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The Budget: Government pledges investment in housing

In today’s Budget, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the government is investing in affordable housing, will create a simpler planning system and pledged to pay for the removal of unsafe cladding on tower blocks.

Sunak said that a further £9.5 billion has been earmarked for the Affordable Homes Programme, which will bring the total to £12.2 billion of grant funding from 2021-22 to support the creation of affordable homes across England. And local authorities have been given an interest rate cut of 1% on building of social housing.

Plus there will be £400 million for Mayoral Combined Authorities and local areas to establish housing on brownfield land across the country. The aim is to creating more homes by bringing more brownfield land into development.

The Budget also confirmed allocations from the Housing Infrastructure Fund totalling £1.1 billion for nine different areas including Manchester, South Sunderland and South Lancaster.

Another investment to help to stimulate housing and infrastructure growth across the country is an additional £328 million of housing investments in York Central, Harlow and North Warwickshire.

There will also be a new long-term Single Housing Infrastructure Fund to unlock new homes in areas of high demand across the country by funding infrastructure and assembling land for development.

Frank Pennal, CEO of Close Brothers Property Finance Division, a specialist development finance lender, commented: “This Budget is exactly what the doctor ordered for the housing market. It is hugely encouraging to see that the housing crisis has not been totally overshadowed and the government is making good on their manifesto pledge to prioritise housing supply.

“After decades of reduced investment this £12 billion extension of the affordable housing programme should act as a lightning rod to stimulate affordable housing supply.”

Dr Kristian Niemietz, head of political economy at the Institute of Economic Affairs, disagreed and said the Chancellor’s announcements on housing miss the point: “The crucial bottleneck of the housing market is land supply: we are simply not releasing enough land for housing development.

“As long as that bottleneck remains in place, pumping more money into housing construction – whether that is the announced £12 billion for affordable homes, the 1% interest rate cut for loans to build social housing, or the £400m for building on brownfield sites – will simply push up land prices even further. It will therefore ultimately make little difference to housing affordability.

“If the government had the courage to sort out the above-mentioned supply-side bottleneck (on which the Chancellor had virtually nothing to say), it could quite easily improve housing affordability across the board, while saving taxpayers’ money in the process.”

Planning system

The most significant barrier to building more houses is land availability, which is constrained by the planning system. Tomorrow, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will set out comprehensive reforms to bring the planning system and a Planning White Paper will be published in the spring.

These reforms aim to create a simpler planning system and improve the capacity, capability and performance of local planning authorities (LPAs) to accelerate the development process. If LPAs do not meet their local housing need, the government says there will be firm consequences, including a stricter approach taken to the release of land for development and greater government intervention.

Cladding

The government will also invest an additional £1 billion to remove unsafe cladding from residential buildings above 18 metres, such as the ACM material that was used on Grenfell Tower.

Richard Silva, executive director at one of the UK’s largest professional freeholders, Long Harbour, said this is a huge victory for residents and the industry.

He commented: “It follows an open letter sent to the Chancellor last month, from cladding campaigners, residents, property managers and the UK’s largest freeholders, calling on the government to step in following failures in the building safety regime that dates back decades.

“We are delighted that the Chancellor has listened to the calls from residents and building owners and has expanded the cladding remediation fund, whilst recognising that neither leaseholders nor building owners should have to bear the cost of regulatory failure in the construction industry.

“Freeholders and managing agents have been working hard to fix these buildings as quickly as possible but central funding is essential for the acceleration of this process. We look forward to working with government to make these buildings safe as quickly as possible.”

Stamp duty for non-UK residents

The government will introduce a 2% stamp duty surcharge on non-UK residents buying residential property in England and Northern Ireland from 1 April 2021. The government says this will help to control house price inflation and to support UK residents to get onto and move up the housing ladder.

The money raised from the surcharge will be used to help address rough sleeping and the government will provide £643 million for accommodation and support services to help people off the streets in England.

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter, commented: “As promised during the Tory campaign, a stamp duty surcharge for non-UK resident buyers has been brought in during the 2020 budget. However, Sunak has not quite gone as far at the Tory manifesto pledge and has opted for a 2% rather than 3% charge.

“This represents a crowd pleasing policy which will win over people worried that foreign house buyers are hoovering up UK property as an investment, only to leave it empty, which further exacerbates the housing crisis gripping the nation.

“While this surcharge introduction is welcomed, increasing the UK’s housing stock will have a more important impact for domestic buyers. Planning reforms, set to be announced tomorrow, may reveal additional new measures which aim to stimulate the construction of more housing.”

Richard Donnell, director of research & insight at Zoopla, commented: “The additional 2% stamp duty surcharge for non-UK resident buyers represents the latest in a long series of tax reforms, and may have a short-term impact on demand in higher value markets once it is introduced.

“For those who are looking at a longer-term hold, the additional upfront purchase cost will diminish in significance over time.

“In the interim, however, there will likely be some increased activity among non-UK residents looking to purchase before the new rules come into force.

“Dollar-denominated buyers may find that the additional cost is partly offset by currency movements, with an effective discount of more than 20% for those buying UK property now compared to the summer of 2014 – purely due to movements in the pound.

Disappointment at lack of stamp duty reform for UK residents

Calls for changes to stamp duty went unheard in this Budget and Richard Donnell said that stamp duty has become a southern tax.

He explained: “With SDLT lining the Treasury’s coffers to the tune of £8.3 billion as of March 2019, up from £2.7 billion ten years’ ago, it was always unlikely that the Chancellor would consider a significant stamp duty reform – particularly without an alternative source of revenue.

“Stamp duty has become a southern tax, and is widely regarded as one of the biggest inhibitors to market liquidity in London and the South East – from which 61% of SDLT receipts are generated.

“In keeping the tax bands unchanged and not in line with price inflation, 2.7 million homes have been pushed into the 5% band since 2015.”

By Joanne Atkin

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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UK House Prices in Fastest Increase in 13 Years, More Gains seen in 2020

Halifax data shows UK house prices posted their strongest monthly increase in nearly 13 years in December with a +1.7% month-on-month, taking the year-on-year increase to 4%.

The December General Election result appears to have boosted market sentiment according to some industry insiders, as the Conservative majority delivers the UK some relative political stability when compared to the recent past.

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, says “last month’s election helped to reignite the smouldering embers of an otherwise weary property market. Not only is this boost immediately evident within December’s monthly and annual top line growth, but those of us on the front line also enjoyed an almost immediate uplift in buyer interest and commitment to transactions.”

von Grundherr says a large degree of uncertainty remains until a trade deal is officially done between the EU and UK, “but even a mere step in the right direction has been enough to steady the ship considerably and this bodes well for the year ahead.”

House prices Halifax

“While mortgage affordability remains very favourable, we’ve also been promised an economic boost via the first budget in four decades as a non-EU member state, all of which should help build buyer confidence and continue to restimulate house price growth,” adds von Grundherr.

Halifax say they expect uncertainty in the economy to ease somewhat in 2020, which should see transaction volumes increase and further price growth made possible by an improvement in households’ real incomes.

Houses for sale

Also underpinning the increase in prices is a familiar supply-and-demand dynamic whereby a housing shortage means buyers are asked to fork out yet more money for their desired property.

“Longer-term issues such as shortage of homes for sale and low levels of house-building will continue to limit supply, while the ongoing challenges faced by prospective buyers in raising to limit supply, while the ongoing challenges faced by prospective buyers in raising deposits will serve to constrain demand,” say Halifax.

Halifax say they expect a modest pace of gains to continue in 2020.

“An unyielding appetite from the nation’s aspirational first-time buyers and a resolute new build sector have ensured that while the rate of price growth has been muted, there has been no meaningful declines. With the worst now hopefully behind us, these two areas of the market should continue to go from strength to strength over the coming year and help drive performance back to previous health,” says the founder and CEO of Stone Real Estate, Michael Stone.

Written by Gary Howes

Source: Pound Sterling Live

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House prices 2020: How will the UK property market fare next year?

It’s been a rocky year for the property market, as protracted political uncertainty and affordability problems left house prices largely stagnant in London and across the UK.

But with a resounding victory for Boris Johnson in the General Election earlier this month, and the prospect of an end to the Brexit saga in sight, 2020 may offer some hope of a turnaround.

So as the sector turns its eyes to the future, City A.M. asked top property experts whether they think 2020 will be boom or bust for the housing market.

Lee Pickett, real estate partner at global legal business, DWF

“Given the scale of the Conservative party’s victory in the general election, and the immediate reaction of both sterling and the stock market it’s entirely possible, likely even, that we will see a short-term Boris bounce for the economy and, as a result, house prices.

“There remains the fundamental problem that at nearly eight times average wages, house prices are already beyond what would normally be considered breaking point. But these are not normal times and mortgage rates are at record lows, which could well add a dose of rocket fuel to the housing market and house prices as a result at the start of the year.

“However, further into 2020 the spectre of uncertainty could make an unwelcome return. Much will depend on the government’s ability to negotiate a new free trade agreement with Brussels before the end of the year. If it can’t then Britain will either leave without a deal or the government will have to ask for an extension to the transition period, probably by June at the latest. Neither option is appealing and the return of political and economic uncertainty will have an obvious impact house prices. Maybe 2021 might bring better news.”

Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves

“Previous to the EU referendum we were seeing annual growth as high as nine per cent nationally, hitting double digits within the capital. While it will take time for this momentum to return, six per cent growth across the UK is very attainable for the coming year, should the election play out as expected.

“London will see a return to positive territory”

“London as a whole will also see a return to positive territory and although it has fallen behind of late, once it turns it will turn quickly and so we expect to see house price growth for the region exceed the national top line in 2020 to hit seven to eight per cent.

“Prime central London may have seen the most drastic decline but over the last few months, parts of the top end market have also seen the largest revival. Now that we’ve seen the bottom of the market, this revival will continue with the hottest pockets expected to climb by as much as ten per cent in the next 12 months.”

Michael Stone, founder and chief executive of Stone Real Estate

“We’ve seen the property pedigree of the new build sector continue to outperform the wider market not only over the last year but since the EU referendum itself, and this is a trend that will continue well into 2020.

“Across the UK, new build house prices have increased by 4.6 per cent in the last 12 months alone, compared to just 0.6 per cent across the wider market. While this increase is smaller in London at 1.9 per cent, the capital’s wider market has declined by -1.2 per cent during the same time.

“This has been due to a sustained level of demand from first-time buyers in particular and a four per cent price gap between the two sectors is likely to remain, although we should see the market pick up over the coming months, with London enjoying a notable return to health.

“All things considered, we could see new build price growth lift another six per cent over the coming year, and while London may take longer to thaw, a three per cent jump is the least new build homebuyers can expect to see for the year ahead. Although this could be much higher depending on buyer sentiment levels.”

Patrick Alvarado, director of prime central London estate agency Nicolas Van Patrick

“Presuming Brexit happens, we would expect house price growth of around three per cent in prime central London in 2020. The continued surge in transactions we’ve seen in the last quarter should continue. As more supply comes to market over the year, pent-up demand will be satisfied and prices will level off. This will be more pronounced if Boris Johnson implements the extra three per cent stamp duty surcharge on foreign buyers as indicated in his recent manifesto.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman

“As far as impact on the housing market is concerned, the election is likely to result in a short-term bounce at least. However, the strength of this bounce will largely be determined by early clarification of the Brexit timetable.

“Demand can’t be pent up indefinitely and the clearest message we have received on our doorstep over recent months is that many people are fed up with waiting to move. That sentiment is reflected in greater-than-usual interest in pre-Christmas market appraisals.

“Nevertheless, I would be very surprised if there is a significant increase in values despite many sellers telling us it will happen. Prices have been underpinned for some time by a shortage of supply so any rise is likely to be more than outweighed by a stock increase in most price ranges.”

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club

“The housing market may get a modest leg-up should the UK leave the EU with a deal by 31 January. We believe an easing of uncertainties could see house prices rise by around 2 per cent in 2020. Housing market activity – and possibly to a lesser extent prices – could be given a modest lift in 2020 if the government introduces specific measures aimed at boosting the sector in the Budget.

“However, the economy still looks set for a challenging 2020 even if there is a Brexit deal so that the upside for house prices is likely to be limited. Furthermore, Brexit concerns could very well pick up again as 2020 progresses due to concerns over what will happen at the end of the year if the UK and EU have failed to reach agreement on their longer-term relationship and the transition arrangement is due to end (both sides have to agree to an extension of the transition arrangement and Boris Johnson has stated that he will not seek an extension).

“Should the UK ultimately leave the EU without a deal, we believe house prices could quickly drop around five per cent amid heightened uncertainty and weakened economic activity.”

By James Warrington

Source: City AM

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Scottish housing market is surviving despite uncertainty – John Kelly

As we await the result of the ­pre-Christmas general election and what changes this may or may not bring to the position of Scotland in the UK and Europe, it feels like something of a renaissance is afoot.

Although the overall level of confidence in the economy remains fragile, the news is not all doom and gloom. Even with the political and economic uncertainty we have lived through over the last year, house prices in Scotland continued to grow by 1.3 per cent.

The industry body for home building, Homes for Scotland, has highlighted that despite home building numbers eventually falling back to pre-recession levels, there is still a massive shortage of homes. Recent research by Fraser of Allander on behalf of Homes for Scotland showed that house price growth is far from being evenly spread across the country, with Edinburgh and the East showing particularly high growth. In the West of Scotland, areas like Renfrewshire and East Dunbartonshire, where school performance is strong, also showed higher house price growth.

In our experience, and as shown by ­several economic indicators, Glasgow city centre and the West End also continue to be property hotspots. The news that the next stage of the City Development Plan focusing on the Govan, Partick and the Clyde Corridor will be submitted to ­Scottish ministers is welcome and we anticipate this will provide impetus for the property market.

‘Lack of second-hand stock’

Our business is focused on the West of Scotland and, for us, east and north ­Ayrshire has been a significant area for growth, with average transactions rising by 6.9 per cent and 2.7 per cent, respectively. Thanks to the improved road network, Ayr and Stewarton are attractive prospects as they are commutable to Glasgow. At the same time the property prices there are more competitive, with buyers getting more square footage and a garden for the same price as a flat in central Glasgow.

The biggest challenge currently is a lack of second-hand residential stock. The influx of new homes projects has helped keep the wheels turning. Projects that were halted are now either completed or well underway in terms of construction and consumers are snapping them up.

We are encouraged to see the Scottish Government’s ambitious net zero emissions target being reflected in many building projects. We are currently marketing City Garden Apartments, a new build of 65 eco-conscious, luxury apartments in Glasgow. Buyers concerned about ­climate change and their carbon footprint can benefit from state-of-the-art energy ­efficiency, electric car charging and an outdoor roof with a bee hotel. New build homes are also attractive to downsizers.

These consumers are moving to more urban locations, nearer restaurants and amenities, into lower maintenance and running cost properties. A ­garden is often replaced by a much more manageable balcony. A good example of an ambitious new project is G3 Square in Finnieston, which we’ve been supporting since the outset, as well as Cathcart House in the south side and the upcoming Fairfields, due to launch in Partick next year.

Another key trend is the number of small to mid-size luxury home developments springing up on the outskirts of Glasgow in areas such as Croftamie and Strathaven. These cater for millennials looking to lay down roots with a family home, who would be otherwise priced out of Glasgow’s “go-to” areas of Newton Mearns, Giffnock and Bearsden.

While life changes, like children or getting married, will happen regardless, there can be no doubt that many potential homebuyers view their next move as discretionary, as opposed to borne out of need. However, we know from lessons of the recession that the property market can survive extreme circumstances. Even though we can all expect more uncertainty, the desire for home ownership is a certainty.

By John Kelly

Source: Scotsman

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Number of new builds registered in England and Wales up almost 8%

There was a 7.9% increase in new builds submitted with the Land Registry for registration in England and Wales in August this year compared to the same month in 2018, official data shows.

Of the 93,574 sales received for registration in August 2019 some 72,806 were freehold, a 4.5% decrease on August 2018, and 12,411 were newly built, a 7.9% increase on August 2018.

The number of detached properties registered reached 22,213, up from the 21,968 recorded in July and 18,523 in June. Semi-detached were the most popular with 25,283 registered in August, up from 24,848 in July and 21,623 in June.

But terraced homes were equally popular with 25,244 registered in August, up from 25,115 registered in July, but this was down on the 21,721 registered in June, the data also shows.

There were 15,565 flats and maisonettes registered in August, down from the 15,915 registered in July but up from the 14,393 registered in June.

The most expensive residential property sold in August was in the City of Westminster for £16.5 million while the cheapest residential property sold in August was in Sunderland for £18,500.

The most expensive commercial sale taking place in August 2019 was in Southwark for £129.3 million and the cheapest commercial sale was in St. Helens for £105.

There were 743 residential properties in England and Wales for £1 million and over registered, of which 410 were in Greater London, five in the West Midlands, six in Greater Manchester and one in Wales.

Source: Property Wire

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Five Scottish cities in line for hundreds of family rental homes

Hundreds of new family homes for rental are to be built across Scotland thanks to a partnership deal struck between two property companies.

Five cities have been targeted – Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth and Stirling – following the agreement between Scottish housebuilder Springfield Properties and Sigma Capital Group, the Edinburgh-based residential development and urban regeneration specialist.

The move follows the launch earlier this year of the Sigma Scottish PRS Fund – the first dedicated vehicle to focus on the creation of new homes for the private rental market in Scotland. It has initial resources of £43 million, with £30m provided by the Scottish Government’s Building Scotland Fund.

Under the new agreement, Springfield will build family homes for Sigma’s PRS property platform, with the majority of them to be built in the former’s “village” developments.

Graham Barnet, chief executive of Sigma, said the partnership would target the construction of hundreds of new homes for families across the five cities. Once built, the homes will be let under Sigma’s Simple Life lettings brand.

He added: “Springfield has a well-established reputation for delivering quality homes in Scotland and this partnership brings significant benefits for both sides, especially in accelerating the rate at which mixed tenure sites can be developed.

“We look forward to working with Springfield as we develop the partnership and extend our model in Scotland.”

Springfield Properties chief executive Innes Smith said: “We are proud to be chosen by Sigma as their first partner in Scotland to deliver homes for the private rented sector.

“This agreement stands to accelerate our delivery of homes, particularly on village developments, and we expect it to provide a further revenue stream, alongside our existing private and affordable housing activity, with good visibility over cash flows.

“It will also increase the number of homes available in the private rented sector and contribute towards our goal of ensuring that everyone within Scotland has a great place to live.”

Earlier this month, Sigma provided an upbeat outlook for the year and hailed its push into the Scottish private rented sector after revealing solid first-half numbers. Until recently, the firm had been focused on property projects and investments south of the Border.

Barnet said that market fundamentals remained strong with high levels of demand for quality, family-sized rental homes from workers on moderate incomes.

The interim results showed that revenues in the six months to 30 June increased by 19 per cent to £5.8m. Profit before tax for the period rose by 3 per cent to £4.3m. Sigma said the second half of the year had started well.

By SCOTT REID

Source: Scotsman

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Empty homes number rose by 5.3% last year – study

The number of empty homes in England increased by almost 11,000 last year, a study suggested, prompting calls for urgent action to bring them back into circulation to help tackle the housing crisis.

Research by Action on Empty Homes and the Nationwide Building Society indicated that last year saw the fastest rise in the number of long-term empty homes in England since the recession.

The number increased by 5.3%, meaning an additional 10,983 homes were left empty, said the report.

10,983 Increase in empty homes last year

Action on Empty Homes and the Nationwide Building Society

This was double the 2.6% rise seen in the previous year and marks the second consecutive year with a substantial increase in numbers of long-term empty homes, reversing the previous trend of steady declines seen since 2008, according to the research.

There are now more than 216,000 long-term empty homes in England, equivalent to 72% of the Government’s annual new homes target, at a time when more than a million families are on waiting lists for local authority housing, said the report.

Empty homes are found in all Council Tax bands but are particularly prevalent in the highest band (Band H) and in the lowest band (Band A), the report added.

Joe Garner, chief executive of Nationwide, said: “Concerted action and funding are needed from Government and the housing sector to identify and tackle the growing issue of empty homes.

“It’s a missed opportunity that there are 200,000 empty properties that could house people desperately needing a home of their own.”

Will McMahon, director of Action on Empty Homes said: “With homeless numbers at their highest levels in over a decade, it makes no sense to leave hundreds of thousands of homes standing long-term empty.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “The Government has given billing councils in England the power to charge up to 100% extra council tax – on top of the standard bill – on properties that have been empty for at least two years, to help incentivise owners to bring them back into productive use.

“We are investing £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and have made the most ambitious change to homelessness legislation in a decade – helping more people than ever before access vital support to prevent them from becoming homeless in the first place.”

Source: Shropshire Star

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House prices in selected UK regions on the rise

House prices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are expected to continue their upward trajectory, reallymoving has predicted.

Values have been forecasted to rise by 8.7% in Wales, 3.8% in Scotland and 1.9% in Northern Ireland over the next three months.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “Considering the current political situation, the UK housing market continues to show remarkable resilience.”

Average house prices in England and Wales are set to see an average 0.9% monthly drop over the next three months.

London is set to see a moderate increase of 1.5% overall in the three-month period from September to November.

Year-on-year, house prices are on course to remain in positive territory throughout the Autumn.

A 3% annual increase forecast for September will be the highest rate of annual house price growth for almost a year, followed by 2.7% in October and 2.1% in November 2019.

However, average house prices in England and Wales are set to see an average 0.9% monthly drop over the next three months.

Houghton added: “House prices are on course for minor monthly falls in September, October and November, but while the temptation is to attribute this to Brexit, in fact it is largely down to seasonality with the market following its usual pattern of peaking in August then tailing off steadily through Autumn.

“The London market has proved to be most vulnerable to the political situation and the data suggests buyers were more cautious in August when No Deal Brexit rhetoric peaked, prompting a 2.3% monthly fall in prices agreed which will translate to completions in November.

“Nationally, annual growth is set to remain in positive territory throughout the Autumn, indicating that people are continuing to press ahead with home moves and the underlying value of the housing market remains stable.”

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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House prices fall in rare September slump

Rightmove has revealed that UK house prices have decreased for the first September since 2010 as the usual autumn rebound failed to transpire.

The average price of UK property coming on the market fell by 0.2%, or £730, to £304,770, as the number of agreed sales dropped 5.5%. Underlying housing fundamentals remain strong, yet the October 31st Brexit deadline and the prospect of no-deal have discouraged buyers.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said the approaching deadline was “causing some to hesitate”. If it lasts, the traditional autumn bounce in completions may be “missed altogether”.

Excluding London, the UK housing market has been somewhat resilient since the 2016 referendum. House prices in London have been in decline since March 2018, but that has been explained by a reduced interest from international buyers. Other regions have remained resilient against uncertainty.

The Rightmove figures have indicated that the intensity of no-deal Brexit concerns are impacting the larger market.

Mr Shipside said: “As the deadline gets closer and tensions heighten, there has been a big swing with sales agreed now over 5 per cent below those of a year ago. Buying activity is still at nearly 95 per cent of what it was a year ago, but sellers in all regions are seeing fewer sales go through.”

People selling property are also holding back, but prices continue to fall. The number of newly-marketed properties decreased by 7.8% this month compared with last year, with all regions down on the previous year, Rightmove found.

The most recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows prices increasing 0.9% across Britain in June, but falling by 2.7% in London, continuing a trend since March 2018. Prices in the south-east decreased by 0.6% in the same month.

A total of 53% of homes were taken off the market in the most exclusive boroughs of central London instead of sold in the second quarter of the year, according to Lonres. The figure has risen gradually since 2014, when it ranged between 30 and 40%.

Marcus Dixon, head of research at Lonres, said that changes to stamp duty and the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum in 2016 had hit the market. He said: “Indeed, since 2016 more properties have been removed from the market due to a withdrawal than a sale.”

Source: Scottish Housing News

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UK house price growth ground to a halt in August

House price growth ground to a halt in August across the UK amid signs of a “slowdown” in activity in the property market, according to the latest figures from Nationwide.

Average prices were unchanged between July and August when analysts factored out seasonal variation in the latest house price index from the building society.

The average home in Britain sold for just over £216,000 ($263,000) in August, no higher than a month earlier but up 0.6% on a year earlier.

It marks the ninth month in a row of muted price growth below 1% or even declines on an annual basis.

Marc von Grundherr, director of London estate agent Benham & Reeves, said prices were “climbing at a snail’s pace.”

“While the UK property market may have ground to a halt on a month on month basis, it is an admirable show of defiance to at least register some annual growth, given the seasonalities at play and the addition of political turbulence that continues to plague home seller sentiment,” said von Grundherr.

He said price growth could continue to stall over the next few months as prime minister Boris Johnson takes Britain closer to a no-deal Brexit, but predicted a “consistent and strong uplift” later this year or next.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Surveyors report that new buyer enquiries have increased a little, though key consumer confidence indicators remain subdued.

“Data on the number of property transactions points to a slowdown in activity, though the number of mortgages approved for house purchase has remained broadly stable.

“Housing market trends will remain heavily dependent on developments in the broader economy. In the near term, healthy labour market conditions and low borrowing costs will provide underlying support, though uncertainty is likely to continue to exert a drag on sentiment and activity.”

By Tom Belger

Source: Yahoo Finance UK