House sales hit four-year high – RICS

rics_logo-300x150The number of homes sold in the UK hit an almost four-year high last month as the housing market recovery continues to gather pace, says the September RICS Residential Market Survey.

The average amount of properties sold per chartered surveyor in the three months to September reached 18.7*. Although still historically low, this is the highest figure since November 2009 and demonstrates the extent to which the market is now picking up across the country.

In tandem with increasing numbers of sales, prices continued to grow with 54% more respondents reporting rises rather than falls. Prices have now steadily increased since Easter and, significantly, this growth was seen right across the UK. Last month, every part of the country saw prices go up, with the exception of the North East where prices fell modestly for the second successive month.

Unsurprisingly, with government schemes such as Help to Buy enabling more buyers to access the market, demand rose steadily during September as a net balance of 49% more surveyors reported rises in new buyer enquiries. While the amount of homes coming onto the market also rose, it was not enough to keep pace with the burgeoning level of demand.

Looking ahead, predictions for future growth are equally upbeat. A net balance of 56% more respondents expect the number of transactions to increase further over the coming three months, while 48% more predict prices to continue their push upwards.

Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director, commented: “It’s encouraging that the market is starting to improve in all parts of the country with more buyers looking to make a move and more sales going through.

“Even so, it’s a big concern that the supply of property coming to the market is lagging so far behind demand. This imbalance is likely to result in further upward pressure in prices over the coming months, particularly in the nation’s hotspots.”

Source: RICS

Steady rise in UK house prices – Halifax

halifax-logoHouse prices continue to rise steadily, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index.

Martin Ellis, housing economist, said: “Prices in the three months to June were 2.1% higher than in the previous quarter, edging above the 1-2% range recorded throughout the first five months of the year. The annual rate is at its highest for nearly three years with prices in the three months to June 3.7% higher than in the same three months last year.

“Activity has also improved in recent months. Both home sales and mortgage approvals for house purchase – a leading indicator of sales – increased in May.

“Improved confidence in both the housing market and the economy, combined with a shortage of properties available for sale, appear to be pushing up house prices. The Funding for Lending Scheme is also likely to be boosting the market by helping to reduce mortgage rates.

“There are also early indications that the Help to Buy: equity loan scheme may be stimulating demand. Despite these signs of improvement in the market, the still subdued economic background and weak income growth are expected to remain significant constraints on housing demand and activity during the second half of 2013.”

Key facts House prices in the second quarter of 2013 (April-June) were 2.1% higher than in the first quarter of the year (January-March).

As a result, house price growth between the latest three months and the preceding three months edged above the 1-2% range that it had been in throughout the preceding five months. This was the biggest increase on this measure since January 2010 (2.9%). Prices in the three months to June were 3.7% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. This was the biggest increase in this annual measure since August 2010 (4.6%). House prices increased by 0.6% in June. This was the fifth consecutive monthly rise.

Activity is also picking up. The number of mortgage approvals for house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – increased by 7% between April and May to 58,200; the highest monthly level since December 2009. Approvals in the three months to May were 2% higher than in the previous three months.

Source: Halifax


Strongest annual UK house price rise since 2010

halifax-logoResidential property prices in the UK appreciated by 0.4% in May, as more buyers piled into the market, fuelled by improving conditions and government schemes such as Help to Buy, according to Halifax.

“House prices continue to pick up gradually,” said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist.

For the three months to May, UK home prices rose by 2.6% compared to the same period last year – the biggest rise since September 2010.

Ellis added: “Market activity has also improved slightly in recent months although home sales remain low by historical standards. Despite these recent signs of improvement in the housing market, the subdued economic background and the accompanying weak income growth continue to be a significant constraint on housing demand and activity.”

Moving forward, many property commentators expect to see property prices rise further, supported by Help to Buy.

The scheme currently allows buyers to acquire a new build property up to the value of £600,000 with a minimum 5% deposit. The initiative will be opened up to resale homes next January, potentially helping to push property prices higher in the process.

But there are fears among some that this could lead to a housing bubble.

A report issued by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) two weeks ago stated: “This measure (Help to Buy) may temporarily help boost confidence in the housing market, but there is a risk that, in the absence of an adequate [housing] supply response, the result would ultimately be mostly house price increases that would work against the aim of boosting access to housing.”


House prices rising at fastest rate since 2007

Hometrack logoHouse prices in England and Wales are growing at their fastest rate in six years, according to property market analysts Hometrack.

The increase for May was estimated at 0.4pc, the fastest monthly increase since May 2007, shortly before the emergence of the credit crisis and the property market crash.

May’s rise was driven by a buoyant market in the South East, where values rose by 0.5pc. But prices in the capital sped ahead even faster, rising by 0.9pc in May.

Hometrack blamed a scarcity of homes in the South, particularly in London, where demand had grown by 15pc in the past six months while supply has fallen by 0.6pc. With the figures for London and the South East stripped out, the monthly rise for the rest of England and Wales was just 0.1pc.

A Hometrack statement said: “While the growth in buyer numbers is following a similar pattern to recent years, it is a lack of housing for sale that is acting as the primary driver of price rises.

“The number of sales agreed is outstripping the number of new properties coming to the market. Nationally, new supply grew by 2.8pc in May while sales agreed were up by 8.2pc. The gap between supply and demand in London is the largest it has been since spring 2009. In the last six months demand has grown by 15pc while supply has declined by 0.6pc.”

Properties are also selling quicker with sellers achieving prices closer to their asking prices. The average time on the market fell back to 8.8 weeks – the lowest level since July 2010 – with the sharpest falls in southern England at 7.2 weeks on the market, compared with around 11 weeks in the Midlands and the North.

The percentage of asking price achieved was just under 94pc, the highest level since July 2010.

Richard Gordon of UKPI commented on the report: “The housing market is in much healthier shape today than it has been since the beginning of the downturn in 2007. The housing market relies on confidence and clearly there is plenty of that around at the moment. There has been a significant change in sentiment and many consider this an ideal time to get into the market, with low interest rates, better mortgage availability and several Government backed incentives such as the Help To Buy scheme.”


Housing market ‘at three-year high’, says RICS

rics_logo-300x150Activity in the UK housing market has hit a three-year high, surveyors report, supporting hopes of a revival that would help the economic recovery.

Chartered surveyors reported selling an average of 17.4 homes over the three months to March, the highest number since March 2010. Confidence has been slowly returning to the UK housing market since the end of 2012 and transactions have also risen for three consecutive months.

Surveyors also said demand improved, as a net balance of 11pc reported rises in enquiries from new buyers, compared with those who reported a fall. This marked the strongest reading since October, after a subdued start to the year. Researchers speculated this could be due to the improving affordability of mortgages.

Peter Bolton King, director at RICS, said: “A buoyant, healthy property market is central to economic recovery and, while these are still very much early signs, it is encouraging that sales are beginning to pick up. The increase in potential buyers getting out there and viewing property is particularly encouraging.”

The Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, launched last August to give banks access to cheap finance, has been cited by lenders as a factor pushing down on bank funding costs and helping to reduce interest rates for customers.

The are concerns in some quarters that the Chancellor risks supporting a “bubble” in prices through his Help to Buy push, which will massively expand the mortgage guarantee and shared equity schemes available to would-be buyers.

Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic that the recent increase in transactions is set to continue. A net balance of 19% more surveyors expect sales to rise further over the coming three months. Moreover, price expectations indicators for both the next three and twelve months have been in positive territory for the last four months.

Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

UK house prices set to soar – CEBR

Boards smlMillions of British homeowners were given a timely boost last night as it was forecast average house prices are set to rocket by £45,000 over the next five years, according to a report in Britain’s Daily Express newspaper.

The report says: As the UK economy stutters back into life the outlook looks bright for those owning or aspiring to own their own home with yearly increases of £9,000.

And in a double boost, mortgage rates have hit record lows as the high street feels the effects of action to breathe life into a previously stagnating housing market.

The positive picture comes in a top-level report by the respected Centre for Economics and Business Research. Experts said the average UK home would be worth £267,000 by 2018 – up from today’s £222,000.

“By 2018, we expect the typical UK home will cost £267,000 – over 20% more than this year.”

The boom equates to a £25-a-day – or £750-a-month – increase in value and proves action is working to drag the housing market out of the doldrums.

The news quickly follows Chancellor George Osborne’s budget “to get Britain moving again”, which contained a raft of measures to help people get a foot on the property ladder.

Last night economist and report author Daniel Solomon said: “By 2018, we expect the typical UK home will cost £267,000 – over 20% more than this year.

“Gradual wage and population increases will be the fundamental drivers of this medium-term trend. We expect the Chancellor’s new Help to Buy scheme will push up house prices before it raises housing supply.

“We predict the scheme’s effects will be quite modest, but it could support the construction of roughly 5,000 new homes in 2015. This supply boost could provide a welcome route on to the housing ladder for a small number of aspiring homeowners.”

News of a resurgence in Britain’s housing market comes after the Council of Mortgage Lenders reported home loans had got off to their best start since 2008, when the market was at its pre-crisis peak.

Buyers can now pick up some of the lowest rates in history, with one building society offering a two-year fixed rate at a staggering 1.74 per cent.

Lacklustre wage growth, recapitalisation by domestic banks and the deepening Eurozone crisis are expected to subdue house price growth this year.

But next year, the CEBR expects house prices to be 2.3 per cent higher than they were in 2007.

Experts said the predicted strengthening economy will lead to rising wages, while population growth is projected to outpace housing supply increases.

It is these two crucial factors that will lead to accelerating house price growth. By 2018, the CEBR forecasts a typical UK home will cost £267,000, as house prices rise by 4.6 per cent over that year.

Incredibly, in five year’s time UK house prices will be 20.4 per cent higher than they currently are.

Last night independent financial expert Stephen Bacic urged Britain’s army of first-time buyers to take the plunge and invest in bricks and mortar.

He said: “There is a lot of pent-up demand out there but credit is getting easier to obtain. I don’t believe there is ever a bad time to buy a house – people have absolutely nothing to gain by waiting to get on the property ladder. Now is as a good a time as ever.”

Click here to read to full Daily Express report.

Property at centre of Government growth strategy

budget 2013Chancellor George Osborne has put the property market at the heart of the Government’s plans for economic growth.

In this week’s Budget he unveiled two schemes aimed at getting the sector moving positively once more.

The Help to Buy scheme will allow all purchasers to put down a 5% deposit on a newly-built home from April.

A maximum of 20% of the cost of the home will be funded by a shared equity loan, financed by the Government. This will be interest-free for the first five years.

The second measure is the new Government mortgage guarantee scheme which will run for three years from the start of 2014.

It will be used to support £130billion of mortgages for old and new homes.

Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: “This is a strong package of help for housing. Annual transactions are half what they were and that has a knock on consequences for all those parts of the economy that rely on people moving. Helping people needing a deposit has for some time been cited as the missing piece of a coherent housing policy and is therefore welcome.”

Stephen Noakes, Mortgage Director at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “We are very supportive of innovation in the housing market and believe that the mortgage guarantee scheme, will give a much needed boost to the housing market and most importantly address the issue of accessibility.

“Since the launch of the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme we have seen mortgage rates hit an all-time low, really making a difference to affordability. These proposals will, just as importantly, address accessibility, and provide a genuine solution to the challenge of raising a deposit. Working together these two schemes will get more people on and moving up the property ladder.

“Crucially, this scheme will not only help first-time buyers but also second steppers, a key segment of the housing market that is also in need of more support and attention. Our recent report from Lloyds TSB indicates that little has improved in the past year for those first-time sellers looking to take the second step on the housing ladder, almost two-thirds of second steppers had wanted to move up the ladder in 2012 but were unable to. Raising a deposit has been cited as one of the key challenges. While the property market is likely to continue to be challenging, the fresh support announced [today] will have a real knock on effect across the whole of the housing market and we expect it could help around 50,000 people a year.”

Nick Kennett, Director of Financial Services at Post Office said: “[Today’s] Budget gives potential homebuyers reasons to cheer, whether buying their first home or looking to move. The Chancellor’s ‘Help to Buy’ scheme is just what is needed to get the country moving.”

Source: propertytalk Live!