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London’s Rental Market Heats up According to Chestertons

London’s rental market is witnessing a strong recovery in spite of the pandemic, according to Chestertons’ latest analysis. Comparing May to April, the agency’s 31 branches across London confirmed a cumulative 17 per cent increase in new tenant registrations and 10% increase in agreed lettings.

Whilst demand is up, the number of properties available to rent at the end of May 2021 was down, with Chestertons registering a 3 per cent reduction in supply compared to end of April 2021 and a staggering 24 per cent reduction compared to May 2020. With demand outstripping supply, fewer landlords are now willing to drop their rents which is a stark contrast to this time last year when high numbers of London landlords dropped their rents by up to 20 per cent.

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In fact, Chestertons confirms that in many London postcodes, rents increased in May vs April. Some of the areas that have seen the biggest rental increase are Barnes (+17 per cent), Wandsworth (+15 per cent), Mayfair (+23 per cent), Westminster (+18 per cent) and South Kensington (+12 per cent).

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Richard Davies, Head of Lettings at Chestertons, says: “The majority of tenants registering with us now see their return to the office as imminent; whether that’s full or part-time. With that in mind, and with rents at the lowest level they have been in years, tenants are rushing to snap up a London rental property at a reduced cost. At the same time, as lockdown restrictions are easing and travel becomes possible again, we are also seeing the return of overseas student demand. With the continuous increase of tenants wanting to move back to London, we expect London’s rental market to become increasingly competitive over the next few months; particularly during the summer, which has always been a key season for tenants to move.”


Source: Property Wire

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Average UK House Price Falls for First Time in Months

The average UK house price fell 1.9 per cent between March and April but was still 8.9 per cent higher than it was in April 2020, according to HM Land Registry’s latest House Price Index.

The index, released yesterday, showed the average price of a property in April 2021 was £250,772, down from £255,707 the month before. Since at least May 2020, average house prices within the UK have increased incrementally.

The increase in mortgage lending throughout March, itself boosted by the Stamp Duty holiday, to £35.6bn was thought to have boosted April’s sales, even though the average price fell.

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Nick Barnes, head of research at Chesterton’s, said that this would have a snowball effect in the coming months.

He added: “As a result, we will continue to see strong demand from property buyers in an already competitive market.”

Others, including Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer of Gatehouse Bank, said that the annual growth in prices was ‘still remarkable’.

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He added: “There remains a shortage of properties coming onto the market in many areas, resulting in intense competition in some cases, and this factor is likely to keep prices pushing upwards throughout the summer.”

Others took up the theme of the UK’s housing shortage.

Andy Sommerville, director of Search Acumen, said: ““Our national housing supply squeeze looks set to continue for the foreseeable future, pushing up prices further still. The beneficiaries on the building side are the developers of homes with access to gardens, given that working from home and more flexible working practices are likely to continue in the coming months, driving people to move into bigger homes with access to green space.”


Source: Property Wire

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Stamp Duty Holiday End Means Buyers Need a Plan B

The upcoming end of the stamp duty holiday in its current format could lead to a significant increase in the number of chains collapsing and means agencies, now more than ever, need to have contingency plans in place.

That is the warning from chain repair experts HBB Solutions, which says agents need to have a clear plan B if things start to go wrong.

The stamp duty has undoubtedly boosted and sustained the market since it was introduced back in July 2020, but the first stage of its phased-out approach is set to be reached at the end of this month (June 30).

At present, any home worth up to £500,000 is eligible for the stamp duty holiday, but after June 30 the nil rate threshold will drop to homes worth up to £250,000 until September 30. From October onwards, the nil rate threshold will return to its pre-stamp duty holiday level of £125,000.

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HBB Solutions has been in touch with some of the high street’s major lenders on their cut-off dates for receiving a Certificate of Title (COT) in order to complete on a mortgage by month end.

HSBC/First Direct                                         21 June 2021

Leeds Building Society                                23 June 2021

Halifax                                                            23 June 2021

Barclays Bank                                                23 June 2021

Precise Mortgages                                       25 June 2021

Meanwhile, Nationwide/The Mortgage Works has provided no deadline, but have said they will need five working days to send the funds by BACS and if the notice is less, they will deduct £20 for the CHAPS payment.

This effectively means anyone relying on mortgage funding has about a week left for their solicitor to complete their work, so the lenders can get the COT next week and release funds in time to beat the deadline.

This, in turn, means there could be many buyers and sellers, relying on the significant stamp duty savings they could make, pulling out late on and leading to the unfortunate but all too common situation of a chain collapsing like a pack of cards.

However, there are ways agents can prevent long chains and fall-throughs from disrupting their business, HBB Solutions insists.

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Chris Hodgkinson, managing director of HBB Solutions and a former agent himself, said: “We all know how frustrating it can be when chains collapse. We’ve been fixing them for nearly 11 years now. We typically buy with a discount or alternatively charge a fee, starting from as little as 8%, for our service. But that cost doesn’t have to be absorbed by just the one seller, it can be negotiated across the entire chain to make if affordable and keep the sale of every house together. Even if a sale falls through only days away from completion, we’re here to help and get it back on track.”

Fall-throughs and chains breaking down – how big a problem is it? 

Data earlier this year estimated that one in four sales fall through before completion, costing homebuyers an average of £2,700 each time.

Research from property platform WiggyWam found that, in total, property transactions that fall through are costing UK homebuyers a massive £607m every year.

And there are fears that this number will inevitably rise further as the stamp duty holiday gradually comes to an end in two blocks.

On average, nearly a quarter of am (225,000) fall-throughs occur each year in the property market, costing buyers, sellers and agents alike.

There are a number of different reasons for property sales being cancelled before completion, which typically include mortgage issues, gazumping and gazundering, conveyancing delays, problems revealed in the survey, and broken chains.

Sales that are part of a chain – which is most sales – are especially vulnerable to fall-throughs, as it only takes problems with one part of the chain to cause major issues for everyone else. In particularly long and complex chains – it is not unheard of for four or five sets of buyers and sellers to exist in a chain – the chances of fall-throughs and complications are naturally much greater.

It seems highly likely, given the extraordinary levels of demand at play in the property market right now, that the one-in-four statistic – which others elsewhere have previously suggested is as high as one-in-three sales collapsing – will increase by the end of the year.

“I think we all know the pressure lenders, solicitors, search providers and, in particular, agency sales progression teams will be under in June,” Hodgkinson continues.

“We’re standing by and have our lawyers, resource and, quite importantly, cash funds all in place. We can give you a purchase price within just a few hours and provide a same day completion if it is required. If you have a chain That is not on track, then talk to us, we’re here to help.”

HBB Solutions believes that, even once the two-stage stamp duty holiday has ended, there could be issues with buyers walking away from a sale because they will no longer benefit from the stamp duty saving. In turn, sellers may be less likely to list – or withdraw their home from the market – if they start to panic about demand falling off a cliff.

What is the solution? 

As the old saying goes, failing to prepare is preparing to fail, and HBB Solutions believes that agents need to partner with a firm that can offer alternative solutions to be ahead of the game if the worst comes to the worst in terms of more chains collapsing.

One estate agent partner HBB Solutions is already working with has championed the merits of having a chain repair plan B at its fingertips.

Simon Bradbury, managing director of Thomas Morris, comments: “We find the service and proposition that HBB provide is excellent! In the highly competitive market in which we currently operate, it is increasingly challenging to come up with a genuine and compelling USP to entice prospective sellers.”

He adds: “The HBB proposition is a great ‘insurance policy’ when a chain collapses or a seller needs a guaranteed sale.”

Meanwhile, Relocation Agent Network (RAN) – a national network of estate agents specialising in relocation – has been recommending the services of HBB to its membership for more than two years now.

Mark Westcott, director at RAN, said: “We were impressed by the proposition and the team behind HBB and they were by the quality of the estate agents that make up RAN. The introduction of HBB to the membership has led to many successful deals completed as a result. Our members are now able to market HBB’s services to potential vendors as another option if needed, giving them a competitive edge, as well as promoting a part exchange offering to local developers for any sites they have that don’t have access to that service.”

The remainder of this month is likely to be incredibly busy for agents, conveyancers, surveyors and removal firms, Hodgkinson adds, and then again in the lead-up to the end of September.

Given the pressure on the system, it seems almost certain that there will be a rise in the number of chains collapsing and the number of transactions falling through, and it will be those agents who have an adequate plan B in place who will be best set to cope.


Source: Property Wire

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Residential property market steadies at elevated levels the latest data showed

The UK residential property market steadied in the past week, remaining at significantly elevated levels overall with new vendor enquires holding flat at 26% above average, while buyers dipped 6% to help partially redress the significant demand/supply imbalance, the latest data from the Yomdel Property Sentiment Tracker (YPST) showed.

Landlords recovered some of their recent losses, bouncing back 8% to end the week 7% below average, but this was swiftly offset by an equivalent rise in new tenant enquiries. However, traffic to own-branded estate agent websites remained some 31% above average and the volumes of new leads generated via live chat overall was up by more than a third compared to pre-Covid data, to show that the extraordinary shift to digital seen over the past year is likely here to stay.

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Yomdel provides 24/7 managed live chat services to 3,800 estate agent offices in the UK, handling more than a two million chats per year. It has analysed the data and leads captured in live chat going back to January 2019, up until week ending 13 June 2021. The website visitor data is a sample across major estate agency groups in the UK and covers in excess of 55 million unique website visits back to January 2019.

“Estate agents are facing the tightest new instruction crunch in many years, with buyers scrapping for well-priced properties, but this is set to inevitably slow as the stamp duty holiday starts to be wound and people turning their attention to the summer,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel Founder.

“The sun has finally started to shine, there is the Euro 2020 football tournament underway and Wimbledon just round the corner so it is natural that peoples’ attention is shifting away from being hunkered down inside under lockdown and the evidence we have is that in property and numerous other sectors website traffic, and consequently new enquiry volumes, are dropping,” said Andy Soloman, Yomdel founder.

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The YPST methodology establishes a base line average shown as 100% or 100, calculated according to average engagement values over the 62 weeks prior to the first national lockdown on 23 March 2020, and plots movements from there according to the volumes of people engaging in live chat, their stated needs, questions asked, and new business leads generated. Data is measured over full 24-hour periods.

New vendors rose 0.18%, or 0.23 points, to end the week on 125.82, some 26% above the average, 27% below the same week last year during the initial lockdown, and 21% above the equivalent week 2019.

Buyers dropped 6.47%, or 8.98 points, to close at 129.81, 30% above the pre-covid-19 average, 30% below the same week 2020 and 23% higher than the equivalent week 2019 before coronavirus hit.

Landlords recovered by 8.23%, or 7.04 points, to 92.59, some 7% below the average, 36% lower than the same week last year, and 3% below the same week 2019.

Tenants rose 8.40%, or 10.51 points, to close at 135.57 some 36% above the pre-covid-19 average, 21% lower than the same week last year, but 10% above the same week 2019.


Source: Property Industry Eye

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Greater Manchester and Merseyside both see 20% house price rises

House price growth rates continue to climb strongly in England and Wales with prices increasing by a whopping 20% in both Greater Manchester and Merseyside, according to the latest e.surv Acadata House Price Index.

House prices are up 13.4% on an annual basis with the average house price now standing at £343,658.

The lowest growth has been seen in London where 10 boroughs reported annual price falls.

Richard Sexton, director at e.surv, said: “Overall, we can see the market continues to enjoy the effect of the government’s stamp duty holiday.

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“Buyers are still striving to complete purchases in time to benefit from the maximum tax break ahead of the change in June to a tapered deadline.

“Completion prices for transactions funded by both mortgages and cash grew by a startling 13.4% annually in May, and at a national level, prices in England and Wales rose on a monthly basis by some £1,800, or 0.5%.

“However, it is notable that the monthly price increases over the last three months are the lowest since June 2020, probably a reflection of the rapidly approaching end of the stamp duty holiday.

“Regionally, there has been continued price growth across Wales and all nine English regions. Prices performed particularly strongly in the North West which achieved its highest rate of annual house price growth,18.4%.

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“Growth in the North West is underpinned by activity in both Greater Manchester and Merseyside, where prices are increasing at a staggering annual rate of 20.9%. London and the South East have also seen growth, although at a lower level. It should be remembered that London property prices have already experienced a boom in the years following the global financial crisis, a rise not experienced by many other UK regions.

“Our property type data shows there has been a shift in the kind of homes that buyers are looking for.

“Working from home has encouraged interest in larger homes with gardens outside city centres.

“The demand for flats in central and inner areas of London and other cities has not been as strong as for other types of homes due to lifestyle changes and new working arrangements, alongside the absence of overseas buyers in prime central London due to COVIDrestrictions. The impact of the pandemic on flats has been amplified by the issues surrounding cladding for mortgage lenders.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Demand for Chain-Free Transactions Climbs as Buyers Attempt to Dodge The Market Backlog

Research from the homebuying platform, YesHomebuyers, has found that demand for chain-free properties has climbed across the UK’s major cities as many homebuyers look to minimise current market delays for a fast property purchase.

A chain-free sale is thought to reduce conveyancing times from around 12 to 4 weeks, which has become particularly sought after in the current market due to many property transactions delaying months on end at the final legal stages.

Currently across the UK, 56 per cent of all chain-free homes for sale have already been snapped up by buyers hoping to skip the current market bottleneck, and the research by Yes Homebuyers shows that in some cities, this has increased considerably in just two months.

When comparing buyer demand for chain-free transactions between March and June alone, demand across the UK has climbed by 6 per cent. However, in Cambridge, chain-free property demand has increased by 10 per cent since March alone.

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Swansea has also seen a notable increase in the number of buyers snapping up chain-free homes, with demand climbing 9 per cent.

In Southampton and Liverpool, chain-free demand is up 8 per cent since March, with Bournemouth (7 per cent), Sunderland (7 per cent), Edinburgh (6 per cent), Leeds (6 per cent), Bristol (6 per cent) and Newcastle (6 per cent) also seeing some of the most significant uplifts.

So, where presents the best opportunity of snagging a chain-free transaction? Chain-free stock levels have dropped across 17 of the 26 major UK cities analysed by Yes Homebuyers, and Glasgow is home to the lowest level, with just 6 per cent of all homes listed for sale marked as chain-free.

However, half of all for sale stock currently on the market in Belfast is chain-free, while in Manchester and Cambridge, chain-free stock levels sit at 47 per cent. Sheffield is also home to a large degree of chain-free stock at 45 per cent, as is Liverpool (44 per cent).

Matthew Cooper, founder and managing director of Yes Homebuyers, commented: “Many homebuyers have now accepted the fact that a stamp duty holiday saving is no longer on the cards, but that they will have to contend with the long market delays that have materialised as a result of the initiative. In this respect, a chain-free purchase will, at least, provide some hope of reducing the transaction timeline, and so it comes as no surprise that their popularity has increased substantially in many major UK cities. Of course, the downside to this high demand is that chain-free stock levels have dropped across the majority of cities in recent months, although some do present a far better chance of finding one than others.”

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Table shows current demand for chain-free properties in each city and the change between March and June 2021

LocationDemand – chain free (June 2021)Difference
Cambridge60 per cent10 per cent
Swansea59 per cent9 per cent
Southampton59 per cent8 per cent
Liverpool52 per cent8 per cent
Bournemouth65 per cent7 per cent
Sunderland56 per cent7 per cent
Edinburgh21 per cent6 per cent
Leeds65 per cent6 per cent
Bristol71 per cent6 per cent
Newcastle49 per cent6 per cent
Newport67 per cent5 per cent
Plymouth71 per cent5 per cent
Portsmouth67 per cent5 per cent
Nottingham63 per cent4 per cent
Manchester36 per cent4 per cent
Bradford53 per cent4 per cent
Cardiff51 per cent4 per cent
Aberdeen4 per cent3 per cent
Glasgow18 per cent3 per cent
London40 per cent3 per cent
Birmingham46 per cent3 per cent
Sheffield66 per cent3 per cent
Oxford42 per cent2 per cent
Belfast59 per cent2 per cent
Leicester49 per cent2 per cent
Data sourced from Rightmove and Zoopla

Table shows current level of chain-free property stock in each city and the change between March and June 2021

LocationStock – chain free (June 2021)Difference
Belfast50 per cent3.6 per cent
Manchester47 per cent-0.6 per cent
Cambridge47 per cent-0.3 per cent
Sheffield45 per cent0.2 per cent
Liverpool44 per cent-0.5 per cent
Southampton43 per cent-1.2 per cent
Bristol42 per cent0.6 per cent
Oxford42 per cent-0.9 per cent
Portsmouth41 per cent-1.1 per cent
Plymouth41 per cent0.8 per cent
Birmingham41 per cent2.1 per cent
Cardiff41 per cent-1.3 per cent
Nottingham40 per cent-1.0 per cent
Leicester39 per cent1.4 per cent
Sunderland39 per cent-4.8 per cent
Bournemouth39 per cent1.9 per cent
United Kingdom36 per cent-0.1 per cent
Newcastle36 per cent-2.1 per cent
London35 per cent0.6 per cent
Leeds34 per cent-1.2 per cent
Swansea31 per cent-0.8 per cent
Bradford31 per cent0.0 per cent
Newport23 per cent-4.9 per cent
Aberdeen13 per cent-3.6 per cent
Edinburgh9 per cent-0.9 per cent
Glasgow6 per cent-1.5 per cent
Data sourced from Rightmove and Zoopla


Source: Property Wire

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House prices continue to rise as supply and demand gap widens

House prices in the UK continued to rise in May as the gap between rising new buyer inquiries and falling new instructions by sellers became the widest seen since November 2013, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) data has shown.

RICS said prices had increased for the fourth month running in May as the stamp duty holiday continued to fuel demand.

However, it added that there were signs that more properties would be coming onto the market in the summer and that 12-month sales expectations were flat.

But, it did warn that there was “no sign of house price inflation losing any steam”, adding that agents are predicting rises over the short and long-term.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “With the economy performing better than could have been expected even a short while ago and the cost of money still at rock bottom levels, the principal drivers supporting demand will remain in place even after the expiry of the stamp duty holiday.

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“More challenging is the question of supply, a theme coming back strongly from respondents to the survey both with regard to the sales and lettings markets.”

Sundeep Patel, director of sales at specialist lender Together, added: “With both house price growth and prices up again in May, the demand for property continues to pick up the pace ahead of the summer months. House prices rose to +83% in May, up from +76% in April and 32% more respondents noted an increase from prospective buyers.

“Although, with today’s data showing -21% of respondents reported another fall in the number of new listings being brought to market and Andy Haldane’s, chief economist at the Bank of England, remark earlier this week about the UK property market being “on fire” – only reconfirms the widely reported market concerns over future supply and demand issues.

“That said, with the government’s First Homes scheme now launched and the new Planning Bill to prop up more regional housebuilding, it does seem as though there are a few boosts on the horizon for first-time buyers who have their sights set on getting on the ladder in the next few years.

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“Specialist lenders will be crucial in supporting buyers’ property plans as we expect there to be more demand for flexibility post-pandemic, to meet borrowers’ evolving circumstances.”

Whilst Nigel Purves, CEO of Wayhome warned of a perfect storm for first-time buyers.

He said: “The solid increase in buyer enquiries last month (+32%) and house price growth (+83%), is a something of a perfect storm for those hoping to take their first steps onto the ladder.

“With the stamp duty holiday finally coming to an end, we may start to see these levels of activity ease off, but aspiring homeowners will be left wondering what impact this will have on their ability to own a home of their own.

“Moving forward, we need to see better, deeper support for reluctant renters who are ready to take their first step onto the ladder. New pathways are needed to ensure people are not out-priced and are able to access desirable homes that are suited to their long-term needs.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Value of UK Mortgages Climbs 3.6% Between Q1 2020 and Q1 2021

The outstanding value of all residential mortgage loans in the UK stood 3.6 per cent higher at the end of Q1 2021 than at the same point the year before, according to new Bank of England figures.

The figures, released yesterday, also showed that the value of new mortgage commitments was 15 per cent higher than in the same quarter the year before.

However, the value of outstanding balances with some arrears increased by 5.1 per cent over the quarter to £15 billion, and now accounts for 0.96 per cent of outstanding mortgage balances.

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Commenting on the figures, Paul Stockwell, chief commercial offer at Gatehouse Bank, said: “Buyers’ insatiable appetite to move home has meant the value of new mortgages started the year at highs not seen since before the 2008/09 financial crash. There has been frenzied activity in the market with movers searching for larger homes and more outdoor space, while the extension of the stamp duty discount to the end of June added more fuel to the fire in the first quarter of this year.”

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He added: “The biggest stamp duty savings run out in just a few weeks’ time, yet measures from other housing indices suggest the frantic competition for property continues unabated. While lending may fall from these current highs, we still expect it to be an incredibly busy summer for the housing market.”


Source: Property Wire

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How will the housing market fare after the stamp duty holiday?

The housing market has come a long way since the country entered its first lockdown more than a year ago.

In mid-May last year the housing secretary lifted the freeze on home moves in England – which for seven weeks had been prohibited unless “reasonably necessary” – with Scotland and Wales following a month later.

After the chancellor announced a stamp duty cut in July to “catalyse the housing market and boost confidence”, the market has seen average house prices and mortgage borrowing hit record highs.

But how will the market fare when the current stamp duty holiday ends on June 30?

April slowdown

Statistics show a fall in mortgage borrowing and transactions in the month after the stamp duty holiday was originally due to end.

The latest figures from the Bank of England show mortgage borrowing fell in April, with net borrowing at £3.3bn – down from the record of £11.5bn in the previous month, and lower than the monthly average of £5.7bn borrowed in the six months to February.

And provisional figures from HM Revenue & Customs show residential property transactions dropped to an estimated 111,260 in April, down by more than a third from 173,410 in March (non-seasonally adjusted).

House prices, meanwhile, rose in April, with Nationwide’s index showing prices were up by 2.1 per cent month-on-month, to reach an average of £238,831.

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The building society’s chief economist, Robert Gardner, says the extended tax relief prompted a “re-acceleration” in April, after the previous month saw a slowdown in house price growth in view of the original stamp duty holiday deadline.

However, Tim Bannister, property expert at Rightmove, expects market activity to remain strong for at least the rest of the year, despite the tapering and end of the stamp duty holiday in June and September.

Bannister says: “Right now many of the homes in the huge pipeline going through will not be expecting to make the June stamp duty deadline.”

Homebuyers who miss the June deadline for the stamp duty holiday will see the tax kick in above £250,000 of the property price until the end of September, in place of the current nil rate band of £500,000.

However, last month, a survey of more than 1,000 homebuyers by estate agent Barrows and Forrester revealed four in five (81 per cent) said they expected to miss the September deadline for the £250,000 threshold.

Coming out of lockdown

John Phillips, national operations director at estate agency group Spicerhaart, says the reopening of the hospitality and travel industries will have a greater impact on the market than the end of the stamp duty holiday.

Phillips says: “Buying a house will still be a priority for many, but there will be lots of people booking holidays after a year stuck in the UK and savings may be spent on a few weeks in the sun. This may result in a few people deciding to put a purchase on hold as the UK reopens fully.

“The slight dip in buyers will reduce the rate that house prices are increasing. However, this is a positive for the market, as the record increases were unsustainable long-term.”

Nationwide’s latest index shows annual house price growth reached a double figure of 10.9 per cent in May, the highest level recorded since August 2014.

Right now many of the homes in the huge pipeline going through will not be expecting to make the June stamp duty deadline.

Tim Bannister

Buying agent Henry Pryor also says a predicted increase in supply will help to moderate prices.

A record one in three properties (32 per cent) sold for more than the original asking price in April, according to NAEA Propertymark, compared to the previous record of 19 per cent in May 2014.

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Pryor says: “I expect supply to pick up as people start to be more confident about having strangers around their home. This will provide more choice for those wanting to buy and act as a slight dampener on prices.”

Although the housing market has remained open throughout subsequent lockdowns, government advice on moving home in England, for example, recommends homeowners vacate their property during viewings to minimise unnecessary contact.

Meanwhile, government figures show three-quarters of the adult population have had their first Covid-19 vaccine as of June 1.

Beth Rudolf, director of delivery at the Conveyancing Association, also says prices may experience a short-term “blip”, as more properties come onto the market when Covid restrictions are fully lifted and demand drops with the tapering of the stamp duty holiday.

Rudolf added: “As people decide to move to suit their new working arrangements, we might also expect more supply.”

Demand for space to continue

A survey of employers from professional body CIPD found two-thirds (63 per cent) planned to introduce or expand the use of hybrid working, as working from home became more commonplace last year.

Phillips says: “The shift to homeworking has increased the need for an extra bedroom to use as a study, or a garden to build an office in.

“There’s also been a trend away from city centres. Without the need to live in commutable distance from the office, people are moving to larger properties away from the often more expensive cities.”

Indeed, research from Nationwide in April found seven in 10 homeowners (68 per cent) would still be moving, or considering a move, if the stamp duty holiday had not been extended.

Buying a house will still be a priority for many, but there will be lots of people booking holidays after a year stuck in the UK and savings may be spent on a few weeks in the sun.

John Phillips

Nationwide’s Gardner added that shifting housing preferences after Covid was continuing to drive activity. Three in 10 actual and potential homemovers (28 per cent) cited a desire to access garden or outdoor space more easily, and one in five (22 per cent) to escape from a busy urban environment.

Although the country awaits the fourth and final step out of lockdown, buying agent Pryor does not think the demand for more space instigated by the lockdowns will change in the short-term.

Pryor says: “People who can move are looking for more flexible space; room to entertain, to homeschool, to work from home and if we aren’t able to go abroad, to spend the holidays in.

“This is a trend that I expect will continue for the next few years as we start to appreciate the changes brought by the pandemic.”

Kate Davies, executive director at the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, says that while demand may soften following the stamp duty holiday, they do not anticipate a “cliff edge drop” in interest.

Davies says: “Many people are still keen to move irrespective of the holiday, with the Covid crisis having led people across the UK to reconsider their living arrangements.

“It does not seem logical that this trend will suddenly disappear, given the signs that there is still considerable demand in the pipeline, especially among those waiting for price growth to slow, but also from people who have chosen to wait for lockdown restrictions to ease before pressing ahead with a move.”

By Chloe Cheung

Source: FT Adviser

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Gap between housing demand and supply is widest in years

THE gap between the number of house hunters coming to market and the choice of properties for sale is at its widest since 2013, according to surveyors.

And the mis-match between buyers and sellers is putting an upward pressure on house prices, with every single Northern Ireland respondent to the latest Rics/Ulster Bank residential market survey saying prices rose in the last month.

A net balance of 75 per cent of property professionals noted an increase in new buyer inquiries during May, according to the survey (more than double the overall UK rate).

But the supply of homes fell further, with a net balance of 21 per cent of surveyors reporting a fall in the number of new property listings.

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In terms of the outlook, Northern Ireland surveyors remain confident for sales activity, with a 74 per cent of respondents expecting the number of homes sold to increase over the next three months.

And nearly two thirds (63 per cent) expects rising prices between June and August, though this is down from 77 per cent last month.

Rics’ regional residential property spokesman Samuel Dickey says: “We’re seeing more properties coming on to the market, but again this isn’t at a sufficient rate to meet buyer demand, and that mismatch is leading to the increase in house prices we are currently seeing.

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“Some of the factors at play continue to be people wanting more space and also professionals living elsewhere seeking to move back to Northern Ireland, which is leading to very strong demand for detached properties in sought after areas.”

Growth in property sales may soften a little in the coming three months once the stamp duty holiday is tapered from July to September.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “Ending a tax break always has the potential to be a little disruptive for a market but with the economy performing better than could have been expected even a short while ago and the cost of money still at rock bottom levels, the principal drivers supporting demand will remain in place even after the expiry of the stamp duty holiday.”

Terry Robb, head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, said: “House prices in Northern Ireland rose at their fastest annual rate since 2016 during the first quarter of this year, and this latest survey suggests that price inflation has continued into the second quarter.”

By Gary McDonald

Source: Irish News

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