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Demand for homes in rural areas rises due to the pandemic

London firm Urbanist Architecture has seen a 65% increase in enquiries for homes in the countryside since Q4 2019, research from architecture and planning firm Urbanist Architecture has found.

With the UK population confined to their homes for the majority of 2020, lockdown has caused an increasing number of city dwellers to rethink their current surroundings and yearn for greener pastures and open spaces.

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Ufuk Bahar, managing director at Urbanist Architecture, said: “Prior to COVID-19, around two-thirds of our projects were focused in highly desirable London boroughs such as Westminster, Islington, Camden and Greenwich, with work ranging from extensions to new build homes and flat conversions.

“Those working in London wanted to build a life in the city and its sought-after Zone 2/3 suburbs, and a fast commute into Zone 1 was, more often than not, a deciding factor when our clients were deciding where to live.

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“Although our team has strong experience in delivering countryside and green belt projects, we could have never predicted the demand we’re seeing now.

“More and more clients are coming to us looking for large plots of land in truly rural locations, with many deciding to ditch city life and the daily commute for good in the wake of the pandemic.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Mortgage payment holidays extended until July next year

Mortgage lenders have extended mortgage payment holidays until 31st July 2021 for those whose finances have been affected by the pandemic.

People have until 31st March 2021 to apply, while they need to do so before 31st January to get a six-month deferral.

Those who have already taken a six month payment holiday are ineligible, and will need to contact their lender for “tailored support” instead.

Eric Leenders, managing director of personal finance at UK Finance, said: “Lenders are continuing to provide unprecedented levels of support to help customers through the Covid-19 crisis, with over 2.6 million mortgage payment deferrals already granted.

“As the impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across the country, the banking and finance industry stands ready to deliver ongoing assistance to those in need.

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“While it will always be in the long-term interest of customers who are able to do so to resume making payments, all lenders will be providing tailored support for anyone who is still struggling.

“There are a range of different ways to get in touch, including through online chat, social media and mobile and banking apps.

“As you will appreciate, phone lines are very busy at this time and we would encourage only those customers who are facing an immediate issue with their finances to call their provider in the first instance.”

Lenders will not enforce repossessions, or attempt to get a warrant for possession before 31 January 2021.

Robin Fieth, chief executive of the Building Societies Association (BSA), said: “Whilst the best advice is always to pay your mortgage if you are able to, anyone who is struggling to do this could benefit from the extension to the mortgage payment deferral scheme or other tailored support that is available from lenders.

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“It’s important that customers discuss their situation with their lender as soon as they become concerned, and before they miss a mortgage payment. Lenders will do everything in their power to help borrowers in financial difficulty at this challenging time – keeping people in their homes is the objective.

“The FCA has been in listening mode throughout the pandemic and their final guidance includes industry suggestions, specifically the ability to top up to six months even if a borrower has had two shorter deferral periods already and not excluding borrowers who have missed a payment after a deferral period from the scheme.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Prime London activity rises

Property instructions in Prime London rose by 68% year-on-year in October, suggesting there will be more completions in the months ahead.

The analysis, from LonRes, also found that transaction levels crept by 4% annually in October, with 25% more houses being sold.

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Marcus Dixon, head of research at LonRes, said: “As England enters its second, hopefully short-lived lockdown, the property market has been spared any significant restrictions. Indeed, viewings, negotiations and progression of property transactions are one of the few things which can continue under current rules.

“Nationally agents are reporting significant increases in sales, and while activity levels across prime London are more subdued, they are starting to translate into in sales (exchanges). That said, buyers remain cautious, with prices at or slightly below levels seen a year ago.

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“Like those moving out of the capital, it’s space that buyers across prime London are looking for. More expensive homes, particularly family houses, are in demand and have seen the strongest growth – both in terms of achieved prices and volumes sold.”

While the jump in instructions is significant, last year was a particularly slow year for Prime London. Indeed, instructions are 37% higher than the 5-year average.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Rightmove reports strong demand despite lockdown 2

The first six days of the second lockdown have seen demand climb by 49% year-on-year, as buyers push forward to make purchases before the March stamp duty deadline.

Rightmove’s House Price Index found that national sales agreed were up 50% on October last year.

It’s estimated that here’s 650,000 sales going through the buying and selling process, 67% more than at the same time in 2019.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: ‘The mini-boom has been given a further shot in the arm with Lockdown 2.0.

“Sellers are being more realistic in their pricing and taking advantage of the demand.

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“Some sellers were guilty of unrealistic pricing, believing buyers would pay through the roof but now, with the clock ticking before the stamp duty holiday ends in March, they’ve had to become more realistic and accept lower offers or reduce their pricing.”

“Prices and volume levels are astronomically higher than this time last year, when we were facing the general election. Now, with the election long over, Brexit brewing and a possible vaccine for Covid-19, we are hoping for a strong end to the year, before the economic reality of the pandemic really hits.”

Despite this strong activity, surprisingly the average property price coming to market has dropped by -0.5% between September and October.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Although, of course, only reflecting ‘asking’ not ‘selling’ prices, the Rightmove figures confirm what we’ve been seeing on the ground for several weeks.

“History is repeating itself. Additional restrictions and the threat of another lockdown have delayed – not halted – property moves as buyers and sellers once again demonstrate their determination to negotiate hard and take maximum advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

“Nearly all are acutely aware that delays in arranging mortgages, valuations and conveyancing will mean meeting the 31 March deadline won’t be easy, even if deals are agreed in the next few weeks.

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“We have also noticed that the prospect of a vaccine has given an extra boost to viewings this week, even though it is still very early days. But on the other hand, this may make some sellers less likely to accept what they regard as unrealistic offers.”

Aboody reckons it’s likely there will be extension to the stamp duty holiday deadline.

He added: “It would be surprising if the government didn’t extend stamp duty relief beyond March, so as not to coincide with the extended furlough scheme finishing.

“This would significantly help in propping up the market, and needs to be coupled with continued cheap borrowing and the return of higher loan-to-values, to ensure the housing market doesn’t take a huge hit.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Arrears and possessions low amid continued Covid-19 support

Homeowner mortgage arrears remained at historically low levels in Q3, while buy-to-let arrears rose slightly from a low base, figures from UK Finance has shown.

In the third quarter of the year, there were 74,850 homeowner mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance, a 5% increase on the same period last year.

Of those, 24,860 mortgages were in significant arrears of 10% or more of the outstanding balance.

The payment holiday granted to borrowers due to the pandemic helped those in early arrears – falling less than 5% behind payments – to catch up with commitments resulting in a 5% decline in the number of borrowers in debt.

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As of October, 140,000 borrowers were still on a mortgage payment holiday.

Meanwhile, there was an 8% increase in borrowers who were behind payments by at least 7.5% of the outstanding balance, showing a rise in those who were missing payments for longer periods.

Overall, UK Finance said the levels of homeowner arrears this year were historically low compared to the last three years.

Buy-to-let arrears

There were 5,400 buy-to-let mortgages in arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance in the Q3, a 19% rise on last year.

However, with the number of buy-to-let arrears staying below 5,000 for the last three years, this increase is coming from a low base and numbers were still lower than previous years.

Of the indebted buy-to-let mortgages, 1,350 were in significant arrears of 10% or more of the outstanding balance.

Due to the ban on involuntary repossessions because of the pandemic, there were just 160 homeowner and 230 buy-to-let possessions during the quarter, an annual decline of 88 and 71% respectively.

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Stifled by borrower support

Jeremy Leaf, estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “Mortgage arrears and possessions are always a key indicator of market strength as many will not be activated unless lenders believe there is a good chance of selling.

“Over the past year or so, lenders have been reluctant to enforce proceedings, but mortgage holidays won’t last indefinitely and particularly if debts can’t be serviced.”

“As a result, we are likely to see an increase in possessions and for that matter, arrears as government support falls away, which will inevitably have an impact on housing supply and will help to keep rising prices in check,” he added.

Written by: Shekina Tuahene

Source: Your Money

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Rental Market Buoyant Except In London

Rents in London have fallen during the Coronavirus pandemic, property portal Zoopla has reported. However, London is the exception and rents risen in a buoyant rental market across the UK as a whole, it said.

‘Average rents in London have fallen by 5.2 per cent over the last 12 months, reaching levels last seen in 2014’, Zoopla found. It puts this down to ‘new working patterns and lack of tourism during pandemic’.

In contrast, rents increased outside London by 1.7 per cent and rental has increased by a fifth over last year – strong demand that is being driven by a squeeze on lending to potential first-time buyers, said Zoopla.

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‘At the same time, supply remains constrained with levels of investment in buy to let still reduced following the changes to Stamp Duty (the additional 3 per cent surcharge on second properties) and the wider tax regime introduced from 2016 onwards’.

Renters are showing increasing interest in larger properties, especially those that may have access to outside space.

‘The search for space, first seen in the sales market, is now being firmly replicated by renters. Zoopla’s top searches for rental properties include the terms gardens, parking, garages, balconies and pets, reflecting a need for outdoor space and freedom necessary to cope with lockdown. There is also evidence that while the market as a whole is moving more quickly, the market for rented houses is moving more quickly than that for rented flats, reflecting this desire for more space among renters’.

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‘For most of the UK, the demand/supply gap is underpinning moderate levels of rental growth’, said Zoopla head of research Gráinne Gilmore.

‘The split in the rental market caused by COVID-19 has now crystallised and we are seeing the two-speed market firmly entrenched.

‘We haven’t seen the exodus of students from cities and, as more people are staying in the rental market given the squeeze on mortgage lending, higher levels of demand will continue to underpin rents. At the same time however, muted earnings growth will start to limit the headroom for rental growth in some markets.

‘The search for additional space, both indoor and outdoor, within the rental sector is also set to continue as the country goes through additional periods of lockdown’

Source: Residential Landlord

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Mortgage searches on the rise as second lockdown began

Twenty7Tec has released figures on the state of the mortgage market one week after the second UK lockdown began.

The findings showed that weekly mortgage search volumes are currently at 87.79% of the year’s highest figure, up 6.8% on the week before.

Weekly buy-to-let (BTL) mortgage search volumes are at 92.09% of the year’s high, up 8.0% on last week.

Weekly residential mortgage search volumes are at 87.56% of the year’s high, up 6.8% on last week.

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In regard to ESIS documents, weekly mortgage ESIS documentation figures are currently at 91.42% of the year’s highest figure, up 7.5% on the week before.

Weekly BTL mortgage ESIS documentation figures are currently at 89.75% of the year’s highest figure, up 7.8% on the week before.

Weekly residential mortgage ESIS documentation figures are currently at 90.13% of the year’s highest figure, up 7.4% on the week before.

James Tucker, chief executive of Twenty7Tec, said: “Each time we go into a lockdown, regional or national, there is a drop-off in the volume of mortgage searches that takes place, and also a drop-off in the number of ESIS documents prepared.

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“The dip in volumes actually happens in the few days before the lockdown begins as customers focus on dealing with the practical elements of a lockdown.

“Then, immediately as the lockdown starts, mortgage search volumes begin to rise again.

“We’ve seen it again and again this year on a UK-wide, home nation and regional level before and just after we enter lockdown.

“Any drop is then is consistently mirrored by a spike of mortgage search volumes within a day or two of the lockdown beginning.

“There was a definite blip in activity last week as people mentally prepared for lockdown 2.0.

“For context, last week’s drops were less than we’d expect in a bank holiday week.

“In lockdown 2.0, we are still seeing search volumes higher than we did in pre-lockdown Spring.

“That feels like a world away now, but was, at the time, incredibly busy for all our clients.

“BTL currently forms 19.11% of all searches in the past week and 20.87% of all documents prepared against in the past week.

“BTL searches volumes have been relatively steady all year and those searches are converted into ESIS documents more often than residential searches.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Properties in Glasgow are selling faster than any other UK city

Residential properties in Glasgow are currently selling faster than anywhere else in the UK, fresh figures show.

The latest findings from Savills Home Truths Research on the Glasgow and the West of Scotland property market shows that Greater Glasgow’s housing market has seen significant growth in activity since it reopened in July following a six-week Scotland-wide lockdown, with a 44% increase in agreed sales, compared to the same period last year.

Cameron Ewer, Savills head of residential in Scotland, said: “The housing market in Glasgow is busier than we’ve ever seen it. Many people are looking to shake up how they live and are prioritising a new lifestyle over the cost of securing it. As a result, the right properties are attracting multiple offers and selling quickly.

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“We tend to see an increase in new instructions at this time of year, but this year it’s off the charts. The number of people registering to buy with us in the last week of August was 100% higher than during the first 12 weeks of the year, and we’ve seen an 80% increase in the number of viewings.

“Off-market sales have also increased by around 50% – a good indication that buyers are committed and willing to pay at or close to the valuation.”

In Savills’ latest buyer survey, 55% of Scottish respondents said that a village location had become more attractive due to the experience of lockdown. Savills research reveals a growth of 2% in prime values in areas surrounding Glasgow in the year to the end of September, as a result of a fresh focus on room to work from home and to access outdoor space.

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Faisal Choudhry, head of Savills Residential Research in Scotland, said: “The number of new buyers who registered with us between July and September to buy a property across Greater Glasgow and the West of Scotland was 103% higher than the same period in 2020.

“Last year over 60% of our buyers were families, attracted by the area’s good schools and the exceptional quality of life on offer. However, our latest data suggest that a renewed appreciation of space, the ability to work for home and access to outdoor space are perhaps becoming even more important drivers of demand.”

Meanwhile, demand has remained strong in Glasgow City where a lack of supply has driven a 6.8% rise in values in the year to the end of September.

Despite delays in completions as a result of lockdown, £1m-plus activity in 2020 has remained the same as the 10-year average, which demonstrates top-end market expansion in recent years. This includes a sale at £2.9m in Glasgow’s West End, a record for the city.

Choudhry added: “We have seen a 46% increase in the number of sales agreed for properties above £1m across Scotland between July and September compared with the same period a year ago.”

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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House Prices At Record High But Headwinds Expected

Average UK house price reached new record high in October although the market looks set to slow in the coming months, reported Halifax in its latest House Price Index, published this week

‘The average UK house price now tops a quarter of a million pounds (£250,457) for the first time in history, as annual house price inflation rose to 7.5 per cent in October, its highest rate since mid-2016’, said Halifax, said Halifax managing director Russell Galley. ‘Underlying the pace of recent price growth in the market is the 5.3 per cent gain over the past four months, the strongest since 2006. However, month-on-month price growth slowed considerably, down to just 0.3 per cent compared to 1.5 per cent in September.

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‘Overall we saw a broad continuation of recent trends with the market still predominantly being driven by home-mover demand for larger houses. Since March flat prices are up by 2.0 per cent compared to a 6.0 per cent increase for a typical detached property. In cash terms that equates to a £2,883 increase for flats compared to a £27,371 rise for detached houses’.

Latest figures put home-buyer mortgage approvals at their highest level since 2007, ‘as transaction levels continue to be supercharged by pent-up demand’, said Galley.

Government support measures have helped to delay an expected downturn in the housing market but ‘they will not continue indefinitely’.

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The macroeconomic landscape in the UK remains highly uncertain, said Galley. ‘With a number of clear headwinds facing the housing market, we expect to see greater downward pressure on house prices as we move into 2021’.

Halifax figures mirror those of Nationwide which put October house price growth at 5.8 per cent, and monthly rises of 0.8 per cent.

The annual rate of increase was the highest recorded by Nationwide since January 2015, said its chief economist Robert Gardner.

But, he added, ‘data suggests that the economic recovery has lost momentum in recent months with economic growth slowing sharply to 2.1 per cent in August, down from 6.4 per cent in July.

‘The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy’.

Source: Residential Landlord

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More landlords look to expand outside London and the South East

One in 10 landlords plan to purchase buy-to-let properties this year, up from 3% at the end last year, Source Business research shows.

The rise in landlord confidence and a change in tenant priorities following the lockdowns is leading investors to a move away from London and the South East, to less built-up areas.

Increasingly tenants want greater home working space and leisure time, resulting into a spike in demand for larger properties.

Mish Liyanage, managing director of The Mistoria Group, said: “We are seeing a rise in professional landlords looking to acquire affordable terraced properties with gardens and apartments in the North West. Lower prices, high yields, expanding population and Northern Power house initiative/HS2 have contributed to this interest.

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“A significant proportion of the professional landlords that we work with are located in the Midlands and the South, but want to invest in the North West, because of the attractive property prices, high yields and occupancy rates. Many investors are moving away from London and the South East and are searching for regions that give them exceptional returns.”

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At the end of 2019, 82% of landlords claimed that they had no plans to acquire another property in 2020, while just 3% were intending to add more than a single property to their portfolio.

Soon after the stamp duty holiday was implemented, 10% of landlords said they are now planning to purchase more properties and build on their portfolio, while just 5% said they had any intention to sell any existing properties.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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