The first time buyer is back with a vengeance. The number of people getting on to the property ladder in Britain for the first time is back to 2007 levels, after a long slump during the recession.
The twice-yearly Halifax First Time Buyer Review reported that around 144,500 first time buyers took possession of the keys to a property in the first six months of this year, up 25 per cent on 2013 levels.
Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax, cites the generally improving economy, rising employment and the Government’s Help to Buy scheme for their return. He also notes that almost half of this year’s first time buyers managed to escape Stamp Duty by buying under the £125,000 threshold.
Naturally, this is a feat a lot easier if you live in the North West than the South East, but there are thousands of homes listed at prices on or below £125,000 on Zoopla.
Patrick Paton, of estate agents Smiths Gore in Berwick upon Tweed, says buyers could buy a two to three bedroom cottage either within the town or in the countryside around it.
He advises buyers to hone in on properties that have taken time to sell and where the owners might be open to offers. “Look for properties that have been on the market for a little while and haggle,” he said.
He also suggests considering very carefully whether taking on a run-down home makes financial sense. “Doing a property up takes time and eats into spare cash so if the property really needs a new kitchen, you might be better to spread that extra £10,000 across a mortgage by buying a property that already has a nice kitchen,” he added.
Mark Pedley, a sales negotiator at Hunters in Manchester said it is still possible to buy a one bedroom flat right in the city centre for below £125,000 – perfect for young professionals. For those prepared to for a slightly longer walk to work flats in this price range beyond the city’s ring road might also come with extras like a parking space and a balcony.
His advice to buyers is to hone in on an area poised for regeneration, and swoop while prices are rock bottom. In Manchester this could be the central suburb of Ancoats, still slightly grubby around the edges but in a convenient location and the focus for millions of pounds worth of regeneration work right now. “It is the sort of place where you might well make a profit,” said Pedley.
In Thetford, Norfolk, Mark Dickenson, director of Hudson Property Services, says buyers have plenty of choice for under £125,000. They could pick up a one bedroom flat from around £75,000 or a two bedroom flat from around £95,000. The full £125,000 would buy them a two bedroom house in the town centre.
He says buyers looking for a deal should search out areas that have been held back by poor local transport links, but where improvements are imminent. Thetford’s prices are currently low in part because the 33 mile drive along the single carriageway A11 to Cambridge is “horrendous” and can take up to an hour each way.
This winter, however, works to turn the road into a dual carriageway will be completed, slashing journey times by up to half. This, believes Dickenson, will encourage more commuters to look at the town, boosting prices. “My advice would be to get in early,” he said.
For sale for less than £125,000:
1. In Taunton, Somerset your first buy could be small but extremely stylish, not to mention pocket friendly at £53,000. This studio apartment within a grand period house, with use of a good-sized communal garden.
2. A smart two bedroom period cottage in Bolsover, Derbyshire, could be yours for £68,000.
3. First time buyers not afraid of a challenge could pick up a great dooer-upper, a potentially outstanding Georgian Grade II listed double fronted townhouse with scope to extend in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire. The property is on the market for £70,000 so there might even be enough money left to make the necessary repairs.
4. London commuters could opt for a quirky one bedroom weatherboarded cottage in Sandhurst, Kent, available at £124,950.
5. Inland Devon has some great bargains compared to the coast, like this two bedroom terrace in pretty Buckfastleigh, on the market at £120,000.
6. Commuters to Cambridge or Norwich could move to the market town of Thetford, Norfolk, and select a two bedroom house within walking distance of the town centre, for £117,000.
7. But if you want to be in the thick of things The Roof Gardens, a trendy development of flats in the very central Castlefield area of Manchester, are available from £119,000 and will be move in ready next year.
8. Even London buyers can get in on the act, although they are likely to be restricted to outer suburbs and ex-local authority flats, like this one bedroom home in Woolwich, available for £119,995.
Get your swimsuit on, we’re going swimming! There are some amazing homes with outdoor pools in England but we haven’t stopped there, our search has taken us far and wide.
1. We’re mesmerized by this organic looking rock pool.
Four bedrooms, British Virgin Islands, £3.5m – Savills
2. Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that is a water park in the back garden. This impressive property was once home to Celion Dion and it seems no expense was spared creating this. We’re in heaven.
Thirteen bedrooms, Florida, USA, £36.9m – Sotheby’s
3. Plenty of room to run up and cannonball into this pool!
Six bedrooms, West Sussex, £5.9m – Sotheby’s
4. A tropical oasis with the most idyllic blue water to dive into when you’re finished at the pool.
Three bedrooms, Bermuda, £4.6m – Knight Frank
5. We love this stunning home and it has both outdoor and indoor pools, so when it gets a bit cool just swim on inside.
Eight bedrooms, Suffolk, £2.9m – Jackson-Stops & Staff
6. The colours of this pool lured us in and I don’t think we’d be getting out in a hurry either.
Three bedrooms, Florida, USA, £3.8m – Mayfair
7. We’ve headed to Barbados for this versatile pool area. With two bars it looks like the perfect spot for a pool party.
Ten bedrooms, Barbados, £5.1m – Mayfair
8. The perfect place to sit with a cocktail while keeping a close eye on the kids in the pool.
Six bedrooms, California, USA, £16.2m – Coldwell Banker
9. Fit for a princess – this stunning French palace is set up on the hills above Cannes and provides stunning views of the coast from the pool side.
Twelve bedrooms, France, POA – Knight Frank
10. Look at the view!
Four bedrooms, British Virgin Islands, £1.7m – Knight Frank
New Malden, Barking and Harringay are all being included in plans for a new high speed orbital railway connecting London’s zone three suburbs, it has been revealed.
London mayor Boris Johnson revealed the scheme in his London Infrastructure 2050 plan and predicted more people moving to the east of the capital, suggesting that Barking would become “the next Piccadilly Circus within 100 years time”.
He said about £200bn of spending on transport infrastructure alone would be needed in the capital by 2050 to keep the city moving.
It follows the success of the London Underground, which has helped regenerate areas. But where the Overground connects zone two, the orbital railway will link suburbs in zones three and four – even zone five.
Mr Johnson launched his plan, describing it as “a real wake-up call to the stark needs that face London over the next half century”.
He said: “Without a long-term plan for investment and the political will to implement it, this city will falter. Londoners need to know they will get the homes, water, energy, schools, transport, digital connectivity and better quality of life that they expect.”
About Barking, he said: “This will be Piccadilly Circus here in 100 years’ time.
“Transport infrastructure makes all the difference to the prospects of a community.”
And he reckons 50,000 new homes will need to be built in the capital to meet the needs of Londoners.
He said: “Population growth is unstoppable. You’ve got to go with the grain of how people want to live their lives.
“If they want to live in the greatest city in the world, there’s no point in trying to fight them off with a pitchfork.”
1. Three bedroom semi-detached house in New Malden for £475,000.
2. Five bedroom end of terrace house in Barking for £460,000.
3. Three bedroom terrace house in Harringay for £629,950.
Nearly 40,000 people have received assistance to buy a property through the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, figures showed today.
A total of 39,868 people have bought a home in England through the scheme since it was first launched in April last year.
The majority of people who benefitted from the scheme were first-time buyers, with these accounting for 85 per cent of the total, according to Government figures.
Around 27,167 people bought a home through the equity loan part of the scheme during the 15 months to the end of June.
A further 5,388 households took advantage of the NewBuy scheme and 7,313 used the mortgage guarantee scheme.
Despite criticism that the cap on the value of a property that could be bought through the scheme was too high at £600,000, the average person using Help to Buy bought a home valued at just £207,967, with 58 per cent of homes costing less than £200,000.
Around half of people who took advantage of the scheme had a household income of £40,000 a year or less, although 3 per cent earned more than £100,000.
Today’s figures also help to counter arguments that scheme has contributed to runaway house prices in London, where the typical cost of a home rose by 16.4 per cent during the year to the end of June.
But only 6 per cent of properties bought through the equity loan scheme, the biggest part of Help to Buy, were in the capital.
Meanwhile, the NewBuy scheme helped people in areas with large commuter populations, such as Bedford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury Vale and South Oxfordshire, as well as Thurrock, Bexley, Bromley and Dartford.
People in the centres of major cities, such as Leeds, Birmingham, Coventry, Liverpool and Newcastle-upon-Tyne also benefitted.
The Help to Buy scheme enables people buying their first home or trading up the property ladder to purchase a property worth up to £600,000 with a deposit of just 5 per cent.
The Government will then either top up the 5 per cent deposit with 20 per cent of the property’s value, known as an equity loan, or it will offer lenders advancing high loan-to-value mortgages a guarantee on a portion of the debt.
David Newnes, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains owned by LSL Property Services, said: “Help to Buy has boosted confidence and with it demand among first-timers who have been carefully saving up for their deposit.
“Lenders have been more willing to lend to higher loan-to-value borrowers.
“It’s still crucial that the Government continues to support those aspiring homeowners who don’t necessarily have the financial support from parents or other family members for their deposit.”
The Government said Help to Buy had also helped to boost the supply of new homes, with around 32,500 families buying a new build property through the scheme.
Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said: “It’s no accident that since the start of the scheme private housebuilding has shot up by a third and continues to climb.
“Developers are increasing their output, and taking on new workers at the fastest rate since records began.”
He added that house building was now at its highest level since 2007, with developers pledging to use the momentum created by Help to Buy to continue increasing their output.
The housing market showed further signs of cooling during July with property prices edging ahead by just 0.1 per cent, figures showed today.
The growth, which was the lowest monthly increase since April 2013, left the typical home costing £188,949, according to Nationwide Building Society.
There was also a slowdown in the annual rate at which house prices are rising, with this easing to 10.6 per cent in July, down from 11.8 per cent in June.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Although UK house prices recorded their fifteenth successive monthly increase in July, the pace of growth slowed.
“The slowdown was not entirely unexpected, given mounting evidence of a moderation in activity in recent months.”
Mortgage approvals for house purchase fell by nearly 20 per cent between January and May, while estate agents have also reported a drop in enquiries from potential buyers.
Gardner said at least some of the slowdown in housing market activity could be attributed to the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review in April, which requires lenders to impose tougher lending criteria.
But figures released earlier this week by the Bank of England showed a rebound in mortgage activity during June, suggesting some of the impact of the MMR was temporary.
Gardner said: “With the labour market strengthening, mortgage rates expected to remain low and consumer confidence rising, activity is likely to recover in the months ahead.”
But he added that over the longer term, house price growth would depend on the supply of new homes.
He said that while construction activity was picking up, the rate at which new properties were being built still remains far below estimates of what was needed to meet rising demand.
Today’s data provides further evidence that the housing market recovery may be beginning to slow down.
The Land Registry recently reported that house price growth in England and Wales stalled during June, with property values falling in seven regions of the country.
At the same time, both the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the National Association of Estate Agents have said more homes are coming on to the market, easing the imbalance between supply and demand.
Potential buyers are also reported to have become more cautious in the face of higher house prices and concerns about when interest rates will start rising.
Meanwhile, Nationwide estimates that Stamp Duty revenues reached £10bn in the 12 months to the end of June, close to the record highs recorded in 2007/2008.
The group estimates that 42 per cent of the total, or £2.15bn, came from homes bought in London, despite the fact that transactions in the capital account for just 15 per cent of all sales.
But at the other end of the scale, homeowners in the North collectively paid just £69m in Stamp Duty, while those in Wales paid only slightly more at £70m.