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”. 

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Scottish house prices up by £2,146 in November – highest monthly rise since June 2007

LSL / ACADATA SCOTLAND HPI

  • Over three quarters of Scottish regions see price rises in November
  • Average prices in Aberdeen set another record high

 

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£146,238

198.3

1.5

2.6

Donald MacLellan, Chairman of Walker Fraser Steele Chartered Surveyors, part of LSL Property Services, comments: “The property market in Scotland is powering on ahead like a freight train. Price rises of £2,146 in November reflect the largest increase in a single month, since June 2007 when prices were up by 1.7%. This is down to the vast influx of first-time buyers, who have stirred up activity from the lower realms of the housing market – accelerating the rate of recovery. Such momentum means there’s cause for renewed optimism in 2014, as the Scottish property market shows it’s making solid progress on all fronts. Prices have picked up at a healthy pace across the country and sales are rising swiftly, as mortgage conditions continue to improve. 

“Strong demand has been pivotal in improving the outlook for the Scottish housing market as confidence has been growing exponentially in the past six months. With lending levels following suit, there are sure signs the Scottish property market is on the fast track to full health. More than three quarters of the country saw price rises in November, showing the recovery has now become nationwide.

“In particular the journey for first time buyers is drastically better than a year ago, reinforced by Government schemes such as Help to Buy. While an enticing circle of mortgage products, low interest rates and higher LTV mortgages have propelled the market to another level, with sale volumes from June to November 2013 up by 22%. The rise in first time buyers has been key as activity from this end of the market has reverberated higher up.

“However, beneath the surface it’s also clear the number of homes on sale falls far short of the level needed to meet demand, which is resulting in climbing house prices. The blatant imbalance between the lack of housing supply and the pent up demand needs to be tackled to allow the market to continue to recover at a sustainable rate.

“Many buyers are understandably unclear over which direction the economy will take over the coming twelve months, with some opting to sit tight in the meantime. The withdrawal of the Funding for Lending scheme is in part responsible for this air of uncertainty. While another obstacle may be the referendum this year on Scottish independence, which could cause a slowdown as potential buyers delay their home purchase in order to await the outcome.”

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.”

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%.

 

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.”

LSL / Acadata House Price Index: Friday 8th November

Transactions and prices continue to climb across the country

  • Prices rise in all regions in England & Wales for first time in three years
  • Most transactions recorded in an October since 2007
  • House prices up 4.3% from a year ago, setting new record high

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£237,161

241.5

0.6

4.3

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services plc, owner of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, comments:

“We’re only at a fraction of the heights seen before the credit crunch struck, but still the housing market is a hive of activity. There’s been a tremendous jump in transactions over the past three months – with the most sales recorded in an October since the onset of the crisis. Key to such a surge in activity is the renewed level of confidence seeping back into the market and a plethora of attractive mortgage deals enticing more and more aspiring buyers back into the housing arena. 

“For the first time in nearly three years, all ten regions in England and Wales have seen an increase in prices – an astonishing recovery, one that we can now say is truly national.  Even earlier this year, many regions were still struggling to escape from the resilient grasp of the financial crisis. But in little over six months we’ve seen a drastic improvement in the availability of mortgages and increased lending by the banks to those at the lower end of the spectrum. The increase in demand, in part fuelled by the second phase of Help to Buy having being brought forward, has driven up average house prices across the country by £1,376 over the past month and £9,776 from a year ago. But despite significant rises, the increased availability and competitiveness of mortgages has also opened the door to a new wave aspiring buyers who had previously been persistently locked out. The stark rise in first-time buyer activity in particular has given the speed of recovery an even greater uplift.

“Up and down the country regions are benefiting from the resurgence and experiencing new levels of activity. Up by 26% East Anglia has seen the greatest boost in sales, but even the region with the lowest rise in transactions, the West Midlands, falls only shortly behind rising by 22%. In the face of rises sweeping across the nation, we must ensure that the market doesn’t soar out of reach for those at the bottom of the ladder.

“Over the next year it’s crucial that the Government supports the growth of new house building to meet the growing demand, and prevent properties across the country becoming unaffordable for large portions of the population. But lenders too must share some of the load, as they play a pivotal role in reaching the lower end of the housing market and this can help support a continued and more sustainable rate of recovery into 2014 and beyond.”

Paper Summary for 16th October 2013

Economy

According to a new forecast out today, from the Centre for Economics and Business Research, indicates that the UK’s economy will grow by 1.6% this year ahead of the expectations of major international groups, which is above previous forecasts from other groups. And it is thought that UK economic growth will speed up to 2.7% next year. The CEBR predicts that such rapid growth would be among the best in the developed world, bringing the government’s deficit to 4.7% of GDP. These figures come as welcome news, as the UK was expected to grow by only 1% this year.

Property

Prices have risen swiftly to a record quarter of a million pounds after a climb of 4% in the past year. The price of an average house in the UK shot up past its previous nominal peak during August, reaching record levels again according to  the ONS figures. For first time buyers the rise was even more rapid with prices rising 4.9% over the same period. The north south divide is growing: of the UK’s four countries only England’s average property prices have passed their pre-crisis peak in nominal terms. Banks are more willing to lend borrowers with low depsoits and confidence is rising rapidly. The underlying fact is that English prices are driven by London and the South East with every other region still below their 2008 peak levels. David Newnes of LSL Property Services points out that it is crucial that the growing momentum is also met head on by an increased supply of housing if in order to sustain growth in the long term and make certain future generations of home buyers won’t be priced out of the market.

Recruitment

New research shows that men control the highest positions in marketing, even though 75% of marketers are female, according to recruitment marketing specialist EMR. It is said the likely reason for career progression slowdown is due to women having children and the responsibilities of childcare. The most significant difference is between ages of 30 and 49 where 17% more men reach director positions.

Personal Finance

In a recent Lords debate over the Care bill, which is implementing elements of a review of the UK’s care system by economist Andrew Milmot, the Care minister, Norman Minister said that pensioners with £23,250 plus in savings and assets are “quite wealthy” as he defended plans to prevent some elderly homeowners from deferring the cost of residential care. The Government was blamed for ripping people off on a deal after it came to light that a scheme to defer a person’s care costs until after their death may be available only to people with assets, apart from their home, of less than £23,250. The Shadow care minister responded by saying they’ve discovered many older people must use up other savings and assets before they qualify for help and that many elderly people will feel angry that the Government has tried to pull the wool over their eyes about what the plans really mean.