Average prices up £1,384 in January, setting a new record high

LSL Property / Acadata England & Wales HPI 

  • Monthly sales set to reach 73,000 – the highest in a January since 2007
  • Sales only 4% below January average in the decade before the credit crunch
  • 90% of Unitary Local Authorities now experiencing house price growth

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£241,101

245.5

0.6

5.2

 David Newnes, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move estate agents, owned by LSL Property Services plc, comments: “The UK housing market is roaring further back to life in 2014 as the recovery weighs in across the board.  Prices are now up 5.2% annually, driving the price tag for the average home to a new high. Mostly this is due to much increased activity, with increased demand for property buoyed by low interest rates and Help to Buy, combined with hot competition for homes. This boost in sales has seen an air of optimism encapsulate the market. While 2013 was a turning point in the recovery, 2014 is set to be a watershed year if the next few months continue in the same vein.

“Last month saw the largest rise in sales over the past year, up 67% annually, with transaction levels crucially only 4% below the January average seen in the decade before the credit crunch. This astounding turnaround can largely be pinned down to the resurgence of the first-time buyer. The wide range of attractive mortgage deals on offer, cheaper rates and wider product choice has been pivotal. Such rises in new buyers has spurred on activity further up the ladder and inspired movement among second steppers, which will prove vital in sustaining a healthy rate of sales activity.

“The recovery has now been rolled out far and wide, with the good news coming in from more and more Your Move and Reeds Rains branches up and down the country. Price rises have now spread to 90% of unitary local authorities – the greatest number since August 2010. With mortgages still historically cheap and interest rates set to remain stable for the time being, we’ll continue to see new buyers will rush to the market nationwide. However, even so, price growth and sales levels are still behind their pre-crisis peaks so we’re still some way from the ill-fated ‘bubble zone’.

“Regionally, we’re seeing a ripple effect emerging from London. Heat from the capital is emanating out further with traditional hotspots being the first to reap the benefits of recovery; particularly southern England and East Anglia before moving north through the Midlands. Although we’re still seeing a North-South divide, this is gradually being eroded. The West Midlands has this month broken the mould as growth has surged past the rate seen in the South West region, with Reeds Rains branches across the region reporting a large jump in prices in January compared to the preceding month.

“With greater economic prosperity, confidence between banks and lenders has been cemented further which will no doubt fuel the engine of recovery in the months ahead. While similarly first-time buyers are set to swim further across the sea of adversity to secure a home. But it is crucial both aren’t scuppered and that the Government’s housing plans come to fore with a continued focus on supply. This will ensure the recovery reaches the finish line and a generation doesn’t get priced out of the market”. 

Paper Summary – Monday 20th January

Economics

  • Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London & Westminster writes in the Daily Telegraph business section that the interest rate has provided UK business and individuals alike with breathing space.  Nevertheless, the real question that should be foremost in the minds of policymakers after five straight years of emergency monetary stimulus, is at what cost to the nation’s long-term economic interests?  Field feels the young and middle-class savers who are being significantly impoverished by Treasury policies.  He says today’s young people grapple with sky-high rents and house prices, a less secure employment market and increasing personal debt.  But, he says, ultra-low interest rates carry a cost – and it’s starting to rack up.

 

Recruitment & Employment

  • Writing in today’s Daily Mail, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Home Secretary Theresa May announce a crackdown on jobless immigrants seeking to access housing benefit.  In the Mail’s leaders it backs IDS to the hilt: “Any doubts that Iain Duncan Smith’s crusade against welfare dependency is having the desired effect should be dispelled by an extraordinary set of figures published today.  They show that in the last five years of the Labour government the number of British people in work fell by 413,000, while the number of migrants employed soared by 736,000.  Yet since the 2010 election that depressing trend has been completely reversed, with 538,000 Britons finding new jobs compared with 247,000 foreigners.”  In an interview with The Independent, shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has said that a Labour government would deny people unemployment benefit if they are unable to demonstrate that they have the basic skills needed to find work after six weeks on the dole.  The Mirror’s leader piece comes out strongly against Reeves’ plans – “Make Jobs, not exams’ is the headline.

 

 

Property

  • In The Times, Deidre Hipwell reports that criticism of the Government’s Help to Buy initiative from a City financiers who has warned that London’s housing market is overheating, as research shows asking prices are rising by record amounts.  Nigel Wilson, the chief executive of Legal & General said house prices in London and the South East had reached “absurd” levels and would soon only be affordable to the wealthy.  He said young people were being encouraged to buy homes in “over- leveraged” situations and warned that the Government should stop stoking demand through its Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.

 

Personal Finance

  • The Independent reports a fourth capital raise at Metro Bank has brought in £387.5m to aid growth, taking the total equity raised to £641m. Founder and Chairman Vernon W Hill said: ‘The revolution in British banking continues, with strong support from existing and new investors.’  Elsewhere in the sector, Treasury officials are believed to be considering a second sale of Lloyds shares as early as mid-February, following publication of the bank’s annual results on February 13 – that story runs in the Daily Mail.

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.”

First-Time Buyers Rise 28% Year-on-Year in November as Average Mortgage Rates Fall to Lowest in Three Years

Image

The number of first-time buyers climbed 28% year-on-year in November thanks in part to the lowering of mortgage rates by lenders, according to the latest First Time Buyer Tracker from LSL Property Services.

 

Transactions

Average Purchase Price (£)

Average LTV

November 2013

27,800

£149,404

81.3%

October 2013

26,800

£149,375

81.1%

1 month change

+3.7%

+0.0%

+0.2% (from 81.1%)

3 month change

+5.3%

+1.7%

+1.0% (from 80.3%)

1 year change

+28.1%

+11.4%

 +2.2% (from 79.1%)

There were 27,800 first-time buyer sales in November, 6,100 more than a year ago, showing improvements in the first-time buyer market are gathering even greater momentum.

The average first-time buyer LTV rose to 81.3%, the highest since September 2011, in a sign of the increased availability of mortgages as banks become more willing to lend to those with smaller deposits. As a result the average deposit size fell to £27,942, a 3.4% fall in the past three months, attracting more aspiring buyers back into the market.

Deposits consequently now represent a smaller proportion of first-time buyer incomes, with the average deposit of a new buyer equalling 76.6% of annual income, a 5.8% fall over the course of the last twelve months.

The increase in first-time buyer activity has also been fuelled by the improved affordability of mortgages. In November the average mortgage rate fell to 3.93%, down 0.8% since last year, with banks having being able to pass cheap credit from Funding for Lending onto borrowers.

But there are warning signs ahead, with rising house prices potentially threatening to price the next wave of first-time buyers out of the market. The average purchase price for a first-time buyer rose by 11.4% year-on-year in November, and now stands at £149,403 – up £15,340 in the last twelve months.

Similarly, although the cheaper rates meant that mortgages were more affordable for first-time buyers, the proportion of income represented by mortgage repayments is starting to creep up as house prices rise. Mortgage repayments have increased 0.1% in the past month and 0.4% over the past three months, despite consistently falling mortgage rates.

First-Time Buyer Affordability

 

Average deposit (£)

Deposit as proportion of income

Average mortgage rate

Mortgage repayment as proportion of income

November 2013

£27,942

76.6%

3.93%

21.0%

October 2013

£28,243

77.5%

3.94%

20.9%

1 month change

-1.1%

-0.9%

-0.01%

+0.1%

3 month change

-3.4%

-3.6%

-0.02%

+0.4%

1 year change

-0.4%

-5.8%

-0.79%

-0.2%

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, said: “There has been a revival in the first-time buyer market over the past twelve months, with sales increasing by nearly a third. Mortgages are much more affordable, which has opened the door to welcome in thousands of aspiring homeowners who had previously been locked out of the market. A boost in economic confidence has attracted more buyers back to bricks and mortar, while banks have equally been far more prepared to lend to those with smaller deposit sizes.

“Rates have fallen, and there is now an array of attractive deals on offer for shrewd first-time buyers, which has made mortgages far easier to secure. The spark has been government schemes like Funding for Lending and the equity loan first phase of the Help to Buy scheme. Although Funding for Lending has been cut back, the mortgage guarantee scheme, second phase of Help to Buy introduced in October, will really kick into gear in the next few months. It will be this that will carry the torch through into 2014.”

“However there is a flipside to the coin. Prices are rising and there is simply not enough housing stock to match continued demand, meaning this will continue well into 2014. If demand is not satisfied by supply, then sustainable growth will be hampered and future first-time buyers will once again be left out in the cold. We need far more homes, particularly at the lower end of the spectrum if we are to sustain a healthy property market.”

On a regional level, there continues to be disparity across the UK with stark differences throughout the country in property values, deposits required and mortgages taken out for those entering the property market. In the three months to November the South East saw the greatest number of first-time buyers, with 15,600 sales across the region, closely followed by London at 13,400. This is despite the fact that first-time buyer properties in the capital and the South East have required the largest average deposits, at £67,623 and £37,788 respectively.

By comparison, in the North West first-time buyers only require an average deposit of £15,791 with an average purchase price of £112,820. This therefore means that new buyers in these Northern regions only have to take out an average mortgage of £97,508, whereas by comparison those in London have an average mortgage of £208,448.

Wales in particular has experienced uplift in first time buyer activity, largely to a required average deposit of just £11,683 and purchase price of £107,038.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, concludes: “Although a flag has been planted in the nationwide recovery, up and down the country we are seeing contrasting fortunes for first-time buyers eager to enter the property market. Price rises in the capital and South East are surging ahead of those in the rest of the country, and the resulting deposits needed to get onto the ladder are following suit. Buyers in the North are faring better in this respect. They have less of a mountain to climb to reach the summit of the required deposit.

“However, while potential homeowners in Northern region have smaller deposits to accrue, they are – as a whole – less cash-rich than those in the capital and the surrounding areas, which therefore necessitates them taking out higher LTV mortgages. With many anticipating a rise in interest rates next year, many new homeowners across the country will feel a greater pressure on their finances – especially with repayments as a proportion of income starting to creep up.

“It is startlingly evident that while the UK-wide latest phase of the Help to Buy scheme is having a positive effect, a more tailored and less of a ‘catch all’ approach is needed.  One that meets the varying needs of aspiring buyers across the regions. This will be crucial in alleviating the regional disparity and preventing the wall of obstacles that first time buyers have to scale from mounting further.”

LSL / Acadata Wales HPI News Release

Welsh house prices rise by £1,125 in October

  • Average house prices up £3,137 since start of 2013
  • Sales at highest level since December 2007
  • New record average price in Cardiff, up 7.4% annually

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£154,696

240.0

0.7

1.4

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors, part of LSL Property Services, comments: “The housing market in Wales has turned over a new leaf and is clearly entering a new phase, with pent up demand and strong competition driving house price growth and rising sales. The market is powering ahead, with prices increasing by £1,125 compared to September, representing the third monthly price rise, while prices are up by £3,137 since January 2013. New buyer enquiries, sales and price expectations are all above the three-month average illustrating the strong headway being made.

 “Sales in particular are now standing at the highest level since December 2007, and momentum is building further – thanks to the boost in consumer confidence and the improving economic picture. Now that mortgage rates have dropped to record lows, aspiring homeowners are starting to have more chance to put together the money required for a deposit. As a result there are bursts of first time buyers pouring into the market with much more zeal, with Wales has seen a higher loan-to-value ratio than elsewhere in the UK. While there’s an improvement in the home movers sector of the market too.

“First-time buyer homes are proving particularly popular in Cardiff. Prices in the capital are up 7.4% on the year, setting a new record price, while many other parts of Wales remain more subdued. Without doubt, Cardiff is a different kettle of fish from London and South Wales is no South East of England, but as a whole the housing market in Wales is making strong strides forward nonetheless. Regionally however, some areas do differ more than others in terms of performance due to their local economies. Wage growth is still slow, and across Wales this will prevent prices from rising too quickly.

“What’s key is that we see steady, house price growth to ensure sustainable growth. When it launches on 2nd January, the Help to Buy Wales shared equity scheme will provide a new opportunity for first- time buyers and existing home owners on new-build properties. But as the scheme is geared up at new-build properties, which represent only a smaller proportion of total housing sales, we expect the scheme will not – by and large – drastically affect overall prices.

“However house-building in Wales is still below pre-recession levels and this supply remains an area that needs to be addressed in order to continue the positive growth. While, the UK Government’s decision to withdraw the Funding for Lending scheme indicates that the more recently announced Help to Buy schemes are offering significant support to the sector, more can be done. In the coming year much will be determined by the development of the jobs market in Wales.”

UK Paper Summary: 25th November 2013

Economics
The front page of the Daily Mail says Britain’s two state-backed banks have been accused of running thousands of small firms by using “disgraceful” business practices.  RBS and Lloyds “harmed their customers through their decisions and caused their financial downfall” according to a bombshell report released today by Laurence Tomlinson.  The report claims RBS acted like a “hit squad” by deliberately causing healthy businesses to go bust for its own gain.

 

Personal Finance
Immigrants and the seriously ill are in line for “a fresh Tory welfare raid” according to Tom McTague, in the Daily Mirror.  More than 500,000 sufferers of long-term conditions such as cancer face losing benefits currently paid to them as they train for a return to work.

 

Property
In the Daily Express, Sarah O’Grady reports that house prices jumped by £7430 last month – and are up £1,300 a week according to estate agency Sequence.  Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors said, “Help to Buy has opened a flood of new buyers, causing prices to surge upwards.”  The second phase of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme was launched in October and offers lenders a taxpayer-backed guarantee on 95 per cent mortgages on homes costing up to £600,000. In the first month, 2,000 sales were arranged.

 

Employment & Recruitment
The FT’s editorial looks at university degrees pointing out that, since the 1963 Robbins report, widening access to university has been a central aim of UK education policy.  Roughly half of young people now study for a degree, against 4 per cent when the report was written.  

university_2525188b

But the FT’s stance is that rising participation is welcome only if the benefits justify the cost: “young people’s horizons will not be widened by pushing university for its own sake.”

Today’s Paper Summary: 15th November 2013

Property

As the Government’s Help to Buy scheme takes off and the economy grows stronger, house prices will increase across the UK by 7% next year and 5% in 2015. The improving economy is expected to transform the country’s property market. Average prices in London will jump by £76 each day in 2014 but every region will enjoy a rate of growth last seen before the financial crisis, according to a new report by Knight Frank. 

Many first-time buyers feel that buying in London is a struggle and that half the battle is finding out what help is available. Recently it was found that third of wannabe homeowners have lost all hope of buying according to L&Q’s housing association. A study of 2,000 under 35’s revealed that despite government help, up to 70% of those who have been saving had given up and blow the cash on holidays, cars or even to pay bills as the state of the market and the recession eliminated their property plans. In London for instance, prices have risen and it is difficult for a vast majority to find affordable accommodation, which has meant shared accommodation has become an option for many people. Shared ownership is said to be a flexible and affordable route – it was originally launched to help low-paid workers buy affordable homes but the part-buy part-rent scheme is now mainstream. 

 Canary Wharf is getting ready to welcome a 74-floor skyscraper. The tower will be Europe’s tallest purely residential building. Ryan Corporation U.K. Ltd. paid 100 million pounds ($160 million) for the site of the proposed skyscraper, the closely held company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The 242-meter (794-foot) high tower would be the tallest in London’s second-largest financial district and the apartments would have a total value of more than 1 billion pounds when it opens in 2018.

Personal Finance

Families could be about to celebrate a drop in the cost of their weekly food shop as Asda fired the opening shots in a new supermarket price war. The company will knock £1 billion off prices over the next five years it said yesterday and accused rivals of ‘gimmicks’ in offering customers vouchers while boosting prices.

Rising energy bills are said to be killing off British poinsettia plants. It is thought the Christmas staple red pot plant will be in short supply this year with growers hit by rising energy costs. For millions of families the plant is as important at Christmas time as the turkey or Christmas tree.  But sadly there may be disappointment as the plant is getting increasingly more expensive to heat, as they need carefully controlled temperatures of between 59F to 68F – and unfortunately soaring fuel bills have driven some growers out of business. 

Economy

News of a slowdown in the Eurozone has created a somewhat a bleak outlook, and has reduced people’s hopes of a rebound as suggested earlier in the year as Europe’s two largest economies stumbled in the second quarter – Germany and France. By contrast, the British economy grew 0.8% in the third quarter this year, it’s most significant level of growth since 2010. The UK economy could reach what the Bank of England officials have referred to as ‘escape velocity’ sooner than until recently expected. The banks Monetary Policy Committee also warned that a global slowdown posed the greatest threat to the recovery. And reports today that disappointing growth figures in the Eurozone and Japan driven by weak export numbers have dashed hopes that a global economic recovery would gather pace in the year’s second half.