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First-time buyers losing interest in city living

City living is losing its appeal among first-time buyers, with the vast majority now preferring more subdued locations, Trussle has found.

As it stands just 29% of first-time buyers plan to buy in a city, compared to 53% in a suburb.

Miles Robinson, head of mortgages at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “The pandemic has increased the financial pressure many first-time buyers were already feeling, as well as creating a seismic shift in what people expect from their home.

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“As a result, financial pressures and rising house prices, alongside a desire for more outdoor space, means demand in more affordable rural locations is currently outpacing that for urban destinations.

“But lenders are starting to return to the market with higher LTV products, which could make more expensive homes in the city more accessible again.

“And, we may see renewed interest in city living once the vaccine has been rolled out and things begin to return to normality.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“As such, only time will tell if the current lust for country properties is a long-term trend or more of a spontaneous response.”

Higher house prices in urban locations are likely to play a huge factor in this trend, with 65% saying it’s ‘impossible’ to get on the housing ladder.

The research found that the average budget for a first home was £174,266.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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What will the property sector look like in 2021?

After the property sector was forced to halt everything during the first lockdown, the second half of the year saw demand for online conveyancing services bounce back dramatically.

We expect this surge to continue throughout Q1, due to a number of reasons.

For starters, the huge back up of prospective buyers and sellers after the spring 2020 market cut-off should keep demand going through early 2021.

Buyers have now had months more to save up a viable house deposit, and both sellers and buyers will want to get the ball rolling.

What’s more, low interest rates, resulting in cheaper mortgages for some, are spurring things on.

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Couple this with the stamp duty holiday continuing up until 31 March 2021, demand is still soaring.

After these incentives diminish come Q3 and 4, we forecast a plateau later in the year.

House Prices to Increase

Many believe that the end of the stamp duty holiday, combined with the end of the Furlough Scheme on 31 March 2021, will cause house prices to decrease.

That said, some think the increase in prices will continue into early 2021, and decrease come 2022. They believe that the peak in pricing will coincide with the usual spring boom in house sales, and continued growth will simply be subdued.

We are more inclined to agree with the latter. Low interest rates, as well as cheaper mortgages available for some people, will prop everything up until Q3 and 4.

Then, after this initial demand, and the stabilisation of the market post-COVID, we can see a decrease potentially following suit from 2022 onwards.

Continued Struggles for First-Time Buyers

Statistics show that home movers are set to overtake first-time buyers with home purchases once again. As the year moves to 2021, we can only predict that these struggles will continue for a number of reasons.

Firstly, continually rising house prices, as well as sky rocketing rent, low wages, and unemployment, makes it near impossible for first-time buyers to save a deposit.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

What’s more, despite low interest rates, a withdrawal of high loan-to-value mortgage products disproportionately affected first-timers, who typically require bigger mortgages to cover the lack of a hefty deposit.

We can expect this struggle to continue if the picture isn’t changed.

What’s more, new equity loan scheme, which is aimed at supporting first-time buyers with new-build purchases, may not have the intended effect.

It certainly seems like a great opportunity, but the country is still lacking affordable housing for many, so we doubt it’ll help.

Then, we have the stamp duty holiday, which has only really benefitted those already on the ladder, further increasing the disparity between first-time buyers and others.

Finally, young people have been affected most dramatically by unemployment this year, further compounding the issue.

What Are Your Predictions for the 2021 Property Market?

Evidently, there’s no clear picture of how the property market will look in 2021. It all depends on how the government deals with the pandemic in the new year, as well as the success of the vaccine.

It’ll also depend on how quickly unemployment rates get back on track.

By Daniel Chard

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Low deposit mortgage deals at six-month high

The mortgage market has shown signs of recovery as the number of 90% loan to value (LTV) products reached a six-month high while overall choice has improved.

The number of low deposit mortgages almost doubled from 72 to 160, according to a Moneyfacts report.

However, those who require a 90% LTV mortgage still have fewer options than those with more money to put down. Borrowers who qualify for an 85% LTV mortgage have 439 products to choose from and 75% LTV borrowers have 629.

In total, there are currently 2,893 residential mortgages on the market, the most recorded since April 2020 when there were 3,192 mortgages available. This is up slightly from the 2,782 on the market last month.

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Rates on the up

The average rate for a two-year fixed mortgage across all LTVs rose for the sixth month in a row by 0.03% to 2.52%, the highest average rate since January 2019.

The average two-year fixed rate is also 0.08% higher year-on-year and a 0.53% rise on the record low seen in July. The record low rate coincided with a period when there were just 70 high LTV products on the market, where higher rates are typically seen.

The average rate for a five-year fixed deal across all tiers also increased in January from 2.69% to 2.71%. However, this was lower than the average rate of 2.74% during the same month last year.

As well as returning to the market to serve borrowers with a smaller deposit, lenders also appear to be treating those in need of a 90% LTV more favourably by reducing borrowing costs.

The average rate for a two-year fixed mortgage at this tier dropped from 3.79% to 3.65% over the month while a five-year fix fell from 3.92% to 3.79%.

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Eleanor Williams, spokesperson at Moneyfacts, said: “Following the sharp drop off in availability in 2020, it is positive to see we are beginning 2021 with the total number of mortgage deals rising for the third consecutive month.

“Not only is the increase in product choice a positive for borrowers, but it seems that a measure of competition may have started to return to some sectors as well.”

She added: “This improvement in options for mortgage borrowers has occurred at a time when high levels of borrower demand have been fuelled by those hoping to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and by those who re-evaluated what they want from a home and were part of the unleashed demand that arose after the first lockdown in 2020.”

Written by: Shekina Tuahene

Source: Your Money

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UK house prices end 2020 on record high but growth slows

UK house prices ended 2020 on a record high, but the pace of growth slowed towards the end of the year, the latest figures showed.

House prices in the UK were 0.2 per cent higher in December than the previous month, reaching an average value of £253,374.

On an annual basis, property prices jumped six per cent compared to December the previous year due to the release of pent-up demand following the first Covid-19 lockdown in March, according to analysis by Halifax.

The rate of growth recorded last month slowed from the one per cent rise reported in November.

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Analysts warned that the end of Help to Buy and the stamp duty holiday, combined with escalating unemployment, could have a downward impact on prices this year.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said 2020 had been a “tale of two distinct halves for the housing market.”

“Following a strong start, the first half was dominated by the restrictions on movement due to Covid-19, and prices were subsequently down 0.5 per cent at mid-year as the market effectively ground to a halt,” Galley said.

“However, when the market reopened, prices soared as a result of pent-up demand, a desire amongst buyers for greater space and the time-limited incentive of the stamp duty holiday.”

He added: “With the pace of the UK’s economic recovery expected to be constrained by the renewed national lockdown, and unemployment widely predicted to rise in the coming months, downward pressure on house prices remains likely as we move through 2021.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, predicted that UK house prices could be five per cent below current levels by the end of the year.

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“The EY Item Club suspects elevated housing market activity and robust prices will prove unsustainable sooner rather than later – although, in the immediate future, activity may still benefit from buyers keen to take advantage of the Stamp Duty threshold increase before it ends,” he said.

“There is always the possibility that the chancellor could extend the threshold increase in the March Budget.”

He added that the housing market is “likely to come under mounting near-term pressure as the economy continues to be affected by restrictions in most areas”.

“There is also likely to be a fading of the pent-up demand effect on housing market activity,” he said.

By Jessica Clark

Source: City AM

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London saw greatest number of homes bought in 2020

London was noted as recording the greatest number of property purchases across the UK in 2020, according to reallymoving.

The data shows that the capital saw 13.7% of all completions, followed by Leeds at 1.7% and Birmingham at 1.6%.

Between July and December 2020, the proportion of first-time buyers in the market fell by 12% compared to the same period last year.

Over 2020, FTBs made up 51% of all buyers in the market, compared to 56% in 2019.

While 16% of FTBs opted for a new build home over an older property, almost half of those (46%) used a Help to Buy equity loan enabling them to buy with a deposit of just 5%.

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The average house price in England and Wales increased by from £293,819 in January 2020 to £352,239 in December 2020.

However, reallymoving predict that prices will fall by 1.2% in January and 2.5% in February 2021.

Home movers sold their homes for an average price of £313,149 and bought for an average price of £379,191.

Meanwhile, FTBs paid an average price of £262,180 for their first home.

Furthermore, the proportion of FTBs in England liable to pay stamp duty fell from 25% to just 5%, following the announcement of a stamp duty holiday.

Nine out of ten (91%) transactions by all homebuyers, including FTBs, have avoided the tax since July, prompting a surge in market activity and prices.

The data also shows that the cost of moving home dropped by 39% in 2020 from an average of £10,911 before the stamp duty holiday came into effect to £6,669 after.

According to reallymoving, costs such as legal fees rose however, as a consequence of being directly tied to rising house prices.

Those buying and selling a home typically paid £1,682 in legal fees, while FTBs paid £1,100, up 15% and 11%, respectively.

This data is based on 910,000 quotes generated on the reallymoving site throughout the year.

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Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “The property market took us on a rollercoaster in 2020, from shock and despair when thousands of home movers were forced to press pause back in March, to the extraordinary resurgence in demand that began in the early summer and continued right through to the end of the year.

“Most concerning however, has been the decline in the proportion of FTBs in the market. They largely didn’t benefit from the stamp duty holiday and faced huge challenges securing finance as higher loan-to-value mortgages disappeared overnight and several high street lenders banned gifted deposits.

“Yet there are reasons to be optimistic that 2021 could see a reversal in fortunes for FTBs as lenders return to the market, competition for homes is reduced and price inflation readjusts downwards.

“Reallymoving is on a mission over the coming year to help homebuyers upskill with a series of live webinars and content designed to help inform and educate about the process, ensuring buyers have everything they need to navigate a successful home purchase.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Rents shoot up in South of England

The cost of renting has risen in the South of England outside London, research from Homlet shows.

Rents have risen by 10% to £942 in the South West, by 7.7% in the East of England to £983, and by 6.1% in the South East to £1,085.

The cost of renting has fallen by 4.5% in London to £1,556, signalling people moving out of the city.

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Andy Halstead, chief executive of HomeLet, said: “At a national level the latest data shows a continuation of the trends we’ve seen emerging since the national lockdown ended, with rents for new tenancies increasing across the UK, with the exception of London.”

“In the regions surrounding London, the annualised variations in rental values for new tenancies looks significant, especially in the South West (10%), East of England (7.7%) and South East (6.1%). In reality this is a theme that we’ve seen grow gradually month on month, since July 2020.

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“In the South West average rents are now £83 per month higher than the same time last year. The upward pressure on the regions around the capital, particularly commuter towns, is coming from a broad range of tenants looking for more space, both inside and outside the property.

“The trends we’ve seen in the past 12 months highlight the responsiveness of the private rented sector, and the crucial role it plays in supporting the changing needs of a significant proportion of households in the UK.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Housing market remains open during new national lockdown

The housing market will remain open during the new lockdown in England.

Boris Johnson has announced a set of new national restrictions for England, similar to the March lockdown.

But unlike the first lockdown, the housing market is to remain open for business.

Government advice on home moving during the coronavirus remains unchanged. Consequently, people in England will be able to move and removal firms, tradespeople, and estate agents can still operate by going inside homes. Adherence to safety and social distancing remains crucial.

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Government advice on moving home: 

You can still move home. People outside your household or support
bubble should not help with moving house unless absolutely necessary.

Estate and letting agents and removals firms can continue to work. If you
are looking to move, you can go to property viewings.

Follow the national guidance on moving home safely, which includes
advice on social distancing, letting fresh air in, and wearing a face
covering.

Industry reaction: 

Ben Taylor, CEO of Keller Williams UK, said: “With immense caution I welcome the fact that the property market remains open albeit that viewings and the physical moving process itself must be met with extreme diligence. Why have the government chosen to ‘exempt’ the UK housing market and estate agents?

“Think of it as a string to the broader economy rather than it doing us estate agents a particular favour especially with billions of pounds in accelerated property transactions currently competing to complete by the end of the stamp duty deadline on March 31st.”

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

The managing director of Enness Global Mortgages, Hugh Wade-Jones, commented: “It remains business as usual for the UK property market and as a result, it’s unlikely we will see any decline in the huge levels of buyer activity seen since last year, nor should we see property prices detract from their current upward trend.

“Billions of pounds in property transactions are also currently waiting to be dragged through the system prior to the stamp duty holiday ending. It would have been a disastrous move for the government to have slammed the door in the face of these aspirational homebuyers so close to the finish line and would have no doubt caused a landslide of property transaction fall throughs and a drop in values.

“Of course, the industry must continue to operate with immense caution and all physical aspects of the home buying journey itself must be treated with kid-gloves. Literally.”

Mark Hayward, chief policy adviser, Propertymark, said: “We welcome the news that the housing market is to remain open throughout this new lockdown period, but it is essential that all agents continue to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus through following all relevant guidance on how to safely conduct viewings.

“It is vital that agents operate in accordance with government and Propertymark guidelines to help prevent the spread of Covid-19, keep movers and buyers safe and keep the housing market moving through these uncertain times.”

Director of Behnham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, commented: “The latest news of another national lockdown should do little to slow the momentum of the UK property market, given that official government advice still deems it ok to transact and move home.

“As a result, the industry will continue to service the vast number of homebuyers who have entered the market since last spring and this will ensure that many more will benefit from the current stamp duty holiday.

“With no speed bumps in sight for the time being, the market is now clear to accelerate through the gears throughout the coming year and we should see a healthy increase in transactions and price growth over the coming months, if not, across the remainder of the year.”

You can view the full government guidance for the lockdown in England by clicking here.

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Almost half of BTL landlords remain optimistic despite potential tax hikes

Property investors have been the target of many recent tax changes and may feel unfairly targeted at a time when they are facing potential Covid-related tax hikes to pay for the pandemic, and yet almost half of those who invest in the private rented sector remain optimistic going into 2021.

Despite the challenges of the coronavirus, almost half – 45% – of landlords say they are currently optimistic about the buy-to-let market, according to a new survey released today by Property Master.

The online buy-to-let mortgage broker found that less than a third – 29% – of those surveyed were pessimistic about the buy-to-let market, despite fears that the chancellor Rishi Sunak could increase taxes for those with additional homes, as part of the government’s attempts to claw back the cost of extra spending during the coronavirus pandemic.

Mortgage interest relief changes, the scrapping of the ‘wear and tear’ allowance and the introduction of the 3% stamp duty surcharge have hit landlords’ profits over the past few of years, which partly explains why so many people are exiting the BTL market and thus reducing the supply of much needed private rented stock.

Tax and regulation changes continue to have a negative impact on the buy-to-let market, with a number of landlords selling properties with a view to reducing their portfolio, or exiting the market altogether.

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But despite the concern that yet another proposed tax hike could see buy-to-let landlords exiting the market in droves before it is introduced, just 10% of the landlords surveyed by Property Master planned to exit the buy-to-let market in 2021 and almost 70% said they were not about to sell any of their properties in the new year.

Angus Stewart, Property Master’s chief executive, said: “For landlords, as for many other sectors, 2020 is a year that brought plenty of challenges. But in the case of landlords Coronavirus and the resulting economic uncertainty came on the back of a raft of regulatory and tax changes over recent years that have left the sector battered and which saw smaller landlords in their thousands throw in the towel.”

Stewart continued: “However, our survey shows the buy to let sector as a whole is a resilient one. Those landlords that have survived may well be stronger and our survey shows them as giving buy to let the thumbs up as we move into 2021.

“We see the year as being one of two halves. There is clearly continued turbulence forecast for the first half of the year as coronavirus and Brexit play out. But the fundamentals of the private rented sector remain and now more than ever an increased number of people need a good quality roof over their heads, and this will create plenty of opportunity for landlords to do well.”

The number of landlords surveyed by Property Master who planned to add to their portfolio in the new year was evenly split with those who had decided in 2021 to stick with their existing property portfolio.

Almost 43% of landlords said they planned to buy more property in 2021 and the same number planned to stick with the properties they already had. Almost 13% were undecided.

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In terms of buy to let mortgage rates, landlords seemed more relaxed about the outlook although many commentators have recorded an increase in rates in recent months.

Almost 54% of landlords surveyed thought that buy to let mortgage rates would stay the same as opposed to almost 38% who thought they would increase further. Just under nine per cent thought rates would decrease despite the rumours about a possible negative Bank of England base rate.

Stewart added: “A competitive and innovative buy-to-let mortgage market has proved to be a big plus for the private rented sector. Inevitably, the coronavirus has led to some caution amongst lenders especially around loan to value ratios, but we see this as easing as the year plays out.”

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Mortgage approvals reach to highest level since 2007

The number of mortgage approvals in November 2020 increased to the highest level since August 2007, according to the Bank of England Money & Credit data.

The number of mortgage approvals reached 105,000 in November, with net mortgage borrowing also increasing to £5.7bn.

In addition, effective interest rates on new mortgage borrowing ticked up to 1.83%.

Household deposits increased by £17.6bn in November, however there were significant withdrawals from national savings and investment accounts according to the data.

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Bank borrowing by small and medium-sized businesses was noted at £1.8bn, while net borrowing by large businesses was £0.2bn.

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The Bank of England figures provide further confirmation of the prevailing strength and confidence in the housing market, with the highest mortgage approval levels and further borrowings in over a decade.

“Households are looking to maximise space in their current homes by extending, converting lofts and refurbishing, as more time is spent at home.

“With mortgage rates so low, taking advantage of existing equity in homes has enabled people to borrow more for living expenses as they also deal with concerns over future employment and income, with so many industries affected by the pandemic.

Read about the UK Housing Market via our Specialist Residential & Buy to Let Division

“Household deposits have increased with people saving, due to not being able to go away, out for dinners or even shopping.

“Consumers are being frugal with their spending and considering the threat of a possible recession on the horizon.

“How the government will look to tackle any forthcoming concerns with the Budget, the end of furlough and stamp duty relief will be interesting, since this new wave of the virus has come as a surprise and therefore further potential assistance is desperately needed.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, added: “Not surprisingly, the mortgage market improved considerably at the end of the year but we shouldn’t look too closely at these figures because they reflect a period of particular improvement in market activity of the previous few months.

“Moves have slowed since although many are still trying hard to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, which will be ending very soon.

“The likelihood of further lockdown restrictions will bring short-term pain to the market which hopefully won’t be reflected in reduced values.

“Certainly the greater availability of a vaccine, on the other hand, will provide some optimism.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Manchester and Leeds see strongest UK house price growth

Throughout the past year, Manchester and Leeds has led UK house price growth. The north of England is expected to continue performing the strongest during 2021 as well.

The north of England is dominating UK house price growth. The latest house price index from Zoopla revealed Manchester saw the largest increase in average house prices during the past year, rising by 5.7%. Leeds followed closely behind with 5.6% growth. Then, Nottingham and Liverpool had a rise of 5.4% and 5.3%, respectively.

The index also revealed the north-west of England led the way regionally in UK house price growth with a 5% increase year-on-year. Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales followed jointly with 4.9%. As a whole, UK house price growth was 3.9%. This is the strongest growth seen since August 2017 and is up from 1.3% last year.

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The north continues to be in high demand

There has been strong demand across the UK as the property market has defied the traditional seasonal slowdown. According to Zoopla, buyer demand soared by 40% across the whole of 2020. And the north of England has seen a particularly strong level of demand.

Even though property prices are on the rise in the north, prices are still much more affordable, especially when compared to much of the south. Because of the savings buyers can achieve there, demand is expected to continue even after the stamp duty holiday comes to an end.

Many people have reprioritised their housing needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and successive lockdowns. This is expected to continue impacting demand. People are in search for larger properties and locations closer to public parks.

Because of this, more buyers, tenants and investors will likely look to the north to be able to get more space for their money. Demand and property prices in the north, especially the north-west, will likely continue to increase in 2021 and the coming years as well.

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House price predictions moving forward

While property price growth across the UK is expected to be more subdued in 2021, many experts feel property prices will still rise next year. Zoopla is forecasting a particularly strong start to 2021. This is due to buyers and investors rushing to beat the stamp duty holiday deadline in the spring. Additionally, buyers who have reassessed their home priorities are still itching to move.

In the house price index, Zoopla states: “Stamp duty is a factor supporting demand, but we have questioned the scale of the importance. A recent consumer survey by Zoopla found that 44% of movers’ plans were not influenced by the stamp duty holiday – they remain focused on the need to relocate and find more space and a better location.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and Brexit, the UK property market is expected to remain resilient throughout 2021. Savills recently revised its future property price predictions. The north-west is expected to see the strongest growth in 2021 with home values forecast to increase by 8.5%. Additionally, across five years, prices are predicted to rise by 24.1% in the north-west. This is the largest increase predicted out of any UK region.

The north will likely continue leading the way in house price growth. It’s an attractive area to buy property for both homebuyers and buy-to-let landlords. And 2021 could prove to be a good time to lock in lower mortgage rates.

Source: Buy Association

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