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Pent up demand fuels resurgence in the rental market

Lettings market activity in June was significantly higher than the same month last year, the Rental Index from Goodlord has shown.

After number of new tenancy applications were received during May, June saw that demand translate into completed lets.

The number of completed lets stayed above 2019 averages for all but six days of June, marking an extremely busy month for the industry.

The cost of renting rose by 3% across the England and Wales between May and June.

Void periods also dropped in five out of eight regions.

Tom Mundy, chief operating officer at Goodlord, said: “If May was characterised by a release of pent up market demand, then June was that demand translating into action.

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“The numbers throughout the month were incredibly impressive and show how hard the industry has been working to serve as many tenants and landlords as possible.

“We saw an unprecedented number of lets completed each day in June. It’s therefore no surprise to see those levels of demand starting to affect average rental costs and void periods.”

The biggest rent rise was seen in the South West, which saw average prices increase by 11% – from £859 per month to £965.

Wales wasn’t far behind, posting a 9% rise in average rental costs.

The average salary of a UK renter dipped slightly month-on-month, from £25,068 to £24,613.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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PM promises thousands of new homes and radical planning reform

PM Boris Johnson (pictured) has pledged that, as part of a suite of measures to rebuild the economy following the COVID-19 crisis, the government will aim to build thousands of new homes on Brownfield sites and others.

Johnson also flagged ‘radical’ upcoming planning reform at levels that he claimed have not been seen since the end of World War 2.

He also promised that the economic crisis would not be met with a return to austerity measures.

During the announcement, Johnson said: “We’re preparing now slowly, cautiously to come out of hibernation, and I believe it’s absolutely vital for us to set out the way ahead, so that everyone can think and plan for the future, short, medium and long-term.”

In reference to home building, specifically, he added: “There has been an intergenerational injustice and the government will now help to get the young on the housing ladder just as their parents did.

“Build, build, build. Build better. Build faster.”

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Managing Director of estate agent Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented:

“Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is a rallying call to commerce, industry, the property sector and finance, to piggy-back his huge spending plans and literally put Britain back together again.

We seem set to spend our way to fiscal health and to ensure, in particular, that there is finally a genuine home-building revolution to match similar investment intentions in the transport, education and health sectors.

What a welcome relief this is and at just the right time.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves commented: “Like many areas of life, the severe lack of homes being built has understandably taken a back seat.

“However, it now stands as one of the pillars on which the government is forming its economic recovery plan.

“Hopefully, this added emphasis on such a burning issue will result in some action and this will be nothing but positive for the UK property market.

“Of course, there is always the danger that, like many before him, the Prime Minister’s words will equate to little more than just that.

“With the UK property market still facing a very uncertain landscape, we certainly hope this isn’t the case.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said: “While, of course, the announcement of more building is very welcome we want to see more specifics, not just on desperately-needed affordable housing projects but a strict timetable for delivery, especially of sites with planning.

“So many of the larger schemes in particular are mired in planning or lending red tape so certainly the concentration on infrastructure will help to release many from that log jam by improving connectivity.”

Mark Hayward, chief executive at NAEA Propertymark, said: “Propertymark welcomes the Prime Minister’s ambition to bounce back as we enter the new phase of this pandemic.

“It is important that as we try to reboot the economy we build a greater supply of affordable houses that can rejuvenate urban areas most affected by this crisis.

“Simplification of the planning process will ease the pressures caused on the supply of homes and ensure the property market drives the UK’s economic recovery.

“We look forward to working with government during its White Paper process later this month to ensure the system has less red tape and is easier to navigate.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Borrowing is on the way to returning to healthy levels

Despite Bank of England figures that showed mortgage approvals hit a record low of 9,300 in May, there are signs that borrowing is returning to normal levels, according to Hometrack.

The Bank of England’s Money and Credit Report showed that households repaid more loans than they took out in May, but that there was still a small increase in mortgage borrowing.

On net, households borrowed an additional £1.2bn secured on their homes, higher than £0.0bn in April, but weak compared to an average of £4.1bn in the six months to February 2020.

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David Ross, managing director of Hometrack, said: “The data released by the Bank of England is encouraging and shows that borrowing, while not at pre-COVID levels, is certainly returning.

“On a more positive note our data for June shows continued growth and is up on the same period in 2019.”

For the market to return to normal, Ross added, providers must continue to innovate and focus on the customer.

He said: “Continued stimulus is key to maintaining this growth.

“We urge mortgage providers to focus on delivering the very best customer experience, removing complexity through digitisation and ensuring fewer barriers to borrowing.

“This in turn will help grow new lending, helping the economy get back on its feet after the shock of COVID.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK economy on course for V-shaped recovery, says Bank of England economist

UK economy is on track for a sharp V-shaped recovery thanks to a faster-than-expected rebound but “considerable” risks remain, according to the Bank of England’s chief economist.

Andy Haldane, who also sits on the Bank’s interest rate-setting committee, said the recovery in the UK and globally had come “sooner and faster” than expected.

In a webinar speech on Tuesday, Mr Haldane said the UK economy was benefiting from a rebound in consumer spending since lockdown restrictions have begun to ease.

He said: “It is early days, but my reading of the evidence is so far, so V.”

He added: “The recovery in both the UK and global economies has come somewhat sooner, and has been materially faster, than in the Monetary Policy Committee’s May Monetary Policy Report scenario – indeed, sooner and faster than any other mainstream macroeconomic forecaster.”

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But he said there was the risk of a “vicious cycle” in the economy if unemployment proves to be higher than expected and warned against a return to the mass youth unemployment seen in the 1980s.

He said: “Risks to the economy remain considerable and two-sided.

“Although these risks are in my view slightly more evenly balanced than in May, they remain skewed to the downside.

“Of these risks, the most important to avoid is a repeat of the high and long-duration unemployment rates of the 1980s, especially among young people.”

His comments come after the Bank recently said it now expects gross domestic product to tumble by 20% in the first half of the year, which is far less than the 27% it predicted in its May forecast.

But governor Andrew Bailey warned at the time against getting “carried away” by signs the recession may not have been quite as steep as it expected, with the Bank launching another £100 billion of quantitative easing (QE) to help boost the economy.

Mr Haldane was the only one on the nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee to vote against increasing QE in the June meeting.

In his speech, he said if the economy continues recovering on a similar path as lockdown measures ease further, then the loss in annual GDP could be far lower than first feared, at 8% against 17% forecast in May.

But he cautioned some of this may be down to pent-up demand, as well as the massive Government support for households and businesses through the scheme to furlough workers on 80% pay.

With nine million workers currently furloughed, he said there was a risk of soaring unemployment when the Government support measures end, which could impact the path of recovery.

Mr Haldane said he remained “open-minded” about more action to boost the economy.

Official figures also on Tuesday showed the economy shrank by more than first thought between January and March, down 2.2% – the largest fall since 1979.

Data has shown GDP contracted by a record 20.4% in April, but Mr Haldane said this was “ancient history” with the UK and global economy now fully in the recovery phase of the crisis.

Source: Express & Star

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Bank of Scotland sees huge rise in mortgage applications

Online mortgage application enquiries to Bank of Scotland have jumped 75% in the past week, ahead of the Scottish property market emerging from lockdown.

The imminent reopening of the property market means new lending appointments are also up, with an increase of 470% on the previous week.

Bank of Scotland data revealed that the majority of these enquiries and appointments are from first-time buyers.

As movers navigate the post-lockdown housing ladder, many will be looking for help on what this now looks like and what it means for them.

“It has left many people at a loose end”

Graham Blair, Mortgages Director, Bank of Scotland, said: “With the housing market slowing in the last few months, it has left many people at a loose end, whether that involved delaying plans to buy, extending rental agreements, or having to move in with relatives or friends.

“As Scottish estate agents look to reopen their doors, we are seeing an increase in mortgage applications and new lending appointments as more people want to get moving.

“Our branch-based advisers are also there to help people take the next step, but there’s plenty that people can do to get the ball rolling in the meantime.”

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Bank of Scotland advice on coronavirus home buying

First-time buyers

“If you are taking your first step on the property ladder, you should have a look at the First Home Fund which may be an option in helping you purchasing your first home,” the Bank said.

Start the ball rolling

The quickest way to find out how much you can borrow will be by checking online tools and calculators which can help you within minutes.

Keep documents up to date

Before speaking to a mortgage adviser, make sure all your income details, bank statements and pay cheques are up to date and you have them prepared before the first meeting.

The more accurate information you can provide from the offset, the smoother the process will be.

Be realistic

For those selling, there will be lots of speculation over the coming weeks about house prices going down, but we should remember we are in unprecedented times.

With market activity currently almost at a complete standstill, and therefore a more limited number of transactions, it will take time for the true trend to emerge.

Consider looking at a trusted house price website as well as talking to a number of local estate agents who can share local expertise on the area.

What if I have been furloughed?

“From a Bank of Scotland perspective,” it said, “our conditions largely remain the same for those applying for mortgages and we recognise furloughed income.”

Many people have changing circumstances which is why it is important to bring all the latest information with you.

By Conor Marlborough

Source: Scotsman

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Wales and Cornwall are most popular UK holiday home locations

Wales is the top holiday home location in the UK for 2020/21, research from holiday home insurance company Schofields Ltd has revealed.

Some 15.35% of UK holiday homes are located in the UK, followed by Cornwall (12.82%), Scotland (9.30%), Devon (8.39%) and North Yorkshire (8.13%).

Renewed holiday home contracts were also compared to new contracts taken out between January and June 2020, to calculate the top up and coming locations.

County Durham came top of this list, with a 36% increase in the number of contracts, followed by Wiltshire (36%), East Yorkshire (35%), Cumbria (35%), and Suffolk (28%).

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Phil Schofield, head of inbound marketing, said: “Getting away from home safely once restrictions have been lifted is something that’s on everyone’s minds.

“Holiday homes and holiday cottages are top of people’s lists due to their privacy and ease.

“Data suggests that people in the UK take breaks of 2-3 days more frequently than any other length of holiday, so being able to make a short journey with less stress to a holiday cottage or holiday home is really important.

“The top locations for holiday homes in 2020 aren’t a surprise to us, but the up and coming locations are interesting.

“It seems that people are wanting to find destinations that are off the usual beaten track in the UK and won’t be quite so crowded as the hotspots.

“Hopefully our data will help tourists choose destinations for short breaks in the UK where they can easily find holiday cottage accommodation but will have plenty to see and do.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Housing market starts to reopen in Scotland as lockdown eases

From Monday 29 June, restrictions on housing moves will be eased in Scotland as part of the easing of its lockdown measures.

This will allow valuations and viewings to take place, and marks the initial stage in the reopening of the Scottish housing market.

This development in Scotland follows a similar move to ease lockdown on 19 June in Wales, which saw the government allow viewings to take place in vacant properties, and to ease restrictions on house moves where a sale has been agreed, but not yet completed.

In England, it has been more than a month since equivalent changes were made on 13 May.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, said: “The sacrifices that have been made – and I know how hard and at times painful they have been – have suppressed the virus.

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“They have also protected the NHS, and have undoubtedly saved a significant number of lives.

“They have also brought us to the position where we can now look ahead with a bit more clarity to our path out of lockdown, and I hope details announced today will provide people and businesses with more certainty in their forward planning.

“But let me be clear that each step on this path depends on us continuing to beat the virus back. That is why we must do everything in our power to avoid steps being reversed.

“The central point in all of this is the virus has not – and it will not – go away of its own accord. It will pose a real and significant threat to us for some time to come.

“Maintaining our progress also means all of us abiding by public health guidance.

“Wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces, avoiding crowded places, washing our hands and cleaning surfaces regularly, maintaining physical distancing, agreeing to immediately self-isolate and get a test if we have symptoms – all of these basic protections matter now more than ever as we all get out and about a bit more.”

A statement from the Welsh First Minister, Mark Drakeford MS, said: “This package marks a significant unlocking of the regulations and, for many aspects of daily life in Wales, we are moving into the amber phase of our traffic light system.

“We have been able to do this because of the actions everyone in Wales has taken to date in complying with the stay-at-home and stay local rules.

“We need everyone to continue to take steps to protect themselves and their loved ones as we find a way to live and work alongside coronavirus.

“This means working from home wherever possible, maintaining social distancing and frequent handwashing.

“For some people it may mean wearing a face covering in certain situations, for others it will mean continuing to shield.

“I want to thank everyone for everything they have done so far. Together we can keep Wales safe.”

Mark Hayward, chief executive at NAEA Propertymark and David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “It’s great news for consumers and the industry in Scotland that the property market is reopening on Monday.

“Whilst it is not a return to normal, the new guidelines will allow members of the public to view, purchase, rent and move into new properties…reinvigorating the housing market and boosting the economy.

“Of course, safety is paramount, and we encourage all agents to follow the Propertymark guidelines on property viewings and moves closely to protect themselves and others.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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HMRC: Property transactions up 16% month-on-month

Residential property transactions were up 16% on a monthly basis in May as the UK eased its way out of lockdown.

HMRC figures revealed that there were 48,450 residential transactions during the month, but that is still 49.6% lower than in May 2019.

Non -residential property transactions stood at 5,880, 42.2% lower than May 2019 and 14.1% higher than April 2020.

Andrea Olivari, co-founder at digital lender Selina Finance, said: “On the whole, there are gradual signs that the property market is moving, with the latest industry figures revealing an average house price increase of 1.9%.

“So the rise in property transactions is reassuring, particularly given the figures are taken from May and the market wasn’t officially re-opened until mid-way through the month.

“It will be interesting to see if this trend continues throughout June or whether these figures are down to a release of pent up demand from the lockdown period.

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“Whether the increase continues in the long term is dependent on an array of factors, particularly the “new normal” of homeworking post-COVID and how this influences homebuying decisions.”

Anna Clare Harper, author of Strategic Property Investing and co-founder of property fund Anglo Residential, added: “Recent events and practical restrictions such as physical valuations and obtaining finance mean it is hardly a surprise that property transactions have fallen dramatically year-on-year.

“However, what we can see from the HMRC data and from what we are hearing from investors, appetite is responding quickly.

“We are seeing the signs of strong appetite to move forward with investments in the UK residential market in particular.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Affordable housing progress made but statistics hit by coronavirus

The number of affordable housing approvals and starts in Scotland has increased compared to a year ago while affordable home completions have fallen, new figures have shown.

The housing statistics quarterly update for June 2020 found that in the year to end March 2020, there were a total of 12,886 homes approved through the Scottish Government affordable housing supply programme, which includes off-the-shelf purchases and rehabilitations as well as new builds. This is an increase of 1,756 homes (16%) on the previous year, and an increase of 62% compared with the year to end March 2016.

In the same period, 12,045 affordable homes were started, an increase of 1,173 homes (11%) on the previous year, and an increase of 57% compared with the year to end March 2016.

There were 9,286 homes delivered in the year to end March 2020, a decrease of 282 homes (3%) on the previous year, but an increase of 42% compared with the year to end March 2016.

It should be noted that the amount of affordable housing supply activity recorded in the most recent quarter January to March 2020 will have been impacted on by the introduction of government advice and measures to reduce the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) from mid-March onwards, in which non-essential construction activity stopped, and home buyers were advised to delay moving to a new home where possible.

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This has lowered the total amount of activity recorded for this quarter compared to what would otherwise have been the case. Year to date totals to end March 2020 will also have been affected.

Figures for the next quarter April to June 2020, which are due to be reported on in the quarterly housing statistics update in September 2020, are likely to see an even greater impact due to COVID measures continuing throughout April and May, and into June 2020.

The statistics were due to include an update on all-sector new house building starts and completions to end December 2019, with more recent figures on social sector new builds to end March 2020.

However, due to the impacts of COVID-19, some local authorities have been unable to provide new build data to the usual timescales. The government said it is working with local authorities to agree reasonable extensions to submission deadlines, and is aiming to publish this new build housing data as soon as possible.

Commenting on the statistics, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) repeated its call for housing to be at heart of Scotland’s economic recovery.

Head of policy and innovation, Lorna Wilson, said: “The Scottish Government has made progress into tackling housing need in Scotland since 2016, and it looks likely that it was on track to meet its 50,000 affordable homes target, before the programme was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic. The government must be given credit for this, and it’s vital this progress – and the ambition behind it – is maintained and not lost.

“SFHA recently released research with CIH Scotland and Shelter Scotland which found that we need 53,000 affordable homes to be delivered between 2021–2026. By committing to this new target, the government can reduce housing need, tackle child poverty and kick-start Scotland’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.”

The SFHA also welcomed this week’s report by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery which also called for the Scottish Government to invest in affordable housing as part of its recommendations.

Housing minister Kevin Stewart said: “I am proud that we have now delivered over 95,000 affordable homes since 2007 with more than 66,000 of these for social rent. We were on track to deliver our target of 50,000 affordable homes by the end of March 2021, but the impact of COVID-19 has caused a necessary pause to activity.

“We will continue to work with partners across the housing sector to deliver the remainder of these homes, as quickly as it is safe to do so and I look forward to construction resuming in a new safe way.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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UK house price growth to remain positive over the next quarter – Zoopla

The latest Zoopla House Price Index has been published, with the bulk of new pricing evidence coming from sales agreed before the lockdown.

Data on pricing for new sales agreed in the last four weeks is starting to feed through and points to a resumption in the upward pressure on house prices seen at the start of the year.

As an example, average asking prices for properties marked as sold on Zoopla, which were rising at 7% in the first three months of the year, have returned to registering a similar growth rate over the first two weeks of June.

Near-term outlook for house prices

Most of these new sales agreed are likely to complete between August and October 2020, which Zoopla expects will show sustained UK house price growth of between +2% to +3% over the next quarter, once they feed into the index.

While some have forecast annual house price falls over calendar year 2020, the portal expects any price falls in the house price indices only to crystallise in the final months of the year.

Economic impacts of COVID-19 to hit home in H2 2020

After an initial rebound, demand is expected to weaken over the summer months as the economic impact of COVID starts to materialise, with figures reported last week by the ONS indicating an acceleration in unemployment.

Caution amongst lenders and more limited availability of 90% loan to value (LTV) mortgages will reduce demand, particularly amongst first-time buyers who, over recent years, have been the engine of the housing market.

In 2019, a fifth of all homebuyers purchased a home with a deposit of 10% or less, so a decrease in the availability of 90%+ LTV mortgages could preclude this cohort of would-be buyers from entering the market, effectively reducing demand.

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Government and central bank support will continue to play an important role in how the economy fares with a knock-on impact for the strength of consumer sentiment.

Retail sales, for example, rebounded more than many expected in May.

While almost a fifth of mortgage holders have taken payment holidays, borrowers are able to take these up until the end of October 2020, meaning support is extended for the rest of the mortgaged sector up until April 2021.

Further support and innovation to support the economy and the housing market cannot be ruled out in these unprecedented times, which will limit the downside, albeit not completely.

Strongest sales rebound in northern cities

New sales agreed, subject to contract, have grown the most in England where the market is open for business.

The rebound in sales has been strongest in northern England, led by Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester where sales are up to 20% higher than in February 2020.

In cities where sales are not keeping pace with pre-COVID levels, including Glasgow, Newcastle and Cambridge, this is down to a lower supply of homes for sale.

Level of homes for sale (inventory) in these cities is significantly lower than last year.

While the new flow of homes for sale is back to pre-COVID levels, the number of homes for sale per estate agency branch is 15% lower than a year ago.

This is a result of the market closure at what is a busy time of year.

Stock levels in Cambridge, for example, are up to 40% lower year-on-year.

Zoopla says that the lack of supply supports their view of house price growth holding steady in the short term.

House price growth

UK house price growth is up 2.4% on the year, and has increased from 1.6% at the start of 2020.

The 20 city index registered slower growth over May, slowing to +2.1% from 2.4% in April as less pricing evidence dragged the growth rate lower.

The city with the highest rate of house price growth over the past 12 months is Nottingham (4.3%), followed by Manchester (3.9%).

Meanwhile, Oxford (-0.6%) and Aberdeen (-2%) have recorded modest price falls.

Regional momentum

Activity levels are expected to rebound in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as these markets reopen and pent up demand is released.

These countries account for less than a fifth of UK housing sales but more activity will support headline measures of demand and market activity in the immediate term.

The Welsh market opened on Monday but demand for homes has been building since the English market reopened, gaining momentum over the last two weeks.

Demand for housing in Wales has now rebounded close to what has been recorded in England.

Sales agreed, however, remain 65% lower than pre-COVID levels in Wales as the physical viewing of property has not been permitted.

Zoopla expects sales volumes to increase over the rest of June and into July, mirroring the rebound in England.

Scotland’s market, which reopens later in June, has seen a similar trend with demand recently returning to pre-COVID levels, but with sales volumes lagging well behind.

Commenting on the findings Richard Donnell, Director of Research & Insight, said:

“The rebound in housing market activity has taken many in the industry by surprise.

“It is welcome news given the projections for falling economic growth and rising unemployment.

“Estate agents and developers are responding and using the upsurge in demand to rebuild their sales pipelines and open up their developments.

“We see returning pent up demand and new buyers entering the market creating upward pressure on prices in the face of a lower supply of homes for sale which has been exacerbated by the lockdown.

“House price growth is set to hold up in the near term and we expect the downward pressure on prices to come in the final months of the year as demand weakens.

“While the average asking price for homes marked as sold on Zoopla are 7% higher than a year ago this is down to an increase in sales in higher value markets where activity has remained subdued in recent years.

“We do not expect the rate of growth in the Zoopla House Price Index to reach this level, rather it is expected to hold steady at 2%.

“The Welsh housing market opened this week and levels of demand have already returned close to the levels seen in England in anticipation of the market reopening. Scotland, where the market reopens on 29 June has also seen demand rise back to pre-COVID levels but sales remain more than two thirds lower and are expected to rebound in the coming weeks.”

Source: Property Industry Eye