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Average first-time buyer deposit rises 7% in a year

First-time buyers faced having to raise around £3,000 more for a deposit in 2019 than a year earlier, according to analysis.

The average amount put down by a first-time buyer in 2019 was £46,187 – 7%, or £3,032, higher compared with the average £43,155 deposit the year before, Halifax found.

Across the UK, typical first-time buyer deposit sizes range from an eye-watering £109,885 in London to a substantial £24,091 in the North East of England.

The average price paid by a first-time buyer in the UK last year was £231,455, up by £18,252 (9%) from a year earlier (£213,203).

Burnley, in the North West of England, was identified as the most affordable area for local first-time buyers – calculated by comparing average earnings with average house prices – with a ratio of 3.1.

The least affordable was Hackney in London, with an average house price-to-earnings ratio of 12.1.

The average price paid for a home by a first-time buyer in London has increased by £27,764 or 7% in the past year alone.

The price of an average first-time buyer property in the capital has more than doubled over the past decade, from £222,107 to £453,385.

Despite increasing costs, the overall number of first-time buyers has remained stable, up around 1% from 353,130 in 2018 to 356,767 in 2019, Halifax said.

This means that such buyers account for more than half (51%) of all house purchase loans.

Northern Ireland saw the biggest percentage increase in the number of first-time buyers, up by 6% year on year, from 10,430 to 11,013.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: “Whilst price growth in the overall housing market has been modest in recent years, the level of inflation facing first-time buyers is greater, which compounds the challenge in raising bigger deposits.

“However, given their importance to the market as a whole, it’s reassuring that the overall number of new buyers getting on the ladder remains stable.

“This is in part explained by initiatives designed specifically to support this key group, including Help to Buy schemes and family support mortgages, and they also benefit from the continued period of record low interest rates.

“However, it’s clear that more needs to be done to address more fundamental long-term issues, not least the shortage of new, affordable homes being built.”

Halifax used figures from its own database as well as data from UK Finance and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to make the findings.

Here are figures from Halifax showing average first-time buyer house prices, deposits and deposits as a percentage of the house purchase price in 2019:

– North West, £136,104, £24,091, 18%
– Yorkshire and the Humber, £156,232, £27,598, 18%
– North West, £163,459, £29,472, 18%
– East Midlands, £181,876, £32,917, 18%
– West Midlands, £185,091, £34,178, 18%
– East Anglia, £220,719, £43,188, 20%
– Wales, £153,267, £25,704, 17%
– South West, £221,357, £42,584, 19%
– South East, £295,348, £54,425, 18%
– London, £453,385, £109,885, 24%
– Northern Ireland, £136,850, £25,317, 19%
– Scotland, £152,728, £29,950, 20%

By Vicky Shaw

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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First-time buyer numbers in 2019 ‘at highest level since 2007’

The number of people taking their first step on the property ladder is estimated to have reached its highest levels since 2007 last year.

Across the UK, there were 353,436 first-time buyers in 2019, slightly up from the 353,130 recorded in 2018 and the highest annual total since 357,590 in 2007, according to calculations from Yorkshire Building Society.

But there is still some way to go before first-time buyer numbers reach 2006 levels, when the annual total stood at 400,870.

The society used industry-wide mortgage data from trade association UK Finance up to October 2019 and estimates for November and December 2019 to calculate the total number of first-time buyers last year.

Nearly twice as many first-time buyers secured a mortgage in 2019 as at the start of the financial crisis in 2008 (191,040), with those entering the property market now accounting for more than half (51%) of homes purchased with a mortgage. In 2008 this share was just 38%.

Yorkshire Building Society strategic economist Nitesh Patel said: “Even though the number of first-time buyers has stayed pretty much the same as last year, it is still encouraging to see first-time buyers top 350,000 for the second year in a row.

“They also represent over half of all homes bought with a mortgage, meaning the first-time buyer mortgage market share is at its highest since 1995, when they bought 53% of all mortgage-financed homes.”

He continued: “In recent years first-time buyers have been helped by strong competition driving mortgage rates down to near-record lows, making borrowing more accessible…

“Also government schemes such as stamp duty relief, Help to Buy equity loans and Help to Buy Isas will have made an impact.

“This combination of factors has made buying a home more accessible in recent years.

“This has seen the first-time buyer market bounce back from the financial crisis and perform better than other sectors, such as the home-moving and buy-to-let markets.

“However, as these figures show, the market may have now reached its peak and buying your first home still remains tough for many.”

Here are Yorkshire Building Society’s tips for first-time buyers:

  • Before you start looking at properties, review your personal finances.

If you are concerned about your current monthly outgoings, try to reduce these at least six months before making a mortgage application.

It is a good idea to check your credit report and make sure all the information shown is correct, before applying for a mortgage.

Make sure you appear on the electoral roll for your current address and check any records of loans and credit cards.

  • Once you are happy with your finances, try out a mortgage cost calculator, available on mortgage lender or independent money advice websites.

This is an easy way to help you work out what you can afford and how much you would be able to borrow.

Factor in any deposit saved (usually at least 5% to 10% of the purchase price as a minimum) as well as legal and survey costs.

  • Consider speaking to a mortgage adviser or broker.

A mortgage adviser will look at your income, any debts you have and your deposit to make an assessment on how much you can borrow.

They will also help explain how a mortgage works and the things you need to consider before buying your first home.

It is important to do this at the start of your house hunt, so your search is realistic.

Getting a mortgage offer in principle would show sellers that your finances are already in place, making you an attractive buyer.

  • When choosing where to live, make a list of what is important to you.

Consider the number of bedrooms, parking and outdoor space – and whether location is more important than the property.

It may be key to look at local amenities such as schools, shops and transport links too.

  • Remember that house purchases rarely stick to the expected timeframes.

This will probably be one of the biggest financial commitments you will make in your lifetime, so it needs careful consideration.

By Vicky Shaw

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Savills predicts drop in first-time buyers and boom in house prices for the north

House prices in the north-west of England will grow six times faster than in London over the next five years, Savills claims.

The agent has released its latest five-year price forecast for the housing market, with quite a few caveats.

The figures are based on an assumption that the General Election does not result in a significant shift in policy environment, that the UK ultimately achieves an orderly exit from the EU over the course of 2020, and avoids recession.

It also assumes that the bank base rate increases gradually to 2% by the end of 2024, constraining mortgage affordability and therefore house price growth.

With all that in mind, Savills predicts that first-time buyer numbers will slip back when Help to Buy is withdrawn. A new scheme is being launched in April 2021 with regional price caps that will run until April 2023.

Despite this, Savills forecasts that transactions will remain at around 1.2m, with cash buyers representing around a third of the market.

Overall, the agent expects UK house prices to rise by an average of 15.3% over the next five years to average £266,000 in 2024.

It is predicting a 0.5% increase this year, 1% in 2020, 4.5% in 2021 and 3% in 2022 , 2023 and 2024.

The north-west is forecast to see the strongest price growth at 24% between 2020 and 2024, attributed to “the strength and diversity of the regional economy and the capacity for higher loan to income borrowing”.

This will be followed by 21.6% growth in Yorkshire, 18% in Wales and 20% in Scotland, Savills said.

In contrast, average house prices are expected to increase by just 11% across the south and east of England and 4% across Greater London.

Savills said this was because these regions have already previously outperformed the rest of the UK.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research for Savills, said: “We anticipate a continuation of trends seen historically, where London and the south-east underperform markets in the midlands and north.

“This stage of the cycle appears to have begun in 2016, coinciding with the referendum, when London hit up against the limits of affordability.

“Markets further from the capital, such as Leeds, Liverpool and Sheffield, were much slower to recover post financial crisis and have much greater capacity for house price growth relative to incomes, even as interest rates rise.”

The agent also predicts that prime central London will, however, rebound and rise 3% next year, the first annual price growth since 2014, and increase 20.5% over the next five years.

Cook added: “PCL has become increasingly dislocated from the Greater London mainstream over the past five years; we expect that to go into reverse.

“Historically, a recovery in the prime markets has been sparked in prime central London, when the city’s most expensive properties start to look good value on a world stage.

“Values have been bottoming out over the past year, resulting in a build-up of new buyer registrations over recent months. Both signal that the market is set for a bounce, but this is being held up by uncertainty.”

5-year mainstream house price forecasts2019 av house price  £2019 est20202021202220232024Total5 year growth  2024 av house price £
UK231,0000.5%1.0%4.5%3.0%3.0%3.0%15.3%266,000
North West169,0004.0%2.5%6.5%4.5%4.5%4.0%24.0%210,000
Yorkshire & The Humber165,0001.5%2.0%6.0%4.0%4.0%4.0%21.6%200,000
Scotland151,0001.5%2.0%6.0%3.5%3.5%3.5%19.9%180,000
North East131,0001.5%1.5%5.0%4.0%4.0%4.0%19.9%157,000
West Midlands205,0003.0%3.0%5.0%3.0%3.0%3.0%18.2%242,000
East Midlands194,0001.0%3.0%5.0%3.0%3.0%3.0%18.2%229,000
Wales165,0001.5%2.0%6.0%3.0%3.0%3.0%18.1%195,000
South West256,000-0.5%0.5%4.0%3.0%2.5%2.5%13.1%289,000
South East321,0000.0%0.0%3.0%2.5%2.5%2.5%10.9%357,000
East291,0000.0%0.0%3.0%2.5%2.5%2.5%10.9%323,000
London462,000-2.5%-2.0%1.5%1.0%1.0%2.5%4.0%480,000

By MARC SHOFFMAN

Source: Property Industry Eye

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Moving costs reach record highs, led by rise in stamp duty

The average cost of buying and selling home in the UK has reached a record high at £10,414 or £24,585 in London, new research has found, a rise of 2% year on year.

It is higher stamp duty payments, up 4%, and larger conveyancing fees, up 5%, that are driving the cost of moving home, according to the annual study from ReallyMoving.

The research also shows that the costs for first time buyers have also risen, up by 2% year on year to £1,613.

Stamp duty now makes up some 44% of the total cost of a home move, rising to 65% in London. Those buying and selling, now pay on average £4,625 in stamp duty, based on the median property value, while conveyancing costs stand at £1,490.

Although varying significantly depending on the distance of the move and the volume of possessions transported, removals charges have also increased by 1% over the last year to £480 on average.

The cost of an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) remains unchanged at £55, but other expenses have dipped slightly over the last year, such as a Homebuyers Report which now costs £408, a fall of 4%, and estate agent fees at £3,356 are down 1% as suppliers compete for business in a contracted market that has seen transaction levels fall 12.4% year on year.

Movers in London face the greatest cost of moving, with the upfront costs associated with buying and selling a home in the capital now at £24,585, almost 2.5 times the UK average.

With property prices in London following a downward trajectory in 2019, home owners are finding it harder to fund a move through growth in equity, therefore the high cost of moving is becoming increasingly prohibitive, the report says.

The South East, East and South West are among the most expensive regions for movers, with the East and West Midlands sitting in the centre of the table and Northern Ireland and the North East the least expensive locations as a result of lower house prices, enabling greater fluidity in the housing market.

Moving costs for first time buyers across the UK are considerably lower at an average of £1,613, due to the exemption of stamp duty for first time buyers on properties up the value of £300,000.

A 2% annual increase in overall costs has been driven mainly by marginal rises in removals and conveyancing fees. Yet higher house prices in London mean that first time buyers in the capital are typically paying £3,750 in stamp duty, bringing their overall costs to £5,684, some 3.5 times the UK average.

‘Home owners are having to dig deeper than ever before to fund a home move, with upfront costs reaching another record high in 2019,’ said Rob Houghton, chief executive officer of ReallyMoving.

‘Stamp duty charges may be fixed, but it is possible to make savings on other costs such as conveyancing, surveys and removals by shopping around online for the best deals and comparing ratings and reviews, as well as price,’ he added.

Source: Property Wire

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Mortgage boom helps drive northern powerhouse

The mortgage market is booming in the North of England with the number of first-time buyers soaring to a pre-financial crisis high.

Figures released today by UK Finance revealed, in 2018, the mortgage industry helped nearly 85,000 households buy their first home in the region – which is made up of the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber.

This is an increase of 3% on the previous year and is the highest level since 2006, according to UK Finance which is publishing the data to coincide with its ‘Northern Powerhouse’ dinner to discuss how financial services can support the region’s economy.

These strong figures, it suggested, were down better affordability in regions of the North, where the average deposits and income multiples were lower than anywhere else in England. It said there was an increase of 1.1% in the number of home movers.

Buy-to-let hotspots

It wasn’t just residential mortgages which were helping to drive the boom. Newcastle, Liverpool and Hull bucked the national trend and experienced strong growth in buy-to-let lending, UK Finance revealed.

It said this had been driven by lower house prices and a healthy labour market as well as strong rental demand. This allowed landlords to achieve higher yields than the UK average.

The growth in Hull was particularly strong – with buy-to-let lending soaring by 12.8%.

Jackie Bennett, director of mortgages at UK Finance, said: “These figures show the North of England has a strong and dynamic mortgage market, with lenders helping thousands of first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

“This has been combined with a steady increase in home movers, making it easier for buyers to find a property that suits their needs.

She added: “The mortgage industry stands ready to work with the UK government and local authorities to capitalise on these strengths and help deliver on the full economic potential of the Northern Powerhouse.”

Strong regional disparities

While the figures were good news for the North of England, they also exposed weaknesses in other parts of the UK, particularly in London.

Shaun Church, director of Private Finance, said they highlighted the strong regional disparities in both housing demand and activity.

“Comparatively low property prices and strong rental demand makes the North an attractive prospect for landlords,” he said.

“After years of being slammed by regulatory changes making it harder to turn a profit, investment location has never been more important. Northern regions are still enjoying decent house price growth, meaning landlords can also enjoy an increase in the value of their asset.”

By Kate Saines

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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First-time buyers are driving the property market

FTBs were the largest group of purchasers in 2018, accounting for 36% of all sales, and are expected to remain so in 2019.

The latest report from Hometrack has looked at the rising number of first-time buyers in the UK property market and how they have been the driving force for housing sales in recent years.

Growth in FTBs is expected to be driven in regional markets, where affordability remains attractive, supported by availability of higher LTV mortgages. However, they are not trying to purchase lower value homes and appear to be taking a longer-term view.

GetAgent.co.uk founder and CEO Colby Short, commented: “We have and always will be a nation of aspirational homeowners and so it should come as no shock that those that are yet to reach that life mile marker are the ones pushing the hardest to do so and driving the market forward when they get there.

“Although the barrier in achieving this goal remains large with house prices far from affordable, we are currently seeing what could be described as perfect conditions to help boost the number of first-time buyers.

“We’ve seen a prolonged period of affordability where mortgages are concerned, static house price growth in many areas and a healthy uplift in wage growth as well as financial incentives. All of which have helped to narrow the gap and make it easier to take that first step onto the ladder.”

The findings follow news that house prices remain steady, despite Brexit turmoil and homeowners putting their moves on hold. Earlier this month, Halifax reported that the average UK house price in August rose by 0.3% on a monthly basis but was up 1.8% in the year to August to reach £233,541.

The lender said that a shortage of properties coming to the market – as homeowners decide to stay put rather than move – was supporting house prices in the face of political uncertainty.

HMRC Monthly data revealed that there were 86,630 home sales during July, down approximately 12% year on year. However, mortgage approvals have risen slightly, with Bank of England figures showing that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases were 67,306 in July – this represents a 1.2% rise from June and at its highest level since July 2017.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “There was no real shift in house prices in August as the average property value grew by just 0.3% month on month. This further extends the predominantly flat trend we’ve seen over the last six months, with the average house price having barely changed since March.

“While ongoing economic uncertainty continues to weigh on consumer sentiment – with evidence of both buyers and sellers exercising some caution – a number of important underlying factors, such as affordability and employment remain strong.

“Although the housing market will undoubtedly be influenced by events in the wider economy, it continues to show a degree of resilience for the time being.”

Discussing the rising number of first-time buyers in the market, Springbok Properties founder and CEO Shepherd Ncube added: “There’s no doubting that Help to Buy has had an impact in terms of fuelling huge additional demand on the side of first-time buyers and while it has its critics, the scheme has helped a vast number of people to purchase their first home who would otherwise have failed to do so.

“Another driving factor behind this rise of first-time buyers is their attitude towards a purchase. We’ve seen Brexit uncertainty cause many areas of the market to grind to a halt as both buyer and seller contemplate the ‘what ifs’ of transacting in the current landscape.

“However, this hasn’t deterred first-time buyers who remain grateful to be on the ladder at all, let alone making a profit from their bricks and mortar investment. At the same time, those who simply have to sell have had to do so at a reduced price and all of these factors combine to provide a favourable environment for those looking to buy for the first time.”

Source: DIY Week

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New scheme offers mortgage-free home ownership to first-time buyers

There’s a new way for first-time buyers to get on the property ladder – and it doesn’t involve getting a mortgage.

Launched to the public in July, Unmortgage offers people the chance to buy a share of between 5% and 20% in a property, which they can then live in.

Rent, set at local market rates, is paid on the remaining share, which is owned by an investor.

Homeowners have the option of building up their share over time, or can completely buy out the investor, reports the Manchester Evening News.

To qualify, you must have a minimum gross household income of £30,000 (or a maximum of £100,000), and the rent can only cost up to 36% of your income.

The idea is that buyers can become partial homeowners, without needing to worry about the salary-based lending caps normally applied by mortgage lenders.

According to the website, ‘Unmortgage is for you if you can’t afford to buy the home that you can afford to rent.’
Unlike shared ownership, it’s not just available on new builds, giving you more choice in the kind of property you buy . Once you’re in, you’ll be able to increase your share as often as you want.

The scheme also eventually allows you to buy 100 per cent of the property, as opposed to the 40 per cent cap in shared ownership schemes.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Unmortgage scheme:

How does Unmortgage work?    

If you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll need to pay at least 5 per cent of the deposit for your new home. Unmortgage requires new customers to pay at least £12,500 as a minimum to use the service.  

Once you’re up and running, you can buy up to 5 per cent more of your home each year, up until a maximum of 40 per cent. After reaching 40 per cent, Unmortgage expects buyers to either buy the rest of the property with cash or with a mortgage.

You’ll only be able to buy the property in full if its value has not fallen below purchase price.

Who can apply for Unmortgage? 

To apply you’ll need an income of between £30,000 and £100,000 before tax, whether you’re renting alone or with somebody else.

To use the service you’ll need an acceptable credit rating, and if you have struggled to meet rent payments and/or been made redundant in the past, chances are your application will be rejected.

What homes can you buy on Unmortgage?

Unmortgage has laid out a specific set of guidelines for the types of homes its investors are willing to to fund.

These include:

  • Homes in quiet, urban areas
  • Homes with no foundation problems
  • Homes which are ready to move in to
  • Homes with between two and five spacious bedrooms
  • Homes which are freehold, share-of-freehold or leasehold with a lease of at least 100 years.

As investors want to place their money into properties which will increase in value over time, Unmortgage will not help with the purchase of new-builds, properties on main roads, motorways or rail tracks, houses with ‘unfairly sized bedrooms’ or former social housing.

How is rent calculated?

To calculate the rent you pay on your home, Unmortgage will consider the rental value of similar homes in the area and then deduct your deposit from that amount.

Rent can rise each year in line with the RPI (retail prices index) measure of inflation. However, your rent price will not drop if inflation falls.

How is Unmortgage different from renting?

Although you don’t immediately own your new home, you won’t be restricted in what you can do with it. Even though you’re renting the part you don’t own yet, you’ll be able to have pets, nail up pictures and paint the walls. The only thing you won’t be able to do is major renovations, as these don’t always go to plan and could affect the price of your house before it has been fully paid off.

Should you use Unmortgage if you can get a mortgage for a home you love?

Unmortgage has been set up for first-time buyers who can’t get a mortgage for a home they could easily afford to rent. But if you can get a mortgage for a home you love, it’s advised that you speak to an independent advisor for a professional opinion on the best course of action to take.

Do you have to pay stamp duty?

In short, yes. Unfortunately, using Unmortgage will not make you exempt from paying stamp duty, and you may find yourself paying it at  an enhanced rate. The initial stamp duty costs will be split between yourself and the investment partner.

Unfortunately using the scheme will make you exempt from first-time buyer stamp duty discount, so this is something to consider.

Because you’re buying as part of a partnership with a business, both you and the investor will be charged with an additional 3 per cent stamp duty fee on top of the usual rates.

And, if you go from 40% to 100% ownership you’ll be liable to pay stamp duty again on the full property value – but this time without the 3 per cent surcharge.

What fees will you need to pay?

While Unmortgage claims to charge no fees, you will still be liable to pay for solicitor and surveyor fees, as well as any leasehold fees. These costs will be split proportionately with the investment partner.

A RICs surveyor will value the home every year, and online valuations will be provided each month.

Can you move out of your property before you’ve bought it in full?

If you decide you want to move out of your Unmortgage property before you have repaid the investors in full, you can do.

While you’re able to stay in your home as long as you keep up with rent payments, if you decide you want to go elsewhere, the funding partner will be given three months to decide whether they want to buy your stake or sell with you.

If you wish to move on you will be liable to pay certain fees, such as a £350 fee towards valuation costs of the property. You will then be eligible to split any remaining selling costs with the investor – a calculation which is based on your stake in the property.

By Rachel Pugh & Amardeep Bassey

Source: Kent Live

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Young people half as likely to own a home as two decades ago

Millennials’ chances of owning their own home in their early 20s have nearly halved over the past two decades, according to new figures.

Only 11% of people born in the mid-1990s were homeowners by the age of 22, compared to 21% of people born in the mid-1970s.

Many young people will be “stuck renting into retirement,” according to an analysis of official figures by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils.

The LGA says home ownership is a “distant dream” for many would-be buyers as the high costs of renting privately prevent them saving for a deposit.

Rents now eat up more than half of average household earnings in some parts of London, according to the LGA.

Separate figures released by HomeTrack on Thursday show first-time buyers need an average household income of £54,400 to afford a mortgage for their first home.

Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the race to be the next UK prime minister, is reportedly considering scrapping stamp duty on homes under £500,000 if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal.

First-time buyers already benefit from lower or zero stamp duty depending on a property’s value, but analysis by Yahoo Finance UK suggests it could save them up to £10,000 on their first home.

Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman and leader of Buckinghamshire county council, said: “Home ownership remains a distant dream for most young people, with the high cost of the private rental sector meaning many are unable to save for a deposit to get on to the property ladder and face the prospect of being stuck renting into retirement.”

The LGA is calling for more powers for councils to build new social housing and take control of the right-to-buy scheme ahead of its annual conference next week.

Lindsay Judge, senior policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, told Yahoo Finance UK said more security for the record number of families renting privately was also key.

“While home ownership has finally started to rise in recent years, young families are still far less likely to own by their early 30s than their parents were. The barriers to home ownership remain significant.”

By Tom Belger

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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First-time buyers need to earn £54,400 to get on the property ladder

The average first-time buyer needs a household income of £54,400 to get on the property ladder in British cities, new figures suggest.

First-time buyers need to earn more now than three years ago in most UK cities, with the exception of the most expensive areas—where buying is now marginally more affordable.

The average house price in 20 UK cities is now £256,200, up 1.8% on a year ago, according to a monthly review of the UK property market by Hometrack.

Fast-rising property prices in Manchester and Leicester mean first-time buyers now need to earn around 20% more than three years ago.

The highest increases in house prices have been in some of the most affordable cities, with prices up 5% in Liverpool and 4.6% in Belfast.

Buyers can secure their first home of their own on a total household income of £26,000 in Liverpool and Glasgow, whereas Londoners need £84,000 a year.

But the expensive cities where buyers need the highest income have seen the property market become slightly more affordable in recent years.

London, Oxford and Cambridge have seen the average income to buy fall 5% since 2016.

The latest Hometrack report says house prices in UK cities have grown around 7% a year for the past 23 years, far outstripping growth incomes.

Separate figures released today by Lloyds Bank also show the number of homes worth £1m or more has reached a record high.

More than 14,600 homes worth at least £1m were sold in 2018, up 1% on the previous year despite a slowdown in the property market particularly in London and the south-east.

By Tom Belger

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Many people using Help To Buy scheme ‘could have bought a property anyway’

Significant numbers of people using the Government’s Help to Buy equity loan scheme in England would have been able to purchase a home anyway, according to a spending watchdog.

Around one in 25 home buyers using the scheme had household incomes of over £100,000, the National Audit Office (NAO) said.

The scheme had also helped to support large developers’ annual profits, according to the NAO, which said it was too early to tell whether the initiative had provided value for money.

Five firms combined – Redrow, Bellway, Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Persimmon – accounted for just over half of sales made across England with the support of the scheme between 2013 and 2018.

It’s now beyond clear that rather than helping those who can’t afford to buy a home, Help to Buy has mainly been a subsidy for a housing bubble

Fran Boait, Positive Money

Redrow made up 3.7% of sales, Bellway accounted for 6.7%, Taylor Wimpey made up 11.9%, Barratt made up 13.3% and Persimmon accounted for 14.8%, according to the NAO’s analysis.

Larger firms tended to be better equipped to administer the scheme, the report said.

The NAO said the Government’s challenge now was to wean the property market off the scheme, which was launched in April 2013.

Research found 37% of households would not have been able to buy any property without the scheme.

But nearly a third (31% ) of buyers could have purchased a property they wanted without the scheme.

81% – Percentage of buyers supported by the Help To Buy equity loan scheme in England who are first-time buyers

And some buyers could have bought a property without the support of Help to Buy, but not necessarily a property they wanted.

 Around 4% of the 211,000 buyers who had used the scheme by December 2018 had household incomes of over £100,000.

Over the whole scheme, which is not means-tested, 10% of buyers had household incomes of over £80,000, or over £90,000 in London.

Commenting on the report, Fran Boait, executive director of campaigning body Positive Money, said: “It’s now beyond clear that rather than helping those who can’t afford to buy a home, Help to Buy has mainly been a subsidy for a housing bubble, benefiting property developers and existing home owners.”

The NAO’s analysis found that buyers who had used Help to Buy had paid less than 1% more than they might have paid for a similar new-build property bought without the support of the scheme.

(Help to Buy) has exposed the Government to significant market risk if property values fall, as well as tying up a significant public financial capacity

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO

By 2023, the net amount loaned through the scheme is forecast to peak at around £25 billion, with the investment expected to be recovered by 2031/32 and a positive return made overall.

But the NAO said the investment was exposed to significant market risk as it was sensitive to house price changes and the timing of buyers repaying loans.

It said there was also a cost in terms of opportunity in tying up money for a considerable period, rendering it unavailable for other housing schemes or priorities.

The scheme was launched by what is now the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Home buyers receive an equity loan of up to 20% (or 40% in London) of the market value of a new-build property. They are not charged loan fees on the loan for the first five years of owning their home.

Between the start of the scheme in April 2013 and September 2018, 38% of all new-build property sales were supported by loans through the scheme, accounting for around 4% of total house purchases across England during this time.

Around 81% of all buyers supported by the scheme were first-time buyers.

It was announced in 2018 that from April 2021, the revised scheme would be restricted just to first-time buyers, with lower regional limits on the maximum house purchase price.

The NAO said changes to the scheme aimed to reduce overall demand for it in its final two years, preparing the housing sector for its end in 2023.

Take-up of the scheme had been lower in London, where average house price-to-earnings ratios were higher, compared with the rest of England, the NAO’s report said.

Gareth Davies, head of the NAO, said: “Help to Buy has increased home ownership and housing supply, particularly for first-time buyers.

“However, a proportion of participants could have afforded to buy a home without the Government’s help.

“The scheme has also exposed the Government to significant market risk if property values fall, as well as tying up a significant public financial capacity.

“The Government’s greatest challenge now is to wean the property market off the scheme with as little impact as possible on its ambition of creating 300,000 homes a year from the mid-2020s.

“Until we can observe its longer-term effects on the property market and whether the department has recovered its substantial investment, we cannot say whether the scheme has delivered value for money.”

A spokesman for the Home Builders Federation (HBF) said Help to Buy has delivered against its objectives, to increase home ownership, boost housing supply and generate economic activity.

He said: “Help to Buy has been central to supporting new-build sales rates, and thus the construction of desperately needed homes, while the wider second-hand market has remained sluggish.

“At present, the mortgage market is not equipped to support realistic lending to first-time buyers purchasing in the new-build sector.

“We will continue to work with lenders and stakeholders to try and ensure the withdrawal of Help to Buy does not lead to reduced housing supply or first-time buyer aspiration.”

Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “Help to Buy has been genuinely life changing for first-time buyers across the country, helping them secure their first step on the property ladder.”

He said the scheme has been “win-win” – supporting first time buyers, increasing home building and also set to make a profit for the public.

He said: “From 2021 the scheme will be extended and strengthened to make it exclusively for first-time buyers to support those who need it most.”

Source: Shropshire Star