Could 2013 see the start of the long awaited recovery in the housing market? What’s your view?
A new report by Rightmove says it believes there will be a rise of 2% in sellers’ asking prices in the year ahead, largely because of a shortage of homes along with competition between mortgage lenders. The organisation says that, unlike growth in the past, this will not solely be concentrated in London and the South East, though these areas will have stronger growth than the rest of the country, predicted at about 3% compared to 1% for the Midlands, the North of England and Wales.
The Rightmove forecast was similar to that of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which said the market should be more stable and positive in 2013, though the Halifax forecasts for house prices to be flat this year with any growth only present in London and the South East.
New research is showing rising house sales in most areas of the country reigniting hopes that a sustained recovery in the market could be just around the corner. Are you feeling the positivity?
The research, from Lloyds TSB, reveals that of the 500 towns surveyed, 65% of them, 324, had seen rises in home sales compared to the same period last year. In contrast to some other surveys which have seen London and the south east benefit at the expense of other areas of the country, this survey has recorded rises in other regions.
Felixstowe in Suffolk recorded a 60% increase in sales, the biggest in the country, followed by Brighouse in West Yorkshire which had a 53% rise. Yorkshire and Humberside has the highest proportion of towns which saw a rise in sales, at 79 per cent. The overall figure of 282,086 houses sold in England and Wales in the first half of 2012 was 2.2% up on the same period in 2011.
Reasons given for the rise include improvements in affordability and the ending of the stamp duty holiday earlier this year which may have led to more people rushing to get deals completed on time. The government’s £80bn funding for lending scheme has also encouraged banks and building societies to loosen their purse strings.
Are there reasons for a bit of positive feeling about the housing market in contrast to the gloom which has enveloped it for what seems like years? Let us know your view.
Council leaders have added their names to those opposing new planning proposals which would make it easier for homeowners to build conservatories and extensions. I think they’re right to object, what do you think?
The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, says the moves should be scrapped as they are likely to spoil the look of neighbourhoods and may well cause more disputes. The government said that single-story extensions of up to eight metres could be allowed without planning permission to provide something of a boost to the economy.
I’m not sure it would provide a shot in the arm for the economy and I’m equally uncertain whether it is right that some extension applications which may have been rejected for very good reason, be allowed through during an amnesty period, causing possible misery for the neighbours who objected to it in the first place. It’s surely wrong to allow these in through the back door. Is that your view too? We’d like to hear from you.
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A new report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, says that as many as a fifth of house sales would not have gone through without the buyers receiving some financial help from their parents. Is that the case with you? It was, admittedly some time ago, with me.
The report, commissioned by HSBC, looks at the contributions made by parents since 2008 and has revealed that, as lenders have started tightening their mortgage rules, parents have had to provide more help.
The majority of those questioned said they had gone to their family for help because of the problems they had getting a mortgage, while just 15% said it was because they had wanted to buy a bigger property or move to a better area. Let me know your experiences, have you asked your parents, or any other family member for help and if so why? I look forward to hearing your responses.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said that early optimism about a possible upturn in the housing market has not been sustained and the economic downturn is bound to have a negative effect. Are you in a similarly gloomy mood regarding the prospects for the rest of the year?
RICS said that 19% more surveyors reported price falls rather than rises and said that mildly encouraging figures earlier in the year were largely due to first-time buyers rushing to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday on properties below the price of £250,000. It added that recent economic data which has put the country back into recession has undoubtedly eroded confidence in the housing market.
Halifax has reported that house prices fell by 2.4% in April, which takes £4,000 off the price of the average property with all areas of the country affected and only London bucking the trend. In the capital 86% of surveyors had prices stable or rising whereas in Wales and Northern Ireland 36% and 50% respectively reported falls.
The RICS did, however, add that 63% of surveyors who responded said there had been no change in prices and of those who did report a fall, the vast majority were in the 0-2% range. Is a recovery just around the corner or are we in for more months of falling house prices? Let us know what your views are.
There has also been a 6% drop in the number of new starts over the past year and, with rents on the increase and more homelessness as a result, as well as the economic downturn, there are growing calls for the government to provide help to stimulate the sector.
Shelter is one organisation which claims that the fall in construction is one reason why the country has slipped back into recession. Is that the case and, if the government were, in some way to increase the level of housebuilding, would it have a positive effect on the economy?
Surely rent affordability is also an issue that has to be addressed and the government seems intent on going further in this regard calling on councils to use all their powers to help those who are at risk of homelessness.
It appears that millions of borrowers are set to benefit from a slashing of mortgage rates and banks and building societies seem set on trying to grab customers in a lending war.
The news follows on from the government recently making £80bn available to induce banks into borrowing cash, on the condition that it is passed on to customers and could lead to millions seeing their rates cut with those most likely to benefit being first-time buyers as well as those seeking to re-mortgage their homes.
The government launched its Funding for Lending programme as a result of growing concerns over the lack of mortgage deals and the effect the eurozone crisis was having on them and this has led to HSBC, Santander and RBS already cutting their rates with others set to follow.
Ray Boulger, of mortgage broker John Charcol, said it was encouraging that the mere announcement of the programme had had a positive effect on rates and he expects them to fall by as much as 0.5% in the next month.
Though the news has been warmly welcomed by those involved in conveyancing, there are some who believe that interest rates are not particularly relevant and that the only way to get a sustained improvement in the property market is by introducing more radical measures such as another stamp duty holiday. Will rates make much of a difference to the property market? What measures should be introduced to provide it with much needed relief?
New analysis from PricewaterhouseCoopers is suggesting that the UK may have to wait until 2024 for there to be a sustained recovery in house prices. Is this inevitable or can the government do more to give conveyancing a shot in the arm?
The accounting firm, which also forecasts gloomy figures for the economy generally, says that although housing prices will recover to their 2007 level in cash terms within the next five years, it will take another seven for them to catch up with inflation. Prices reached an all-time high in 2007 when the price of an average property stood at £197,000, but have fallen in the five years since to now stand at £162,417.
PwC also said that first-time buyers face a struggle to get themselves onto the property ladder despite the price slump. With the stamp duty holiday now having ended, they will, in addition, be hit by the shortage of suitable properties on the market and the squeeze on consumer credit.
PwC chief economist John Hawksworth said that a person leaving university this year is unlikely to be able to afford to buy a property until their late 30s unless they have financial help from their family and the Council of Mortgage Lenders also puts the average age of a first-time buyer at over the age of 30. Without first-time buyers, who appear to have dropped off since the ending of the stamp duty holiday, it appears that the market is going to find it very difficult to recover from what has been a hard last few years. Do you share the gloomy predictions or is there any light at the end of the tunnel?
An article speaks out in defence of the much criticised landlord, saying that while rents are increasing, the image they have is wrong and most are trying, in difficult circumstances, to make ends meet, just as the rest of us are.
Far from owning a portfolio of properties, the vast majority only own one and, at one time or another, this was likely to have been the landlord’s main home. While many tenants grumble about their landlord, though mistakes are often made, the article insists that most of these can be put down to ignorance or inexperience rather than malice or greed.
However, whatever their motives, mistakes are occurring and, with rents higher than ever, tenants have a right to better treatment, which is why new measures are being proposed. School for Landlords is an online course to help landlords learn more about their legal rights and obligations, while Shelter is also campaigning for a private landlord licence to be introduced.
New initiatives such as these underline the flaws in what is already out there perhaps. The Association of Residential Letting Agents claims to be reputable and authoritative but, it has no minimum standards of qualification, behaviour or integrity and the harshest measure it can impose is expulsion from its membership.
Surely stricter criteria have to come in to regulate landlord behaviour. Though the article stresses they are not motivated by malice, greater regulation and courses to help them achieve competence, can only be to their benefit.