Mortgage lending to first-time buyers soared by more than 50 per cent during February as people continued to return to the property market, figures showed today.
A total of £3.1bn was advanced to consumers buying their first home during the month, in line with January’s figure, but a massive 55 per cent higher than in February 2013, the Council of Mortgage Lenders said.
There was also a 38 per cent year-on-year increase in lending to homemovers as demand for property remained strong.
Overall, a total of £7.8bn was advanced to both homebuyers and those remortgaging.
This was slightly below the £7.9bn lent in January, but 47 per cent ahead of the total for February 2013, as the recovery in the mortgage market continued.
Paul Smee, director general of the CML, said: “We would expect a seasonal lending dip around this time of year.
“However, lending to both first time buyers and home movers bucks this trend, continuing to show momentum.
“The substantial year-on-year growth shows how far the market has moved since the flat period experienced up until around a year ago.”
The typical first time buyer borrowed 3.4 times their gross income during February.
But low mortgage interest rates meant they spent just 19.2 per cent of their income on mortgage repayments, only slightly up on the recent low of 19.1 per cent seen in November 2013.
The typical amount borrowed by those buying their first home fell slightly to £119,000, compared with £119,735 in Janaury, while average incomes were also marginally lower at £35,297, down from £36,408.
But despite strong lending to those buying a property, remortagging activity was more subdued.
A total of 23,800 loans were advanced to those remortgaging, less than half the 48,400 that went to those buying a home.
Remortage loans totaled £3.5bn in February, 17 per cent lower than January’s figure but still 30 per cent up on the same month of 2013.
Buy-to-let lending was also lower than in January, although lending by both volume and value was up on February 2013.
Mr Smee warned that lending may fall when the Mortgage Market Review comes into force at the end of this month, given the magnitude of the changes the industry faced.
But he added: “Overall, we expect to see continuing growth in mortgage borrowing ahead, within responsible lending parameters, as the pent-up demand of the recession years finds an outlet in a stronger market.”
The figures come as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said property sales jumped to a six-year high during the first quarter of the year as buyers continued to return to the market.
But the group warned that the supply of new homes being put up for sale remained low after the predicted ‘spring bounce’ had failed to materialise, with new instructions falling for the third month in a row.
It said the ongoing mis-match between supply and demand would put further upward pressure on prices, with surveyors expecting annual house price inflation to average 6 per cent per annum during the next five years.
But despite rising house prices there are few fears that the property market will be stoked by irresponsible lending practices.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Any fears that borrowers will be tempted to overstretch themselves can be allayed by the introduction of the Mortgage Market Review.
“Processing times for mortgage applications are likely to increase as a more forensic approach to expenditure is adopted but it should result in a more sustainable mortgage market.”
Today is Mortgage Freedom Day – the day on which new homeowners have earned enough money to cover the cost of their mortgage for the whole year.
It takes the average person who has recently bought a new property 100 days to earn enough to meet their annual mortgage repayments, according to Halifax.
But renters will have to work for another 32 days before they have brought in enough cash to cover their annual accommodation costs, with Rent Freedom Day not coming until May 12.
The average annual mortgage repayment currently stands at £6,954, while the average salary is £25,603 a year after tax, according to the group.
It said Mortgage Freedom Day occurred three days earlier this year than in 2013, while it is almost a month earlier than it was five years ago.
The date has been brought forward as a result of the average net annual income increasing by £2,153 during the past 12 months.
At the same time, the average mortgage payment has risen by only £357 a year during the same period.
Craig McKinlay, mortgage director at Halifax, said: “While monthly mortgage and rental costs account for the majority of many people’s household budgets, Mortgage Freedom Day provides a different perspective on how much we spend on these costs over the course of a year.
“Our research shows that today, if people had put everything they’d earned since the start of the year towards their mortgage, the average homeowner would be mortgage free for the remainder of the year, which is a reassuring thought.”
Unsurprisingly, there is considerable regional variation in when Mortgage Freedom Day occurs.
Homeowners in four London boroughs have to wait until well into July before they have earned enough to cover their annual mortgage costs.
At the other end of the scale, people in Armagh in Northern Ireland have the earliest Mortgage Freedom Day, with it falling on February 13.
On a regional basis Mortgage Freedom Day occurs earliest in Northern Ireland, falling on March 10, followed by Scotland where it is on March 11.
Unsurprisingly, London has the latest Mortgage Freedom Day, with homeowners in the capital having to wait until May 20 to have earned enough to meet their annual mortgage costs, closely followed by the South East on May 2.
Property sales jumped to a six-year high during the first quarter of the year as buyers continued to return to the market, figures showed today.
The average chartered surveyor estate agent sold 22.7 homes in the three months to the end of March, the highest level since February 2008, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The group said the pick up in activity occurred across Britain, with all regions seeing an increase in inquiries from potential buyers, apart from Wales, where interest was static following strong growth in the previous months.
At the same time, there was a big increase in newly agreed sales outside of London and the South East for the second consecutive month.
But the group said that while activity was now encouraging in areas of the country where it had previously been stagnant, the market continued to be hampered by a shortage of homes being put up for sale.
It added that the predicted ‘spring bounce’ had failed to materialise, with new instructions falling for the third month in a row.
The imbalance between supply and demand continued to push prices higher during the month, with 57 per cent more surveyors reporting price rises than those who recorded falls.
Outside of London and the South East, price gains were strongest in the South West and East Midlands.
It was the eleventh consecutive month in which house price rises had been recorded by the survey across Britain as a whole, the longest period of consistent growth since the onset of the financial crisis.
With no sign that the current shortage of homes on the market will ease any time soon, surveyors expect property prices to continue rising into the summer.
Overall, 48 per cent more surveyors expect the value of property to increase during the coming three months, while 77 per cent more expect gains over the coming 12 months.
Looking further ahead, surveyors now expect annual house price inflation to average 6 per cent per annum during the next five years.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Now that the housing market recovery is well and truly underway and mortgage finance is more readily available, buyers seem to be looking to test the market right across the country, not just in the usual hot spots of the South East.”
But he said it was a “major concern” that enough houses to meet this demand were not coming on to the market.
He said: “For the market to operate effectively, we desperately need more homes in areas where people want to buy and want to live.
“Until this happens we’re likely to see prices continue to increase and it is going to be ever harder for many first-time buyers to conceive of ever owning their own home.”
Today’s figures come after Nationwide said house prices rose for the fifthteenth consecutive month in March, while Halifax said annual house price inflation was rising at its fastest rate for nearly six-and-a-half years, although it reported a price fall on a monthly basis.
But other data suggests there is not a bubble building up in the market, with mortgage approvals for house purchase actually falling slightly during February, according to the Bank of England.
Britain’s seaside towns are under attack, with one tourist chief claiming once-popular resorts are in danger of “death and decay” without Government investment.
Hotelier Jim Fowler claims coastal locations like Ilfracombe in Devon, are turning into ghost towns – and his fears have been echoed by Malcolm Bell, head of tourism at VisitCornwall.
However, while some holiday towns can be deeply depressing out of season (and a little too “kiss me quick” when thousands of tourists descend) there are some absolute treasures, whose good value quality period housing stock, sea views, good looks, disproportionately good facilities (thanks to those same tourists), and community feel make them excellent places to live all year round.
On the most westerly point of the Cumbrian coast, around 40 miles south of the Scottish border, is St Bees. This is one for those who like their beaches dramatic and not too crowded: the expanses of sand are huge, and fringed by towering red sandstone cliffs. The area is beloved of walkers, particularly as St Bees is also close to the Lake District National Park.
The village itself is pretty and traditional and popular with parents thanks to the presence of its own primary school, rated “good” by Ofsted. In their spare time residents can choose between jet skiing and paragliding, just two of the sea-based sporting options available. The town centre is hilly but pretty, and there are several pubs to enjoy.
“It is a cute, popular little seaside town,” said Angelina Chapple, manager of Lillingtons estate agents.
“It is a really popular place to live, partly because it has got its own train station. And you get a lot of families because of the schools.”
The average property price in St Bees currently stands at £201,004, up 7.73 per cent in the last year.
The village centre is full of pretty cottage style houses, some Georgian, and Chapple says a two bedroom house would cost around £100,000, while larger properties with five or six bedrooms would cost between £250,000 and £285,000.
At the other extreme of England, more than 350 miles south is another seaside gem, Southsea, in Hampshire. Southsea is a great little town and has the benefit of being only a mile from the centre of Portsmouth, which means residents can easily take advantage of its shop and transport links.
Southsea also has a good high street of its own, as well as plenty of bars and restaurants. Its beach is gravelly, and blessed with not one but two piers. Southsea Common means you are never far from some open space, and the town is large enough to sustain a theatre and annual music and arts festival.
Families like the area because of the presence of Charter Academy (seniors) rated as the best performing school in Portsmouth and the second-most improved school in England and Wales at GCSE level.
Steve Sprake, director of Pearsons estate agents said Southsea was one of the most sought after addresses in the Portsmouth area. “It is a busy, bustling place, with everything on your doorstep – you don’t need a car,” he said. “It is a thriving town with a good blend of shops and restaurants. It is a great place to live.”
The average property in Southsea currently stands at £194,593, up 8.21 per cent in the last year.
If you would like a seafront flat – many former hotels have been transformed into apartments – expect to pay around £200,000-plus for a two bedroom property. A Victorian or Edwardian townhouse with four bedrooms would cost on average between £350,000 and £400,000.
North Norfolk is famous for its beaches and Cromer is one of its nicest traditional beach towns – and one which has not been rendered totally unaffordable by an influx of second home owners from London.
The town has it all – two blue flag beaches, good shops, and plenty of cafes and restaurants.
Freshly caught fish and seafood is sold daily on the beach, and it’s a great starting point to explore the whole coastline as well as the Norfolk Broads.
Cromer Academy (seniors) is a small but highly rated school, and the town is large enough to support a string of primary schools which earn “good” ratings from Ofsted.
The town does have its share of seasonal “bucket and spade” shops, but it also has independent art galleries and craft shops to counterbalance.
Louis de Soissons, a director of Savills estate agents said he believed that Cromer was on the up. “There are some very nice houses in Cromer with fabulous sea views, and it has got a lot of character and charm,” he said.
“There is also a lot of investment going on. There has been a lot of regeneration of the old seafront area and the pier is being restored. At the moment it is good value for the North Norfolk coast, but I don’t suppose it will stay like that forever.
Average prices in Cromer stand at £201,670, up 9.38 per cent in the last year. Expect to pay £300,000 plus for a four bedroom Edwardian house, or from around £150,000 for a two bedroom flat close to the sea.
Properties for sale:
1. Family sized Victorian house in Cromer, on the market for offers over £350,000
2. Pretty pastel-painted townhouse in the centre of Southsea, with three bedrooms, for £329,950
3. Spacious two bedroom flat in a period building in the heart of St Bees for £115,000
If you’re buying a typical three or four bedroom property in Britain, the statistics show you can expect to spend more than a quarter of a million pounds. But what if you are looking for a larger property? Particularly, if you’re a landlord or looking to run a hotel? Here, we show you properties with at least 10 bedrooms that have an asking price of less than £250,000.
1. Eleven bedroom semi-detached house in Liverpool for £244,950
2. Twelve bedroom end of terrace house in Great Yarmouth for £225,000
3. Fourteen bedroom property in Blackpool for £120,000
4. Ten bedroom detached house in Weston-Super-Mare for £225,000
5. Ten bedroom end of terrace house in Blackpool for £89,999
6. Ten bedroom terraced house in Margate for £240,000