Nicholas Cassidy, told her not to worry at the time as he had “people lined up ready to inspect” when the ban was lifted. But that is now several more weeks away.

“I was very stressed by it all,” she said.

Ronen, who declined to provide his surname, fears he won’t be able to settle on a Gembrook investment property he bought earlier this year, after the sale of his Berwick house stalled.

The father of three said he poured about $130,000 into renovating 19 Coowarra Way and listed it “the day before stage four” restrictions kicked in.

“The property is just sitting there (and) settlement for the other house is coming up. The vendor agreed to delay it (to November 31), but they said they can’t do anything more after that,” he said.

“There’s no way, with the current road map, we’ll be able to sell before then. I’m trying to get bridging finance, but that’s a challenge.

“What the government is doing with lockdown is the right way to go. But the ability to do one-on-one inspections, I don’t reckon is going to risk the community.”

MORE: How to present your house for sale during stage four lockdown

Melbourne lockdown to drive exodus to regional Victoria, interstate

Treasurer Tim Pallas hints at real estate lifeline


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Housing grant will ‘bitterly disappoint’ homeowners

GEORGE Christensen has lashed out at the State Government’s “handling” of the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant.

The Dawson MP called on Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert to fix the scheme before hopeful homeowners were “left bitterly disappointed”.

He said brokers, builders and home buyers were frustrated the grant was not being factored into home loans.

“The question all of these people want answered is ‘why can’t Queensland operate the Home Builder boost in the same way they operate their first homeowner grant?’,” he said.

Cartoonist Harry Bruce’s take on the HomeBuilders grants cut off date.

“The issue is now critical.

“Contracts need to be signed and finance approved by December 31.”

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But Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert and Treasurer Cameron Dick have hit back at Mr Christensen’s claims.

“If George checked the data he would see the home construction market in Queensland is going well,” Mr Dick said.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Attila Csaszar.

Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick. Picture: Attila Csaszar.

He said Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this week showed Queensland housing approvals in July were up 17.2 compared to NSW’s 14 per cent and the national average of 8 per cent.

“Queensland was the first east coast state to have its approvals process up and running, and joined the online HomeBuilder portal at the same time as all other states,” Mr Dick said.

“Along with New South Wales and Victoria, Queensland is working with the Australian Banking Association to address issues with the design of the Federal Government’s HomeBuilder scheme that are hindering the payment being used as part of a home deposit.”

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Jono Searle.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert. Picture: Jono Searle.

Mrs Gilbert said Mr Christensen’s comments were “very cheeky” and “really stretching the truth”.

“It was his government that set out the rules that the homeowner had to apply for the loan themselves.

“He’s asking state government to change the federal government rules.”

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But she did agree with the Dawson MP that being able to use the HomeBuilders Grant towards a home deposit would help families trapped in the rent cycle.

“Our rents have been absolutely horrendous,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“Having these grants means the difference from being forever stuck in that rental cycle and going to banks and societies and being able to build that home.”

This would have flow-on effects for apprentices, tradesmen and hardware stores, she said.

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Homeowners Advised to Evacuate as Utah Big Hollow Fire Grows to 500 Acres

Homeowners Advised to Evacuate as Utah Big Hollow Fire Grows to 500 Acres

Fire officials in Wasatch County, Utah, confirmed that a wildfire they believed to be human-caused had spread to 500 acres and was zero percent contained on Friday morning, July 17. The fire began Thursday afternoon near Heber City’s Big Hollow Shooting Range, about 20 miles south of Park City, officials said. This video shows the fire burning in Heber City on Thursday night. Named for the shooting range, the Big Hollow Fire spurred a voluntary evacuation advisory to residents on Little Sweden Road as the flames pushed eastward. Credit: @bworgill via Storyful

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