Nationwide hit the headlines last week with news that it is to allow 13,000 of its office staff to choose where they work.
The UK’s biggest building society said its “work anywhere” plan would allow employees more control of their lives.
Nationwide is closing three offices in Swindon, with 3,000 staff either moving to the nearby HQ, working from home, or mixing their work pattern to use both home and office.
Other staff may be able to work from their local High Street branch rather than an office.
In a survey of their staff, Nationwide found that 57% wanted to work from home full-time after lockdown ends and 36% said they preferred a mix of home and office-based work.
Readers may recall that last August EYE covered the story of rental payment processing firm, PayProp, announcing it had given all its 134 staff the choice of where they want to work.
Many home-movers will be getting more clarity on their employers ‘return to work policy’ over the next few months and whether this will mean returning to the office five days a week, working from home full-time, or something flexible and in-between.
Prospective homebuyers might be looking to move further away from their offices, to areas where buyers can typically get more ‘house’ for their money, and to commute to work some or all the days of the week.
However, there is a big watch-out when it comes to getting a mortgage on properties located further away from your place of work, says Alex Winn, a mortgage expert at Habito,.
“We’ve seen instances of mortgage applications being declined by lenders on the basis of the new cost of a rail season ticket.
“We had a case recently where the customer was planning to move from London to Brighton. Once the mortgage underwriter had added the additional travel cost of £400 per month to their affordability calculations, the mortgage was deemed unaffordable.
“This was clearly a significant new expense that the applicant hadn’t had to pay in the past, which is why it was flagged.”
“A lot of buyers are excited about the possibility of quitting the rat race and swapping their city life for a more scenic one, but it’s important to consider the cost of commuting, even a few days a week, and making sure this expense is factored into the overall cost of moving home.
“You may think that travelling just twice a week would cost less, but trains from some stations further afield are so expensive, that a weekly ticket could be cheaper.
“Some mortgage providers have more stringent lending policies for judging day-to-day spending or travel costs, than others. But, we are seeing lenders paying attention to the distance of the property from their employer’s address.
“Mortgage application borrowing limits are calculated by gross (pre-tax) salary, but commuting costs are calculated net, so a typical annual season-ticket at a cost of £4,500 would require gross earnings of £5,400 for a basic-rate tax payer, or £6,300 for higher-rate tax payer, just to cover that cost.
“Taking all these costs into account gives a full picture of mortgage affordability, but not every lender takes the same view, which is why it’s always worth getting advice from a broker.”