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

New build of the month: Station Road, Cambridge

If you’re looking for a new build home, try this mix of one, two and three bedroom apartments in commutable Cambridge.

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Where exactly is it? Just to the south west of the city centre, smack beside Cambridge Station, and an easy walk to the lovely Cambridge University Botanic Garden.

Monster housing estate or tiny boutique development? An in-betweener, with 137 one, two and three bedroom flats in three medium rise blocks by developer Hill Residential. It will be ready to move into in 2016.

How much will it cost me? Prices are expected to start at £325,000 for a one bedroom flat.

What is so great about it? High spec modern flats in a fantastically central location and in a city which is really booming right now. Estate agent David Bentley, head of new homes for Bidwells, said the flats are larger than average (from 520 sq ft for the one bedroom flats, and 850 sq ft for the two bedroom homes) and most come with balconies. Some also have underground parking spaces. Vesta is part of a wider development of land beside the station and, when completed in around five years, the site will have cafes, restaurants and shops.

Surely its not completely perfect? That station side location means that there will be some train noise, and other sections have been swooped on by investors so would be owner occupiers are going to have to cope with some competition. Since the homes are being sold off plan there will be a wait before buyers can move in.

Who will my neighbours be? Bentley anticipates that, as well as investors, Vesta will attract young professional couples and London commuters.

What is Cambridge itself like? This university city ticks every box imaginable: a beautiful historic city centre, great shops, bars, restaurants and cafes, fantastic schools, and commutability to London. Local job prospects are also good for scientific types, with a cluster of tech firms in the city, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and, of course, the university. Microsoft recently opened offices in part of the development itself.

Is it any good for kids? It is likely, thinks Bentley, that the majority Vesta’s residents will be young, free and childless.

How are the public transport links? You are right by the station and trains to London’s King’s Cross station take just 50 minutes. All of Cambridge, a famously bike friendly city, is on your doorstep.

Is it up and coming? Cambridge’s market is white hot right now with homes taking, on average, just 27 days to sell – the fastest in Britain. Average prices in the city stand at £368,7017, up 8.99 per cent in the last year. While property in Oxford, its great collegiate rival, is still more expensive at an average £413,651, its annual price growth is considerably slower at 5.10 per cent.

I like the sound of Cambridge what else is on sale there?

1. If you have £2.5m to spend, how about a delightful eight bedroom house on the city’s outskirts. The Grade II listed property in Chesterton, which is due to get a new station in 2016 which is sure to hike prices.

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2. If you prefer a more contemporary feel you could opt for a four bedroom modern townhouse for £1.295,000

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3. Cambridge is blessed with lovely streets of Victorian terraces, like this two bedroom property on the market for £645,000.

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September 17, 2014 at 9:54 AM Leave a comment

Gardening tips to attract September house hunters

It’s autumn – arguably the most beautiful time of year. Leaves are turning golden and many look as if they are on fire with their dramatic red and orange hues. The property market is as vibrant as the colours that we see around us. In fact there are so many properties for sale, just how do people start their search for the perfect home? How do they decide which houses might be suitable and which to ditch without a second glance, asks Caroline Knight.

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It’s worth thinking about the effect that a garden creates during the very first glimpse. The chances are that it’s the photo of the front of the house from the road that first catches people’sattention. They can dismiss or delight in a property with just a single peek. If the property is obscured by gigantic conifers, straggly shrubs and dark shadows they might be a little underwhelmed by its kerb appeal, but if the garden helps to display the home like a sleek carpet or solid wooden floor helps to stage a lounge, its audience is captured within seconds.

Judging a house by its façade might not be wise in every sense, but we all do it. The exterior appearance of a property is frequently the deal maker or breaker when it comes to buying a home. In fact it can take just eight seconds for a potential buyer to decide whether or not to view – and their decision is usually based on their judgement of a mere photograph.

Just imagine the scenario – a flower-filled garden suggesting scented aroma, a cleanly swept path, seating area signifying relaxation, no bins in sight, a clipped lawn looking like a smooth carpet and a clearly defined boundary offering privacy and style. Autumn tree colour will be the icing on the cake – people like to have interest for every season, not just the height of summer. Alternatively, an overgrown patch with brambles, mud and rubbish can only damage that first vital impression and few people are going to want to brave the journey up the front path to the door.

First impressions count immensely. An ugly house can recede into insignificance when clothed with a delightful garden. And the most beautiful home can look daunting if its grounds appear to be ‘high maintenance’.

The good news for sellers is that they can do something about it. A garden tidy-up might be all that is required. The great news for buyers is that they can instruct themselves to see past any outside neglect and might then have an opportunity to buy a property at a knock-down price. Fewer competitors in the buying field means the vendors will be keen to keep their potential buyer’s interest and they could find themselves in a strong bargaining position.

Creating kerb appeal can be simple, but it does take a little thought. The rewards are there to be reaped – why wait until after the photos have been uploaded?

Garden of the month on Zoopla

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Why do I like this property on Zoopla?

  • The curvaceous design of the front garden leads the eye in a welcoming manner to the front door.
  • The paving looks clean and crisp, with well-defined edges – suggesting it is easy to maintain.
  • The boundaries give definition to the space and make the house appear to be large, even though it’s a bungalow.
  • Everything in the photo looks clean and well-cared-for, suggesting that moving into this home would be a pleasure.

Caroline KnightCaroline Knight is a garden designer working at Perfect Plants in East Sussex. This online retailer supplies top quality plants including bedding, perennials, shrubs and trees – many of which are home-grown – together with garden essentials. It has a team of dedicated horticultural experts who endeavour to provide an excellent all-round service to customers.

September 16, 2014 at 3:06 PM Leave a comment

House price of typical British home is £272,000, says ONS

House prices raced ahead by nearly 2 per cent in July as the property market showed little sign of slowing down, Government figures revealed today.

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The average cost of a UK home jumped by 1.6 per cent during the month to stand at £272,000, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The rate at which prices are rising also accelerated to stand at 11.7 per cent for the 12 months to the end of July, up from an annual rate of 10.2 per cent in June.

London continued to be the driving force of the property market, with house prices in the capital increasing by 19.1 per cent during the year.

Growth was also strong in the South East and East, with these regions posting gains of 12.2 per cent and 10.6 per cent respectively.

But the London house price boom is continuing to spread to other regions of the UK, with the North East, North West, East Midlands, West Midlands, South West, Wales and Scotland all posting annual growth of more than 7 per cent.

The gains were enough to push property values in the East Midlands, West Midlands and South West up to record levels.

These regions now join London, the South East and the East in having average house prices that have passed the peak reached before the financial crisis struck.

In London, house prices are now nearly 40 per cent higher than they were before the property market correction, while across the UK as a whole, prices are 11.4 per cent higher.

Property price gains were more subdued in North Ireland and Yorkshire and the Humber, with prices in these regions rising by only 4.5 per cent and 5 per cent respectively during the past year.

The ONS data is slightly at odds with other housing market surveys that had indicated the property market was starting to slow down as buyers balked at high asking prices and more homes came on to the market.

Halifax reported that house prices edged ahead by just 0.1 per cent in August, although this followed a strong gain in July.

Jonathan HarrisJonathan Harris, of mortgage brokers Anderson Harris, said: “ONS house prices tend to be more historic than the other indices, revealing that there was no cooling in the housing market in July with house prices continuing to increase strongly.

“However, since then the temperature has definitely dropped as growing uncertainty – both with regard to the political climate and interest rates – takes the wind out of prospective buyers’ sails.”

The average home in the UK currently costs £264,573, according to Zoopla.


September 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM 1 comment

Help to Buy scheme needs a ‘permanent replacement’

The Government should introduce a permanent replacement to its Help to Buy scheme to enable more people to get on to the property ladder, a report claimed today.

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Mortgage insurer Genworth estimates that up to two million people who would like to have bought their first home since 2007 may not have been able to do so.

The group blamed the situation on the introduction of tougher mortgage regulations and greater capital requirements for lenders.

It said since new regulations were introduced in 2008 and 2009, there had been a dramatic reduction in high loan-to-value mortgages, while those that remained had become more expensive.

But it said the situation could be improved by introducing a mortgage insurance scheme to help lenders spread the risk of high loan-to-value loans.

The group found that someone buying a home costing £147,000 with a 75 per cent loan-to-value two year fixed rate mortgage would pay £496 a month, but someone buying the same property with a 95 per cent loan-to-value loan would face repayments of £843.

But it said a system of mortgage insurance for high loan-to-value loans could help to keep mortgages for people with small deposits affordable by transferring some of the risk away from lenders, while it would also protect the safety of the financial system.

Simon CroneSimon Crone, vice president for mortgage insurance (Europe) at Genworth, said: “The scale of frustrated demand is growing larger by the day.

Help to Buy must become a precursor to a permanent system where mortgage insurance for high loan-to-value loans – backed by capital relief – plays an ongoing role in helping first time buyers access the market, ensuring a sustainable rise in house building and protecting the safety of lenders and the financial system.”

The group used government and industry data to compare the number of people entering the housing market with expected demand.

It found that the number of people buying their first home was consistent at 10.26 million a year between 1985 and 2006, only slightly below the figure of 10.29 million, which would be expected based on population trends.

But it said since 2007 there had been a large and persistent deficit in first-time buyer numbers.

It estimates between 2007 and 2013 1.8 million people who would have hoped to buy their first home have been unable to do so.

It added that although the Government’s Help to Buy scheme had helped, nearly half of people who were expected to want to buy a home during 2014 were still unlikely to be able to do so.

Based on figures for the first six months of 2014, Genworth estimates there will be 296,200 first time buyers during the year as a whole, despite demographic trends suggesting more than 500,000 people would like to get on to the property ladder in 2014.


August 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM 1 comment

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