Higher borrowing costs on the cards, research suggests

The rate at which people think house prices will rise has eased to a 13-month low as consumers brace themselves for higher borrowing costs, research showed today.

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The Knight Frank Markit House Price Sentiment Index fell to 69.2 in September, its lowest level since August last year.

The figure was also well down on the peak of 75.1 reached in May, although at above 50 it indicates that people still expect house prices to rise, albeit at a slower rate.

The groups said the prospects of higher borrowing costs next year, tougher rhetoric from policymakers and stretched affordability in areas that have seen strong price gains were causing households to reign in their price growth expectations.

The index first started to ease in June, and the trend has continued during the summer.

Overall, only 46 per cent of people expected the price of their home to increase during the coming year, the first time the level has fallen below 50 per cent in 2014.

Grainne Gilmore, head of residential research at Knight Frank, said: “House prices are rising across the UK, but our index signals a continuing slow-down in the pace of growth.

“The strengthening economy, job creation and low base rate are helping underpin property values, but there are signs that households across the board are becoming more circumspect about the scale of price growth they expect.”

Households across the country thought the value of their property increased in September, but the rate of growth was the slowest recorded for eight months.

Just under 27 per cent of people thought the value of their home had increased during the month, while 5.5 per cent said it had fallen.

People in all regions of Great Britain thought house prices rose in September, with those in London reporting the strongest gains, followed by people in the South East and East.

Households in the South East were most optimistic that property values would continue to increase in the coming 12 months, with people in London and the West Midlands also upbeat.

The survey adds to growing evidence that the property market is beginning to slow down as buyers become more cautious in the face of recent house price gains and future hikes to the cost of borrowing.

At the same time, the number of homes being put up for sale has increased, easing the mismatch between supply and demand and reducing the upward pressure on prices.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders yesterday reported mortgage advances fell during August for the first time since February.

Strong house price growth has left the average British home costing £264,573, according to Zoopla.

September 19, 2014 at 1:44 PM Leave a comment

Top 10 castles for sale – part II

With our first top 10 castles being our most popular of all the top ten features, we thought it deserved a second look. Why are castles as homes so appealing? For us it’s the sheer presence and stature they bring. You couldn’t but be proud to live in any of these charming castles.

1. Built between 1906 and 1917 for the Duchess of Sutherland, it is believed to be the last castle to be built in Scotland.

Forty bedrooms in Sutherland, Scotland £1.2m – Savills


2. A wow property with wow views, what more could you want?

Four bedrooms in Tarbert, Scotland £875,000 – Bell Ingram


3. An impressive and imposing home that is sure to keep any princess happy.

Fourteen bedrooms in North Yorkshire £4.2m – Savills


4. Your very own castle style home at a fraction of the price.

Four bedrooms in Devon £595,000 – Greenslade Taylor Hunt


5. This speaks for itself…

Sixteen bedrooms in Exeter £8m – Strutt & Parker


6. Aptly named Torcastle was transformed from an old stone shooting lodge by the late Grammy award-winning rock drummer Michael Lee.

Five bedrooms in Inverness £550,000 – Strutt & Parker


7. Like something from a fairy tale…we could see Rapunzel in that tower!

Seven bedrooms in Perthshire £1.4m – Rettie & Co


8. Absolutely breathtaking views to be had from this restored late thirteenth century Pele Tower.

Three bedrooms in Northumberland £499,950 – Propology


9. A rare opportunity to purchase a stunning  sixteenth century castle set in more than four acres of grounds.

Five bedrooms in Edinburgh POA – Ballantynes


10. Not only do you get this impressive castle but also included are two farmhouses, six cottages, traditional buildings, pasture, and woodland.

Twenty-six bedrooms in Herefordshire £12m – Knight Frank


Send us a link via Twitter to your #propertyoftheweek on Zoopla and our pick of the top ten will feature on the blog every Friday.

September 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM Leave a comment

Perthshire has more to offer than world class golf at the Ryder Cup

This year’s Ryder Cup tees up on September 23 – but Perthshire has a lot more to offer than world class golf at Gleneagles.

18.09.14 Perth 1

Average property prices currently stand at £255,378, up a resounding 5.63 per cent in the last year, suggesting that despite the uncertainties that the Scottish referendum has heaped upon the market north of the border buyers are increasingly seduced by Perthshire’s majestic countryside, its mountains and castles.

There is Perth itself, which was granted city status in 2012 to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, as well as its market towns and villages.

Alastair_Houlden_8Families are drawn to Perth because of its excellent schools. Alastair Houlden, of estate agents Rettie & Co, said the most popular area to live is Kinnoull Hill to the west of the city centre. The hill has some fine detached and semi-detached Victorian houses and, as the name suggests, an elevated position which gives houses in the areas great views of the countryside around.

“You can walk down into Perth city centre very easily and there is good walking on Kinnoull Hill itself,” added Mr Houlden.

Average property prices in Perth stand at £182,047, up 7.23 per cent in the last year. In Kinnoull Hill, a four bedroom semi-detached house would cost around £400,000, or you could take on a five bedroom, detached house with a couple of acres of gardens and paddocks for around £800,000.

If you dream of a true highlands home then Robert La Terriere, of estate agents Smiths Gore recommends Aberfeldy, a market town set beside the River Tay with views of the majestic Grampians. “It is a very pretty town somewhere between lively and quaint,” said Mr La Terriere. “It is very beautiful but there are increasing numbers of young entrepreneurs setting up new cafes and shops there.”

Aberfeldy is around 45 minutes to Perth and you can be in Edinburgh in less than two hours. These distances, said Mr La Terriere, keep prices in the area relatively affordable compared to more commutable towns and villages in Scotland. Average prices in Aberfeldy stand at £260,281, up 7.05 per cent in the last year.

A three bedroom Victorian townhouse will cost from around £200,000, or you could opt for a modern – but traditional style – home on the outskirts for around £350,000 to £400,000 for four bedrooms.

To really live the fantasy highland lifestyle a country house with land close to town will cost from £400,000 to £700,000.

If even this seems too hectic, then slow things down a notch in Comrie, one of the most beautiful villages in Scotland.  This historic conservation village on the River Earn, 25 miles west of Perth, is an absolute beauty. Comrie is popular with active retirees, drawn by its strong community spirit, proximity to the Highlands, and its good local facilities which include a primary school, several pubs and cafes, and a post office. The average village property currently costs £272,299, up 7.05 per cent in the last year.

And unsurprisingly Comrie is a goldmine for gorgeous period houses. You could buy a five bedroom, detached Georgian house for around £450,000, a three or four bedroom detached house in the centre of the village for around £250,000 to £300,000, and two bedroom houses for under £200,000.

Jennifer Campbell, of estate agents CKD Galbraith, said the village’s market was strong thanks to its appeal not only to retirees but second home owners from Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as families attracted by its good school.

It is around an hour to Glasgow and Edinburgh so it is an easy within an easy drive, it is obviously very pretty, and it has got a great little high street and fantastic walking nearby,“ she said. “It is a really close knit community with lots of clubs and societies to join, and you never hear of any crime at all.”

For sale:

1. If you want a romantic Scottish castle they don’t come much more breathtaking than Cloan, a seven bedroom house with spectacular period features and 56 acres. It is on the market for offers over £1,465,000.

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2. Live loch side in a seven bedroom house in an outstanding location, on the market for £1,350,000

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3. Perthshire isn’t all about historic houses. This modern four bedroom house is within walking distance of the Gleneagles Hotel, and is for sale at £525,000.

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4. You get plenty of house for your money in Perthshire, like this five bedroom family home on the outskirts of Blackford, on the market for offers above £379,995.

18.09.14 Perth 5

5. In Perth itself you could buy a four bedroom period villa, on the market for £249,995.

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6. A pretty and traditional two bedroom terraced cottage in the village of Bridge of Earn is on the market for offers above £137,000.


September 18, 2014 at 10:54 AM Leave a comment

UPDATED: Mortgage lending beginning to show signs of slowing down, says CML

Mortgage lending fell during August in a further sign that the property market is beginning to slow down, figures showed today.

06.03.14 Mortgages

A total of £18.6bn was advanced during the month, down from £19.7bn in July, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

It was the first monthly drop in mortgage lending since February, when the market was affected by lenders gearing up for the introduction of new regulations under the Mortgage Market Review.

But despite the dip, total advances were still the highest for August since 2008, and 13 per cent up on lending for the same month of 2013.

Bob PannellCML chief economist Bob Pannell said: “The narrative of recovering house purchase and buy-to-let activity continued through August.

“However, it is important to be aware that this picture is being flattered by strong seasonal factors through the summer period.

“A gentle slowing of lending activity may now be in prospect, as a result of the continuing impact of tighter lending rules and a softening of the London market.”

He added that on a seasonally adjusted basis, total lending during July was £17.1bn, little changed from May and June and broadly flat since the beginning of the year, and forward estimates suggest August’s figure will be similar on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The CML’s suggestion that mortgage lending may have reached a plateau is consistent with a report from the Bank of England yesterday, in which agents said housing market activity has stabilised at a lower level than was seen at the start of the year.

Recent data has pointed to a fall in demand from potential buyers as people have become put off by the high prices being demanded by sellers and the prospect of interest rate rises.

At the same time, there has been an increase in the number of homes being put up for sale, helping to ease the mismatch between supply and demand.

Meanwhile, Virgin Money has launched a new six year fixed rate mortgage, undercutting many five year fixed rate deals.

The loan, which is the only six year product available, charges interest of 2.99 per cent to people with a 30 per cent deposit who pay a £995 fee.

The only medium-term deal offering a better rate is a five year fixed rate loan from Yorkshire Building Society at 2.89 per cent, but it requires a 35 per cent deposit and comes with a £975 fee.

Virgin Money said it had launched the deal to give people a “prolonged period of certainty” for the cost of their monthly mortgage repayments.

It added that it expected the product to be very popular, so it was likely to be available for only a limited period.

A flurry of lenders have cut the cost of their five year fixed rate deals in recent weeks in response to falling swap rates, upon which the deals are based.

The average interest rate charged on a five year fixed rate deal has dropped to 4.11 per cent, down from 4.21 per cent in August, according to financial information group Moneyfacts.

Mark HarrisMark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “As we move into autumn, lenders have one eye on their year-end figures and are ramping up their lending volumes to meet them.

“Subsequently, there are some excellent fixed rates available over two and five years so borrowers who are concerned about rate rises should act now to obtain some security.”


September 18, 2014 at 10:03 AM Leave a comment

Ten house buyers ‘chasing’ every property for sale

There are nearly 10 buyers chasing every property for sale, despite a jump in the number of homes on the market, research showed today.

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The number of properties listed with estate agents rose by more than 4 per cent in August, compared with the same month of 2013, as homeowners looked to cash in on recent house price gains.

At the same time, the number of potential buyers fell by 5.5 per cent, according to estate agents haart.

The group said the figures suggested the property market was rebalancing following a year of high demand and low supply.

But despite the fall in people looking to buy and the rise in homes for sale, the market remained highly competitive, with 9.5 potential buyers chasing every property.

The increase in supply helped to boost sales levels, with transactions rising by nearly 9 per cent year-on-year.

Paul SmithPaul Smith, chief executive of haart, said: “The property market is currently recalibrating as our data shows, with an easing of demand as new buyer registrations across the UK decrease 5.5 per cent annually, in contrast to the uplift in homeowners looking to sell.

“Despite this influx of stock the market remains competitive with an average 9.5 buyers registering interest in every new home that comes to market, which is the driver behind property price growth.”

He added: “This gradual return to normality should now dispel fears about property bubbles – which we have always dismissed as hype.”

The group said house prices had risen by 8.9 per cent in the year to the end of August, to stand at an average of £206,578.

But the typical price paid by a first time buyer actually dipped slightly during August, dropping to £153,967, 1 per cent lower than in July.

London continued to be the main driver of growth, with prices storming ahead by 23.6 per cent year-on-year in the capital to stand at £494,026.

Competition for property was most intense in London, with 15.7 potential buyers chasing every home on the market, despite a 27 per cent jump in supply.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England reported that housing market activity had stabilised at lower transaction levels, after dipping earlier in the year following the introduction of tougher lending criteria under the Mortgage Market Review.

In its Agents’ Summary of Business Conditions Report, it said the slowdown had been particularly marked in Central London, where the appreciation of sterling had deterred some foreign buyers.

It added that house price growth was also slowing, particularly in areas of the country that had seen significant gains, with estate agents saying this reflected a more balanced market, as supply increased.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee also struck a more dovish tome in its September meeting, with members suggesting Britain’s recovery may slow in the fourth quarter, while risks from the problems in the Eurozone have increased.

Two members continued to vote for a rate hike, but they failed to persuade any other members of the committee that a rise in the official cost of borrowing was necessary.

Most economists expect the Bank Rate to be increased from its record low of 0.5 per cent during the first quarter of 2015.

September 17, 2014 at 11:24 AM Leave a comment

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