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West Midlands house prices up 7.6pc in a year

Across the UK, the average house price was £232,134, Nationwide Building Society said.

This was a 5.7 per cent increase compared with a year earlier.

The West Midlands saw the second highest rise of any region in England at 7.6 per cent to £208,806.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The slowdown in March probably reflects a softening of demand ahead of the original end of the stamp duty holiday before the Chancellor announced the extension in the Budget.”

The stamp duty holiday had been due to end on March 31, but was extended in the recent Budget.

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Mr Gardner continued: “The longer-term outlook remains highly uncertain. It may be that the recovery continues to gather momentum and that shifts in housing demand resulting from the pandemic continue to lift the market.

“However, if the labour market weakens towards the end of the year as policy support is withdrawn, as most analysts expect, then activity is likely to slow nearer the end of 2021, perhaps sharply.”

Nationwide also released figures showing house price growth across the UK’s nations and regions in the first quarter of 2021.

Mr Gardner said: “The North West was the strongest-performing region, with prices up 8.2 per cent year on year. This is the strongest price growth seen in the region since 2005 and average prices reached a record high of £181,999.”

London was the weakest-performing region in the first quarter of 2021, with house prices increasing by 4.8 per cent, softening from 6.2 per cent annual growth in the previous quarter.

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Mr Gardner added: “The South West was the only southern region to see an acceleration in annual price growth, which picked up to 7.2 per cent in quarter one, from 6.6 per cent in quarter four of 2020.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The continued shift in buyers’ demands for more space meant London saw the slowest growth, with prices still very high compared to the rest of the country and space more limited.

“Gardens, communities, green spaces and easy commutes are increasing demand for the outer regions, with prices continuing to rise to reflect this.”

By John Corser

Source: Express & Star

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New research reveals the UK’s Help to Buy hotspot

Research by lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves has revealed which UK cities are currently seeing the most demand from homebuyers for properties eligible for Help to Buy.

With the current Help to Buy equity loan scheme expiring last month, the Government announced a replacement scheme to start as of this April. The latest version of the scheme is restricted to first-time buyers and includes regional property price caps.

Benham and Reeves analysed what proportion of Help to Buy stock was already sold subject to contract or listed as ‘under offer’ across 25 major UK cities and what this demand translates to as a percentage of all Help to Buy stock listed.

Bristol is currently the UK’s Help to Buy homebuyer hotspot, with 60% of all homes eligible for the scheme already sold subject to contract or under offer.

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Portsmouth and Swansea also rank high, with half of all homes listed with the help of Help to Buy already taken by homebuyers.

Oxford is home to the next highest level of Help to Buy homebuyer demand at 48%, with Leeds (35%), Southampton (34%), Glasgow (33%), Cambridge (32%) and Bournemouth (31%) also ranking within the top 10.

It’s a three-way tie for the 10th top spot, as London, Manchester and Liverpool all see Help to Buy demand from homebuyers currently sit at 29%.

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Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “While the stamp duty holiday has been a great way of boosting market health during a very tough period, further fuelling demand has only helped push house prices further out of reach for many first-time buyers.

“This has made the aspiration of homeownership all the harder and it’s clear that many are reliant on a leg up via the Help to Buy scheme as a result, with high demand for homes that qualify in cities all over the UK.

“Of course, it’s fair to say that Help to Buy in its various forms has also helped drive demand with homebuyers purchasing property that they would otherwise have been unable to afford.

“So perhaps instead of introducing yet another demand-based initiative to artificially inflate house prices, it’s time the Government really start looking at building more houses if they do wish to ‘help those that need it most’.”

Source: Property Wire

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Value of UK’s housing stock hits record high after strong year

In 2020, the total value of the UK’s housing stock reached £7.56trn, a new record high. And the north of England saw its strongest rise in housing value since 2005.

The value of the UK’s housing stock has hit the highest value on record, rising by £380bn in 2020. This is the fastest increase since 2015. And the £7.56trn equates to over four times the value of all FTSE100 companies. This is according to research by Savills, using data from ONS, Land Registry, MHCLG and UK Finance.

In the last five years, the UK’s housing stock increased by £1.33trn. This equates to an average of £266bn a year, which is some £114bn below the total for 2020. This growth is especially impressive with the recession backdrop and the prevailing economic uncertainty.

Additionally, for the first time, the value of mortgaged owner occupied homes surpassed £2.5trn. This was driven by longer mortgage terms and Help to Buy. The mortgage guarantee scheme is expected to boost this figure even further.

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A rapid increase in house prices

UK house prices increased by an average of 7.3% in 2020, despite the challenging and uncertain year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People’s desire to move and the stamp duty holiday caused a surge in property transactions, pushing prices up and outweighing job and financial uncertainty.

After successive lockdowns and the rise in remote working, people’s property priorities changed. Many have been looking for more space. Some are also looking for dedicated home office space, high speed internet and access to a garden or balcony.

Lawrence Bowles from Savills says: “People reassessed their housing needs and preferences as a result of the pandemic and that drove a surge in transaction activity in the second half of last year.

“This triggered rapid price growth as many buyers who felt secure in their finances looked for larger homes to accommodate the multiple demands of home working and home schooling, as well as extra space for living and leisure.

“It also meant that the total value of properties held with a mortgage rose by 6.9% as people stretched their borrowing to accommodate lifestyle demands.”

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The north is seeing strong growth

The north of England, including the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber, saw the largest annual increase in housing value since 2005, rising by £59bn. This is up from 1.07trn in 2019 to £1.13trn in 2020 which is a 5.5% increase.

The north-west and south-west are tied for the highest percentage growth in 2020 at 6.2%. The north-west’s housing stock is worth £561bn, rising by an impressive £33bn last year alone. And with major investment and development coming to the north-west, this will likely bring further growth to this region.

According to recent data from Zoopla, the north-west of England is currently leading regional house price growth, and Liverpool and Manchester is seeing the strongest property price increases on a city level.

Savills believes the north-west will be home to the strongest house price growth during the five years to 2025 with a 28.8% projected increase. Home to Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, the north-west is expected to continue leading house price growth with demand remaining high.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Sales of holiday homes on the coast surge

Sales of holiday homes near the coast have surged over the past six months, with holiday let mortgages for properties in Wales almost doubling since September 2020.

Figures from Hodge Bank has revealed the most popular destination for holiday let buyers is the South West at 39%, followed by Wales at 19% and the North West at 12%.

Welsh purchases have almost doubled since September 2020, increasing from 10% to 19%, with coastlines around the North, including Pwllheli, Holyhead and Llandudno proving hugely popular for holiday homes.

The data also shows that the average age of a holiday let mortgage customer is 51.

Hodge customers are willing to spend on average £403,143 on a holiday home – nearly two thirds higher than the average house price in the UK of £252,000.

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Of those purchasing a holiday home, 35% remortgage their existing home to finance their holiday home while 65% take out a new holiday let specific mortgage.

With travel hugely restricted and people re-evaluating their holiday plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, the data shows that customers clearly want to head to the coast, with beach resorts in the South West proving hugely popular.

Newquay, St Ives and Penzance in Cornwall are real hotspots as are Wadebridge, Padstow and Port Isaac.

Over the past six months, Wales has also soared in popularity, especially around the North West in Pwllheli, Holyhead and Rhosneigr.

Devon also holds a lot of appeal, with the likes of Bideford, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple proving popular.

The least popular regions with only 1% of purchases are Greater London and the East Midlands, with West Midlands and the South East at 2% for those buying holiday lets.

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Emma Graham, business development director at Hodge, said: “Many people have not been able to holiday abroad for more than a year now and staycations have therefore become hugely popular.

“We think this has almost certainly led to people re-evaluating their finances, as well as holiday plans and the holiday let market is looking very healthy.

“Given the appetite for a holiday by the sea, it’s no surprise that homes near the beach or coast are the most popular for holiday homes.

“In 2019, Hodge launched a mortgage designed for those wanting to own a holiday let property in the UK after seeing an increase in enquiries.

“We saw a gap in the holiday let mortgage market for a customer-friendly product that allows owners to stay at the property for a longer period, as well as the ability to use letting sites.

“Customers can borrow up to £1m and there is a maximum lending age of 95.

“In addition, we have the unique Hodge Early Repayment Promise, which means if the customer sells their home and moves out, and pays off their mortgage completely, we’ll waive the Early Repayment Charges – giving them one less thing to worry about.

“Following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, we think staycationing is here to stay and we want to help would-be holiday homeowners make that all-important purchase.

“We are able to offer customers up to three holiday let mortgages too, so if they want to purchase a property in more than one location, we can help.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Property industry has a new spring in its step

The property sector has a renewed sense of optimism a year after the country was put into its first lockdown, with more than 75% of people reporting they feel more positive about the sector’s future than three months ago, the latest Property Week sentiment survey reveals.

Some 42.5% of respondents said they felt slightly more optimistic about the future of UK real estate, and 36.7% much more optimistic, than the previous quarterly survey in December. Some 14.2% felt the same and just 6.4% felt more pessimistic.

In the previous survey at the end of December, just 53% were more optimistic about the future, compared with 23% that were more pessimistic and 24% whose views had not changed since September.

More than half of respondents expected to return to offices ahead of the official projected end to working from home guidance on 21 June if they had not already. Some 26.7% said they were already fully or partly back in the office and a further 29.2% expect to return before the June date. While 33.3% said they expected to return after June this year, 10.8% said they did not expect to return to the office.

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Retail was resoundingly forecast as the sector that would be hardest hit by the pandemic in the long term, (62.5%) followed by restaurants and pubs (18.3%). But property experts are nevertheless optimistic about the sectors’ futures.

Sovereign Centros chief executive Chris Geaves said apart from areas overexposed to it, there remained a “very strong” future for bricks-and-mortar retail.

“We’ve got a very strong future for one simple reason: the UK is a nation of shoppers,” he said. “You can’t paint all retail with the same brush, you’ve got to look at every location differently.”

He added that the eight super regional shopping centres, which include the likes of Trafford, Metrocentre and Meadowhall, were “irreplaceable stock” and would only “expand and get bigger”.

Ted Schama, joint managing partner at leisure and hospitality agency Shelley Sandzer, told Property Week: “The market has been more active than we might have anticipated at the start to the middle of the pandemic. There are more experiential leisure opportunities than ever due to vacancies of retail space on the high street.”

Jonny Perkins, retail asset manager at LabTech, agreed there is a “positive sentiment in the air” for the leisure sector.

“It has undoubtedly been a difficult time for retail, leisure and restaurant occupiers in the current climate. However, with the positive sentiment in the air from the vaccine and a reduction in cases, we have experienced a noticeable increase in occupier enquiries and interest for the first part of 2021.”

He added: “Demand has appeared to be focused on the food and beverage and leisure sectors, with retail being more measured.”

Quintain chief executive James Saunders said the Wembley Park developer was optimistic that large hospitality venues would also be able to reopen this year as planned.

“We are cautiously confident that our major venues including the SSE Arena and Troubadour Theatre will adapt and find a way to welcome back audiences later this year,” he said.

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The hotel sector also has a positive outlook on the coming months. “There is a huge amount of pent-up demand and we are seeing real appetite for growth, as well as people being desperate to travel,” said IHG UK&I managing director Karen Khanna.

Some 15% of survey respondents thought offices would be the hardest hit sector coming out of the pandemic.

Martin Lay, head of central London offices at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The start of lockdown in January was a backwards step coming off a strong Q4 in 2020, which dampened optimism.”

He added that international investors were circling the London market ahead of travel restrictions lifting, but that activity was “likely to be held back” by lower levels of available stock.

“While the breadth and depth of international capital focused on London remains strong, activity is more likely to be held back by the lack of available investment stock, with 2021 seeing a 40% reduction in new stock being launched to the market compared with last year,” he said, adding that “the ESG agenda is becoming an increasingly important driver to investors’ decision-making, which we expect to translate into a significant focus on assets that are best in class”.

Most respondents believed industrial would come out of the crisis the strongest in the long term (56.7%), followed by residential at 29.2%.

AXA Investment Managers head of residential and student accommodation Joe Persechino told Property Week that growth in the number of young professionals supported by a burgeoning student population and the gradual recovery of the labour market would drive “modest” demand for private rental housing in the coming years.

He added: “The weight of capital seeking stable income returns together with the relative lack of depth in institutional standing stock, is driving significant investment into development. Strong occupancy and collection rates are reinforcing investor conviction, and a relatively attractive spread to comparative opportunities elsewhere in Europe is supporting pricing at today’s yields.”

By Emma Shone, Jessica Newman

Source: Property Week

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HMRC: Highest number of February residential transactions since 2007

The provisional seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in February 2021 was 147,050, up 48.5% annually, according to the latest HMRC Property Transaction data.

On a monthly basis the estimate is also up 23%, and these figures are the highest number for the month of February since 2007.

Looking to the estimate of UK non-residential transactions in February 2021, this was up 10.2% year-on-year to 10,630, and 25.8% higher than January 2021.

The non-seasonally adjusted estimate of UK residential transactions in February 2021 was 122,840, 48.3% higher than February 2020 and 26.4% higher than January 2021.

Non-seasonally adjusted non-residential transactions in February 2021 was 9,230, 9.9% higher annually and 27.7% higher than the month prior.

Guy Gittins, chief executive of Chestertons, added: “While there is no doubt that there are a lot of people very keen to move home, many didn’t feel comfortable starting the process until they had some idea of when the country might be out of lockdown.

“Once this was provided, we noticed an immediate uplift in new buyers registering with us, and the subsequent announcement confirming the extension of the stamp duty holiday only added to this.

“As the country emerges from lockdown, we expect moving home will be many people’s top priority; just as we saw after the first lockdown; and are therefore anticipating a very busy spring and summer market.

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“We currently have around 70% more properties on the market for sale than we did last year.

“This is good news for buyers as it means that substantial price increases are relatively unlikely for the time being and that there are generally more homes to choose from.”

David Whittaker, chief executive at Keystone Property Finance, added: “Putting these figures into context, today’s HMRC data looks at property transactions before the stamp duty land tax holiday was extended in the Chancellor’s Budget this March.

“As was speculated at the time, today’s figures confirm many purchases rushed through in February as buyers and sellers took advantage of the tax break.

“The stamp duty holiday presents an excellent opportunity for landlords looking to increase their portfolio and cash in on the tax break, however there are significant challenges to navigate as well. 2020 was a challenging year for the buy-to-let market.

“We saw a raft of regulatory changes in areas from energy rating requirements to mortgage payment tax relief and unprecedented market conditions of surging demand paired with limited capacity while working from home.

“These factors have created an unfamiliar market for even experienced landlords.

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“In these times, it is even more essential that borrowers are seeking broker support and guidance to help them secure the best product available.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, also reacted to these figures: “With the strongest housing market in more than a decade, both home buyers and investors are taking advantage of historically low borrowing rates.”These favour both those buying a property to live in and those seeking rental assets for yield, significantly boosting the number of transactions.

“With the extension of the stamp duty break, further buyers have decided that now is the time to buy with a potential saving of up to £15,000 to tempt them.

“This saving, along with high loan-to-values and cheaper mortgages, is making this a sellers’ market, with buyers waiting in the wings to pounce.

“Many are prepared to pay higher prices than the past few years so as not to miss out, which is pushing values even higher.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Scottish residential property revenues and volumes up over 20%

Scottish residential property revenues and sales volumes rose over 20% in the past six months according to analysis of the latest Scottish government data by UK-wide letting firm, apropos.

The data found that completed property sales rose 23.2% and government revenue was up 20.4% from September 2020 to February 2021 compared to the same period in the previous year.

The volume of sales covering the six-month period rose from 51,030 to 62,850 while revenue from land and buildings transaction tax (LBTT) increased from £208.2m to £250.7m.

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David Alexander (pictured), joint chief executive officer of apropos, said: “September was the first month to show the impact of raising the LBTT threshold and this data highlights just how successful this policy was over the following six months in kick starting the property market through what could otherwise have been a fairly moribund period.

“The four-month period from September to October showed the highest volume of completed transactions since LBTT was begun and the greatest revenues received by the Scottish government.”

“There is little doubt that these record figures for transactions and revenues would have continued if the threshold for paying LBTT had continued for longer. Individual home buyers have benefitted from this policy and the Scottish Government has benefitted from an additional £42.5m which it would otherwise not have received.”

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“The ending of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March is clearly already having an impact on sales (both January and February numbers are nearly 50% lower than December) and I would expect the March figures to be static and then a sudden dip in volumes and consequent fall in revenues for the Scottish government in April and beyond.

“Despite widespread support from homebuyers and the property market the Scottish government remains intransigent on maintaining a policy which directly benefits individuals and raises essential funds for their coffers at this difficult time for the economy.

“Despite this win-win tax reduction the Scottish government seems disinclined to maintain a popular and successful policy even though the Westminster Government is sustaining their stamp duty saving for a further six months. We shall see how much of a disadvantage this produces for the Scottish homebuyer and the wider housing market in the next few months.”

Source: Property Wire

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Rental growth reaches a record 8.0% outside London

Rental growth outside London has hit 8.0%, the highest figure ever recorded by the Hamptons monthly letting index.

The cost of renting rose by 10.6% in the South East, the first time the region has entered into double-digit growth.

Rental growth nationally has been fuelled by a lack of stock – 300,000 fewer properties have come onto the rental market since the onset of the pandemic (March 2020 to February 2021), nearly a fifth less than during the preceding 12 months.

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Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “This year we’ve seen a sharp decline in the number of rental homes coming onto the market. Would-be tenants are now faced with significantly less choice, which in turn is pushing up rents.

“And with many landlords having multiple offers on the table, half of investors have been able to increase the rent they charge.

“Rental stock levels have also been hit with the onset of the pandemic causing investors to hold back. This has been compounded by emergency legislation which saw landlords having to extend a tenant’s notice period to a minimum of six months, reducing turnover further.

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“At the same time, many renters who were looking to buy had to put their plans on ice and continue renting, as banks sought larger deposits for house purchases.”

Rents in inner London, where demand has been decimated by the pandemic, have fallen by 17.7% to £2,185.

However in Outer London rents grew 5.3% annually, suggesting expensive areas where rents have fallen the most.

Beveridge added: “Over the last five months, and in an effort to beat the original stamp duty deadline of the end of March, landlord purchases started to rise, which will add to stock levels when these homes complete.

“Meanwhile the government announced a new Mortgage Guarantee Scheme in the Budget which is aimed at helping would-be buyers with small deposits, many of whom are currently renting. Both factors, alongside the ending of the eviction ban in April, mean rental stock levels may have bottomed out.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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UK Housing Market Holds Steady Despite Lockdown, Survey Has Found

The UK housing market strengthened in February, research published on Thursday showed, ahead of the chancellor’s decision to extend the stamp duty holiday.

According to the latest RICS UK Residential Survey, the net balance for house price growth was +52% in February compared to +49% in January. Newly agreed sales improved to +1%, against January’s net balance of -17%.

The net balance for new buyer enquiries was -9% at the national level, the second consecutive negative monthly figure. However, it was a significant improvement on January’s reading of -29%. New instructions strengthened from -40% in to -29%.

The outlook also improved, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors noting: “Current lockdown restrictions appear to be deterring new vendors putting their homes up for sale. However, forward-looking metrics have shown some improvement, with sales expected to rise modestly over the coming three months.

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“What’s more, it’s important to note that over three-quarters of the survey sample was gathered prior to the chancellor confirming that the stamp duty holiday would be extended until the end of June, and then tapered through to October, in the recent Budget.”

Twelve-month price expectations also picked up, with the UK-wide net balance coming in at +46%, compared to +30% in last month’s survey.

The UK housing market has boomed recently, fuelled by a rise in the stamp duty threshold and pent-up demand following the first national lockdown, when estate agents and construction sites were forced to close.

The market was widely expected to soften ahead of government schemes such as the stamp duty holiday and furlough ending this spring. But last week Rishi Sunak extended both schemes, with the latter now due to end in September.

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Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The measures should help support the housing market over the coming months, with concerns around a cliff edge end to the stamp duty break eased.

“However, a very clear message emanating from the latest survey is that more needs to be done to address the shortfall in supply, with price and rent expectations very evidently continuing to accelerate. Planning reform, which the government is addressing, alongside supporting a sustainable and inclusive recovery in the economy are key elements in encouraging the private sector to increase the pipeline of new build.”

By Abigail Townsend

Source: Sharecast

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Average UK house price hit new record high in February

The average UK house price hit a new record high of £231,068 in February, according to an index.

Property values climbed by 6.9% annually, up from 6.4% in January, in what the Nationwide Building Society House Price Index described as a “surprise” acceleration.

A stamp duty holiday is due to end on March 31, but there have been reports that it could possibly be extended for another three months.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “February saw the annual rate of house price growth rebound to 6.9%, from 6.4% in January. House prices rose by 0.7% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal effects, more than reversing the 0.2% monthly decline recorded in January.

“This increase is a surprise. It seemed more likely that annual price growth would soften further ahead of the end of the stamp duty holiday, which prompted many people considering a house move to bring forward their purchase.”

Mr Gardner added: “Many people’s housing needs have changed as a direct result of the pandemic, with many opting to move to less densely populated locations or property types, despite the sharp economic slowdown and the uncertain outlook.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM Club said house prices are predicted to fall by around 3% over 2021.

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He said: “This had been revised from an expected decline of 5% given the housing market measures expected in the Budget.

“The EY ITEM Club expects housing market activity to gradually improve late on in 2021 allowing prices to stabilise as the UK’s economy establishes a sustained firmer footing and the labour market comes off its lows.

“Very low borrowing costs should also help with the Bank of England unlikely to lift interest rates from 0.10% during 2021 and for some time thereafter.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “An increase in house prices in February further confirms that even though the stamp duty holiday was earmarked to end shortly, buyer demand and desire for more space – both inside and out – outweighs any potential saving.”

Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: “Price growth strengthened in February due to a relative imbalance between supply and demand.

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“While it is a relatively straightforward process to register as a buyer, sellers have held back, which has led to a shortage of supply that has put upwards pressure on prices.

“Sellers who are home-schooling or simply concerned about opening their home to viewings due to new Covid variants have hesitated in the first two months of the year.

“With the return of schools and Covid cases falling, more sellers are now gearing up to list their property, which will put downwards pressure on prices from this month.

“Any extension of the stamp duty holiday in the Budget will exacerbate this trend as more owners believe they will be able to complete before the end of June. While we expect downwards pressure in the second quarter of the year, we expect flat prices over the course of 2021 as more seasonality and balance between supply and demand returns from the summer.”

Source: Express & Star

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