5 under 50 – Five homes under £50,000

With average house prices returning to pre-credit crisis levels, it may seem unlikely to find a property with a £50,000 price tag in the mix. But here are five homes that fit the bill.

1. Two bedroom terrace in Blackburn

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2. Two bedroom bungalow in Cumbria

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3. Studio apartment in Plymouth

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4. Grade II Listed quarryman’s cottage in Gwynedd

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5. Two bedroom terrace in Rotherham for £50,000

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June 4, 2014 at 11:29 AM Leave a comment

Help to Buy is ‘not stoking’ house price inflation, research suggests

The Government’s controversial Help to Buy scheme is not stoking house price inflation, research indicated today.

Help to Buy 3

Less than 4 per cent of people buying their first home in the six months to the end of March took advantage of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, according to Genworth Financial.

The group, which analysed industry and government data, said just 5,843 loans to first-time buyers benefited from a Government mortgage guarantee during the period.

It said that this was too small a proportion of the 148,200 mortgages advanced to people buying their first home during the six months to have an inflationary impact on house prices.

In London, which has seen the steepest house price gains, just 342 mortgages were taken out by borrowers using the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme, or 1.4 per cent of the 25,300 first-time buyer loans.

But the group said the scheme, which helps people buy a home with a deposit of just 5 per cent, had played an important part in encouraging first-time buyers back to the market.

It calculated that it accounted for 16 per cent of the year-on-year increase in people buying their first home.

It added that it had also helped to ensure high loan-to-value mortgages remained available at affordable interest rates.

The Help to Buy scheme has come in for heavy criticism in some quarters, with commentators warning that it was causing steep increases in property values.

Today’s research comes the day after the European Commission called on the Government to reign in the scheme in a bid to prevent runaway house prices.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has also previously called for the scheme to be tightened and for buyers to be required to put down bigger deposits.

Simon CroneSimon Crone, Genworth vice president – mortgage insurance Europe, said: “These figures refute the notion that Help to Buy has flooded the market and show it delivering what it set out to achieve.

“What the scheme is doing, as a fraction of total first-time buyer activity, is offering hope to those who struggle to raise the average deposit but can still afford repayments and pass affordability checks.

“Responsible lending at higher LTVs has a vital role to play, especially when it is getting tougher for people on good wages to save a deposit as prices rise.”

The group added that the scheme meant the availability of 90 per cent and 95 per cent mortgages withstood the impact of the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review on April 26.

The number of different mortgages available fell in all LTV categories during May apart from for loans at 90 per cent, which actually recorded a 1 per cent rise in availability.

A total of 337 mortgages were available for people with just a 10 per cent deposit during May, while there were 54 loans for people with just 5 per cent to put down.

There are now 90 more mortgages with a 95 per cent LTV compared with a year earlier, which the group attributed to the impact of the Help to Buy scheme.

Competition in the high LTV market has also helped to limit interest rate increases for these loans.

The average cost of a two-year fixed rate deal on a 95 per cent LTV has increased by just 0.09 per cent since the beginning of the year to stand at 5.14 per cent in April, while a 90 per cent LTV loan has risen by 0.12 per cent to 4.46 per cent.

But the typical cost of a two-year fixed rate mortgage for people borrowing 75 per cent of their home’s value has increased by 0.16 per cent during the same period.

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June 4, 2014 at 7:00 AM Leave a comment

UPDATED: House prices return to pre-credit crisis level

House prices rose at their fastest rate for nearly seven years during May pushing values back above their pre-correction peak, figures showed today.

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The average cost of a home jumped by 0.7 per cent during the month, the thirteenth consecutive monthly increase, according to Nationwide.

The rise helped to push annual house price growth up to 11.1 per cent, the highest level since June 2007.

It left the average property costing £186,512, just above the previous peak of £186,044 reached in October 2007, before the housing market correction began.

But despite the strong figures, there were signs that the rate of house price growth may be beginning to moderate.

The three-month-on-three-month change, which provides a better indication of underlying market trends, dropped to just 2.3 per cent.

It was the third consecutive month during which the growth rate has eased, leaving it at its lowest level since August last year.

Today’s figures come the day after data from the Bank of England showed that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase dropped during April for the third month in a row.

Robert Gardner Chief EconomistRobert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “There have been tentative signs that activity in the housing market may be starting to moderate, with mortgage approvals in April around 17 per cent below January’s high.

“It is too early to say whether nationally this is indicative of a cooling trend in the wider market.”

He said the slowdown in activity may have been caused by the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review, under which lenders have to apply tougher affordability criteria.

Although the new rules did not come into force until April 26, many lenders introduced them ahead of schedule.

Gardner said: “The underlying pace of activity should become more evident as we move through the summer months and the impact of MMR becomes clearer. 
“However, with mortgage rates close to all-time lows and labour market conditions continuing to improve, underlying demand for homes is likely to remain strong.”

The figures come as the European Commission called on the Government to reign in its Help to Buy scheme and increase council tax on expensive homes to stop house prices rising too steeply.

It also urged it to increase housing supply.

It is not the first time that the Government has been warned that the Help to Buy scheme could be stoking house price inflation.

Nationwide pointed out that first-time buyers accounted for 48 per cent of all purchases during March, a record high and well up on the long-run average of 38 per cent.

But the group added that while the Government’s Help to Buy scheme was providing support to first-time buyers, the modest number of people it had helped so far, made it unlikely that it was behind the wider pick up in the housing market.

Recent strong house price gains have sparked concerns that a bubble may be building up in the market, particularly in London, where prices were rising at an annual rate of 18 per cent during the first quarter, according to Nationwide’s measure.

Matthew Pointon, 
property economist at Capital Economics, said: “Calls for the authorities to take action to cool the housing market are growing – the latest has come from the European Commission, who have urged the Chancellor to rein in the Help to Buy scheme.

“That would be a sensible first step, but further action by the Financial Policy Committee to ensure that mortgage underwriting standards do not ease any further is also on the cards.”

Strong price growth has left the average home in England costing £263,987, according to Zoopla.

June 3, 2014 at 9:25 AM Leave a comment

‘Swap’ a London flat for four bedroom detached home in Surrey?

It is somehow appropriate that Britain’s richest horse race is held at Epsom, Surrey, because this county contains – outside of prime central London – much of the country’s most expensive real estate.

Race horse

This weekend, millions of racing fans will watch the Epsom Derby, but there is much more to Surrey than this slightly faceless town – or indeed the footballer-friendly trophy homes of Englefield Green (handy for Chelsea FC’s training ground at Cobham) and vast new build mansions of the Wentworth Estate.

Godalming is the kind of lovely English town at which Surrey excels, its historic town centre peppered with smart shops, pretty pubs on the banks of the River Wey, and some cracking schools, most notably Godalming Junior School and Broadwater School and Rodborough Technology College (seniors).

Since trains to London Waterloo take less than 45 minutes this is prime commuter territory and it is estimated that around 60 per cent of homes in Godalming are sold to London commuters.

It means that prices are buoyant at an average £535,354, up 14.22 per cent in the last year alone. These prices are just over the county average of £499,093, up 8.17 per cent in the last year.

Tony Jamieson, senior partner at Clarke Gammon Wellers, said: “Godalming, is just five miles from Guildford and is popular with London buyers, downsizers and those wanting to move within the catchment area of schools.

“A good mix of independent shops and restaurants, such as modern Italian La Luna, as well as popular brands, including Waitrose and Boots, all centred on a pretty historic high street lined with weather boarded cottages, add to the pull for discerning buyers,” he said.

Marc WilliamsMarc Williams, senior branch manager at estate agents Gascoigne-Pees, agrees that Godalming’s quintessential British feel is what attracts buyers out of London.

“It has also got the schools, very low crime, and you can sell a flat in London and buy yourself a four bedroom detached house,” he said. “I have sold to so many people from the SW postcodes – houses sell in 24 to 48 hours at the moment.”

Williams estimates that buying into this rural dream would cost between £325,000 and £350,000 for a two bedroom cottage, or from £625,000 to £650,000 for a four bedroom house.

Another great option is the market town of Haslemere, on the doorstep of the South Downs National Park. Average prices here are £534,917, up 5.78 per cent in the last year.

Trains to London take from 49 minutes and the Hindhead Tunnel, which opened in 2011, has helped reduce road traffic on the A3 which has in turn encouraged buyers to consider this relatively far flung location.

The town centre is not only good looking but well-resourced with shops, cafes, restaurants, and there is film, music and theatre at the Haslemere Halls.

Parents rate Shottermill first for middle schools and Fernhurst Primary School.

“Typical house prices here range from £275,000 for a two bedroom flat to around £600,000 for a four bedroom detached house,” said Jamieson. “Buyers with a smaller budget should look to the nearby villages, such as Milford or Witley, where prices are slightly more affordable.”

Chobham is another Surrey gem, with a thriving high street and lots of great pubs in and around, in particular the Four Horseshoes where drinkers can sit and watch horses being shod at the nearby farriers.

The village sits prettily on the River Bourne surrounded by ancient woodland, open fields, and a 1,400 acre common. Local schools – particularly Valley End CofE Infants School and Gordon’s School are cracking – but catchment areas are just as tight as they are in London.

The nearest station is Woking, 3.5 miles away, from where fast trains reach London Waterloo in just 24 minutes.

Chobham may be fairly rich for many buyers’ blood with an average price of £709,737, but investment potential is good, with prices rising by 9.6 per cent in the last year alone.

Simon BanceSimon Bance, director of InVillages, said: “Chobham is a period village with a small community feel even though it is so close to London. It is quaint and it has got a lot of character.”

A two bedroom period cottage, oozing with charm, could be yours for around £380,000 to £400,000, but those who prefer to ride horses than gamble on them Bance estimates a five bedroom country house with 10 acres, plus stabling, would cost up to £2m.

Properties for sale: 

1. An idyllically lovely Georgian farmhouse, with a separate cottage, pool and stables, plus 16.5 acres, in Haslemere would be anyone’s dream country retreat although you will need £2,575,000 to secure it

02.06.14 Surrey 1

2. Alternatively you could opt for a pretty period cottage close to the town centre for a more manageable £298,000

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3. An immaculate period family house in Godalming, again close to the centre, could be yours for £625,000

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4. Alternatively a three bedroom Georgian townhouse in the town is on sale for £500,000

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5. Or you could live on the main street in a two bedroom listed cottage, dating from the early seventeenth century, on sale at £450,000

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6. But if you prefer your homes new consider a four bedroom home with lovely river views, by Linden Homes, on the market at £599,000

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7. Live the country house dream in Chobham, if you have £4.5m to blow

02.06.14 Surrey 7

June 3, 2014 at 8:00 AM Leave a comment

Gogglebox’s ‘posh couple’ Steph & Dom put £3.5m home on the market

Gogglebox stars Steph and Dom are reportedly being lined up to appear on Celebrity Big Brother this summer.

Steph and Dom from from Gogglebox.

The potential move into the Big Brother house follows their decision to put their own, luxury eight bedroom mansion up for sale for £3.5m.

The ‘posh couple’ have been made famous by the Channel 4 documentary, which sees couples, family and friends provide running commentary on the week’s TV.

It’s from their sofa that the duo are filmed – most often with a drink in their hands. They are perhaps best known for the time when they laughed so hard that their sofa flipped over.

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Dom bought their property in Sandwich, a small village in Kent, nine years ago and began an extensive programme of renovation works.

There’s the main eight bedroom house called Salutation, a further four bedroom property called Knightrider House, a gardener’s cottage, a coach house and a tea room all included in the sale.

It includes a B&B, featured on Channel 4’s Four In A Bed, where fellow B&B owners review one another’s establishments.

There is an extensive garden with a lake and a bowling green, all set in 3.5 acres. Estate agent Strutt & Parker is handling the sale.

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June 2, 2014 at 12:00 PM Leave a comment

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