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Long-term stimulus needed to bring the housing market to life

Long-term stimulus is needed to bring the housing market fully to life, and avoid short-term peaks and troughs, according to Robert Burdett, managing director of James Leigh property Management.

Burdett believes that the stamp duty holiday is an unprecedented and very welcome shot in the arm for the housing market when it was desperately needed.

However, he said: “But with lockdown now easing and COVID-19 firmly in retreat, now is the perfect opportunity to be looking at how the housing market can be built on firmer foundations than it has previously enjoyed.

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“The introduction of the 95% mortgage is a welcome move for first-time buyers, but more needs to be done to ensure the whole market can enjoy a stable future.”

Lending criteria currently prevent some buyers from accessing mortgage finance because on paper their income is not high enough to meet the lender’s criteria for income, even though they may be paying more in rent than they would be for a mortgage.

Data released by Estate Agency firm Keller Williams show the changing pattern of where people want to live, and the outdoors features strongly in the research.

Burdett said: “The research published by Keller Williams shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people are thinking about the homes they want to buy.

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“Working from home in particular means that people are not as reliant on access to the cities, and so can buy where they want to live rather than where they need to access work.”

Support for the housing market for the long term could include a continuation of the Help to Buy scheme and reform to the mortgage industry so that affordability reflects current household expenditure.

Burdett added: “In the end, the housing market needs measures in place that will flatten the bumps in the road and create a sustainable future market.

“If the stamp duty holiday has taught us anything, it’s that short terms measures whilst useful at the time, do nothing for longer-term stability and growth.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Covid-19 has changed what buyers and renters find essential

More than a quarter of the UK’s renters and homeowners (26%) have found their property needs have changed since the outbreak of Covid-19, according to new research from Gradual Homeownership provider, Wayhome.

After more than a year of remote working and months of non-essential shops and eateries being closed to the public, previously “high-valued” property amenities have slid far down the priority list. Indeed, among the renters and homeowners whose property requirements changed amid the pandemic, the least important features are now having an easy commute to work (17%), being close to shops and restaurants (17%) and living near public transport (14%).

Wayhome’s research indicates a new set of property amenities will take precedence once lockdown lifts, given the prolonged time spent at home and likelihood of hybrid working for office-workers going forward.

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Indeed, when asked which property features had become more important since March 2020, more than a quarter (26%) said having the space for a proper home office was increasingly critical. And, given the fact so many working parents have had to juggle work and childcare commitments, the need for decent office space rose to 30% for parents, compared to 22% of non-parents.

As well as specific space for a home office, lockdown has caused a general desire for more space, be it for work or leisure. Almost a third (30%) of all homeowners and renters wanted more space in general, and a quarter (24%) said having a bigger bedroom was necessary.

And as more of us have spent time indoors, having access to a private garden has become increasingly important. 36% said this had become more important over the past year – a more popular desire among older people, especially 55-73 year olds at 52%, falling to 43% of 43-54 year olds and 35% of 24-42 year olds.

Similarly, a fifth (21%) of all respondents felt living near a public garden or green space was important to them, and the same number prioritised being near friends and family – a feature that resonated higher among women (25%) than it did for men (17%).

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Features which have become more important post-CovidFeatures which have become less important post-Covid
Garden (36%)Having an easy commute to your workplace (17%)
More space (square footage) (30%)Being close to local shops/pubs/bars and restaurants (17%)
A home office (26%)Being near public transport (14%)
Bigger bedrooms (24%)Balcony (13%)
Being near my friends/ family/ support network (21%)A home office (13%)
Being near public garden/ green space/ woodlands (21%)Off-street parking (13%)
Having an easy commute to your workplace (17%)Playroom for children (12%)
Being close to local shops/pubs/bars and restaurants (17%)Bigger bedrooms (12%)
Playroom for children (15%)Being near my friends/ family/ support network (12%)
Off-street parking (15%)More space (square footage) (12%)

This research looking at the impact of the pandemic on people’s changing property needs comes ahead of the launch of a report by Wayhome on the challenges facing the UK’s renters and homeowners.

Nigel Purves, CEO of Wayhome commented: “When you’re narrowing down your search for the perfect home to rent or buy, most of us will have a wish-list, usually split into the “essentials” and “nice-to-haves”. Our upcoming report makes it clear just how far these wish-lists have changed as the pandemic rolled on. In most cases, we’ve seen a complete reversal, with potential renters and homeowners prioritising the things that would make living and working in that space the most comfortable and fit for purpose.

“While having the flexibility to pick and choose a desired property based on its amenities and special features doesn’t seem too much to ask – for a lot of people it’s near impossible. Far too often renters are being driven into buying smaller first-homes or properties in locations that aren’t suitable. Despite earning a good income, affording a deposit big enough to secure a suitable home and hitting the affordability criteria set by mortgage lenders is unsurmountable – as evidenced by the fact full-time workers would need to spend at least 7.8 times their annual earnings to be able to afford a home in England*.

“With the end of lockdown in sight, now would be an opportune time for the industry to reassess the actual needs of renters and homeowners post-pandemic and support innovative and alternative routes that get more people onto the property ladder.”

BY MARCO CALLEGARI

Source: Property Wire

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UK mortgage approvals reach highest level since 2007

The number of mortgage approvals reached their highest level since 2007 last year as buyers took advantage of the stamp duty holiday.

The housing market remained resilient in the face of volatility and essential closure of the market during the first lockdown.

There were 818,500 mortgage approvals over 2020, up from 789,100 the previous year, according to Bank of England data released today.

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There was a significant uptick in lending in the second half of the year after a record low of 9,400 approvals in May. Borrowers rushed to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday introduced over the summer.

Although approvals fell back to 103,400 in December, down from 105,300 in November, it was still the highest level since August 2007.

Former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf is not complacent: “While these figures are always a good indicator of direction of travel for the market, we won’t be getting carried away, not least because the year’s lower for these approvals appeared a couple of months after the first lockdown.”

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Additionally this level of momentum is unlikely to be sustained as the stamp duty holiday winds down at the end of next month.

Samuel Tombs, Pantheon’s chief UK economist predicts the vaccine rollout will also mean “people will be content again with their pre-pandemic housing choices by the summer.”

The BoE’s data also showed that consumers paid down a record £16.6bn in debt last year as spending options became limited during lockdown.

“An overall reduction in consumer debt, combined with high levels of cash savings, and pent up demand for holidays, meals out and other leisure activities, could prove to be an explosive powder keg that will help drive the economy when it finally opens up again,” AJ Bell financial analyst Laith Khalaf says.

By Angharad Carrick

Source: City AM

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Housing market experiences busier than usual December

A major estate agency experienced a busy December, despite activity dropping off from November.

NAEA Propertymark found there were eight sales per branch in December, the highest since 2006.

Meanwhile there were an average of 348 prospective buyers per branch, the most since December 2016.

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NAEA PropertyWire attributed the busy December to the stamp duty holiday.

Despite the market being stronger than normal, the number of buyers registered per branch actually fell by 41% from 580 in November.

Meanwhile the number of sales agreed fell from 13 in November.

Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor, Propertymark, said: “The number of potential buyers in the market fell significantly in December after Novembers’ record high.

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“While we would ordinarily expect to see a lull over the festive period, these numbers show that the tightening of lockdown restrictions, coupled with the reality that many individuals would no longer meet the stamp duty deadline, has exacerbated this.

“As we approach the stamp duty, LTT and LBTT cliff edges on the 31 March, we are increasingly concerned about the pressure this is placing on the property industry with more than two-thirds (69%) of estate agents expecting to see an increase in failed sales due to buyers realising their sales will not complete ahead of the deadline. It’s important that action is taken now to prevent this and support the property sector.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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What will the property sector look like in 2021?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House Prices to Increase

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

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

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

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

Continued Struggles for First-Time Buyers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Are Your Predictions for the 2021 Property Market?

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

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

By Daniel Chard

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Housing market remains open during new national lockdown

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

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

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

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

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Government advice on moving home: 

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

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

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

Industry reaction: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By MARC DA SILVA

Source: Property Industry Eye

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The Scottish property market tipped to fly in 2021

THE logistics and residential real estate sectors of the property market in Scotland have been forecast to “dramatically outperform” in 2021, when Brexit will quickly fade as a major issue after five fractious years, a new report declares.

The dramatic shift to online shopping during the pandemic has led to investors flocking to put money into property in the logistics sector.

Property firm CBRE expects that trend to continue next year, when it predicts that funding will become available in Scotland for investment in additional warehouse space.

According to CBRE, the pandemic has underlined the essential role of the logistics sector in sustaining the flow of goods. It anticipates that the year ahead will see occupiers focus on building more resilient supply chains, increasing capacity and diversifying suppliers to safeguard against future disruptions.

CBRE says £174 million has been invested in industrial and logistics property in Scotland so far this year. While this is currently down on the £185m invested last year, it is expected the 2020 total will reach the five-year average of £200m if deals under offer and likely to conclude before the end of the year are taken into account.

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David Reid, associate director of CBRE Scotland’s industrial and logistics team, said: “We expect 2021 to be another strong year for our market in Scotland. The incredible take-up during 2020 has resulted in critically low stock levels and with continued strong demand we urgently need new speculative development to meet the future needs of occupier requirements. We are working with a number of developers to plug this shortfall in supply.”

CBRE’s 2021 UK Real Estate Market Outlook forecasts that the logistics and residential sectors will achieve significant growth next year, although it notes that a weaker economy will lead to lower and even negative rental growth.

The agent says there has been a reduction in overall real estate investment in Scotland of around 50 per cent this year so far, dipping to £1.06bn from £1.99bn in 2019 amid continuing Brexit uncertainty. Next year, though, it expects investment to rebound to £1.5bn, taking it closer to the five-year average of £2.1bn.

Steven Newlands, executive director in CBRE’s investment team, said: “Demand is expected to come from a wide variety of sources, including sovereign wealth funds, overseas institutions and European funds. Overseas private investors are also expected to be particularly active. “For now, investors are focusing on the winners from the pandemic: the logistics and residential sectors and core assets with near-guaranteed income. In 2021 we expect this to continue until the vaccine is rolled out.”

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The report flags expectations of a gradual recovery in the office market, with investment and take-up expected to steadily recover after a difficult start to the year. CBRE notes that UK office yields will remain stable despite capital values falling by around 11 per cent over 2020 and 2021.

While significant doubts remain as to whether the UK and European Union will agree a trade deal before December 31, CBRE expects the Brexit issue to gradually fade. It said next year will see a recovery in the commercial property investment market because of record low interest rates and an “abundance of capital looking for a return”. This year the market has stalled amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, as restrictions have limited the ability of investors to travel to inspect sites. But Mr Newlands said: “These concerns, as well as the restrictions, will ease over time for some asset types as the occupier market recovers.”

CBRE hailed the resilience of the residential market, and expects it to perform strongly in 2021, supported by “tax incentives, resilient demand and lagging supply.” Mr Newlands said: “Despite Covid-19 restrictions, investment into the residential sector was strong in 2020. There is a high level of equity targeting the build-to-rent sector and lending also remains highly competitive.”

Miller Mathieson, managing director of CBRE Scotland and Northern Ireland, said: “In Scotland we will have many opportunities and challenges in common with the rest of the UK. In particular we will see significant activity in the logistics sector as values improve and new speculative development becomes viable. This is the favoured sector of investors and Scotland still has major growth potential. Similarly, I think we will, at last, see Scotland embrace all the different forms of residential investment around affordable housing, build-to-rent and co-living.

“Our biggest challenge will undoubtedly be in the retail sector with the continued growth of online sales and the increasing number of CVAs and administrations.”

By Scott Wright

Source: Herald Scotland

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Less than 20% of Britons think house prices will fall next year

An estimated 19% of individuals believe that UK house prices will fall next year according to the latest ING International Survey.

In contrast, 42% think house prices will rise in next 12 months.

The data also outlined that 35% of homebuyers in the UK offered a lower amount for their house than the asking price, compared with 30% in Europe.

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Over half (54%) of Britons spend three months or less looking to buy a home before purchase.

Additionally, the survey noted that 57% of those in the UK think that it has become more difficult to get on the housing ladder since 2015.

The survey results were based off of 13,000 respondents across Europe.

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James Smith, economist at ING Developed Markets, said: “The surprising post-lockdown resilience in the UK housing market has translated into relative optimism among British consumers.

“But this sentiment could be tested as we head into 2021.

“The anticipated end to the stamp duty holiday is set to coincide with a rise in unemployment over the winter, both of which are likely to put renewed pressure on house prices next year.”

By Jake Carter

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Housing market stabilising during second lockdown

The housing market in England and Wales is displaying signs of stabilising, according to analysis of web traffic from property advice website Property Price Advice.

Valuation requests on the website have broadly returned to their four-year average, representing a significant fall from the immediate post-lockdown spike.

Requests in June were almost 70% above the four-year average, the highest ever recorded on the website.

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Peter Sherrard, founder of Property Price Advice, said: “Activity from our web users (via natural searches) in October was closer to what we’ve been seeing over the last few years, and shows that the buzz of the post-lockdown summer market is certainly cooling off.

“We will be monitoring activity with a close eye and it will be interesting to see if the second lockdown will see a repeat of house-hunter activity from the first.

“Clearly the dynamics of unemployment, mortgage lending criteria, general housing supply for sale, all coupled with a potential covid vaccine, will have a profound effect on transaction levels and potentially price.”

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Property Price Advice also has a computer model designed by economic consultants Pragmatix Advisory, which translates this web activity into housing price and transaction forecasts for the next eight weeks.

Given the level of activity, average house prices for November and December are expected to be 3.3% ahead of the same months in 2019.

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Housing market to remain open despite national lockdown

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has confirmed that the housing market will remain open despite the looming national lockdown.

On Saturday Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed a new month-long lockdown for England beginning on November 5 and ending on December 2.

Information regarding the fate of the housing market during the lockdown was initially scarce between, however Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has taken to Twitter over the weekend to confirm that the market will remain open.

On Sunday evening Jenrick confirmed that property moves would still be allowed and that tradespeople would still be able to enter properties.

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The residential property surveying industry has also received confirmation from the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government that physical property inspections can continue to be provided.

Additionally the Prime Minister confirmed that mortgage repayment holidays will no longer be ending with further information published set to be published today.

Kate Davies, executive director of IMLA, praised the government for keeping the market open in challenging times.

She said: “While the country faces a second national lockdown, the government has rightly decided to keep Britain’s housing market open.

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“Lenders, advisers, surveyors, and conveyancers are already experiencing unprecedented levels of demand from consumers eager to take advantage of the government’s Stamp Duty holiday, which is due to end on 31 March 2021, and also the Help to Buy scheme, which will be available only to first-time buyers from 1 April 2021.

“They now face the task of helping thousands more consumers potentially requesting payment deferrals as borrowers struggle to meet their mortgage repayments during the lockdown.

“Closing the housing market at this time would have only added to this pressure on the sector by creating yet another backlog of demand once lockdown ends.”

By Ryan Fowler

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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