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Residential transactions remain high as SDLT holiday deadline is approaching

The number of UK residential transactions, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rose by 24.1% between January 2020 and January 2021, according to the latest property transactions data by HMRC.

This annual rise comes as the stamp duty holiday deadline fast approaches on the 31 March.

Despite the annual rise, on a monthly basis the number of residential transactions dropped by 2.4%.

Looking to the number of non-residential transactions in the UK during January, this figure fell 8.2% year-on-year to 8,980.

In addition, between December 2020 and January 2021, the number of non-residential transactions declined by 3.6%.

The provisional non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in January 2021 was 98,830, 17.9% higher than January 2020 and 25.2% lower than December 2020.

Furthermore, the non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK non-residential transactions in January 2021 was 7,680, 14.6% lower than January 2020.

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The data also shows that the level non-residential transactions was 28.0% lower than December 2020.

Mike Scott, chief analyst at Yopa, said: “New figures from HMRC show that the number of home purchases completed in January was still very high, as buyers rushed to beat the 31 March stamp duty deadline.

“We expect that the number of purchases will remain very high until March, and then drop off for a few months before returning to normal.

“The year as a whole is likely to see a higher number of purchases than in recent years, perhaps as high as 1.3 million.

“The housing market has remained open during the recent and current lockdowns, but many people are still waiting for life to return closer to normal before they make their next move.

“After a brief slowdown in the second quarter after the stamp duty holiday ends, we anticipate a very active housing market in the second half of this year.”

David Whittaker, chief executive of Keystone Property Finance, added: “Today’s figures suggest that home buyers who are unlikely to make the stamp duty holiday deadline are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to purchases, delaying applications until the Chancellor providers greater clarity over the future of the tax holiday.

“However, despite the uncertainty, second properties are making up a significant proportion of the continued rising demand.

“Data from Hamptons International reveals second home sales increased by 58% in January 2021 compared to the same month last year.

“This follows a period of buoyancy in the buy-to-let market as landlords look to expand their portfolios, while taking advantage of an increasing number of buy-to-let products on the market.

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“However, being a landlord brings with it a series of challenges, not least the recent and upcoming regulatory and tax changes.

“Qualified advice from mortgage brokers is crucial in helping landlords to navigate the market and access the right mortgage for their unique circumstances.”

Nick Barnes, head of research at Chestertons, said: “Following a record December, the sales market has maintained momentum throughout January 2021.

“Compared to January last year, Chestertons registered 9% more instructions, indicating that sellers remain keen to move home.

“This is further highlighted by a 47% year-on-year increase in properties currently on the market.

“Equally, we have agreed 27% more sales, largely driven by house hunters rushing to meet the stamp duty holiday deadline but also possibly reflecting a desire to beat any potential shutting down of the housing market as proposed by the Labour party.

“In spite of lockdown restrictions, there are still plenty of households who are keen to move, which is further boosted by the roll-out of the vaccine.

“Boris Johnson’s announcement of the slow easing of lockdown restrictions might bring a new spark to the housing market as people are eager to return to some form of normality.

“So far in February, Chestertons has seen a 73% increase in sales compared to the same period in February 2020.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Value of BTL portfolio rises despite drop in landlord numbers

The latest figures by estate agent Barrow and Forrester show that despite the number of landlords operating in the buy-to-let sector dropping by 8% in two years, the value of the average BTL portfolio has risen by almost £40,000 in the past 12 months.

Across Britain, the average landlord’s buy-to-let portfolio consists of 1.9 properties and with the current average house price sitting at £254,525, it equates to an estimated value of £491,234.

This is an increase of £38,820 in the value of their buy-to-let portfolio in one year.

The South West has seen the most considerable uplift in portfolio value with an increase of £49,000 in the past year.

The East Midlands has also seen a notable jump of £41,000 in value, with the East (+£38,000) South East (+£37,000) and West Midlands (+£36,000) also climbing considerably.

London still leads in terms of the most valuable landlord portfolios.

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With the average landlord owning two properties in the capital, the total value of their property investment is almost £1m having climbed by £34,000 in the last year.

The South East has not only seen one of the largest annual increases in portfolio value, but at £641,093, landlords in the region are also seeing the second-highest total sum.

The East (£575,187), South West (£530,890) and East Midlands (£427,942) are also home to some of the highest buy-to-let portfolios per landlord.

James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, said: “A sharp increase in property values brought on due to the current stamp duty holiday has caused a considerable jump in the value of BTL investment portfolio up and down the nation.

“However, true to form, it seems as though the government will do their best to spoil the party with an increase in capital gains tax via next month’s budget.

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“This is quite astounding given the string of changes already implemented to stamp duty tax thresholds and tax relief and the impact it has had on landlord numbers.

“They don’t seem to understand that the BTL sector is the backbone of the rental market and fewer landlords means fewer properties and even less affordable rents.

“Who will provide the much needed rental accommodation if not the buy-to-let sector?

“Because it certainly won’t be the government, who have proved time and time again that they’re incapable of implementing any meaningful strategy where the delivery of property market stock is concerned.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Property transactions have jumped 27% in one month

The number of property transactions registered in England and Wales jumped 27% between November and December 2020, the Conveyancing Market Tracker from Search Acumen found.

The final month of 2020 saw 73,142 completed property transactions logged by conveyancing firms, up from 57,632 in November 2020.

The number of active conveyancing firms has recovered from a low during the first pandemic-induced lockdown, increasing by 58% to 3,808 in Q4 from a low of 2,411 in Q2 2020.

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Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, said: “This latest data reveals how much more resilient the property market has been to pandemic-induced shocks compared to the wider economy.

“The surge in activity in the property market can be largely attributed to buyers rushing to capture the savings on offer through the higher stamp duty threshold.

“Demand has also been stimulated by a change in consumer appetite for properties outside of cities with access to green spaces, as more people than ever before are working from home.”

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He added: “The stamp duty deadline has put enormous pressure on the conveyancing industry and the traditional processes underpinning much of it, not to mention putting lawyers’ stress levels and patience to the test.

“This capacity crunch is set to escalate over the next few months and stretch the limits of existing working practices. The conveyancing market is crying out for innovation to better respond to consumer demand.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Mortgage options hit highest level since first national lockdown

With lenders continuing to gain confidence, homebuyers and investors seeking mortgages now have the highest level of mortgage options available since March 2020.

Lenders recently launched a range of new mortgage options for property buyers. Currently, there are 3,215 mortgage deals available, according to Moneyfacts. This is the highest number in 11 months, when there was 5,222 deals available on the market.

In the first half of 2020, mortgage options fell sharply. Many lenders withdrew mortgages while they reassessed the level of risk they could take in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, borrowers with smaller deposits had few mortgage deals available.

During the second half of 2020, the mortgage market started recovering. Since October, the number of mortgage options has grown by 42%. This is the biggest four-monthly increase since 2007 .

Additionally, at the end of 2020, mortgage approvals were at the highest level since 2007. The housing market remained busy as homebuyers and property investors have been rushing to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline.

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Mortgages with smaller deposits available

Choice in mortgages is particularly increasing for borrowers with smaller deposits. In the past few months, the most significant rise was for 90% loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages. This LTV mortgage where borrowers only need to put down a 10% deposit is typically used by more first-time buyers.

Eleanor Williams from Moneyfacts says: “Those with 10% deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability.

“With products at this level often favoured by first-time buyers and traditionally being seen as higher risk for providers, willingness to extend lending in this risk bracket could be an indication that lenders have confidence in the sector, despite ongoing, wider economic uncertainty. This is echoed by the average two and five year fixed rates at 90% LTV seeing the largest fall of all the lending tiers, reducing by 0.09% and 0.07%.”

Mortgage interest rates stabilising

Average interest rates have increased across all LTVs. However, the average rate has increased only fractionally, which shows rates are stabilising. This is likely due to increased competition in the mortgage market. It also shows lenders are gaining more confidence and less risk averse than before.

Eleanor Williams comments: “At 2.53%, the two year fixed overall average rate is now 0.11% higher year-on-year, while the five-year equivalent at 2.73% is equal to where it sat in February 2020.

“Therefore, while these rates have risen again, the increases are of just 0.01% and 0.02% this month, which may be a sign of the start of some stability in the market, especially when compared to the drastic monthly increases witnessed over the course of last year.”

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Choosing the best deals

Moneyfacts advises borrowers to take into account a number of factors when choosing a mortgage deal. Don’t look at just the interest rate. It’s important to also take product fees and incentives into consideration.

Recently, two-year fixed products have been particularly popular. Two-year fixed deals typically have lower interest rates than five-year fixed deals. However, for some, the five-year option could be a better choice in the long run. And the interest rate gap between two and five-year fixed rates mortgages has dropped to its lowest level since 2013, according to Moneyfacts.

As the economy and mortgage market remains uncertain, five-year fixed deals could provide longer-term stability. However, this depends on the borrower’s needs. Seek independent financial guidance to find the best mortgage deal for your circumstances.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Landlords intend to continue purchasing after SDLT deadline

BTL landlords intend to continue purchasing rental property after the stamp duty holiday has reached its conclusion, according to Foundation Home Loans.

The data revealed that 16% of landlords intend to purchase over the next 12 months, 48% plan to do so in Q1, 41% in Q2, 28% in Q3, and 29% in Q4.

In addition, just 14% of landlords said that they would abort their transaction if completion before the SDLT deadline did not look achievable.

Of those landlords intending to purchase in Q1, 65% said they were very or quite confident they would complete by 31 March.

When the respondents were questioned whether they believed the government would extend the stamp duty deadline, 28% said yes, while 31% disagreed.

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In addition, only 4% of those surveyed said they were purchasing because of the availability of the stamp duty holiday

A quarter of those intending to purchase in 2021 said they were holding off purchasing as they believed property prices were currently inflated.

The research was undertaken by BVA BDRC and carried out between December and January with the results based on 846 online interviews.

George Gee, commercial director at Foundation Home Loans, said: “As we know landlords think long and hard before adding to their portfolios and, as our research reveals, they are unlikely to just confine any purchase activity to the first quarter of this year in order to simply benefit from the stamp duty holiday.

“There are a number of positive results to come out of our exclusive research, not least landlords’ continued intention to keep on purchasing after the deadline has passed, and the news that many BTL landlords will not abort their transactions if there is no extension and they look unlikely to complete by 31 March.

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“In that regard, the next month and a half is very important for the sector.

“Foundation has put in place significant extra resources to our completions team in order to ensure we can complete as many cases as possible by the end of March.

“Looking beyond Q1, there will clearly be ongoing opportunities for advisers active in the landlord borrower space, and all the signals point to significant activity taking place in both the purchase and remortgage sectors.

“We should not forget that many landlords’ special rates are coming to an end over the months ahead, especially those that bought prior to the last stamp duty surcharge increase for additional homeowners back in Q1 2016.

“Foundation’s new range of buy-to-let products and our new limited edition limited company deals should offer landlord clients a variety of options, in order to achieve their aims through 2021.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Average house prices up 8.7% in England and Wales

Average house prices increased by 8.7% across England and Wales in the year to January 2021, according to e.surv Chartered Surveyors’ House Price Index.

On a monthly basis, average house prices rose by 1.2% between between December 2020 and January 2021.

Overall, the average price of a house in England and Wales was £330,958 at the end of January.

Richard Sexton, director at e.surv, said: “2020 proved an exceptional year in almost every way and many of the changes it ushered in won’t be easily swept aside.

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“Indeed, our data shows that the remarkable growth in property prices we saw in the second half of last year has continued into 2021.

“Rapid growth in the South West, East Midlands and the North West means that average property prices have started the year up close to 9% on January 2020.

“There are, as always, a number of factors at play, but we may well have moved beyond the release of the demand that was pent-up at the start of 2020 and into a new phase for the market.

“For many, the pandemic has proved very financially trying, but this hasn’t been universal. For some households, where people have kept their jobs and transitioned totally to home-working, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to cut spending and build their savings.

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“For these consumers in a more fortunate financial position, the combination of low mortgage rates and the stamp duty holiday have made entering (or often re-entering) the property market an attractive prospect.

“Many buyers have made the decision to make a move in the last year and the popularity of larger properties with more outdoor space has increased greatly, as buyers have reevaluated their current living situation.

“That activity in the property market has been able to continue at all over the last year, is due in a large part to the industry’s willingness to embrace technology and work innovatively.

“From remote valuations to virtual house viewings, the industry has shown that it is able to adapt and change to meet extraordinary circumstances – a positive sign for the future.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Mortgage Lenders Show Confidence, A Research By MoneyFacts Has Found

There are now more mortgage deals available than since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic began impacting the UK economy last March, MoneyFacts has reported.

Its latest UK Mortgage Trends Treasury Report, found that there are currently 3,215 mortgage deals available, the highest number yet since March. Then there were 5,222 deals in the market.

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The biggest rise in deals over the last few months is in 90 per cent loan to value deals.

While average mortgage interest rates have risen across all LTVs, the average for two and five year 90 per cent LTV fixed mortgages fell month-on-month from 3.65 per cent and 3.79 per cent in January to 3.56 per cent and 3.72 per cent in February respectively.

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‘Those with 10 per cent deposit or equity might be especially pleased to note that this tier has, for a second month, seen the largest uplift in availability. With products at this level often favoured by first-time buyers and traditionally being seen as higher risk for providers, willingness to extend lending in this risk bracket could be an indication that mortgage lenders have confidence in the sector, despite ongoing, wider economic uncertainty’, said Moneyfacts’ Eleanor Williams.

‘This is echoed by the average two and five year fixed rates at 90 per cent LTV seeing the largest fall of all the lending tiers, reducing by 0.09 per cent and 0.07 per cent’.

Source: Landlord Knowledge

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House prices record surprise jump despite looming stamp duty deadline

UK house prices recorded a surprise jump this month as buyers were undeterred by the looming stamp duty holiday deadline.

After three consecutive monthly falls the average price of property coming to market increased 0.5 per cent – or £1,511 – this month.

The number of new buyers has continued to grow despite the fact that it is now too late for most to beat the stamp duty deadline of 31 March.

Meanwhile, one in five buyers who agreed a purchase in July last year have still not completed, with an estimated 100,000 buyers still likely to miss out on their expected tax saving, according to Rightmove data.

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High demand is also outstripping supply and pushing up house prices. New seller numbers are down 21 per cent on the previous year as family home owners delay coming to the market, with experts suggesting it could be due to homeschooling distractions.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said: “Last year the market was unexpectedly buoyed by buyers’ determination to move and satisfy their new lockdown-induced housing needs.

“We may well be seeing a continuation of that this year. Rightmove’s early 2021 buyer data shows that despite the imminent end of the stamp duty incentive, all of the key buyer metrics are ahead of early 2020, itself an active period as the market was boosted by the post-election ‘Boris bounce’.

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“As well as the current lockdown motivating buyer demand again, the restrictions have also been a factor in limiting new supply, leading to some modest upwards price pressure. These are strong signs that new buyer demand is not facing a cliff-edge after the 31st of March.

“It remains to be seen if this momentum will be enough to make up for the removal of the stamp duty savings that are benefitting many buyers and have been adding a sense of urgency to the whole market.”

By Jessica Clark

Source: City AM

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BTL Landlords to build portfolios beyond 31 March

Buy To Let landlords are undeterred by the looming stamp duty holiday deadline and intend to continue purchasing rental properties beyond 31 March, a survey by Foundation Home Loans has revealed.

Research by the intermediary-only specialist lender has revealed of the 16% of landlords who said they were going to purchase over the next 12 months, 48% said they would do so in Q1, 41% in Q2, 28% in Q3, and 29% in Q4.

Landlords were able to pick more than one quarter if they were unsure when they might complete.

The landlord research – undertaken by BVA BDRC and carried out between December and January with the results based on 846 online interviews – also found landlords seemed confident about their ability to complete purchases before the deadline. Only 14% said they would abort their transaction if completion did not look achievable.

Of those landlords intending to purchase in Q1, 65% said they were very or quite confident they would complete by the 31 March.

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Extending the deadline

When asked whether they believed the government would extend the deadline, 28% said yes, while 31% disagreed, although the questions were asked before the recent Parliamentary debate on the stamp duty holiday.

There has been growing industry support for a tapering of the deadline to allow those already within the purchase process to complete beyond the deadline date but still secure the tax saving.

Only 4% of those surveyed said they were purchasing because of the availability of the stamp duty holiday. Meanwhile, 25% of those intending to purchase in 2021 said they were holding off buying as they believed property prices were currently inflated.

The most recent house price index from Nationwide for January revealed that prices had dropped slightly by 0.3% month-on-month, and annual house price growth had slowed from 7.3% to 6.4%.

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Foundation’s research suggests landlords will look at slight house price drops throughout the year as an opportunity to add to portfolios.

George Gee, commercial director at Foundation Home Loans, said: “As we know landlords think long and hard before adding to their portfolios and, as our research reveals, they are unlikely to just confine any purchase activity to the first quarter of this year in order to simply benefit from the stamp duty holiday.

“There are a number of positive results to come out of our exclusive research, not least landlords’ continued intention to keep on purchasing after the deadline has passed, and the news that many landlords will not abort their transactions if there is no extension and they look unlikely to complete by the 31 March.

“In that regard, the next month-and-a-half are very important for the sector. Foundation has put in place significant extra resources to our completions team in order to ensure we can complete as many cases as possible by the end of March.

“Looking beyond Q1, there will clearly be ongoing opportunities for advisers active in the landlord borrower space, and all the signals point to significant activity taking place in both the purchase and remortgage sectors.

“We should not forget that many landlords’ special rates are coming to an end over the months ahead, especially those that bought prior to the last stamp duty surcharge increase for additional homeowners back in Q1 2016.”

Foundation relaunched its entire buy-to-let product range last month, with rate reductions across the board, and last week launched new Limited Edition two-and five-year fixed rates with reduced fees for those landlords purchasing or remortgaging via a limited company vehicle.

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Welsh house prices exceed £200,000

The average house price in Wales has topped £200,000 for the first time – now standing at £209,723, Principality Building Society’s Wales House Price Index for Q4 2020 has found.

Last year showed the strongest annual house price inflation in 15 years (8.2%).

Detached home prices were 11% higher than a year ago, as people search for space prompted by the pandemic.

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This is compared with 5-6% growth for most other property types.

Tom Denman, chief financial officer at Principality Building Society, said: “The strength of the housing recovery in the second half of 2020 is striking, and this reflects both the stimulus provided by the Welsh government in terms of the time-limited Land Transaction Tax holiday, the pent-up demand which built up during the first lockdown, and the race for space to buy bigger properties with larger gardens.

“In Q4, all local authority areas were reporting house prices higher than a year earlier. This increased demand has been driven by increased savings in many households during the lockdowns coupled with continued historic low mortgage rates. There has probably been some additional demand from buyers across the border with England, with house prices more affordable in Wales in relative terms.

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“The recent UK HM Treasury review of independent forecasts for 2021 showed wide divergences in house price expectations for the year. With so many unknowns it is impossible to offer a forecast with any reasonable accuracy. However, once there is more clarity on the containment of the virus and on the full re-opening of the economy, it will become easier.”

Merthyr Tydfil recorded the strongest rise on a quarterly basis of 18.2%, taking its average house price to £147,687, though this may have been exaggerated due to a modest amount of sales data.

In north Wales, Anglesey house prices rose by 16% annually to £237,782, while Conwy (£224,068) and Flintshire (£216,224) rose by 13.7% and 13.3% respectively.

In south Wales, Monmouthshire (£332,558) and Newport (£222,107) also achieved strong annual double-digit increases, rising 14.2% and 12.1% respectively.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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