Homebuyers face ‘more conservative lending environment’

Mortgage lending rose by 17 per cent during June, but the pace at which it is increasing showed signs of slowing, figures revealed today.

Mortgages 5

A total of £17.5bn was advanced during the month, 4 per cent more than in May and 17 per cent above the level for June 2013, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

But the group pointed out that while the year-on-year growth level was still strong, it was softer than the figures seen earlier in the year.

Lending rose by more than 40 per cent in both January and February compared with the same month of 2013 – more than double the increase seen in June.

Bob PannellBob Pannell, CML chief economist, said: “The macro-prudential interventions announced by the Financial Policy Committee in late June are finely calibrated and precautionary, but could nevertheless reinforce April’s Mortgage Market Review in tipping the UK towards a more conservative lending environment.

“It is difficult to gauge the short-term direction for house purchase activity and mortgage lending more generally, given unknown regulatory impacts and uncertainty as to when the first in a series of interest rate increases will take place.”

Recent strong house price inflation has led to concerns that a bubble may be building up in the property market, particularly in London where annual growth hit a record 20.1 per cent in May.

The rises have left the average cost of a home in the UK standing at £260,311, according to Zoopla.

But commentators have been quick to point out that while the property market recovery has been strong in London and southern regions, it is only just beginning to take off in other areas of the country.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has also said demand from potential buyers is beginning to moderate, while more properties are being put up for sale, helping to ease the previous mismatch between supply and demand.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England’s Trends in Lending survey showed a fall in the number of mortgages approved for house purchase during the three months to the end of May, amid reports of a slowdown in housing market activity.

It added that the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review may also have contributed to the drop as lenders introduced new processes and trained their staff.

There was also an increase in the cost of two-year fixed rate mortgages during the period on the back of speculation about when interest rates would start to rise.

The average rate charged on a two-year fixed rate deal with a loan to value (LTV) ratio of 75 per cent rose by 0.19 per cent during the three months, while the same mortgage with a 90 per cent LTV increased by 0.12 per cent.

The Bank said swap rates, upon which fixed rate mortgages are based, had risen by a similar amount during the three months.

It added that some major lenders expected mortgage rates to continue increasing during the rest of the year, partly due to rising swap rates.

Demand for mortgages from people buying a house increased “significantly” during the three months, and lenders expect this trend to continue going forward.

There was also a slight increase in mortgage availability during the period, particularly for people looking to borrow 90 per cent or more of their property’s value.

July 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM Leave a comment

What can you rent in Britain for monthly average of £745?

The average price of renting a property is currently £745 a month. But there is a huge variation in different parts of the country, with London costing £1,124 a month, while average rents in the East Midlands being almost half that amount at £575. What can a tenant rent around the country for £745?

1. Unfurnished two double bedroom flat in Manchester’s Stretford, with secure parking.

17.07.14 Rent 5

2. Modern three bedroom detached house in Warwickshire’s Rugby.

17.07.14 Rent 4

3. Two bedroom flat with driveway parking and communal gardens in Stafford’s Weston.

17.07.14 Rent 7

4. Unfurnished studio in a Grade II listed Regency building in Hove’s Palmeira Square.

17.07.14 Rent 1

5. A newly decorated two bedroom semi-detached house in Bristol’s Bradley Stoke.

17.07.14 Rent 2

6. Detached bungalow in York’s Appletree Village, with two double bedrooms, a single garage and maintained gardens.

17.07.14 Rent 6

7. Unfurnished two bedroom terrace house with new kitchen and bathroom in Chatham.

17.07.14 Rent 8



July 17, 2014 at 2:48 PM Leave a comment

Moving to the country? Historic Shropshire accessible within ‘2 hour commute’

Many people dream of a life changing move to the country, but few buyers’ dreams extend quite as far as Shropshire, the point at which England and Wales collide. Which is a great pity because this midlands county is blessed with an appealing mixture of historic towns like Shrewsbury and Ludlow and fabulous open countryside dotted with pretty villages.

16.07.14 Shrop 8

And its under-the-radar feel means that compared to neighbouring Cheshire or more fashionable rural hotspots Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire it represents fantastic value for money.

The average property price in the county is £206,260, up 7.71 per cent in the last 12 months.

Shropshire does not possess a city and its county town Shrewsbury is, said Kevin Boulton, a partner at Strutt & Parker, a somewhat quiet and sedate place, with beautiful architecture, walks beside the River Severn and a relaxed pace of life.

Shrewsbury was hit hard by the recession but its empty shops are filling up once more with a pleasing mixture of independents and chains and plenty of street cafes. A focal point is The Quarry, a riverside park and setting for the town’s annual flower show.

Buyers include locals moving in from the surrounding countryside, retirees and families drawn in by the schools. There is, of course, the eponymous public school, now co-ed, as well as good state options like The Priory School and Belvidere School, both for senior pupils and both rated “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Shrewsbury will become a more convenient option for commuters when, in December, Virgin Trains begins running a fast service that will reach the capital in two hours.

And the following year Shrewsbury’s atmosphere could become a little buzzier with the opening of University of Chester Shrewsbury Institute, which will accept its first students in October 2015.

The average Shrewsbury property costs £219,609, up 8.64 per cent in the last year and property in the town ranges from historic timber framed houses right in the town centre to lovely Georgian townhouses and Victorian villas. For £250,000 you could buy a city centre apartment or a small, two bedroom, townhouse. For £500,000 you could buy a larger Georgian townhouse in the city centre or head for the suburbs for a five bedroom, detached Victorian property (or a modern executive home).

Right at the top end the grandest Georgian houses, with eight to 10 bedrooms, gardens and parking, sell for between £1.5m and £2m.

If Shrewsbury is quiet then the south of Shropshire, with its sleepy villages and pretty hamlets, is positively inaudible. Its metropolis, if you can call it that, is Telford, close to the Welsh border (its castle was built in the eleventh century to repel the Celtic hordes).

This mediaeval town is breathtakingly pretty, packed with historic buildings and some extremely fine dining rooms. It has no less than three Michelin starred restaurants, and its tourist appeal means there are lots of interesting curio shops and cafes plus a good arts centre and cinema.

The town hosts a series of annual festivals, including a prestigious food festival, and a Shakespeare festival.

And while the standard of schools is somewhat mixed there are bright spots including Bishop Hooper CofE Primary School, rated “good” by Ofsted.

Average prices in Ludlow currently stand at £249,680, up 4.89 per cent in the last year.

Rai Fisher, a sales and lettings negotiator at Andrew Grant estate agents estimates that a budget of £250,000 will buy you a small but pretty Tudor house right in the town centre, with two bedrooms.

If you have £500,000 to spend you could buy a three to four bedroom terraced townhouse – probably one with Tudor roots but a ‘new’ Georgian façade – in the heart of the town or a four bedroom period detached home with a half-acre garden on the fringes.

Moving north, right at Shropshire’s northern border with Cheshire, is Ellesmere, a small Lakeland town surrounded by seven meres (long, but relatively shallow lakes). The area is perfect for walkers, riders and sailing enthusiasts and the town is small but beautiful with a couple of dozen shops on its high street, a weekly market, and some good traditional pubs. The town’s eponymous primary school is rated “good” by Ofsted, as is Lakelands School, for senior pupils.

Like the rest of the county the range of property available is wide, but John Quinn, director of Halls estate agents says buyers could buy a three storey redbrick cottage in the town centre for between around £120,000 and £170,000. If you want a larger home, four to five bedroom Victorian houses start at around £400,000.

Four miles away from Ellesmere is Colemere, probably its most sought after satellite village. Although it has no facilities to speak of its lovely period houses, unspoiled feel and waterside location push it into poll position with buyers. Buyers could spend around £300,000 on a two bedroom cottage in Colemere, or circa £650,000 for a period four bedroom house with five to 10 acres of land.

For sale:

1. The Shropshire countryside is a rich hunting ground for outstanding historic mansions, like Yeaton Peverey Hall, a Victorian pile near Shrewsbury. The Hall has 11 bedrooms, sits in about six acres, and comes with five self contained flats and plenty of useful outbuildings. It is on the market for £2.9m.

16.07.14 Shrop 1

2. For something a little more modest, Woolstaston Hall is a Grade II listed house with fabulous views over the south Shropshire hills. The six bedroom house, with 20 acres, is for sale at £1m.

16.07.14 Shrop 2

3. If you would prefer to be in town, this five bedroom wisteria clad beauty in Shrewsbury is on the market at £975,000.

16.07.14 Shrop 3

4. If you want a house with a Gothic twist this rambling six bedroom property in Coalbrookdale will fit the bill, for sale for £720,000.

16.07.14 Shrop 4

5. For buyers on a lower budget try a lovely three bedroom historic cottage in Market Drayton, priced at £129,000.

16.07.14 Shrop 6

6. Or a classic Shropshire ‘black and white’ timbered house in Ludlow, with three bedrooms, on the market at £255,000.

16.07.14 Shrop 7

July 16, 2014 at 3:07 PM Leave a comment

Bank of England’s Mark Carney says property bubble could ‘trigger recession’

Booming property prices could trigger a fresh recession as households become increasingly indebted, the Governor of the Bank of England has warned.

Bank of England

Mark Carney said a property price bubble remained the biggest risk to the UK’s economy in the medium term.

mark-carneyAppearing before the Treasury Select Committee, he warned that as property prices rose, households could become overstretched financially as they struggled to buy a home.

He added that if households took on high levels of mortgage debt, they would have less money to spend on other things, hitting consumption and posing a danger to the economy.

He said: “What happens if households are borrowing at high multiples is they have to economise on everything else in order to pay their mortgages.

“And if enough people are highly indebted, that has a big macroeconomic impact. It can tilt the economy back into recession, and we start from a position of vulnerability.

“There is the possibility that currently responsible lending standards become irresponsible to reckless.”

Carney defended the Financial Policy Committee’s recent decision to limit the volume of mortgages lenders could advance to people borrowing more than 4.5 times their income to 15 per cent as an “insurance policy” against a rise in high loan-to-income mortgages.

But he added that it had stopped short from banning these loans, as they did have a role to play, particularly for first-time buyers whose incomes were likely to rise in the future.

Carney added that the Bank would continue to take steps to ensure mortgage lending did not become “reckless” if necessary.

His comments came hours after Government figures revealed that house prices rose at their fastest rate for four years during May at 10.5 per cent, with annual price growth reaching a record 20.1 per cent in London.

They also showed that the average cost of a property bought by a first-time buyer had crossed the £200,000 threshold.

The important Treasury Select Committee hearing came on the day of a major cabinet reshuffle, deflecting some media coverage over Carney’s warning.

There have been growing concerns that a bubble could be building up in the property market, particularly in the capital.

But recent data has suggested that the market may be beginning to slow naturally in London, as would-be buyers bulk at the current high prices being demanded by sellers, with prices falling in some boroughs.

Potential buyers are also reported to have become more cautious following warnings from the Bank of England that interest rates could start rising sooner than previously expected.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also recently reported that more homes had begun to come on to the market, as sellers were keen to cash in on recent strong price gains.

At the same, the rate at which new buyers were registering with estate agents is falling, helping to ease the mismatch between supply and demand.

Data released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday also showed that house prices still remain below their pre-correction peak in all areas of the country apart from London, the South East and the East.

The average cost of a home in the UK now stands at £260,311, according to Zoopla.

July 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM Leave a comment

UPDATED: House price growth at highest level for 4 years

House prices rose at their fastest rate for four years during May pushed up by record growth in London, government figures showed today.

house prices 6

The average cost of a home in Britain rose by 10.5 per cent in the 12 months to the end of May, the fastest annual rate since May 2010, according to the Office for National Statistics.

London continued to lead the rest of the country, with house prices in the capital soaring by 20.1 per cent during the year, the highest jump ever recorded by the index.

But the ONS said property values increased strongly across most parts of the country, with the South East recording a gain of 9.6 per cent, while in the East prices rose by 8.6 per cent.

House prices rose by 0.8 per cent during May itself, to leave the typical home in Britain costing a record £262,000.

This figure was 7.3 per cent higher than the peak reached in January 2008 before the credit crisis triggered house price falls.

Property values rose in all regions of Britain during the 12 months to the end of May, apart from Northern Ireland, where they fell by 0.7 per cent.

Growth was most subdued in Scotland, with house prices edging ahead by just 3.6 per cent there during the year, followed by the North West and North East at 3.9 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

But despite the strong growth in many regions, house prices have passed their pre-crisis peak in only London, the South East and the East.

In Northern Ireland, the average home still costs nearly 49 per cent less than the high reached in August 2007, while in Scotland prices are 4.3 per cent below their previous peak and in Wales they are 3.7 per cent lower.

London continues to have the highest average house prices at £492,000, more than three times above Northern Ireland, which at £134,000 has the UK’s lowest property prices.

First-time buyers continued to face higher house price inflation than those trading up the property ladder in May.

The typical person buying their first home paid £202,000 during the month, 11.3 per cent more than first-time buyers paid in May 2013.

Former owner-occupiers buying a new home paid an average of £301,000, 9.5 per cent more than a year earlier.

Strong house price growth, particularly in the capital, has sparked concerns that a bubble may be building up in the property market.

The Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee recently introduced a cap on high loan-to-income mortgage lending in a bid to help cool the market.

But recent data, along with anecdotal evidence from estate agents, suggests that the market has already begun to cool naturally, while in some areas of the country, price growth remains subdued.

David Newnes, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move estate agents, owned by LSL Property Services, said:“The housing market recovery continues to seep across the country beyond the capital, but a balanced view has to be taken as some regions of the country have seen very little house price growth.

“Places like Lancashire and York are still experiencing annual growth below 1 per cent.”

He added: “There are also new signs that growth is beginning to slow as we move into summer.

“In London prices have begun to fall at the upper end of the market.

“In four of the top five most expensive London boroughs, average house prices have dipped below their respective peak levels.”

The average cost of a home in the UK now stands at £260,311, according to Zoopla.

July 15, 2014 at 10:32 AM Leave a comment

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