LSL England & Wales HPI:

House prices up 5.2% or £11,920 in 2013 – the highest yearly rise since 2007

  • Average prices rise £1,489 in December to £240,134, a new record for England & Wales
  • West Midlands shows second highest regional price growth after London

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£240,134

244.5

0.6

5.2

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services plc, owner of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, comments: “As we step into 2014, the recovery of the property market shows no sign of slowing down, with buyer demand growing swiftly and competition rising. Average prices reached a new record high in December after a yearly increase of £11, 920, the highest since 2007, along with a monthly increase of £1,489. Without doubt, the market is moving full steam ahead towards widespread recovery. However we’re certainly not in the bubble zone here, with price growth and sales both still some way off their pre-crisis peaks.

“Momentum is sweeping across the board with new record high house prices in areas beyond the capital, ranging from the West Midlands to East Anglia. Attention is moving away from the north south divide and other regions are stepping out of the shadow of London’s more buoyant property market. Now the universal recovery is really taking flight. For the fourth successive month all ten regions in England & Wales witnessed positive price rises over the past twelve months.

“The coming year looks bright for the UK market thanks to the government’s schemes and record low interest rates. Cheaper mortgages, along with an easing of availability of high LTV mortgages and wider product choices to consumers, have made life drastically easier for new buyers looking to get a foot up on the property ladder. The rise in prices is matched by an impressive boost in sales with a 34% increase in sales since December 2012, which is keeping confidence levels up. There are scores of first-time buyers moving towards the market at lightning pace to explore the raft of attractive mortgage deals on offer.

“Record low mortgage rates combined with the boost in activity from first time buyers at the bottom end of the market, has unlocked chains higher up. The rise in activity among second steppers in recent months, with 16% of home movers taking out mortgages compared to a year ago, suggests sales growth will continue at a healthy pace.

“On closer inspection by regions, East Anglia and the North West saw the greatest rise in sales over the past year, over 26%, but London ranked as the third lowest, despite being the area with the largest rise in prices. This shows the underlying issue that many first-time buyers are unable to afford to live in the capital, as properties are moving into a league of their own. This is not helped by growing demand from domestic and overseas buyers left unmatched due to the gross dearth of housing supply in London.

“The departure of the Funding for Lending scheme, and the arrival of the new mortgage market rules in April, might have a slowing effect further into 2014. However the Help to Buy scheme will become even more pivotal in the coming months and the Government’s ability to stimulate housing development will be crucial to address the chronic shortage of housing supply.”

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LSL PROPERTY SERVICES: SIX IN TEN LANDLORDS PREDICT GROWTH IN TENANT DEMAND NEXT YEAR

  •  58% of landlords predict tenant demand will grow in the next twelve months
  • Four in ten landlords reported growth in tenant demand in last six months
  • Nearly a fifth expect to expand their portfolios in 2014
  • Three quarters of landlords believe now is a good time to buy or sell rental properties

Prospects are bright for the rental sector in 2014, with growing tenant demand boosting confidence among landlords, and rising prices making properties attractive investment opportunities, according to a landlord sentiment survey conducted by LSL Property Services plc, which owns the UK’s largest lettings agent network, including national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains.

In the past six months, 41% of the 2,195 landlords polled reported a rise in tenant demand, with just one in sixteen seeing a fall.  Such growth in demand has been the driving force behind the series of rent rises seen during 2013. The majority of landlords (58%) predict demand will increase further in 2014, with just 10% expecting demand to shrink.

Nearly a fifth (18%) of landlords therefore anticipates growing their portfolio of properties over the coming twelve months, while 16% already expanded in 2013.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, comments: “The rise in house prices is evidence of the underlying buoyancy in the property market and the stabilising of rent rises is an indication of the current healthy state of the rental sector. Landlords are therefore in a prime position to benefit from the strong yields on properties and aspiring buy-to-let investors can be encouraged by the climbing tenant demand, as not only does it signify the excellent long-term investment opportunity, but also demonstrates the continued appetite for rental homes.”

 

“Demand for rented accommodation is strong, exemplified by the fact that the number of lettings, new viewings and applicants are all rising. There are strong foundations for prosperity in the rental sector, fuelled by increased economic optimism and future job creation. Against the backdrop of growing economic stability, more confidence is driving people forward in search of the attractive deals on offer across the buy-to-let mortgage market, which will allow them to benefit from the attractive returns.”

 

Over three quarters of landlords (77%) believe now is a good time to buy or sell rental properties. Of those who think now is a good time to buy, 71% cited attractive property prices and half highlighted the better capital returns on offer compared to other forms of investment, while 47% pointed to strong tenant demand as a key investment driver.

 

MORTGAGE FINANCE REMAINS A STUMBLING BLOCK

Despite the stark improvements in the mortgage market recently, just one in six landlords believes the availability of cheap finance is a key reason for why now is a good time to invest – although this is up from one landlord in eleven in December 2012.  In fact 35% of landlords say that it is more difficult to raise mortgage finance compared to a year ago, highlighting that for some mortgage challenges remain a deeply embedded issue.

David Newnes concludes: “While the level of buy-to-let lending has been rejuvenated and is now climbing out of the doldrums, this is still short of historic levels. Securing mortgage finance is therefore not just a concern exclusive to first-time buyers, but remains a real and serious challenge for many landlords. Lending to first-time buyers and those without large deposits has itself seen a pick up but still has a long way to go, and the proportion of UK households is only increasing. It is the rental sector that will be continually needed to pick up the slack.

 

“Filling the chasm between supply and demand is also reliant on the rising number of buy-to-let investors accessing the affordable mortgages required, thus allowing them to further widen the pool of rental accommodation on offer.”

News Headlines – Sunday 22nd December

Property

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors predicts average house prices will rise in Britain by 8% next year and last Thursday the Council for Mortgage Lending revealed that the amount of money lent to borrowers in November rose to £17bn, up by more than 30% on the same period last year. Andrew Bailey, deputy governor of the Bank of England warned homebuyers there will be a clampdown on house purchases if there is any evidence that rising prices are spiralling out of control. Mortgage lending is overseen by the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) which has the power to make banks hold back more money on balance sheets for every mortgage offered and can reduce loan-to-value ratios, making products such as 95% mortgages more expensive for homebuyers. Mr Bailey said controls could include strengthening the tests buyers have to go through before acquiring a mortgage and increasing the amount of capital banks have to hold against household lending.

Economy

Advanced economies will get their ‘mojo’ back in 2014 as the UK wins back medal as the fastest growing major European economy next year according to recent headlines. PwC said Britains; brighter growth prospects could also move it in line to be the fastest growing economy in the G7. The UK economy is expected to grow by 3% next year which would move it closer in line with America for the title of the strongest growing advanced economy in the world. There’s an air of optimism, as improving consumer confidence is expected to result in higher business investment. Despite the long journey towards recovery, for the first time people feel things are really starting to pick up.

Personal Finance

Shoppers are expected to splash out more than £5 billion in just four days in a boost for flagging retailers. Last weekend was said to be the busiest of the year for the high street with 31 million visits over two days. Barclays predicts that £5.2 billion will be spent on credit cards between yesterday and Christmas Eve and more than £1.1 billion will be spent on Tuesday alone as a vast proportion of people have left their Christmas shopping late due to the fact Christmas falls midweek.

LSL BUY-TO-LET INDEX: RENTS RISE TWICE AS FAST AS WAGES OVER PAST YEAR

  • Rents rise 1.6% in twelve months – compared to 0.8% annual growth in weekly earnings
  • Average rent in England and Wales now stands at £753 per month, despite seasonal dip
  • Landlords see record 8.9% total return over last twelve months, or £14,592
  • Tenant finances improve in time for Christmas, as proportion of late rent drops to 6.6%

Rents have risen at twice the annual rate of weekly earnings, according to the latest Buy-to-Let Index from LSL Property Services plc, which owns the UK’s largest lettings agent network, including national chains Your Move and Reeds Rains.

Average rents across England and Wales now stand at £753 per month as of November, up 1.6% compared to November 2012.

By comparison wages have risen by just 0.8% on an annual basis.  Average regular pay before tax stands at £1941 per month, according to the latest official figures.[1]

Rents across England and Wales remain significantly higher than a year ago, despite a recent seasonal drop of 0.7% (or approximately £5) in the month since October 2013.

November also witnessed annual growth in lettings activity. The number of new tenancies agreed across England and Wales increased by 1.5% compared to November 2012. This was despite a slowdown on a monthly basis, with 6.3% fewer new lettings than in October.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of estate agents Reeds Rains and Your Move, comments:Economic reality now resembles the most optimistic dreams of last year.  But for so many households, the dream of homeownership is still relegated to the imagination.

“It’s not just wages.  Savings rates have been swamped by inflation for half a decade – so building up even a 5% deposit is a real struggle.  Help to Buy is having a perceptible impact, with thousands of first time buyers benefiting already.  Yet millions of new households have joined the queue at the bottom of the housing ladder – and private renting is the only tenure to have taken up much slack.”

Rents by region

Eight out of ten regions saw rents fall on a monthly basis between October and November, in line with a monthly fall across England and Wales as a whole.

The sharpest monthly drop was in the West Midlands, with rents down 2.6% since October. This was followed by a fall of 1.8% in the South East and a 1.3% monthly decrease in the East of England.

However, the South West experienced rent increases of 1.1% between October and November, while rents in Wales also rose slightly on a monthly basis, up by 0.2%.

On an annual basis, London saw the steepest rent rises – 4.4% higher than in November 2012. This was followed by a 3.4% annual increase in the South West, while rents in the South East are 3.2% higher than twelve months ago.

Meanwhile, rents in the East of England have fallen by 5.5% (or £42) over the last year. This was followed by a 2.8% annual drop in the West Midlands, while rents in both the North East and Yorkshire and the Humber are 2.0% lower than November 2012.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of estate agents Reeds Rains and Your Move, comments: “Economic recovery is spreading throughout the UK.  And the property market is the leading edge of that wave.  As the home purchase situation heats up, the effect on the rental market is even less uniform – with rises accelerating in some areas and slowing in others.  Across the UK, every town and city is its own market, and requires local knowledge.”

Yields and Returns

Gross yields on a typical rental property remained steady at 5.3% in November, consistent with the past three months.  However, taking into account capital accumulation and void periods between tenants, total annual returns on an average rental property rose to 8.9% in November. This is up from 8.1% in October – with the increase due to accelerating house price rises. In absolute terms this represents an average return of £14,592, with rental income of £8,243 and capital gain of £6,349.

If rental property prices continue to rise at the same pace as over the last three months, the average buy-to-let investor in England and Wales could expect to make a total annual return of 10.5% over the next 12 months, equivalent to £17,294 per property.[2]

David Newnes comments: “Over twelve months the availability and affordability of buy to let finance has achieved a quiet revolution – with a very real effect on the private rented sector.  Demand for homes to rent is still soaring, yet heavy investment by landlords in 2013 has brought rent rises in most areas below inflation.  In 2014, one thing will remain certain – demand from new tenants will continue to grow.  Supply of new homes to rent will be critical in maintaining relatively affordable annual rent rises, compared to rampant house prices.”

Tenant Finances

Tenant finances improved in November, with the total amount of late rent across England and Wales reaching a new record low of £228 million.  Since November 2012 the total amount of late rent has fallen by £20 million. As a proportion, such tenant arrears now represent 6.6% of all rent, down from 7.1% in October, and significantly lower than 7.4% of all rent in arrears in November 2012.

David Newnes concludes: “Homes of all tenures have become more expensive for most people.  That’s partly because the UK is poorer than it was five years ago, with wages only gradually struggling to recover.  But more fundamentally, housing is also becoming more expensive because there aren’t enough homes to keep up with an expanding population.

“Building more homes at a serious pace is the only way to avoid the risk of stagnation in the housing market – the property industry cannot grow by competing ever more fiercely over fixed resources.  But to make new homes affordable they will also need to be purpose built for all tenures.  Private renting has been growing for decades, and new supply will need to cater for the sector for decades to come.”


[1] Office for National Statistics data, updated 18/12/13: http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/lms/labour-market-statistics/december-2013/index.html

 

[2] Assuming house prices change at the average rate of the last three months and they achieve the average yield of 5.3%.

 

Paper Summary: 18th December 2013

Property
A new record 400,000 property owners are now property millionaires, that’s translates as twice as many as five years ago according to Zoopla. The number of homes worth £1 million or more has increased by a third over the past twelve months, thanks to soaring house prices in London and South East. The lack of supply of new homes in the capital was to a great extent responsible for driving forward a further 57,120 over the £1 million mark which equates to 156 new property millionaires a day in the capital throughout 2013, as shown by Zoopla. Prices are still rising according to the latest ONS figures, by 5.5% in the past 12 months, and the rise is even higher in London, jumping by 12%. Marsh & Parsons highlighted that prices are at more than double the rate of other areas , while Prime London continues to be a honeypot for UK and overseas buyers, as demand remains intense. As a result, LSL highlights that first time buyers are still having to leap higher than ever before to join the property ladder.

Personal Finance
Over half of UK shoppers are heading to discount shops, visiting an Aldi or Lidl figures revealed, for the first time ever. More than 13 million used the budget stores in the past three month, up from 46.1% a year ago. As a result all of the big four grocers have lost market share, as the so-called budget shops now make up a combined seven per cent of the total market. Credit crunch bargains are proving attractive across the country, as value continues to be a great incentive. Although Lidl and Aldi may not be as prevalent in London, more common in regions where shoppers can drive to do a food shop, this is likely to change, as more shops are expected to open next year. The type of customers are also said to be changing – those known as ABC1s (the traditional middle classes) make up just 25% of shoppers in 2011. Last year that rose to 41%, proving that Aldi is no longer the store of the cash strapped student.

Economy
Britons believe that securing growth as their top economic priority is more significant than higher wages according to a survey for the Independent. The ComRes survey findings suggest that the Conservatives message on the economy may resonate more than Labour’s campaign on reducing the cost of living. Their competing messages will lead to a fierce battle in the run up to the 2015 election. It’s interesting to note that in a list of important priorities over the next five years from a range of options, at the top was ensuring the economy continues to grow, followed by ensuring wages increase faster than prices, thirdly keeping inflation down and finally reducing the deficit. Now that the economy is growing the Tories will take comfort in the fact that that the findings show people view growth as the top factor.

Recruitment
More than half of the UK is said to be ripe for fracking according to a new Government report by engineering giant Amec, that shows a shale gas boom could create up to 32,000 new jobs. These plans have been met with mixed responses with some arguing it will cast a dark shadow over many communities in Britain who could now face the threat of fracking in their backyard. A new licensing round to enable firms to search for shale gas will begin in the summer. There could be between 14 and 51 vehicle movements to a fracking site each day over a 32 to 145-week period which could have a serious impact on traffic congestion, noise or air quality, depending on existing roads, traffic and air quality.

LSL / Acadata Scotland HPI News Release

Scottish house prices up £1,368 since October 2012

  • On a monthly basis prices fall marginally by £206
  • House prices in Aberdeen set another record high
  • Sales over the last three months are 23% higher than last year

 

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£144,084

195.4

-0.1

1.0

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, part of LSL Property Services, comments: “It’s clear the Scottish housing market is being restored to health. Sales are substantially better and prices are entering a period of prosperity, fuelled by rising consumer confidence and demand. October is the second consecutive month in which the annual change in prices has been positive, a trend that has not been visible since early 2011. Average prices have risen £1,368 over the past year in Scotland, while lending levels are improving rapidly as economic conditions perk up as is being seen across the UK.

“With the easing of mortgage lending conditions, first-time buyers are having a much easier ride. There is now a better range of competitively priced products with lower deposit requirements, thanks in part to the backing from the government’s schemes. So far 2013 is seeing the greatest amount of sales recorded over the last five years. Record low interest rates have sent the market into another realm. Sales have shot up by 23% for the three months of August, September and October 2013 compared to the same period last year. At the bottom end, shoots of first-time buyer activity mean the market is blossoming, a factor that’s giving the whole market a lift.

“After a period of slow movement, it is reassuring to see home mover and remortgage lending is also showing a boost in levels. People are now more confident in their plans to sell their current homes and buy somewhere else as signs show the path ahead in 2014 looks stable. The Help to Buy scheme will take on more prominence early next year and will be the main driving force pushing up house price growth and buyer activity.

“The recent news that the Funding for Lending scheme will be axed has created an element of uncertainty. But the underlying fact is that the recovery has only just begun. Lending is still only slightly above half the levels seen at the peak of the market, so there is much space for growth. The referendum next year on independence from the UK could have an impact on Scotland’s housing market. But if investors hold on to see what the effect will be, it may unsettle the market and hamper its ability to create the much needed new housing supply in the meantime.”

Wriglesworth Paper Summary 20/11/13

Economics

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (or OECD) has revised down its expectations for global growth – to 2.7% this year, from 3.1% expected back in May. OECD economists cite the trouble in the USA over levels of government debt and the resulting shutdown, alongside the United States federal reserve and the effects of slowing down their digital money printing tactics. In the Financial Times, Martin Wolf discusses the limits on global growth and, perhaps controversially, puts the blame on an excess of savings across the world. (FT p.15)

However, for the UK, the OECD report was flowing with more optimism – for the time-being at least – as the British economy is set to grow by 1.4% in 2013, and by an expected 2.4% over the course of next year. (FT p.3)

Personal Finance

In today’s Independent, the front page blares the warning of “Britain’s next debt time-bomb”. As if the current struggles with government overspending weren’t enough, it seems that a new threat is developing from levels of personal debt. According to the Centre for Social Justice, 3.9 million British families lack savings to cover even one month’s mortgage or rent. In total, households owe the equivalent of 94% of the UK’s economic output, according to the CSJ. Meanwhile Andrew Grice, political editor at the Indie, says some ministers are concerned that excessively low interest rates are not encouraging people to pay down debt as fast as in some other countries.
(The Independent, p.1, p.14)

Property

Yorkshire Building Society is today announcing 36 new mortgage offers, adding to the spate of new 95% mortgages coming onto the market. According to the Daily Mail (page 10) , the number of 95% mortagges on the market has now reached over 100, up from 64 yesterday and 42 last month. But – there is still some way to go until lost ground is made up – the number of these 95% mortgages stood at 986 back in August 2007.

Recruitment

This morning’s City A.M. leads with the headline “Too many grads not enough jobs” –covering statistics released yesterday from the ONS on graduates in the labour market. Almost half of the UK’s recent graduates now in employment are not making full use of their skills, with 47% working in “non-graduate jobs”, where their work does not require a degree. Despite recent economic growth the graduate unemployment rate has also barely fallen since 2009, now standing at 8.82% compared to 8.99% four years ago in the brimstone of recession. In the Daily Telegraph, Andrew Hunter of jobs search engine Adzuna puts this in the context of wider improvements in the job market – with just 1.9 jobseekers now competing for each vacancy, compared to 2.3 at this point last year, though he adds, “But for those who are fresh out of university, the prospects of finding that first job remain gloomy”.

On a less gloomy note for graduates, a degree might still seem like a good idea compared to other routes – those with a degree still have much better chances than those without. On the other side of the fence, those with just GCSE qualifications have to wait until the age of 32 before their wages “level out at £19,000”. (The Guardian, p.7)