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Buyers and Sellers Take Advantage of the Stamp Duty Holiday

New data suggests that buyers and sellers within the nation’s capital have been seeking to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday, with the numbers of new instructions and transactions rising by 72% and 40%.

According to the data from LonRes, new instructions in March were 72% higher than the year before, with new listing having increased by 24% over the five-year average. Over the whole of Q1 new instructions were up 18% on Q1 2020, although 1% down on the five-year average (2015 to 2019). Transaction volumes (exchanges) in Q1 21 were up 40% on Q1 2020 and 22% higher than the average Q1 figure between 2015 and 2019. All price brackets recorded an annual increase in sales. But the market under £1 million was busiest over the last three months, with a 52% increase in the number of properties sold compared with the same period a year earlier. The number of properties going under offer in Q1 2021 was up 26% on Q1 2020 – the highest Q1 figure since 2014. Q1 2021 also outperformed the long-run average (Q1 2015-19) by 27%. Achieved prices over the last three months (Q1 21) fell by 2.8% in Prime Central London (PCL), 1.9% in Prime London and 2.2% in Prime Fringe, with houses continuing to outperform flats (chart 5).

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LonRes head of search Marcus Dixon said: “The run-up to the end of the stamp duty holiday on 31 March was always going to be a busy time for the housing market and prime London was no different. Encouraging news on the vaccine roll out, together with a detailed road map out of lockdown resulted in a renewed confidence for London’s prime housing market and a surge in activity over the first quarter of the year.”

The first two months of 2021 saw relatively subdued levels of new instructions, with volumes listed for sale falling short of both the previous year and longer run five-year average (2015 to 2019). Of course, at this point vendors thought the stamp duty holiday would be ending on 31 March and the possibility of their buyers, let alone them, being able to complete their purchase before the 31 March deadline was slim.

But an extension, announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget saw a further three-month extension (alongside a tapering until September). This boosted market confidence at a time when the government’s vaccine programme was well under way and a roadmap out of lockdown was published.

As a result, March saw new instructions rise, with 24% more properties listed than the March five-year average (2015 and 2019) and 72% more than in March 2020 (albeit that some of March 2020 was spent in lockdown).

Looking at volumes quarterly the surge in new instructions in March cancelled out the falls in the first two months of the year. Overall, in Q1 2021 there were just 1% fewer new instructions than the long-term (2015-2019) Q1 average.

Dixon added: “With the stamp duty holiday deadline initially set for the end of March, new instructions were subdued. But the announcement of an extension in the Spring Budget brought with it a rise in the number of new properties coming to the market and boosted the month overall. It was the market below £1 million that saw the most significant annual increase in sales – unsurprising given this is where the biggest saving, as a proportion of total buying costs, was to be made. But the top end of the market did well too. Despite travel restrictions still being in place, limiting overseas buyer demand and the stamp duty holiday being of less financial importance we saw transactions rise in this market as well. Transactions at the top end of the market were higher than both the 2020 and long run average in Q1.”

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Transaction volumes across prime areas of London rose significantly in Q1 2021. Sales were up 40% on Q1 2020 and 22% higher than the five-year average (2015 and 2019). Indeed, the number of sales in Q1 2021 was the highest since 2016 (when investors were rushing to purchase before the introduction of new additional property stamp duty rates).

A stamp duty deadline has impacted activity this quarter too, as buyers again raced to meet the old deadline of 31 March. The busiest market in the first quarter was the market below £1 million which saw a 52% annual increase in sales.

Yet this rush of activity appears to be about more than just stamp duty savings. The upper end of the market (where the saving accounts for only a small proportion of the overall price) was busy too, with 22% more sales at £5 million or more in the first quarter this year versus last and 41% more than the previous five-year average.

That said, it was our Prime London and Prime Fringe areas which saw the most significant annual increases in sales, with a 43% annual change in Prime London and 54% in Prime Fringe compared with a still impressive 17% annual increase in PCL.

Looking ahead this increased momentum looks set to continue. Comparing the number of homes put under offer in Q1 2021 shows a 26% annual increase (27% higher than the 2015 to 2019 average), with the number of properties put under offer the highest first quarter figure since Q1 2014.

In the first three months of 2021 achieved prices across prime areas of London fell. With PCL recording a 2.8% annual decrease followed by more modest falls of 1.9% in Prime London and 2.2% in Prime Fringe. Increased activity in Prime London and Prime Fringe meant that overall price falls were more significant (as fewer higher value PCL sales were included in the numbers this quarter).

Houses continue to outperform flats outside PCL, with achieved prices in Q1 21 higher for houses in both Prime London and Prime Fringe. This compares with falls for flats across all markets.

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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Average Price of Property Coming to Market Jumps 2.1%

The national average price of property coming to market has hit a new all-time high of £327,797, following a 2.1%, or +£6,733, monthly increase.145,000 properties were newly marketed this month, with the number of sales agreed up by 55% on the same period two years ago, reducing the stock of properties that are available to buy to the lowest proportion ever recorded

Barrows and Forrester managing director James Forrester, said: “A record-breaking month on many fronts with asking prices increasing at an incredible rate, as a heightened level of demand pushes property values ever higher. This price growth is also being driven by a lack of available stock, particularly second stepper suitable two and three-bed homes. In fact, you’d have an easier time finding a straight-talking politician than you would a decent three up, three down in current market conditions.”

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Benhham and Reeves director of Marc von Grundherr, said: “The top end of the market is driving current performance with the strongest rates of house price growth and, unlike the regular market, this train is unlikely to come off the tracks when the stamp duty holiday expires. While a considerable cash saving in stamp duty tax is nice, it’s not the driving force behind prime property purchases and so we’re not seeing the mad scramble to complete that is causing havoc in lower price tiers. It’s very much a case of the hare and the tortoise in this respect and while the general market is sure to run low on steam come the end of the year, the high-end market is likely to keep moving forward at a strong and consistent pace. We’re seeing this in London more than anywhere at present, having lagged behind and, in fact, suffered to the greatest extent over the last year, the market is now starting to turn and at a pace that will ensure a cleaner bill of health come September and beyond.”

Yes Homebuyers founder and managing director Matthew Cooper said: “Please don’t be fooled by claims that homes are ‘selling’ at their fastest ever rate. This couldn’t be further from the truth and while sellers are securing a buyer at an incredibly quick pace, the time it’s taking to actually complete is significantly longer than it has previously. As a result, sales that should be done and dusted are stagnating for months on end and many are falling through as a result. You have to question if a platform with the visibility of Rightmove should be fuelling the current market hysteria and the resulting logjam by spurting fluffy statements around record-breaking market sentiment.”

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Keller Williams UK CEO Ben Taylor said: “House prices have gone stratospheric and if you believe that what goes up, must come down, then surely we must be due a correction soon. That said, there have only ever been two periods in the last thirty years where house prices have fallen over any significant time and so there are smarter bets to be made. If anything, the new Government-subsidised low deposit mortgage, and interest rates that are set to fall still further, will probably cause this explosive market to continue crackling.”

Ascend Properties managing director Ged McPartlin, said: “At the rate the current market is moving, there will be no houses left to sell. It’s great to see the North is the engine room powering this immediate market performance with some astonishing 9% plus annual rates of growth in both the North West and Yorkshire. Yorkshire alone has enjoyed a 4.2% increase on a month-on-month basis which is usually a rate of growth reserved for annual performances and really highlights how quickly the market is moving at present. If this rate of growth were to continue, Yorkshire folk could expect to see the value of their home increase by £116,000 in a single year.”

BY PETE CARVILL

Source: Property Wire

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Halifax: UK House Prices Have Hit A Record High

UK house prices have hit a record high despite rising at a slower rate than a year ago, according to the Halifax house price index this morning.

The lender said that the affordability of houses was “close to pre-financial crisis levels”, as house prices remained historically high at an average of £252,765.

The difference between the 2007 financial crash and today, is that mortgage rates are considerably lower.

Despite slowing their ascent in the first quarter of 2021, inflation has risen by 5.7 per cent, as the standard house price a year ago sat at £252,030.

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The 5.7 per cent jump was down from a nearly five year high of seven per cent last year, the lender reported.

Prices lifted only 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year, smaller than the 2.5 per cent jump in the final quarter of 2020.

The London property market showed slower gains in house prices over the start of this year, the “strongest” since the 2016 EU referendum, Halifax said.

The standard house price in Greater London sat at £505,359, down 2.5 per cent from the final quarter of last year, however, has edged 2.1 per cent higher in comparison to 2020.

Demand for larger properties carried through from last year, while existing houses were hit by rising inflation 6.2 per cent more than new builds.

Are we due another crash?

The outlook for the next six months appears to be bright, particularly with the help of the “ongoing government support,” CEO of property platform Twindig, Anthony Codling said.

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“There is a risk that when the extended holiday ends, the UK housing market will wake up with a hangover.”

However, Codling advised home buyers not to worry, “because at the moment mortgage supply is increasing, whereas, in the credit crunch, mortgage supply fell off a cliff edge.”

“The spring and summer selling seasons will be strong, but as the stamp duty holiday ends in September, concerns about another cliff edge will start to be voiced and this may soften house prices in the autumn.”

Financial analyst at AJ Bell, Laith Khalaf agreed that a looming financial crash is unlikely, because “the housing market has repeatedly confounded economists expectations, and it keeps going from strength to strength.”

With low-interest rates and “highly accommodative” government policy, the housing market has a strong supply and demand dynamic, Khalaf added.

“While there might be a few bumps along the way, particularly at the end of the stamp duty…the property market has proved itself to be unbelievably resilient. And in large part, that comes down to the efforts the government and the Bank of England have made to make mortgage borrowing incredibly easy and cheap.”

By Millie Turner

Source: City AM

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What is driving booming UK house prices?

What is driving booming UK house prices? – The main reason for the price rise is the introduction of a range of measures by the government that has made it easier to buy a new home. These include the extension of the stamp duty holiday and the introduction of a government-backed 95% mortgage scheme to help potential home buyers.

The stamp duty holiday was first introduced in July 2020 by Chancellor Rishi Sunak to give the housing market a boost following its shutdown during the first nationwide coronavirus lockdown in March.

Support for those at risk of losing their jobs, such as the extension of the furlough scheme, and also the better-than-expected growth of the economy and the successful coronavirus vaccine rollout have also contributed to increased buyer confidence and rising house prices.

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In the past year millions of workers have spent the majority of time at home and this has been another reason for the rise in house prices. The future of office work is still not confirmed and therefore many people are now looking for larger homes out of city centres, and properties with more outdoor space and room for an at-home office.

For those workers who have kept their jobs during the pandemic, and who haven’t been spending as they usually would, the Bank of England predicts that around £100bn has been saved, fuelling the housing market further.

“The Stamp Duty holiday and other comprehensive government support measures have enabled the property market to stare down the pandemic, against all the odds,” says George Franks, co-founder of London estate agency Radstock Property. “We all know that a giant fiscal squeeze and rising unemployment are on the horizon but for now the success of the vaccination roll-out, new living requirements and exceptionally low mortgage rates have lit up the market. Even if the property market does start to cool down later in the year, an extreme lack of stock will prevent a material fall in values. In London, rising unemployment will potentially be less of an issue than in the rest of the country, as the capital’s jobs market is an ecosystem in itself. Overall, we continue to expect average UK house prices in 2021 to rise by 2% to 4% depending on property type and location.”

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What is likely to happen next?

Demand for new houses is the reason for UK house prices rising. Halifax says this trend is likely to continue for the next few months, although it is cautiously optimistic, with warnings over what might happen when the government-backed schemes come to an end and the full economic consequences of the pandemic are felt.

“Right now, there is a huge bottleneck in the property market, with large numbers of prospective buyers and not enough new stock, and this is really driving up house prices,” notes Rhys Schofield, managing director of Peak Mortgages & Protection. “The sheer volume of prospective buyers is partly due to the return of first time buyers, as securing a higher loan-to-value mortgage has got a lot easier over the past month or two. With the Stamp Duty cliff edge looming, the lack of stock may be because next time buyers have less of an incentive to move, which frees up starter homes. House builders also shifted the vast majority of their stock at the end of last year and have limited units available within the next six months. We’ve even had a client reserve a property through one of the bigger national housebuilders, which won’t actually be built until early 2022.”

By Stuart Fieldhouse

Source: The Armchair Trader

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House prices reach new record high as property market booms

UK house prices hit a record high of £254,606 on average in March after jumping by 1.1 per cent month-on-month, according to an index.

Across the UK, the average price is around £15,000 higher since the start of the national coronavirus lockdowns in March 2020 – equating to an increase of more than £1,000 per month on average.

Values in March 2021 were 6.5 per cent higher than the same month last year, the Halifax said.

It said Government support measures and a stamp duty holiday have been key to bolstering the housing market.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “Following a relatively subdued start to the year, the housing market enjoyed something of a resurgence during March, with prices up by just over 1 per cent compared to February.

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“This rise – the first since November last year – means the average property is now worth £254,606, a new record high.

“A year on from the early days of the first national lockdown, March’s data shows that house prices rose by 6.5 per cent annually, or £15,430 in cash terms.

“Casting our minds back 12 months, few could have predicted quite how well the housing market would ride out the impact of the pandemic so far, let alone post growth of more than £1,000 per month on average.

“The continuation of Government support measures has been key in boosting confidence in the housing market.

“The extended stamp duty holiday has put another spring in the step of home movers, whilst for those saving hard to buy their first home, the new mortgage guarantee scheme provides an alternative route on to the property ladder.

“Overall we expect elevated levels of activity to be maintained in the coming months, with consumer confidence spurred on by the successful vaccine rollout, and buyer demand still fuelled by a desire for larger properties and more outdoor space, as work-life priorities have shifted during the pandemic.

“A shortage of homes for sale will also support prices in the short term, as lower availability always favours sellers.

“However, with the economy yet to feel the full effect of its biggest recession in more than 300 years, we remain cautious about the longer-term outlook.

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“Given current levels of uncertainty and the potential for higher unemployment, we still expect house price growth to slow somewhat by the end of this year.”

Mark Harris said: “The market rebounded strongly in March as buyers realised that the stamp duty holiday extension meant it was still possible to take advantage of the saving, while the continuing easing of lockdown provided further impetus.

“It is no surprise that the start of the year saw a more subdued market as lockdown and home schooling made viewings practically impossible.

“With hardly a day going by without another lender launching a high loan-to-value offering, and indeed rates coming down on these as more providers enter the fray, there is plenty on the lending front to tempt borrowers.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “What we are seeing is a real lack of stock which in turn increases competition and house prices.”

Source: Irish News

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West Midlands house prices up 7.6pc in a year

Across the UK, the average house price was £232,134, Nationwide Building Society said. This was a 5.7 per cent increase compared with a year earlier. The West Midlands saw the second highest rise of any region in England at 7.6 per cent to £208,806.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The slowdown in March probably reflects a softening of demand ahead of the original end of the stamp duty holiday before the Chancellor announced the extension in the Budget.”

The stamp duty holiday had been due to end on March 31, but was extended in the recent Budget.

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Mr Gardner continued: “The longer-term outlook remains highly uncertain. It may be that the recovery continues to gather momentum and that shifts in housing demand resulting from the pandemic continue to lift the market.

“However, if the labour market weakens towards the end of the year as policy support is withdrawn, as most analysts expect, then activity is likely to slow nearer the end of 2021, perhaps sharply.”

Nationwide also released figures showing house price growth across the UK’s nations and regions in the first quarter of 2021.

Mr Gardner said: “The North West was the strongest-performing region, with prices up 8.2 per cent year on year. This is the strongest price growth seen in the region since 2005 and average prices reached a record high of £181,999.”

London was the weakest-performing region in the first quarter of 2021, with house prices increasing by 4.8 per cent, softening from 6.2 per cent annual growth in the previous quarter.

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Mr Gardner added: “The South West was the only southern region to see an acceleration in annual price growth, which picked up to 7.2 per cent in quarter one, from 6.6 per cent in quarter four of 2020.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The continued shift in buyers’ demands for more space meant London saw the slowest growth, with prices still very high compared to the rest of the country and space more limited.

“Gardens, communities, green spaces and easy commutes are increasing demand for the outer regions, with prices continuing to rise to reflect this.”

By John Corser

Source: Express & Star

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New research reveals the UK’s Help to Buy hotspot

Research by lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves has revealed which UK cities are currently seeing the most demand from homebuyers for properties eligible for Help to Buy.

With the current Help to Buy equity loan scheme expiring last month, the Government announced a replacement scheme to start as of this April. The latest version of the scheme is restricted to first-time buyers and includes regional property price caps.

Benham and Reeves analysed what proportion of Help to Buy stock was already sold subject to contract or listed as ‘under offer’ across 25 major UK cities and what this demand translates to as a percentage of all Help to Buy stock listed.

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Bristol is currently the UK’s Help to Buy homebuyer hotspot, with 60% of all homes eligible for the scheme already sold subject to contract or under offer.

Portsmouth and Swansea also rank high, with half of all homes listed with the help of Help to Buy already taken by homebuyers.

Oxford is home to the next highest level of Help to Buy homebuyer demand at 48%, with Leeds (35%), Southampton (34%), Glasgow (33%), Cambridge (32%) and Bournemouth (31%) also ranking within the top 10.

It’s a three-way tie for the 10th top spot, as London, Manchester and Liverpool all see Help to Buy demand from homebuyers currently sit at 29%.

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “While the stamp duty holiday has been a great way of boosting market health during a very tough period, further fuelling demand has only helped push house prices further out of reach for many first-time buyers.

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“This has made the aspiration of homeownership all the harder and it’s clear that many are reliant on a leg up via the Help to Buy scheme as a result, with high demand for homes that qualify in cities all over the UK.

“Of course, it’s fair to say that Help to Buy in its various forms has also helped drive demand with homebuyers purchasing property that they would otherwise have been unable to afford.

“So perhaps instead of introducing yet another demand-based initiative to artificially inflate house prices, it’s time the Government really start looking at building more houses if they do wish to ‘help those that need it most’.”

Source: Property Wire

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Value of UK’s housing stock hits record high after strong year

In 2020, the total value of the UK’s housing stock reached £7.56trn, a new record high. And the north of England saw its strongest rise in housing value since 2005.

The value of the UK’s housing stock has hit the highest value on record, rising by £380bn in 2020. This is the fastest increase since 2015. And the £7.56trn equates to over four times the value of all FTSE100 companies. This is according to research by Savills, using data from ONS, Land Registry, MHCLG and UK Finance.

In the last five years, the UK’s housing stock increased by £1.33trn. This equates to an average of £266bn a year, which is some £114bn below the total for 2020. This growth is especially impressive with the recession backdrop and the prevailing economic uncertainty.

Additionally, for the first time, the value of mortgaged owner occupied homes surpassed £2.5trn. This was driven by longer mortgage terms and Help to Buy. The mortgage guarantee scheme is expected to boost this figure even further.

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A rapid increase in house prices

UK house prices increased by an average of 7.3% in 2020, despite the challenging and uncertain year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People’s desire to move and the stamp duty holiday caused a surge in property transactions, pushing prices up and outweighing job and financial uncertainty.

After successive lockdowns and the rise in remote working, people’s property priorities changed. Many have been looking for more space. Some are also looking for dedicated home office space, high speed internet and access to a garden or balcony.

Lawrence Bowles from Savills says: “People reassessed their housing needs and preferences as a result of the pandemic and that drove a surge in transaction activity in the second half of last year.

“This triggered rapid price growth as many buyers who felt secure in their finances looked for larger homes to accommodate the multiple demands of home working and home schooling, as well as extra space for living and leisure.

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“It also meant that the total value of properties held with a mortgage rose by 6.9% as people stretched their borrowing to accommodate lifestyle demands.”

The north is seeing strong growth

The north of England, including the north-west, north-east and Yorkshire and the Humber, saw the largest annual increase in housing value since 2005, rising by £59bn. This is up from 1.07trn in 2019 to £1.13trn in 2020 which is a 5.5% increase.

The north-west and south-west are tied for the highest percentage growth in 2020 at 6.2%. The north-west’s housing stock is worth £561bn, rising by an impressive £33bn last year alone. And with major investment and development coming to the north-west, this will likely bring further growth to this region.

According to recent data from Zoopla, the north-west of England is currently leading regional house price growth, and Liverpool and Manchester is seeing the strongest property price increases on a city level.

Savills believes the north-west will be home to the strongest house price growth during the five years to 2025 with a 28.8% projected increase. Home to Manchester, Liverpool and Preston, the north-west is expected to continue leading house price growth with demand remaining high.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Sales of holiday homes on the coast surge

Sales of holiday homes near the coast have surged over the past six months, with holiday let mortgages for properties in Wales almost doubling since September 2020.

Figures from Hodge Bank has revealed the most popular destination for holiday let buyers is the South West at 39%, followed by Wales at 19% and the North West at 12%.

Welsh purchases have almost doubled since September 2020, increasing from 10% to 19%, with coastlines around the North, including Pwllheli, Holyhead and Llandudno proving hugely popular for holiday homes.

The data also shows that the average age of a holiday let mortgage customer is 51.

Hodge customers are willing to spend on average £403,143 on a holiday home – nearly two thirds higher than the average house price in the UK of £252,000.

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Of those purchasing a holiday home, 35% remortgage their existing home to finance their holiday home while 65% take out a new holiday let specific mortgage.

With travel hugely restricted and people re-evaluating their holiday plans during the COVID-19 pandemic, the data shows that customers clearly want to head to the coast, with beach resorts in the South West proving hugely popular.

Newquay, St Ives and Penzance in Cornwall are real hotspots as are Wadebridge, Padstow and Port Isaac.

Over the past six months, Wales has also soared in popularity, especially around the North West in Pwllheli, Holyhead and Rhosneigr.

Devon also holds a lot of appeal, with the likes of Bideford, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple proving popular.

The least popular regions with only 1% of purchases are Greater London and the East Midlands, with West Midlands and the South East at 2% for those buying holiday lets.

Emma Graham, business development director at Hodge, said: “Many people have not been able to holiday abroad for more than a year now and staycations have therefore become hugely popular.

“We think this has almost certainly led to people re-evaluating their finances, as well as holiday plans and the holiday let market is looking very healthy.

“Given the appetite for a holiday by the sea, it’s no surprise that homes near the beach or coast are the most popular for holiday homes.

“In 2019, Hodge launched a mortgage designed for those wanting to own a holiday let property in the UK after seeing an increase in enquiries.

“We saw a gap in the holiday let mortgage market for a customer-friendly product that allows owners to stay at the property for a longer period, as well as the ability to use letting sites.

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“Customers can borrow up to £1m and there is a maximum lending age of 95.

“In addition, we have the unique Hodge Early Repayment Promise, which means if the customer sells their home and moves out, and pays off their mortgage completely, we’ll waive the Early Repayment Charges – giving them one less thing to worry about.

“Following Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, we think staycationing is here to stay and we want to help would-be holiday homeowners make that all-important purchase.

“We are able to offer customers up to three holiday let mortgages too, so if they want to purchase a property in more than one location, we can help.”

By Jessica Nangle

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Property industry has a new spring in its step

The property sector has a renewed sense of optimism a year after the country was put into its first lockdown, with more than 75% of people reporting they feel more positive about the sector’s future than three months ago, the latest Property Week sentiment survey reveals.

Some 42.5% of respondents said they felt slightly more optimistic about the future of UK real estate, and 36.7% much more optimistic, than the previous quarterly survey in December. Some 14.2% felt the same and just 6.4% felt more pessimistic.

In the previous survey at the end of December, just 53% were more optimistic about the future, compared with 23% that were more pessimistic and 24% whose views had not changed since September.

More than half of respondents expected to return to offices ahead of the official projected end to working from home guidance on 21 June if they had not already. Some 26.7% said they were already fully or partly back in the office and a further 29.2% expect to return before the June date. While 33.3% said they expected to return after June this year, 10.8% said they did not expect to return to the office.

Retail was resoundingly forecast as the sector that would be hardest hit by the pandemic in the long term, (62.5%) followed by restaurants and pubs (18.3%). But property experts are nevertheless optimistic about the sectors’ futures.

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Sovereign Centros chief executive Chris Geaves said apart from areas overexposed to it, there remained a “very strong” future for bricks-and-mortar retail.

“We’ve got a very strong future for one simple reason: the UK is a nation of shoppers,” he said. “You can’t paint all retail with the same brush, you’ve got to look at every location differently.”

He added that the eight super regional shopping centres, which include the likes of Trafford, Metrocentre and Meadowhall, were “irreplaceable stock” and would only “expand and get bigger”.

Ted Schama, joint managing partner at leisure and hospitality agency Shelley Sandzer, told Property Week: “The market has been more active than we might have anticipated at the start to the middle of the pandemic. There are more experiential leisure opportunities than ever due to vacancies of retail space on the high street.”

Jonny Perkins, retail asset manager at LabTech, agreed there is a “positive sentiment in the air” for the leisure sector.

“It has undoubtedly been a difficult time for retail, leisure and restaurant occupiers in the current climate. However, with the positive sentiment in the air from the vaccine and a reduction in cases, we have experienced a noticeable increase in occupier enquiries and interest for the first part of 2021.”

He added: “Demand has appeared to be focused on the food and beverage and leisure sectors, with retail being more measured.”

Quintain chief executive James Saunders said the Wembley Park developer was optimistic that large hospitality venues would also be able to reopen this year as planned.

“We are cautiously confident that our major venues including the SSE Arena and Troubadour Theatre will adapt and find a way to welcome back audiences later this year,” he said.

The hotel sector also has a positive outlook on the coming months. “There is a huge amount of pent-up demand and we are seeing real appetite for growth, as well as people being desperate to travel,” said IHG UK&I managing director Karen Khanna.

Some 15% of survey respondents thought offices would be the hardest hit sector coming out of the pandemic.

Martin Lay, head of central London offices at Cushman & Wakefield, said: “The start of lockdown in January was a backwards step coming off a strong Q4 in 2020, which dampened optimism.”

He added that international investors were circling the London market ahead of travel restrictions lifting, but that activity was “likely to be held back” by lower levels of available stock.

“While the breadth and depth of international capital focused on London remains strong, activity is more likely to be held back by the lack of available investment stock, with 2021 seeing a 40% reduction in new stock being launched to the market compared with last year,” he said, adding that “the ESG agenda is becoming an increasingly important driver to investors’ decision-making, which we expect to translate into a significant focus on assets that are best in class”.

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

Most respondents believed industrial would come out of the crisis the strongest in the long term (56.7%), followed by residential at 29.2%.

AXA Investment Managers head of residential and student accommodation Joe Persechino told Property Week that growth in the number of young professionals supported by a burgeoning student population and the gradual recovery of the labour market would drive “modest” demand for private rental housing in the coming years.

He added: “The weight of capital seeking stable income returns together with the relative lack of depth in institutional standing stock, is driving significant investment into development. Strong occupancy and collection rates are reinforcing investor conviction, and a relatively attractive spread to comparative opportunities elsewhere in Europe is supporting pricing at today’s yields.”

By Emma Shone, Jessica Newman

Source: Property Week

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