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Birmingham rated the best place for property investors

Investors in Birmingham can expect a rental yield of 5.4% and price growth of 14.2% in the next five years, making it the best location for investors, according to UK developer SevenCapital.

Average rents have risen by 30% in the past decade, and are expected to increase by 15.9% in the next four. Prices in the city stand at £202,162.

There’s a raft of projects upcoming in the city – notably the Midlands Metro extension, HS2 and the 2022 Commonwealth Games

The second best city for landlords is Manchester, followed by Liverpool, Nottingham and Newcastle.

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Projected five-year price growth is particularly high in Manchester and Nottingham, at 15.76% and 16.92%.

Liverpool and Newcastle are on the cheaper end, with prices averaging at £186,527 and £198,307 respectively.

The only town represented in the study was Bracknell, which was rated the eighth best place for investors.

While the area has a high average price of £383,788, prices are expected to rise by 11.02% in five years.

Bracknell is home to tech businesses such as Dell, Microsoft and 3M, while the town is in the midst of a £770 million regeneration.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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House price growth to reach 17.5% by year end

Annual house price growth will reach 17.5% by the end of the year, according to quote service Reallymoving.

Such is the urgency for home sales to be completed before the end of the stamp duty holiday, prices are expected to rise by 8.8% over the next three months alone, including a 6.1% increase between September and October.

If Reallymoving is accurate in its predictions, which are based on deals already agreed, then the typical price agreed will rise to just shy of £342,000 in December.

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Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “Our data indicates continued strong price increases in the run up to Christmas but the slowdown in the rate of growth in November and December could be an early sign that the post-lockdown spike in activity is beginning to run out of steam.

“For the remainder of the year the stamp duty holiday will continue to support demand but the real test will be the start of 2021, when the window for offering on a property and completing before the March 31st deadline begins to close. This is likely to be in the context of rising unemployment and continued lockdowns, impeding economic activity and denting consumer confidence.

“Increasing numbers of first-time buyers have been locked out of the market in recent months due to competition for homes and the withdrawal of high Loan to Value mortgages.

“But if the government presses ahead with the launch of its proposed 95% loans in spring 2021, that would help overcome the biggest barrier to home ownership for thousands of first-time buyers, boosting demand at the lower end of the market at a crucial time.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Residential transactions up 21.3% month-on-month

Property transactions increased by 21.3% from August to September, HMRC statistics show.

Following the rise they are slightly lower (0.7%) than September last year.

Alan Cleary, managing director for mortgages at OneSavings Bank, said: “Housing transactions continued to recover strongly in September which is great news for the market.

“At close to 100,000, the number of transactions was similar to a year earlier and in line with the monthly average in recent years.”

“With mortgage approvals for house purchase having risen to their highest levels since before the 2008 financial crisis, housing transactions are likely to rise further in the coming months as borrowing costs look set to remain at historically low levels.

“Bolstered by the government’s additional measures to support employment and boost demand during the winter months, housing market activity seems likely to strengthen further in the period immediately ahead.”

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John Phillips, national operations director, Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart said: “Numbers are higher than any of us expected to see and volume is consistently high across the country, surprisingly the South East and London are slightly quieter.

“The one downside has been the lack of lenders offering high LTV mortgages. There are still thousands of clients with 10% deposits who are safe investments and they are currently being blocked from owning a home.

“The market needs a steady supply of these products to support current applicants. Brokers are not concerned about service level agreements being stretched, delivering for the client is more important, timing is not the issue. If lenders can fix that, we expect the demand to continue for the rest of 2020.”

John Goodall, chief executive of specialist buy-to-let lender, Landbay, said: “The market both in buy-to-let and in residential is much more buoyant than any of us expected back in May.

“September has bounced back strongly and is now exceeding the strong levels of demand that we saw at the start of the year.

“We are seeing many landlords anticipating an increase in rental demand as it gets harder for people to get on the property ladder due to increasing unemployment and the reduction in high LTV mortgages.

“I expect this rise in numbers to continue into early 2021 as people rush to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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UK house prices increase by 2.5%

UK house prices rose by 2.5% over the year to August elevating the average property in the UK to £239,000, data from the Land Registry has revealed.

The latest index, which is based on completed transactions and is published by the Office for National Statistics, offers a picture of the market in the month after the stamp duty holiday was introduced.

It shows average prices were £6,000 higher in August than at the same time in 2019 and highlights the East Midlands as the English region which experienced the highest annual growth with prices rising by 3.6%.

Nicky Stevenson, managing director at estate agents Fine & Country, said: “Here is official confirmation that the market did indeed get up to a canter over the summer months.

“The annual rate of growth soared as buyers frustrated by lockdown and lack of space crammed into the market in search of larger properties. That alone explains this year’s sudden rally, as the stamp duty holiday was only introduced in July.”

Stevenson explained the lag in this data being released would mean any extra demand the stamp duty relief created would not be seen in the Land Registry figures before the end of the year.

The data also showed UK house prices have risen 0.7% since July 2020. In London prices were still on the rise, increasing by 0.9% since July 2020 and by 3.5% annually taking the average property value to £489,159.

Transactions level with 2019

HMRC data also published today revealed UK residential transactions in September 2020 were at 98,010, which were similar to the September 2019 figures. They were just 0.7% lower than the same month last year and 21.3% higher than August 2020.

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Anna Clare Harper, CEO of asset manager SPI Capital and author of Strategic Property Investing, explained transaction data was of interest because it represented a more complete picture than comparable indices.

“What’s interesting about the September 2020 data is that transaction volumes are on a par with transactions in September 2019,” she said.

“This suggests that the temporary changes to stamp duty designed to boost confidence in the housing market have worked well to achieve this goal. There are very few sectors where buyers and sellers feel as confident as they did in September 2019.

“What happens next will be a reflection of policy and economics. Trade bodies such as RICS, as well as government policy makers, will play a significant role in the future of the housing market, as they have in the story that has played out so far in 2020.

“For potential home buyers and investors, the key will be not taking on too much credit, despite the relatively cheap cost of debt at present, as it is very difficult to forecast what will happen next.”

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Landlords report strongest tenant demand since 2016

The North West and South West of England experienced the strongest levels of tenant demand in a period which has seen the most buoyant growth since 2016.

A survey by buy-to-let lender Paragon Bank revealed tenant demand hit a four-year high in Q3 of 2020 with 29% of landlords reporting rising interest from renters during this period.

This was the highest number of respondents reporting increased demand since the third quarter of 2016 and came as one in ten of the 700 landlords quizzed reported ‘significant growth’.

But it was in the regions of the North West and South West where rental numbers were most buoyant with the survey finding 44% of landlords had seen a growth. This was closely followed by the East Midlands where 40% of landlords reported higher demand from tenants.

In Central London, meanwhile, just 16% of landlords saw growth in the last three months. Growth was slightly stronger in outer London areas, with a quarter of landlords recording rising demand.

Richard Rowntree, managing director of mortgages at Paragon Bank, said the record levels of tenant demand being reported by the likes of Rightmove and Zoopla when the housing market reopened in May had started to feed through to landlords as tenants reassessed where and how they wanted to live.

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Central London, he explained, was seeing the impact of Airbnb-style landlords moving property into long-term lettings, as well as a desire for larger properties.

Rowntree continued: “Outside of London, demand is buoyant from the East of England, where 27% of landlords are reporting growth in demand, to the North East and South West, where nearly half of respondents are telling us they are seeing positive growth.”

He added: “We expect this to continue for the foreseeable future and there’s a number of factors we’re seeing at play.

“For example, there’s been growth in homeowners taking advantage of strong prices and selling to move into rented, people are looking to secure a new home ahead of entering a potential second lockdown, whilst students left it late to secure property for the new academic year.”

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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Exclusive: South London boroughs lead house price charge

The south London boroughs of Merton, Croydon and Kingston saw the fastest house price growth in the year to August as the capital’s property market remained surprisingly buoyant, according to exclusive analysis by property website Zoopla for City A.M.

Price growth was much slower up in Hillingdon, Barnet and Brent, however, reflecting big differences within the London housing market during the coronavirus pandemic.

Property prices jumped 3.2 per cent in Merton in the year to August, Zoopla’s new analysis of its latest house price index showed.

Croydon was not far behind with growth of 3.1 per cent. Prices climbed three per cent in Kingston upon Thames and 2.8 per cent in Sutton.

It is the latest evidence that buyers are looking to move to leafier suburbs during coronavirus, which has spelled the end of the office commute for many.

“There is definitely a cohort of buyers who are looking for something different, maybe more space and are going further out,” Grainne Gilmore, head of research at Zoopla, told City A.M.

London house prices: The top five risers in August

BoroughAverage priceQuarterly changeAnnual change
Merton£507,8000.4%3.2%
Croydon£376,7000.8%3.1%
Kingston£517,0001%3%
Sutton£395,6000.4%2.8%
Newham£375,8000.7%2.8%
Source: Zoopla

Yet she highlighted that some areas closer to London’s centre had also seen a sharp rise in prices.

House prices in Newham rose 2.8 per cent in the year to August for example, and they rose 2.7 per cent in Hackney.

Tower Hamlets and Lewisham both saw growth of 2.6 per cent.

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“A lot of demand is still remaining within the city,” Gilmore said. “People are maybe looking at different types of properties within the city, and that’s underpinned by the pricing we’re seeing in some of these areas.”

London house prices to face headwinds

The overall UK housing market has experienced a surprising surge during the coronavirus pandemic. That is despite the country entering an historic recession.

It has been boosted by the release of demand that was built up when the property market was shut down in the spring. Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday – which has raised the payment threshold to £500,000 until March – has also bumped up activity.

Zoopla’s August house price index showed that prices grew 2.6 per cent year on year, taking the average to £218,000.

In London, house prices grew 2.1 per cent in August. The average house in the capital cost £476,000.

However, experts caution that the housing market will face strong headwinds in the winter and next spring. Rising unemployment as government support is wound down and new coronavirus restrictions are two obvious problems.

London house prices: The top five fallers in August

BoroughAverage priceQuarterly changeAnnual change
City of London£788,100-0.9%-0.7%
Hillingdon£413,3000%0.4%
Barnet£539,2000.2%0.5%
Brent£486,8000.2%0.7%
Ealing£477,8000%0.9%
Source: Zoopla

Zoopla’s London analysis showed that the recent rise in house prices is highly localised.

Prices in the City of London fell 0.7 per cent year on year, for example, although Zoopla cautions that the sample size is not big enough to draw reliable conclusions.

Prices in Hillingdon grew just 0.4 per cent in the year to August, while Barnet saw a 0.5 per cent rise. Brent house prices have climbed 0.7 per cent.

Kensington and Chelsea remained by far the most expensive borough. The average house cost £1.17m in August. Westminster was second at £955,000, while the City was third at £788,000.

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM

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Scottish commercial property investment volumes pick up during Q3

Investment volumes in Scottish commercial property staged a recovery between July and September 2020, buoyed by the best third quarter for office deals in five years, according to analysis from two separate reports.

Analysis from Knight Frank found that the COVID-19 pandemic saw investment levels drop to record lows in Q2 2020, following the introduction of lockdown restrictions and, subsequently, the attachment of material valuation uncertainty clauses to commercial property assets.

However, as the economy began to re-open a number of significant deals concluded between July and September, totalling around £400 million – just shy of the Q3 five-year average of £405m. Investment in offices during the three months hit £218m, against an average of £116m for the same period in the past half-decade.

The biggest deal of the quarter was Roebuck Asset Management and Hyundai Asset Management’s £133m acquisition of Aegon’s Edinburgh headquarters during July.

In Glasgow, there were several deals including Singapore-based Elite Partners Capital’s purchase of 150 Broomielaw for around £40m, while the Guildhall building on Queen Street changed hands for around £30m.

The third quarter also saw the completion of Scotland’s biggest-ever logistics property deal, with the acquisition of Amazon’s main Scottish fulfilment centre near Dunfermline by Knight Frank Investment Management, on behalf of a Korean investor.

Euan Kelly, capital markets partner at Knight Frank, said: “The deals that concluded in Q3 underline the trends we’ve seen take hold over the course of 2020 – a flight to quality assets in prime locations, let to strong covenants. The sale of the Amazon fulfilment centre in Dunfermline also highlights the growing appetite for industrial and logistics property that has emerged since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is not all doom and gloom – however, the devil is very much in the detail behind the headline figures. If you have a multi-let industrial site, well-placed logistics shed, or a high-quality office building there will likely be a great deal of demand for that type of product. In that respect, property is reflecting what is happening elsewhere in the economy, with the strong getting stronger and vice versa.

“We are still in a continually evolving situation, but there are reasons for cautious optimism. The lifting of material valuation uncertainty clauses will help bring a level of certainty to the commercial property market – some deals cannot be financed when they are attached to an asset valuation – and there is a weight of money looking to be deployed in the right type of investments.

“In a world where there is little in the way of certainty, investors have an insatiable appetite for secure, long-term sources of income – and quality commercial property is in a great position to provide that.”

Meanwhile, a Q3 Scotland snapshot from Colliers International predicted a strong finish to 2020 for commercial property investment.

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Volumes in Q3 represented the highest quarterly figure in a year. While this was still almost 20% below the five-year quarterly average of £564m, Colliers said there is hope for a strong end to the year with pent-up demand driving activity.

Oliver Kolodseike, associate director, Research and Forecasting, at Colliers International, said: “It is positive to see that transactional volumes have started to pick up again and we are now expecting a strong end to the year in Scotland as we recover from the ‘COVID quarter’. An annual investment total of £1.5 billion across all sectors would be a positive result given the nationwide lockdown earlier in the year.”

Colliers’ analysis found that the office and alternative sectors accounted for three quarters of all activity by value, while investment volumes in the industrial sector were 40% above its five-year quarterly average. Unsurprisingly, given the ongoing impact of the pandemic, activity in the retail segment was limited.

There was a renewed interest in Scotland from Asia-Pac investors, accounting for over half of all investment volumes. This included the quarter’s largest deal which saw South Korean Hyundai Asset Management purchase 1-3 Lochside Crescent in Edinburgh for £133.25m. The 247,500 sq ft asset is currently let to insurance group Aegon. This is Hyundai Asset Management’s second Edinburgh purchase in less than 18 months, having already bought Gyle Square in April 2019 for £55m in one of Scotland’s other largest office deals that year.

Looking in more detail at investment in the office sector, performance was relatively strong in Q3 after no notable deals were recorded in the previous three months. A total of £186m was invested during Q3, only slightly weaker than the £196m transacted a year ago and marginally below the five-year quarterly average of £193m. In one of Scotland’s other largest office deals this year, Singaporean Elite Partners Capital bought 150 Broomielaw, the 97,000 sq ft building completely let to Scottish Enterprise, for £40m.

Industrial investment activity picked up during Q3, with volumes reaching £80m, 40% above the five-year quarterly average of £56m. The figure was boosted significantly by the sale of Amazon’s 1,023,000 sq ft logistics centre to Korean-based KB Securities for £66.8m, representing the second-largest industrial deal ever recorded in Scotland. In Glasgow, Stenprop acquired two separate units in Glasgow for a combined £10.7m. St Andrews Industrial Estate, covering 73,200 sq ft, sold for £5.5m, while Excelsior Industrial Estate, occupying 61,000 sq ft, went for £5.2m.

Patrick Ford, director, National Capital Markets, Colliers International in Glasgow, said: “It was good to see this relatively strong investment performance in the industrial sector in Scotland’s two biggest cities in Q3. Overseas investors, particularly those located in Asia, remain very interested in the Scottish industrial sector and large deals continue to be done, despite global economic uncertainty on the back of COVID.”

In Glasgow, the move to bring more residential properties back to the city centre continued. The third quarter’s largest deal saw Legal & General UK BTR forward funding an £81.5m mixed-use regeneration scheme in Candleriggs Square which will include 364 build-to-rent units.

Patrick Ford added: “There is a push towards a more mixed-use environment in city centres, particularly in Glasgow and this is reflected in the scale of investment in the city in Q3. This trend will be accelerated by the impact of COVID which is likely to see people work from home, at least part of the week, for the long term. This will change the nature of the office environment and the make-up of city centres.”

Oliver Kolodseike concluded: “In line with the wider global economy, Scotland’s GDP will take a substantial hit this year. The pace and magnitude of the economic recovery will depend on the lockdown exit strategy, the oil price trajectory and Brexit deal negotiations.”

By Euan Kelly

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Rightmove: New record for average property price

The average price of property coming to market increased by 1.1% (£3,534) in September, to an all-time national record of £323,530, according to the Rightmove House Price Index.

This is 5.5% (£16,818) higher than a year ago, and shows the highest annual growth rate for over four years.

As a result of this trend, Rightmove has forecast that the annual rate of increase will rise further before the end of the year, peaking at around 7%; this is compared to Rightmove’s original forecast of 2% in December last year.

Despite market closure between late March and mid-May, 2% more sales have been agreed so far this year than in the same period in 2019.

September saw three new records for market activity: average time to sell hit 50 days, 12 days faster than the same period last year; for the first time, estate agents had more properties marked as sold than as available for sale; and the number of sales reported was 70% higher than the same period a year ago.

Rightmove also recorded a 49% increase in traffic in September, compared to the same period last year, which is the biggest year-on-year jump since 2006.

So far in October, the number of sales agreed is still 58% up on the same period last year.

The number of active buyers contacting estate agents has reached a high level, up by 66% in September compared to 12 months ago, and only marginally down on the peak of +67% seen in July.

Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove, said: “Previous records are tumbling in this extraordinary market, and there are still some legs left in the upwards march of property prices.

“We predict that the annual rate of growth will peak by December at around 7% higher than a year ago.

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“Many buyers seem willing to pay record prices for properties that fit their changed post-lockdown needs, though agents are commenting that some owners’ price expectations are now getting too optimistic, and not all properties fit the must-have template that buyers are now seeking.

“Not only is the time left to sell and legally complete before the 31 March stamp duty deadline being eaten away by the calendar, but more time is also needed because the sheer volume of sales is making it take longer for sales that have been agreed to complete the process.

“Sellers and their agents should therefore be wary of being too optimistic on their initial asking price, as whilst activity levels continue to amaze there are some signs of momentum easing off from these unprecedented levels.”

Bannister added: “Prospective buyers are seeing properties selling fast and prices rising as they search for their next home, adding to momentum and spurring them on to act quickly.

“With the number of buyers contacting agents still up by two-thirds on a year ago, there is plenty of fuel left in the tank to drive further activity in the run-up to Christmas and into next year.

“There have also been government promises of additional low-deposit mortgage support for first-time buyers, which could prove to be timely as we run up to 31 March.

“It appears that the current momentum, assisted by the prospect of stamp duty savings, is helping to keep the housing market healthy.

“Estate agents have worked hard to give confidence to sellers and buyers alike that property viewings can be conducted safely, and early signs show that market activity still remains high in areas with stricter local lockdowns.”

By Jessica Bird

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Year-on-year yield strengthens in majority of UK regions

Rental yields have been strengthening in a majority of UK regions in Q3 according to the latest buy-to-let rental barometer.

The barometer shows rental yields on residential buy-to-let properties were 6.4% across England, up 0.4% from the 6% achieved in the third quarter of 2019.

The North East of England recorded the top rental yield regional figure for the quarter, up 2% year-on-year to 8.8%, whilst only the North West and the East Midlands showed slight drops in rental yields.

Last quarter only three regions posted positive rental yields over the period however seven regions, including the North East, Yorkshire and Humberside and the West Midlands, all posted increases.

Fleet said the overall data showed a more positive picture than three months ago, with a greater number of transactions and rental valuations “showing the strength of the private rental sector during the summer and through into autumn”.

The barometer highlighted the impact COVID-19 may potentially have on rental property within, and around, city centres with potentially tenants looking to live further away from those areas.

It suggested that curbs on foreign tourism may bring a greater supply of short-term lets to market in certain regions however an increase in ‘staycationing’ may ensure yields are not unduly impacted by the greater number of properties available.

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As with Q2 figures, this Q3 iteration of the Barometer does not include Wales as different lockdown rules apply.

Steve Cox, distribution director of Fleet Mortgages, said: “It’s clearly positive to see the majority of regions in England posting increases in rental yields, and those regions which have showed a very slight dip were already at relatively high levels to begin with.

“We learnt from the post-credit crunch period over a decade ago that rents are not as susceptible to a recession as property prices, with many occupants more willing to opt for the shorter-term financial commitment offered by renting than longer-term property ownership.

“While the economic backdrop is not pretty with the ongoing recession and uncertainty about the true impact on employment levels suggesting a negative outlook for rental demand, the early indications – as evidenced by our Barometer – are more promising with no suggestion of sharp falls in rental yields.

“Perhaps this is a result of pent-up demand and more households being formed as a result of the lockdown – we will get a better idea of the sustainability of this in the coming months.

“What we may however see, is further structural changes in rental demand, particularly in urban centres with tenants – who can now work from home – feeling they are no longer tied to a property near to the office, and may look further afield where they might get more for their money.

“However, we have not yet seen any evidence to suggest this is becoming a trend.

“Demand for rental property is clearly holding up in most regions and the underlying demographics suggest that property investment will remain a good choice in the years ahead.

“Within a shorter time-frame, the fact that – in England at least – the stamp duty holiday is available to landlord borrowers has undoubtedly been a factor in the increased interest in property investment purchases, with both new and existing landlords looking at the opportunities available, and seeking to secure the savings that are available from the holiday.

“Our next iteration of the Barometer will give us more evidence on the robustness of rental yields and whether the potential impacts of COVID-19 on households and living arrangements are playing out as they are perceived to be.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK house prices stage rapid recovery in third quarter

UK house prices enjoyed their strongest quarterly increase since before the financial crisis in the third quarter as lockdown restrictions eased.

Prices rebounded quickly in the third quarter after the broadbased closure of the market during the previous quarter.

Prices rose 3.3 per cent in the three months to September, according to the Halifax Property Index, the strongest increase recorded since the end of 2006. On an annual basis prices were 5.5 per cent higher, the sharpest rate of inflation since the final quarter of 2016.

The housing market has been buoyed by government interventions such as the stamp duty holiday introduced over the summer.

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And last week Boris Johnson announced plans to turn “generation rent” into “generation buy” by allowing people to purchase homes with a five per cent deposit.

Paul Smith, economics director at IHS suggested the resurgence in prices was also due to “strong demand driven by a desire for more space – either as a reaction of the lockdown or the structural economic effects of increasing home working”.

The upturn in prices meant the standardised house price edged close to the £250,000 mark during the third quarter. Price inflation has picked up across all buyer and property types, with existing property inflation – 5.8 per cent – outstripping that of new houses – +4.1 per cent.

Properties in greater London remain comfortably the most expensive, with the typical house now costing more than £500,000 and around 1.5 times higher than in the South East.

Wider economic issues, particularly the rise in unemployment due to coronavirus, suggest activity and the rapidly rising prices are unlikely to be sustained.

The recent rise in prices has led to a tightening of affordability constraints, with the house price-to-earnings ratio reaching a record high level of 6.5 by the end of the third quarter.

It surpassed the previous records of 6.4 set prior to the financial crisis.

Unsurprisingly London has the highest ratio of close to 9, and the immediate regions surrounding the capital, with ratios all above 7, where affordability remains a key issue.

By Angharad Carrick

Source: City AM