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ONS: Average UK house prices reach record high

Average UK house prices rose by 7.6% in the year to November to reach a record high of £250,000, according to the ONS House Price Index.

The data shows that this increase is the highest annual growth rate the UK has seen since June 2016.

In addition, this is up from the year to October, which noted a 5.9% rise.

Average house prices increased over the year in England to £267,000 (7.6%), Wales to £180,000 (7.0%), Scotland to £166,000 (8.6%) and Northern Ireland to £143,000 (2.4%).

The average house price in London surpassed £500,000 for the first time in November 2020.

Furthermore, the North East is the final English region to surpass its pre-economic downturn average house price peak of July 2007, to now stand at £140,000.

Kevin Roberts, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “The latest ONS house price index figures will be welcomed by existing homeowners.

“The resilience of the housing market continues to shine through as people remain encouraged to move house with or without the benefit from the stamp duty relief, no doubt also encouraged by the rollout of the a COVID-19 vaccine.

“There remain challenges, however, and the government’s decision to extend the furlough scheme until the end of March, will be welcomed by many homeowners exploring their options.

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“At Legal & General Mortgage Club, we saw searches for furlough friendly mortgages increase by 230% in November 2020, when compared to the previous month.”

“Buyers wanting to access the best and most suitable mortgage products should absolutely consider speaking with an independent mortgage adviser, particularly as we draw closer to the government’s stamp duty holiday deadline, which is creating very high demand.”

Paul Stockwell, chief commercial officer of Gatehouse Bank, added: “House prices defied expectations by increasing throughout 2020 and leading to a record high in November, with the stamp duty discount driving strong demand from buyers — but there are signs from other indices that price growth has now begun to slow.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“The UK housing market is still open for business during this lockdown, but demand is likely to have started to taper off as buyers begin to concede they will not be able to complete a transaction in time to make the stamp duty deadline.

“The March 31 cut-off is looming, and although professionals across the industry are working in earnest to get applications over the line in time, fears are mounting about how many agreements could fall through.

“With property portal Rightmove predicting as many as 100,000 buyers could face an unwelcome tax bill when their sale fails to complete on time, all eyes are turning to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and whether he may extend or add a taper mechanism to the scheme or risk deals falling apart.”

Guy Gittins, managing director of Chestertons, said: “The second lockdown no doubt encouraged some people to put their property search on hold, but we didn’t notice a big difference and activity levels were still a lot higher than we anticipated for this time of year.

“Part of this was driven by the incentive of the stamp duty saving, but we believe the main driver was that people just wanted to move as quickly as possible while conditions were favourable.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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London property prices hold up for investors

London flat and maisonettes have risen by 9.0% on last year to £442,304, according to Herddle analysis of government data.

The average price of all types of London properties has risen by 9.7% over the last despite the pandemic and the economic impact of Brexit.

This compares to inflation of just 0.8%.

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Corey Cumins, chief executive of Herddle, said: “Investors and landlords who held their nerve AND held onto their flats have been rewarded with some remarkable performance. Prices of flats and maisonettes have risen by 9.0% and that’s way ahead of inflation.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“Looking ahead, it’s reasonable to expect more economic volatility – as both Brexit and new strains of COVID bite into companies, wages and jobs.

“We could see some house price volatility but that’s never a reason to sell assets – and we expect to see investors and landlords continue holding their nerve.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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House prices have doubled over the past decade

Average house prices have increased by 51% over the past 10 years, according to e.surv’s Chartered Surveyors House Price Index.

On a monthly basis, house prices across England and Wales increased by 1.4% between November and December 2020.

Throughout 2020, house prices rose by 7.8% despite the added complications of COVID-19.

This is the highest annual increase since 2016, however the majority of growth took place in the last six months of the year as pent-up demand was released by more relaxed coronavirus restrictions.

As a result, the average house price in England and Wales was £326,762 at the end of December.

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Richard Sexton, director at e.surv, said: “During 2020, large numbers of people across the UK were confined to their houses for long periods of time, as we battled the pandemic.

“Over the year many people were forced to adapt their homes to function as offices, schools and nurseries.

“This increased emphasis on where we live and where we spend so much of our lives undoubtedly helped focus many people’s minds on the property market.

“This increased focus was reflected in the types of property that were most sought after in 2020.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“Larger, typically more expensive, properties with more outdoor space became even more highly prized, which in turn increased the price of the average transaction.

“It’s important to remember that the pandemic which produced such an unusual year is very much still with us.

“Everyone involved in the property market must continue to operate in a responsible manner, making use of technology where possible to support the industry while putting safety first.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK house prices end 2020 on record high but growth slows

UK house prices ended 2020 on a record high, but the pace of growth slowed towards the end of the year, the latest figures showed.

House prices in the UK were 0.2 per cent higher in December than the previous month, reaching an average value of £253,374.

On an annual basis, property prices jumped six per cent compared to December the previous year due to the release of pent-up demand following the first Covid-19 lockdown in March, according to analysis by Halifax.

The rate of growth recorded last month slowed from the one per cent rise reported in November.

Analysts warned that the end of Help to Buy and the stamp duty holiday, combined with escalating unemployment, could have a downward impact on prices this year.

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Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said 2020 had been a “tale of two distinct halves for the housing market.”

“Following a strong start, the first half was dominated by the restrictions on movement due to Covid-19, and prices were subsequently down 0.5 per cent at mid-year as the market effectively ground to a halt,” Galley said.

“However, when the market reopened, prices soared as a result of pent-up demand, a desire amongst buyers for greater space and the time-limited incentive of the stamp duty holiday.”

He added: “With the pace of the UK’s economic recovery expected to be constrained by the renewed national lockdown, and unemployment widely predicted to rise in the coming months, downward pressure on house prices remains likely as we move through 2021.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, predicted that UK house prices could be five per cent below current levels by the end of the year.

“The EY Item Club suspects elevated housing market activity and robust prices will prove unsustainable sooner rather than later – although, in the immediate future, activity may still benefit from buyers keen to take advantage of the Stamp Duty threshold increase before it ends,” he said.

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“There is always the possibility that the chancellor could extend the threshold increase in the March Budget.”

He added that the housing market is “likely to come under mounting near-term pressure as the economy continues to be affected by restrictions in most areas”.

“There is also likely to be a fading of the pent-up demand effect on housing market activity,” he said.

By Jessica Clark

Source: City AM

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London saw greatest number of homes bought in 2020

London was noted as recording the greatest number of property purchases across the UK in 2020, according to reallymoving.

The data shows that the capital saw 13.7% of all completions, followed by Leeds at 1.7% and Birmingham at 1.6%.

Between July and December 2020, the proportion of first-time buyers in the market fell by 12% compared to the same period last year.

Over 2020, FTBs made up 51% of all buyers in the market, compared to 56% in 2019.

While 16% of FTBs opted for a new build home over an older property, almost half of those (46%) used a Help to Buy equity loan enabling them to buy with a deposit of just 5%.

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The average house price in England and Wales increased by from £293,819 in January 2020 to £352,239 in December 2020.

However, reallymoving predict that prices will fall by 1.2% in January and 2.5% in February 2021.

Home movers sold their homes for an average price of £313,149 and bought for an average price of £379,191.

Meanwhile, FTBs paid an average price of £262,180 for their first home.

Furthermore, the proportion of FTBs in England liable to pay stamp duty fell from 25% to just 5%, following the announcement of a stamp duty holiday.

Nine out of ten (91%) transactions by all homebuyers, including FTBs, have avoided the tax since July, prompting a surge in market activity and prices.

The data also shows that the cost of moving home dropped by 39% in 2020 from an average of £10,911 before the stamp duty holiday came into effect to £6,669 after.

According to reallymoving, costs such as legal fees rose however, as a consequence of being directly tied to rising house prices.

Those buying and selling a home typically paid £1,682 in legal fees, while FTBs paid £1,100, up 15% and 11%, respectively.

This data is based on 910,000 quotes generated on the reallymoving site throughout the year.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “The property market took us on a rollercoaster in 2020, from shock and despair when thousands of home movers were forced to press pause back in March, to the extraordinary resurgence in demand that began in the early summer and continued right through to the end of the year.

“Most concerning however, has been the decline in the proportion of FTBs in the market. They largely didn’t benefit from the stamp duty holiday and faced huge challenges securing finance as higher loan-to-value mortgages disappeared overnight and several high street lenders banned gifted deposits.

“Yet there are reasons to be optimistic that 2021 could see a reversal in fortunes for FTBs as lenders return to the market, competition for homes is reduced and price inflation readjusts downwards.

“Reallymoving is on a mission over the coming year to help homebuyers upskill with a series of live webinars and content designed to help inform and educate about the process, ensuring buyers have everything they need to navigate a successful home purchase.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Manchester and Leeds see strongest UK house price growth

Throughout the past year, Manchester and Leeds has led UK house price growth. The north of England is expected to continue performing the strongest during 2021 as well.

The north of England is dominating UK house price growth. The latest house price index from Zoopla revealed Manchester saw the largest increase in average house prices during the past year, rising by 5.7%. Leeds followed closely behind with 5.6% growth. Then, Nottingham and Liverpool had a rise of 5.4% and 5.3%, respectively.

The index also revealed the north-west of England led the way regionally in UK house price growth with a 5% increase year-on-year. Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales followed jointly with 4.9%. As a whole, UK house price growth was 3.9%. This is the strongest growth seen since August 2017 and is up from 1.3% last year.

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The north continues to be in high demand

There has been strong demand across the UK as the property market has defied the traditional seasonal slowdown. According to Zoopla, buyer demand soared by 40% across the whole of 2020. And the north of England has seen a particularly strong level of demand.

Even though property prices are on the rise in the north, prices are still much more affordable, especially when compared to much of the south. Because of the savings buyers can achieve there, demand is expected to continue even after the stamp duty holiday comes to an end.

Many people have reprioritised their housing needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns. This is expected to continue impacting demand. People are in search for larger properties and locations closer to public parks.

Because of this, more buyers, tenants and investors will likely look to the north to be able to get more space for their money. Demand and property prices in the north, especially the north-west, will likely continue to increase in 2021 and the coming years as well.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

House price predictions moving forward

While property price growth across the UK is expected to be more subdued in 2021, many experts feel property prices will still rise next year. Zoopla is forecasting a particularly strong start to 2021. This is due to buyers and investors rushing to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline in the spring. Additionally, buyers who have reassessed their home priorities are still itching to move.

In the house price index, Zoopla states: “Stamp duty is a factor supporting demand, but we have questioned the scale of the importance. A recent consumer survey by Zoopla found that 44% of movers’ plans were not influenced by the stamp duty holiday – they remain focused on the need to relocate and find more space and a better location.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and Brexit, the UK property market is expected to remain resilient throughout 2021. Savills recently revised its future property price predictions. The north-west is expected to see the strongest growth in 2021 with home values forecast to increase by 8.5%. Additionally, across five years, prices are predicted to rise by 24.1% in the north-west. This is the largest increase predicted out of any UK region.

The north will likely continue leading the way in house price growth. It’s an attractive area to buy property for both homebuyers and buy-to-let landlords. And 2021 could prove to be a good time to lock in lower mortgage rates.

Source: Buy Association

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Tenant rent arrears decline but industry urged to remain cautious

The percentage of tenants in rent arrears decreased during October and November, according to research from PayProp.

Payment data from the rental payment platform also shows that the typical percentage of rent in arrears fell consistently from August to November.

However, with strict COVID-19 restrictions across large parts of the country set to remain in place for the foreseeable future, PayProp said letting agents and landlords should prepare themselves for arrears increasing again in the first few months of 2021.

PayProp’s platform data offers financial evidence that the percentage of tenants in arrears dropped to 11.8% in November, down from 12.2% in October.

This is the lowest percentage recorded since before the spring lockdown in March when 9.6% of tenants were in arrears.

The number of tenants in arrears spiked during September, to 15.1%, although this remains below the 2020 peak of 15.5% recorded in May. A rise in September could be due to increased redundancies as official figures showed that 11.3 people per 1,000 employees were made redundant as the pandemic continued to hit businesses.

Neil Cobbold, chief sales officer at PayProp, said: “The general downward trend of tenants in arrears over the autumn and winter months of 2020 is positive news for letting agencies and landlords.

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“Falling arrears suggest that even though restrictions were tightened once more towards the end of the year, society has adapted to the ‘new normal’.”

The research shows that the percentage of rent owed by tenants in arrears fell to 121.1% in November, down from 124.4% in October and 125.5% in September.

The level of rent owed by tenants in arrears in November was equivalent to the level recorded in May but didn’t quite reach the peak of 127% recorded in August.

Meanwhile, 77% of tenants paid off some or all of their arrears between September and October, while a further 50% paid back arrears between October and November.

Between August and November, the percentage of tenants reducing their arrears averaged between 44% and 48%, while the percentage increasing the amount they owed also remained high at an average of 45% to 49%.

Cobbold added: “Our research shows that on the whole, tenants who end up in arrears try to clear them. Even if they cannot afford to pay back the full amount, renters are generally open to reducing what they owe through affordable repayment plans.

“A particularly high level of tenants reducing their arrears during September could have been linked to a resumption of evictions in England and Wales, with renters agreeing to pay back what they owe in order to avoid their landlord seeking repossession.”

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Despite the reduction in arrears recorded between September and November, the situation could worsen again in the early part of 2021.

PayProp said nthis is partly due to a seasonal bump in arrears as people spend more over the festive period. Meanwhile, with millions of people under the strictest tier 4 restrictions, more jobs could be at risk.

Cobbold said: “Although the situation improved towards the end of 2020, current market conditions mean that letting agents and landlords should be cautious at the start of 2021 as things could get slightly worse before they get better.

“Agents must ensure they have the systems in place to deal with arrears, while facilitating effective communication between landlords and tenants.”

Although arrears could rise again in the coming months, 70% of tenants surveyed by PayProp said COVID-19 and subsequent lockdowns have not made it more difficult for them to pay rent.

“Restrictions put pressure on sectors such as hospitality, but they also give tenants the opportunity to save money which would otherwise have been spent on socialising.

“With the extension of the furlough scheme until the end of April, as well as the ongoing national rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine, there is optimism that tenant finances will be in a stronger position by the middle of 2021,” Cobbold concluded.

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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More Support Needed Landlords Tell Inquiry

Rather than concentrating on measures to block tenant evictions, Government focus should be on providing better support for the private rented sector, so as to help both landlords and tenants.

This is what National Residential Landlords Association chief executive Ben Beadle told a Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee’s Inquiry into the Impact of COVID-19 on homelessness and the private rented sector this week.

It was true that the Government had already provided unprecedented levels of support for the sector, Beadle told the inquiry. Even so, a solid commitment to prevent greater problems was needed, he said.

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While helping some tenants, changes made by the Government in response to the Coronavirus Crisis had also caused significant hardship to some landlords, in particular to those whose tenants had been in significant rent arrears prior to the crisis.

The NRLA has been campaigning for financial support to help tenants pay off arrears built up during the crisis along the lines of schemes already operating in Scotland and Wales.

The HCLG Committee inquiry was set up to consider both the immediate and long-term impact of the pandemic on the homeless, rough sleepers and those in the private rented sector. Current hearings are taking evidence from stakeholders about what is being done and what further support is needed. Besides hearing from the NRLA, the committee also heard this week from representatives of Citizens Advice and Shelter, organisations which have joined the NRLA in calling for financial help for renters forced into arrears by the Coronavirus Crisis.

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‘What we are lacking is a longer-term strategy to help the sector and I think the measures we have laid out with our colleagues from Crisis and Citizens Advice and others are a route to sustaining tenancies, which is what everyone wants’, said Beadle.

  • No eviction notices are to be served until 11 January at the earliest and, given the 14 day notice period required, no evictions are expected to be enforced until 25 January 2021 at the earliest. The only exceptions to this are the most serious circumstances: illegal occupation, false statement, anti-social behaviour, perpetrators of domestic abuse in social housing, where a property is unoccupied following the death of a tenant, and extreme rent arrears equivalent to nine months’ rent with any arrears accrued since 23 March discounted.

This is the advice contained in updated guidance published by the Government this week: COVID-19 and renting: guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities. This provides advice to landlords and tenants on the provisions in the Coronavirus Act 2020, and about their rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Source: Residential Landlord

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Sales agreed on £62bn more homes in 2020 than 2019

More activity at higher price points means the value of homes selling is 26% higher than in 2019, with the value of sales agreed in 2020 up £62bn on the previous year, the latest Zoopla House Price Index shows.

Zoopla found that the pandemic has driven a seismic search for space and quality of location, with 40% more buyers across the whole of 2020 compared to 2019 – despite 2+ month closure of UK housing market.

The highest rates of price inflation are in regional housing markets, but greatest increase in market activity has been concentrated in London, the South East and Eastern England.

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Richard Donnell, director of research & insight, Zoopla, said: “The housing market is ending 2020 strongly with more buyers looking for a home than this time last year. More sales at higher prices have boosted the value of homes selling in 2020, led by a strong rebound in southern England.

“The ‘once in a lifetime re-assessment of housing’ kick-started by the pandemic has further to run in our view and this will support demand into 2021. With a long Christmas weekend, and many households isolating in smaller groups, we expect interest in housing to be stronger than usual ahead of the traditional Boxing Day bounce when interest in housing jumps and the next tranche of would-be buyers.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“While market activity is being boosted by latent demand unlocked by the pandemic, the housing market is not immune to economic forces and rising unemployment. Economic pressures are already impacting in parts of the market, reducing the volume and share of sales in less wealthy areas, for example.

“Looking ahead to 2021 we expect house price growth to reach 5% by mid Q1 and then slow to +1% by the end of the year as demand starts to weaken over 2021 H2. The number of completed housing transactions will be buoyed by a strong Q1 with sales agreed over 2020 Q4 completing early next year.

“Overall, we expect the number of completed housing transactions to match 2020 levels at 1.1m.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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London leavers bought 73,950 homes outside the capital in 2020

In 2020 London leavers purchased 73,950 homes outside the capital, the highest number in four years, Hamptons research has found.

There has been a clear increase in the popularity of London outmigration since the onset of Covid-19.

In the first half of 2020, London leavers bought 6.9% of homes sold outside the capital, equating to 24,480 sales.

However, in the second half of 2020, this figure rose to 7.8% and twice as many sales (49,470).

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Despite Covid-19 closing the housing market for seven weeks, the number of homes bought by Londoners outside the capital has risen to the highest level in four years.

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“While leaving London has been a rite of passage for many, often families reaching life stage milestones, the effects of lockdown and the desire for space seems to have heightened this drift.

“Meanwhile the lure of a stamp duty holiday acted as an impetus for more buyers to bring future planned moves forward.

“The prospect of homeworking more regularly has also meant that London leavers are moving further than ever before. The average London leaver moved 10 miles further than in 2019 as buyers’ favour space over commutability.”

The average London leaver spent £372,860 on their home outside the capital.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

The typical person leaving London from May onwards travels as far as Cambridge to the north, Colchester to the east, Brighton to the south or Didcot to the west.

It seems this is a trend that’s likely to stay, as we head into 2021.

Beveridge added: “We expect this outmigration trend to continue into the first half of next year too.

“But usually as prices in the capital begin to flatline, which we forecast to happen in the second half of 2021, more Londoners decide stay put.

“Even so, given the housing market has been anything but normal since the onset of Covid, we expect to see the total number of homes bought by London leavers next year hit 2016 levels.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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