Highest levels of post recession lending on remortgaging for April 2014

Mortgage lending bounced back during April with the average value of new loans hitting a record high, research showed today.


Advances to people remortgaging totalled £4.37bn during the month, 28 per cent up on a year earlier and the highest figure for any April since the recession struck in 2008.

The typical homeowner borrowed £160,806 through their new loan, the highest figure ever recorded, according to LMS.

Remortgage lending was also 21 per cent higher than it had been in March, when the market suffered a slump ahead of the implementation of the Mortgage Market Review.

The MMR, which requires lenders to use tough new affordability criteria, came into force on April 26.

But many lenders implemented the new rules and made changes to their systems in March ahead of the deadline.

Andy KneeAndy Knee, chief executive of LMS, said: “Remortgaging has battled back in April after a dip in March at the early hand of MMR, having also been struck by a creeping up of rates from lenders.

“Total lending value was up by more than a quarter since last year making it the largest amount in April since 2008, while the average loan has also set a new record.

“However, we still fully expect MMR to have a continued impact over the next few months before the market really gets back to a healthy normal for the second half of the year.”

The group, which processes 28 per cent of all remortgage transactions in the UK, estimates the number of people remortgaging was 9 per cent higher than it had been in March.

Homeowners were remortgaging after four years and seven months in April on average, broadly unchanged from both the previous month and the previous year.

They borrowed an average of 59 per cent of their property’s value, down from around 70 per cent when they had first purchased their home.

The group said that while lenders had begun raising their rates in anticipation of future hikes to the Bank of England Bank Rate, there were still good deals available.

Overall, 56 per cent or homeowners secured an interest rate that was lower than the previous one they had been on.

Unsurprisingly, people remortgaging in London had the biggest loans at an average of £269,867, while those in Wales had the smallest ones at an average of £104,842.


May 26, 2014 at 7:00 AM Leave a comment

Top 10 Grand Designs Houses

If you’re anything like us you may have a slight obsession with Grand Designs. Whether they are full chronicles, programme features or award winners we want to see them all. Below are our top 10 on the market.

How many do you recognise?

1. A Venetian style water tower with 360 degree views of London – it doesn’t get more grand than that. Now on the market for £5.2m.
Five bed in London – Foxtons


2. Featured back in 2004, Kevin McCloud had this Scottish home in his top 20 of all the Grand Designs. He described it as “a beautiful, romantic building, like a ship or an ark”.
Four bed in Helensburgh – Savills


3. ‘The White House’ – a seafront oasis or quirky and cool with stunning views.
Three bed in East Sussex – Phillips and Stubbs


4. Dubbed ‘The Sugar Cube’ this is another truly unique grand design. Now for sale at £1.5m.
Four bed in Bristol – Savills


5. It’s no surprise this unique home was winner of the 2006 Grand Designs best remodelled house in Britain award.
Five bed in Berkshire – Knight Frank


6. A more recent build from 2010 which cost £200,000 to build and was recently on the market for £975,000.
More Grand Designs profits


7. This Holland Park home had plenty of fame before it’s 2012 appearance on Grand Designs. The building, a former recording studio, has previously hosted artists such as Shirley Bassey, The Sex Pistols, Rod Stewart & John Lennon.
Four bed in London – Aylesford


8. A RIBA award-winning London home that featured on Grand Designs.
Five bed in Hackney – Foxtons


9. The renovation of this water works was chronicled on Grand Designs back in 2002. If you’re looking for character then this could be the ideal property for you.
Four bed in Derbyshire – Blundells


10. New to the market is the decagon house from 2007.  Its series of glass fronted decagons and courtyards forms a protected and private walled oasis near the city centre.
Six bed in Oxford – Penny & Sinclair


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

May 23, 2014 at 10:00 AM 1 comment

Cost of renting rises 10% to average of £777 a month

The cost of renting has soared by 10 per cent during the past year as the supply of properties fails to keep pace with tenant demand, research showed today.


The cost of renting has soared by 10 per cent during the past year as the supply of properties fails to keep pace with tenant demand, research showed today.

The typical renter paid £777 a month in April, rising to £1,464 for those living in London, according to letting agency network Sequence.

Despite the rising cost, demand for rental properties remained strong, jumping by 14 per cent during the past year.

But the supply of new properties to let coming on to the market failed to match the growing number of would-be renters, rising by just 1 per cent during the same period.

As a result, there were an average of five people looking to rent every property letting agents had on their books.

The situation was most acute in London, where demand for rental properties rocketed by 40 per cent in the year to the end of April, but the availability of rental homes actually dipped by 2 per cent.

Despite the mismatch between supply and demand, the number of new tenancies agreed rose by 20 per cent across the UK during the 12 months.

In London, the number of agreed tenancies surged by 41 per cent year-on-year, the biggest increase ever recorded.

Stephen NationStephen Nation, head of lettings for Sequence, said: “Activity in the rental market is at full throttle with annual growth across all key indicators.

“But whilst demand from tenants is up 14 per cent annually, the supply of property has crept up only marginally on April 2013, a trend which is driving up average national rents.”

He added that the strong figures showed that the rental market could boom at the same time as the property sales market.

The number of viewings made by tenants rose by 15 per cent year-on-year, but dropped by 5 per cent in April compared with the previous month.

The group said the monthly fall in viewings did not reflect a slowdown in the pace of the market, but rather the fact that prospective tenants realised they had to move fast if they were going to secure a property to rent.

Meanwhile there was a drop in the number of buy-to-let mortgage applications made during April, which the group claimed was a short-term consequence of the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review.

Mortgage applications were 1 per cent lower than in the previous month and 7 per cent down on April 2013.

The Government recently announced that letting agents will have to publish their fees in full in a bid to promote greater transparency.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said banning agents from charging fees to tenants, as Labour has called for, could lead to higher rents.


May 23, 2014 at 9:00 AM 1 comment

Phil’s Top Property Tip of the Month – Blooming gardens bring in buyers


It’s that time of year again when the Chelsea Flower Show inspires the green-fingered god and goddess in all of us, and thoughts turn wistfully to barbeques over long bank holiday weekends as temperatures start to soar.

Now is one of the optimum times to view a property – not only are the days longer and lighter, but gardens are beginning to come into full bloom and you can see the outdoor space on offer in the best possible light. For many buyers, particularly those with young children, finding a property with a good quality, private and enclosed garden or outdoor space is a huge bonus.

And for those in built-up urban centres even the smallest roof-terrace can be regarded as a luxury. But there are a few things to bear in mind when considering a property with outdoor space:

Orientation – Like location, one of the things you can’t ever change about your home is its orientation. A North, North West or North East facing garden will get very little sunlight and rules out any dreams of that herbaceous border. Particularly if it is only small backyard, you may find it is constantly in the shadow of the property, and while this may discourage you from sitting out in it, the more serious implication is that shadowed gardens tend to never dry out after a heavy downpour. Instead, keep an eye out for South, South-West or South-East facing rear gardens. If you’re viewing a house on a dull overcast day, you might even want to take a compass to help you get your bearings! Lastly, consider what time of day you would like to catch the sun most – morning sun for weekend breakfasts perhaps or evening sun for the after work BBQ? Or maybe you prefer morning sun brightening the bedroom more than you do the garden?

Size – A large garden is an important asset in itself, particularly in prime city locations – so don’t get too fazed by a mess. Remember that size is more important than current condition – landscaping can be relatively inexpensive, and clearing old debris or overgrown weeds is often not such a mammoth task as it looks. You can never grow a small backyard – but you can revamp a generous garden and add value to your property in the long term. Outdoor space opens up the opportunity for a conservatory, extension, or garage – and in some cases, even an annex or a second property.

Trees – pay attention to them. They cast shade and cause patchy lawns, dead leaves and twigs can block drains, fallen branches can damage property, and rogue roots can crack driveways and even disturb the foundations of houses built on heavy clay soils or peat. Many mature trees can be legally protected – so it may not be as easy to get rid of that problematic Oak as you think.

Boundaries – check your boundary rights and responsibilities – they aren’t always clear, take many different forms and can lead to tensions with the new neighbours. You will usually be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the hedge or fence on one side of your garden. Remember that if you want more privacy in your garden, you’ll have to consult with your neighbour first before erecting a higher fence or planting tall trees.

May 22, 2014 at 3:30 PM Leave a comment

Cleaning service tips for landlords

If you’re renting out your property, consider these top tips to ensure it is sets the standard when it comes to being clean, writes cleaning company Fantastic Cleaners, as a little effort initially will pay dividends throughout (and at the end) of the tenancy.

Fasntastic Cleaners 1

  1. Think ahead – don’t be afraid to arrange cleaning or repair services sooner than you need, as you’ll likely get a better price for doing so.
  1. Clean your carpet and upholstery after each tenant – people tend to clean their carpets on a semi-regular basis but forget about the upholstery – sofas, curtains, mattresses, etc. They will last a lot longer if cleaned regularly.
  1. Protect the carpets and upholstery with Scotch Gard – this will increase the lifespan of materials and colors and reduce the maintenance costs.
  1. Keep mattresses free of germs and dust mites by sanitizing them with UV light – this is good as tenants may have allergies.
  1.  Valeting of all appliances twice a year will prolong their life and energy efficiency.
  1. Hire a regular cleaner to maintain the property during the tenancy and request a mid-term deep clean.
  1. Hire a professional window cleaner after each tenant and request regular cleans – this will ensure the property stays well-lit.
  1. Save time and money by having one company to cater for all your cleaning needs.
  1. Make sure that any garden areas, walkways and patios are maintained well. A nicely trimmed hedge with a power washed driveway will attract more possible tenants than an unkempt garden area.
  1. Make sure you inspect your property regularly and take care of any odd jobs before any damage becomes worse.
  1. Paint the exterior of the house – if you are selling or renting a property, the outside needs to look as good as the inside, in order to get tenants or buyers through the door.
  1. The bathroom can be a ‘deal breaker’ for many tenants if it is not properly maintained. While you are unlikely to be able to increase the size of your bathroom without undertaking major structural work, you can take some relatively cheap steps to improve its quality and its perceived value, by resealing areas around the sink, toilet or shower area, replacing any old and worn grouting and old fixtures.

May 21, 2014 at 5:06 PM Leave a comment

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