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Mortgage repayments reach record £38bn in H1 2021

Mortgage repayments increased by 20% in H1 2021, to reach a record £38bn, according to the Equity Release Council’s (ERC) Autumn 2021 Market Report.

This is the equivalent of £200m a day, or £3,500 for every mortgaged household.

The ERC said the trend has been fuelled by regular repayments and overpayments reaching record heights, new borrowing ahead of the stamp duty deadline and fewer mortgage payment holidays.

The report found that the nation is now carrying over £1.5tn of mortgage debt for the first time on record, but factors including house price rises mean that for every £1 of mortgage debt, there is more than £3 of equity in homes.

The value of UK housing stock rose from £5.67tn to £6.42tn over the past year, with private property wealth reaching a new high of £4.87tn.

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Strong performance in the housing market saw UK private property wealth increase from £4.21tn at the end of H1 2020 to £4.87tn at the end of H1 2021.

Households repaid more than £19bn of mortgage capital during both Q1 and Q2 2021, having never repaid more than £18bn in any previous quarter.

Rising property prices mean more than three quarters of the value of the average home has been tied up in equity rather than debt, leaving £201,642 of property wealth for an owner to draw on.

Across the first half of 2021, 35,860 new and returning customers were served, unlocking £2.3bn of property wealth.

Customer numbers steadily rose in H1 2021, with June seeing the most new plans agreed (3,348).

New customer levels remained broadly consistent with those seen in H2 2020, dipping slightly from 21,917 to 21,596 new plans taken out, but higher than this time last year when the first lockdown slowed activity (18,420).

Lifetime mortgage product options doubled in the past two years.

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The total number of equity release products available increased to a record high of 668 in July 2021, from 448 six months earlier.

More than two-thirds (68%) of products allow customers to make voluntary capital repayments with no early repayment charge (ERC), while 89% of products offer fixed ERCs.

The average equity release rate rose to 4.26%, but there are still more options available today with rates of 4% or lower than a year ago.

The average age of new customers remained stable in H1 2021 at 70 years old for drawdown and 68.4 for lump sum.

And the average house price of new customers continues to rise to record levels for both drawdown (£419,166) and lump sum (£406,139) plans.

This came as UK property prices have increased over the last year to reach an average of £265,668.

David Burrowes, chairman of the ERC, said: “UK households are converting unprecedented amounts of mortgage borrowing into property wealth as we look to move on from the worst of the pandemic.

“Combined with property price rises fuelled by the stamp duty holiday, homeowners have record equity to potentially draw upon in later life.

“The transformation of later life mortgages in recent years has given people more opportunities to access their biggest source of wealth.

“We are seeing mindsets change to the point that tapping into property wealth is now a common consideration to meet various retirement needs, from topping up pension income to providing a ‘living inheritance’ via gifting to younger generations.

“The modern equity release market has shown resilience in the face of uncertainty to climb back towards pre-pandemic levels.

“The disruption of the last 18 months has not slowed the pace of innovation in lifetime lending, and it is important the market continues to evolve to address the financial challenges people will face in the post-pandemic world.”

Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing director of more2life, added: “Following the end of the stamp duty holiday and the severe disruption to markets and personal finances over the past 18 months, the news today that mortgage repayments have risen by 20% to record highs is a testament to the strength of the UK housing market and the savvy savings behaviour of UK consumers.

“Though the report does mention some grey clouds around the UK’s record level of mortgage debt, there is a significant silver lining in that rising house prices have led to the amount of equity in our homes being three times the level of debt owed.

“With a record high of £4.87trn of private property wealth in the UK, there is a fertile landscape for consumers looking to unlock the wealth tied up in their homes and afford the retirement lifestyle they deserve in their autumn years.

“The hard work of the equity release market to innovate and create better outcomes for borrowers is evident in the doubling of product options in the last two years, allowing consumers greater opportunity to find the right equity release product for them.

“Accessing property wealth remains one of the best ways for over-55s to achieve their forever homes, move closer to family or afford renovations to make life more comfortable, and today’s report shows that the market is working hard to live up to its potential and support later life borrowers in retirement.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Buy-to-let mortgages reach their 25th birthday

The private rented sector has almost doubled in size since the first buy-to-let mortgage launched 25 years ago this Friday.

In 1996, the Association of Residential Landlords (ARLA) worked with a small group of lenders including Paragon and NatWest to develop a mortgage product specifically tailored to landlords.

Buy-to-let was devised to encourage new investment into a private rented sector (PRS) that had been in long-term decline.

The recession of the early 1990s exposed a lack of options for those for whom home ownership was out of reach, but who couldn’t qualify for diminished social housing provision.

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The PRS had fallen from over 70% of homes post World War I to less than 10% by the late 1980s, fuelled by the growth of social housing, successive policies to encourage home-ownership and a legal landscape that afforded little legal protection to landlords.

The only way a landlord could finance a property portfolio before BTL mortgages were launched was through commercial mortgage terms.

Often offered a low loan-to-value and with high rates, these didn’t always make the most attractive option for investors.

As a result, it is thought that some landlords used standard residential mortgages but in cases where the tenants weren’t declared, the terms of the mortgage would have been breached.

That was until the launch of the first specialist buy-to-let mortgage in 1996.

At the time, John Major was prime minister, Princess Diana and Prince Charles divorced and mad cow disease was causing panic.

That same year the Spice Girls’ debut single, Wannabe, was released and England hosted the European Football Championships, cheered on by fans singing David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home).

The private rented sector (PRS) has almost doubled in size, expanding from 2.4 million households in 1996 to 4.4 million in England today.

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Now the PRS accounts for 19% of UK households, which is more than the social housing sector, which accounts for 17% of households.

The portion of homes in the sector classed as “decent” under government standards has consistently increased, rising from 53.2% in 2006 to 76.7% last year.

There has been a 272% increase in PRS homes with an energy rating of C or above since 2009 to 1.8 million today.

Paragon managing director for mortgages Richard Rowntree says: “Since being launched as a mortgage product specifically designed for landlords 25 years ago, buy-to-let finance has helped to transform the PRS.

“It is now a vital component of the UK’s housing provision, with renting no longer a last resort.

“The PRS is a tenure of choice as well as need and this is supported by the diversity of those who actively choose rented homes, benefitting from the flexibility they provide.”

Former Arla Propertymark president Robert Jordan says: “We at Arla realised that the housing market was at a low ebb; houses weren’t selling, which meant a lot of people were letting their homes to move to a new property.

“When the housing market picked up those properties sold and there was a need for more rented properties to fill the gap for tenants, but we couldn’t see where we would find more homes to let.

“It became clear that the mortgage options weren’t suitable, so together we designed a product, buy-to-let, that would enable more investors to purchase an investment property and let it under the new Housing Act 1988 regulations.

“Paragon and NatWest were the first two mortgage lenders we approached. Today, private landlords house approximately five million households across the UK at no cost to the exchequer.”

By Leah Milner

Source: Mortgage Strategy

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Residential transaction numbers grow 20% in August: HMRC

Government figures show that, totalling 98,000, residential transactions in the UK during August 2021 were 20.8% higher than in August 2020.

On a monthly basis, transactions of this type increased by 32%, the data adds.

It also shows that non-residential transactions, at 10,250, grew by 28.2% on a yearly basis in August – 5.8% when measured monthly.

This comes after HMRC reported transaction numbers slipping by almost 63% on a monthly basis in July.

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John Phillips says: “Property transactions are returning to a more recognisable level.

“The peaks and troughs of the past few months have been more erratic than in the past, but these should begin to level out as we move away from the stamp duty holiday.

“One thing that the latest data proves is that the tax savings were not the sole driving force behind the vast majority of moves.”

He adds: “Despite the end to furlough in a few weeks, vacancies have exceeded 1m for the first-time, so there are jobs out there, and the number of buyers is unlikely to fall significantly.

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“Confidence in the economy is growing and people are now switching jobs, so this may test lenders criteria on probationary periods, but it is unlikely to be a significant blocker for many.”

And Anna Clare Harper looks abroad in her commentary: “The Evergrande crisis highlights how over-leveraging can bring investors and homeowners down. Regardless of transactions data, prices can go down as well as up. A big cause of this is lending; just because you can borrow to acquire property with low deposits, it doesn’t mean you should. Buyers must remember that both capital and interest repayments must be paid.

“The good news for UK house buyers lies in a key difference between the Chinese property market and the UK property market: supply constraints. In the UK, we suffer an ongoing shortage of housing stock, which in turn means prices are expected to continue to grow.

“For this reason, although Evergrande is terrifying, and UK transactions rising and falling by 32% in a month seems volatile, the UK market is likely to remain more measured in its fluctuations,” Harper concludes.

By Gary Adams

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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London property: First-time buyers make a comeback

Nearly three in every ten home sales went to first-time buyers last month, the highest proportion in over a year, according to new data from various large estate agents.

It marks the highest percentage since June 2020, when 29 per cent sales went to people getting on the property ladder, according to estate agents’ body Propertymark.

It was the strongest August for sales to first-time buyers since 2016, when the percentage was also 28 per cent.

There have been signs of the housing market becoming less frenzied after a stamp duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland was tapered from July.

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Many mortgage lenders have also reintroduced low-deposit mortgages in recent months, after many such deals disappeared last year in the uncertain economy.

The figures also suggest that competition for homes remains strong amid a lack of supply.

Across the UK

Across the UK housing market, more than a third (37 per cent) of properties sold for more than the original asking price in August, up from 31 per cent in July.

In August 2020, just 13 per cent of homes sold over the asking price.

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The average number of properties available per member branch stood at 23 in August, down from 28 per branch in July.

This means there is an average of 19 buyers chasing every available property on the market, Propertymark said.

Chief executive Nathan Emerson said: “This month’s report shows an enduring appetite amongst buyers, including the ongoing wave of new buyers securing their first homes.

“Lifestyle changes are still prevalent, and buyers are now looking to a future which is very different from the one they envisioned two years ago.

“The search for green space, home offices and more flexible living is a trend that is unlikely to see demand diminish before the new year.”

By Michiel Willems

Source: City AM

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Rightmove: Asking prices hit all time high

The national average price of property coming to market has hit an all-time high, rising by 0.3% (£1,091) this month, to £338,462, according to data collected by Rightmove.

This new record high is only £15 higher than the previous record set in July, which Rightmove said is a sign that prices are now stabilising.

Buyer demand has remained strong, but this is counterbalanced by increasingly stretched buyer affordability, disappearing stamp duty incentives and the summer holiday mini-lull, alongside sluggish price growth in London.

While five areas of Great Britain (South West, Wales, East Midlands, East of England and South East) have annual price growth in excess of 8%, Greater London has seen better supply of homes for sale than the rest of the country, contributing to a rise of just 0.8%.

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In the first two weeks of September, the number of new listings is up by 14% compared to the last two weeks of August.

In turn, more choice of properties encourages more current owners to come to market if they are looking for an onward purchase, and this greater liquidity is another factor in easing further upwards price pressure.

Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove, said: “While the holiday-starved took their break over summer, the high ratio of buyer demand to properties for sale means that the property market remains stock starved despite the summer lull lessening overall activity.

“Competition among potential buyers to secure their next home is now more than double what it was this time in 2019. To be in pole-position in the race for the best property you need to have greater buying power than the rest of the field.

“That traditionally would mean deeper pockets to outbid other buyers, but in the most competitive market ever, today’s ‘power buyers’ also need to have already found a buyer for their own property, or to have no need to sell at all.

“Agents report that buyers who have yet to sell are being out-muscled by buyers who have already sold subject to contract. Proof that you are mortgage-ready or can splash the cash without needing a mortgage will also help you to get the pick of the housing crop.”

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“This 14% increase in the number of new sellers coming to market in the first half of September is only an early snapshot, but autumn is traditionally a busy period, as those owners who have hesitated thus far during the year see the few months before Christmas as an opportunity to belatedly get their moving plans underway.

“The frenetic pace of this year’s market may also have put some potential movers off, but there are signs of a return of some normality.

“It’s still a strong sellers’ market in most of the country, so those looking to purchase need to do all in their power to maximise their appeal to sellers, who will often have several offers, and will usually choose the one that gives them the best chance of a quick sale.

“Agents are reporting that the most successful buyers are using tactics such as ‘sell before you buy’ to increase their buying power in this competitive market.

“Estate agents know the best methods for movers to secure their ideal properties, so it’s well worth discussing your options with them.”

Cory Askew added: “Since the easing of lockdown restrictions, London has been reclaiming its position as a lifestyle destination that appeals to a wide range of buyer demographics.

“The market has been witnessing a continuous influx of buyers this month who are eager to find their new home without any further delay.

“This is most evident in prime central London where buyer demand has really roared back to life, having lagged behind other parts of London this year.

“With an array of attractive mortgage offerings available, we expect London’s property market to remain buoyant for the remainder of the year. In particular demand are properties with outdoor space or a room that can be utilised as a home office.”

Director of Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, said: “We’re heading into an extremely busy period where the property market is concerned and so the expiry of the stamp duty holiday and its impact on the market is going to be far less pronounced than first feared.

“With the stamp duty holiday causing manic market conditions and long delays to transaction times, many homesellers and buyers chose to retreat until the rush had subsided, having long given up hope of a stamp duty saving.

“However, we will now start to see them emerge from their boltholes and this additional stock will help rejuvenate the market throughout the remainder of the year.

“The London market, in particular, is poised for a strong finish with an abundance of stock now available and a sharp uplift in domestic and foreign demand being driven by pandemic restriction lifting both where the workplace and travel are concerned.”

Colby Short, founder and CEO of, said: “It’s fair to say that the process of selling first to improve your buying position has long been a tactic utilised by UK homebuyers and so we’re not seeing the ‘rise of the power buyer’ as such.

“That said, a high level of competition for a limited level of stock has highlighted the importance of a strong buying position when it comes to securing your ideal home.

“Unfortunately for the nation’s first-time buyers, those with an existing property to fund their onward purchase are in a far stronger position when it comes to placing an offer and this has pushed up the cost of buying quite considerably.

“As a result, those looking to buy their first home are now paying 12% more compared to just 12 months ago.

“However, the cost of borrowing remains very favourable and given current market delays, some sellers will place the stronger position of a first-time buyer above that of a few thousand pounds extra.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Average Scottish house prices reach record high

Average Scottish house prices reached a record high, increasing to £207,877, according to the July House Price Index from Walker Fraser Steele.

July saw the largest increase in average price in a month since March 2015, up by £6,000 and a lack of properties on the market has helped to support values.

This is the largest increase in a month since March 2015, which was just prior to the introduction of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland in April 2015.

Annually, 2021 has seen highest number of sales over £750,000 of last seven years.

The average house price in Scotland has increased by some £20,550 – or 11.0% – over the past 12 months, to the end of July.

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This is 2.5% higher than the 8.5% recorded one month earlier, and comes as something of a surprise, given that the annual rate had been slowing over the previous three months from a high in March 2021 of 11.4%.

In July 2021, all bar one of the 32 local authorities in Scotland saw their average prices rise over the previous 12 months – the one authority not to have done so being Na h-Eileanan Siar, where only 25 sales took place in July 2020.

On a regional basis, Na h-Eileanan Siar saw the only yearly decline, falling by 3.7%, as well as this it saw the greatest monthly decline, also down by 3.7%.

Meanwhile, Orkney Islands saw the highest annual rise, up 30.8% and the largest monthly increase, up 9.9%.

In July there are 12 such authorities, up from four local authorities in June, as well as Scotland’s own average price, which has also reached a new record level.

Last month Walker Fraser Steele noted that the ending of the LBTT tax holiday in March 2021 made little difference to the high-value end of the housing market, with the number of purchases of £750,000 plus homes in June 2021 actually exceeding those of March 2021.

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Walker Fraser Steele suggested that this was probably due to the level of tax saving being limited to £2,100 in Scotland (compared to a saving of £15,000 in England), a relatively small sum in relation to a property costing £750,000.

The tax holiday was therefore more likely to influence buyer behaviour at lower price levels, with purchases at £250,000 qualifying for the maximum tax savings.

Alan Penman, business development manager at Walker Fraser Steele, said: “The average house price in Scotland at the end of July stands at £207,877, a new record level, having risen by some £5,950, or 2.9%, in the month.

“This is the largest increase in a month since March 2015 just prior to the introduction of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland the following month.

“The average house price has increased by some £20,550 – or 11.0% – over the last 12 months. This is 2.5% higher than the 8.5% recorded one month earlier.

“The annual rate had been slowing over the previous three months from a high in March 2021 of 11.4%.

“But it is the continuing strong performance of larger properties that is supporting the current growth.

“Sales volumes, which now appear to be running at the levels seen in 2018, also suggest larger properties are supporting higher average prices.

“Lower transactions and strong prices at the top-end show that demand is exceeding supply with the focus of the market on higher value transactions supported by continuing record low interest rates.

“Combined with the previous tax savings associated with the LBTT holiday, these factors have encouraged the whole market to focus on larger properties and give cause to believe the exceptional performance of larger properties might continue for some months to come.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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House prices up 8% over year to July 2021 – ONS

UK average house prices have increased by 8.0% over the year to July 2021, down from 13.1% in June 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) House Price Index.

The average UK house price was £256,000 in July 2021, which is £19,000 higher than the same time last year, following the record high of £265,000 in June 2021.

Average house prices increased over the year in England to £271,000 (7%), in Wales to £188,000 (11.6%), in Scotland to £177,000 (14.6%) and in Northern Ireland to £153,000 (9.0%).

London continued to be the region with the lowest annual growth (2.2%) for the eighth consecutive month.

Sundeep Patel said: “July’s figures show house price growth was maintained, with prices rising by 8% meaning the average UK house price now sits at £256,000- £19,000 higher than this time last year.

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“However, after months of highly inflated prices caused by unprecedented demand from hopeful buyers looking to snap up properties outside of major cities, and a race for space as we adapt to hybrid working, we are perhaps starting to see house prices stabilise slightly as the dust starts to settle following nearly 18 months of uncertainty.

“With consumer confidence increasing and an ongoing discrepancy between supply and demand when it comes to housing stock, we’re yet to see what the market could look like in a few months’ time.

“Also, with furlough ending this month, many will be anticipating the wave of support needed by those facing financial challenges.

“Whether the high street is adept enough to deal with these cases, or if this means more opportunity for specialist lenders to help is the next priority.”

John Eastgate added: “House price strength is set to continue despite the ending of the Stamp Duty holiday.

“The dramatic shortage of supply looks set to persist and the economic backdrop will underpin valuations.

“The difference this time of course is that, if anything, London price rises are behind many other parts of the country, as buying habits change and buyers’ priorities shift towards quality of life rather than quality of commute. London prices will come back strongly however as we see a return to normality.

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“Mortgage rates are more attractive than ever, however accelerating house prices will do nothing to ease affordability challenges and we should expect to see continued growth of the private rental sector, which plays an essential role in the housing landscape.”

Stuart Law said: “The stamp duty holiday was a huge motivator for buyers and fuelled one of the busiest periods of market activity we’ve seen for a decade.

“With higher tax rates starting to phase back in from July, it is no surprise that we’ve seen an impact with house price growth temporarily stalling somewhat as a result of that incentive disappearing.

“The real problem though, concerning those looking to get on the housing ladder or move up it, is the continued and acute lack of stock which defines the current housing market.

“This has substantially driven house prices up for many years, with most properties nowadays subject to competitive bidding situations, and it is continuing to hinder market activity and apply upward pressure on pricing.

“Moderate house price growth is good for homeowners on balance – a little like modest wider inflation – but unbalanced or excessive house price growth is likely to be unsustainable and restrict the ability of many prospective buyers looking to enter the market.

“Demand continues to outstrip supply and we are likely to see house prices continue to grow well over inflation over the coming months as more and more people seek to adapt their lifestyle to a reimagined post-pandemic world, striking a new balance between home and work. All of this suggests that we are set for further substantial house price growth this year and next.

“The only way to introduce balance into the supply and demand equation in a sustainable way is to dramatically increase our housebuilding output and draw on the expertise of small, local developers who can quickly leverage their local knowledge to provide new homes where they are most needed and we are hugely supportive of that, funding one in 12 of all new SME-built homes.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK house prices keep rising even as tax break unwinds: RICS

A lack of new homes for sale in Britain boosted prices again last month even as the housing market slowed following a partial withdrawal of a pandemic emergency tax break for property purchases, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) gauge of new buyer enquiries slipped in August to its lowest level since January, as did its measure of agreed sales.

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But with demand still far in excess of supply – driven by people seeking bigger homes as they work remotely more often after the coronavirus pandemic – the vast majority of surveyors polled by RICS – a net 73% – reported rising house prices, albeit down from a reading of +79% in July.

Other surveys have also pointed to continued house price growth since July when a year-long exemption from the stamp duty tax on house purchases was halved in scale in England and Northern Ireland and expired altogether in Wales. Scotland ended the incentive in April.

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“While momentum has eased relative to an exceptionally strong stretch earlier in the year, there are still many factors likely to drive a solid market going forward,” said RICS economist Tarrant Parsons.

“Given the real shortfall in new listings becoming available of late, there remains strong competition amongst buyers and this is maintaining a significant degree of upward pressure on house prices.”

A significant majority of surveyors – a net 66% – said they expected house prices to rise over the next 12 months, unchanged from July’s reading.

Source: EuroNews

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Demand For Rental Property At Five-Year High

Demand for private rented housing in England and Wales has reached a five-year high, a survey of landlords undertaken for the National Residential Landlords Association has found.

Yorkshire and The Humber was the area shown to have the highest rental property demand, followed by the South East and the South West.

Some 65 per cent of private landlords in Yorkshire and The Humber reported demand had increased in the second quarter of 2021: a figure that compared to a national average of 39 per cent.

Even so, the survey, conducted in partnership with BVA/BDRC, concluded that while 13 per cent of landlords in Yorkshire planned to increase the number of properties they rent out over the next year, 20 per cent planned to cut the number of properties they rent.

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In the South East, 63 per cent of private landlords reported demand had increased in the second quarter of 2021. Some 16 per cent of landlords said they planned to increase the number of properties they rent out, while the same proportion intended to reduce the number.

In the South West, 60 per cent of private landlords reported demand for their properties had increased. Some 14 per cent said they planned to increase their letting portfolio, which again was the same proportion that said they intended to cut the number of properties they let.

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

The survey confirmed a continued pattern of tenants leaving London in response to the trend towards home working, said NRLA. Just over half of landlords in central London (53 per cent) reported a fall in tenant demand with only 15 per cent of landlords saying it had increased.

But overall, the picture revealed was one of increasing demand with little enthusiasm from landlords for new investment in rental properties.

‘Across Yorkshire and The Humber, the supply of homes is not keeping up with fast rising demand. The only losers will be tenants as they struggle to find urgently needed rental homes. The government needs to change direction and, instead of introducing measures to deter investment in the private rented sector, it must put in place policies which encourage it’, said NRLA Yorkshire and The Humber regional representative Ruth Millington.

Source: Landlord Knowledge

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Buy-to-let market on the rise: is now the time to invest?

Buy-to-let landlords are becoming increasingly confident about expanding their portfolios, as rents rise and mortgage rates fall. That’s according to a new report by Shawbrook Bank, which found investors are targeting properties with gardens in an attempt to entice tenants.

A third of landlords look to expand portfolios

New research by Shawbrook Bank has found that a third (34%) of landlords are looking to expand their portfolios in the next 12 months. One in 10 plan to buy in a different area from their current properties, with their plans driven by changes in tenant priorities since the start of the pandemic. Of those looking to invest, 30% say they’ll seek out more rural locations, with the North East of England a popular choice. After a tough year, there are signs confidence is returning to buy-to-let. Two thirds of landlords (67%) told Shawbrook they are positive about their prospects in the next year.

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What are landlords looking for in investment properties?

The pandemic has had a significant effect on what we want from a home, with time spent away from the office and the prospect of hybrid working in the future changing buyer and tenant priorities. Shawbrook’s research shows landlords are reacting to the trend of home movers looking for bigger properties with gardens or access to outside space. The chart below shows the top five priorities for landlords looking to buy an investment property.

What’s happened to rental yields?

Average monthly rents in the UK range from just £396 in the North East of England to £1,755 in London, according to Shawbrook’s data. Across the UK, rents have increased by 1.6% year-on-year, with the South West, East Midlands and West Midlands all seeing growth of more than 2%. Changes to rent prices don’t tell the whole story, however. London might have the highest rents in the UK, but it also has the lowest rental yields for landlords – reflecting the high up-front cost of buying properties in England’s capital. Cheaper areas are more likely to enjoy significant growth in property values, which then has a significant knock-on effect on yields for landlords. The chart below shows how rental yields vary around the UK, from less than 4% in the South East of England to nearly 6% in Scotland. The UK average is 4.3%.

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Lack of supply could boost buy-to-let profits

Rents have only risen slightly over the past year, but rising house prices mean the value of buy-to-let homes has increased markedly. Shawbrook says the value of the private rented sector had grown to £1.4 trillion by the end of 2020, with buy-to-let properties increasing in value by 5.8% year-on-year. With the market now cooling down a little, landlords may be handed a boost by a lack of supply. Shawbrook says that rented homes made up 17% of all households in England, Scotland and Wales as of March 2021. That might sound like a lot, but it’s actually a fall of 2.6% year-on-year. With the number of available rental properties decreasing and tenants competing for bigger homes, it may be that rent prices tick up more substantially the next 12 months.

Landlords take advantage of stamp duty holiday

The stamp duty holiday resulted in UK house prices rising by more than 10% year-on-year, and owner occupiers weren’t the only ones to benefit. Shawbrook’s data shows that 28% of landlords bought an investment property during the tax break. Professional landlords were most likely to take advantage of the savings, with 43% of portfolio landlords (those with four or more buy-to-let properties) making additional purchases. Nearly half (46%) of landlords who invested during the stamp duty holiday said they wouldn’t have done so if not for the savings on offer.

What’s going on with mortgages for landlords?

Buy-to-let mortgage availability crashed in 2020, with lenders withdrawing huge numbers of deals after the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, though, the market has settled down, and the resulting lower rates are good news for landlords looking to buy or refinance. Data from Moneyfacts shows that average buy-to-let mortgage rates have been falling for months, and are now just above the levels seen before the pandemic.

Is now the time to invest in buy-to-let property?

If you’re tempted to invest in buy-to-let, it’s important to do your research first – especially if you’re new to the game. When calculating anticipated rental yields, landlords look to what’s happening with rent prices and the prospect of the property growing in value, but past performance doesn’t always provide a guarantee. Savvy landlords will carefully research local markets to find out which types of properties are in short supply and thus in demand from tenants.

By Stephen Maunder

Source: Which?

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