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”. 

FOUR IN TEN LANDLORDS EXPECT TO RAISE RENTS OVER NEXT 12 MONTHS

LSL logos colour redefine

  • 42% of landlords expect to increase rents in the next twelve months
  •              One third expect to increase rents by over 1% in 2014
  •              Average estimate of 3.7%, down by 0.9% compared to December 2012

Four in ten landlords anticipate they will raise rents in the next year, 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.

Overall one third of landlords expect they will raise rents above 1% in the next twelve months, with an average estimate of 3.7%, down by 0.9% compared to December 2012. Currently, average rents are rising at an annual rate of 1.5%, according to LSL’s latest Buy-to-Let Index.

Out of those that expect to increase rents, 56% indicated they will do so to cover the cost of inflation. While conversely over half (57%) expect to leave rents unchanged in 2014.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of Your Move and Reeds Rains, comments: “Even with an increase in rental properties available, demand in the private rental sector continues to outstrip supply in many areas, especially in London. In the months ahead, this will enable landlords to push up their rental prices when letting their properties, putting a stop to inflation from eating into their rental income. This is underlined by the fact that covering the cost of inflation is the main reason cited by landlords expecting to increase rents.

“With demand rising, greater emphasis must be on the supply of homes. While the government plans outlined are a welcome move, this is only the start of the long-term solution.”

With current yields at 5.3%, property investment is proving to be a worthwhile alternative to historically low annuity yields and a volatile stock market. Taking into account both capital accumulation and void periods between tenants, total annual returns on an average rental property increased to 8.8% in December, compared to 8.3% in November, reflecting the growth in house prices.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of Reeds Rains and Your Move, comments: “Rising rents are delivering strong yields to investors, making a powerful case for the rental market for those in search of a beneficial, long-term investment.

“However buy-to-let investment is not a license to print money, and it requires the same level of research and planning as any other business investment. The success of the investment depends on the property remaining occupied to deliver ongoing rental income. Before taking the plunge it is important to be aware of factors such as the location of the property, which can determine the level of tenant demand. For instance, those nearest to transport hubs will usually be of the highest demand, especially in larger cities like London.”

FALLING VOID PERIODS

December experienced annual growth in lettings activity, with new tenancies agreed across England and Wales up by 7.7% compared to December 2012. As a result, void periods in private residential property in the UK have fallen, helped by this solid tenant demand. As the UK lettings market powers ahead in 2014, landlords shall continue to benefit from falling void periods, while tenants will face intense competition for the best properties.

David Newnes, concludes: “While void periods are falling, the private rented sector gives tenants flexibility, so as tenants’ circumstances change; there are still occasions when a property might be empty.  Of course, it is in every landlord’s business interest to maintain good, long lasting tenancies and avoid voids. At a time when demand far outstrips supply, it is imperative that empty properties are filled quickly, following any necessary maintenance and improvements. Landlords can minimise void periods by talking openly with their tenants about their future plans – in order to prepare for when the property might be empty. Overall there’s an air of optimism surrounding the rental market now that inflation is firmly back on track as wage expectations start to improve. A rise in affluent tenants will help further boost the success of the private rental sector this year.”lsl-property-services-logo

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 ENGLAND & WALES HPI

House prices up £11,219 from a year ago, fastest rate in three years

  • Prices rise by £1,400 in November, reaching new record
  • On an annual basis prices increase in all regions for the second consecutive month
  • By the end of 2013 sales set to be 16% higher than 2012

 

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£238,839

243.2

0.6

                     4.9

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services plc, owner of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, comments: “The housing market is almost unrecognisable from twelve months ago. Not only have average prices climbed to a new record high – with an annual rise of £11,219 and a monthly increase of £1,400 – but we’ve seen an increase in every region for the second month running – a true sign that the nationwide recovery is really taking off. The LSL house price index incorporates all transactions including cash.

“Competition is strong through rising demand and supply of new instructions not growing , a factor that will continue to prop up prices in the long term. Confidence is higher throughout the market, with the Help to Buy scheme and record low interest rates contributing to the positivity. Over the second part of this year, consumer confidence has snowballed as the economic picture improves, leading to a significant rise in sales. The increased availability of mortgages, in part thanks to the government’s schemes, and the greater range of mortgage deals on offer has swung open the door to a new host of first-time buyers, making the distant dream of homeownership now a reality for thousands.

“Strong headway is finally being made towards a universal recovery. All ten regions in England & Wales experienced positive movement in prices on an annual basis for the second time in three years. Annually prices have increased in over 80% of local areas up and down the country – the highest percentage since September 2010. The trajectory is clearly upwards. Record high house prices have not only been recorded in the capital, but also in areas of the South East including Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cardiff.

“However, there is still uneven growth in property values across the country. London prices continue to race ahead in a different gear with 9.2% annual growth in the capital vastly outshining the rest of the UK. Between August and October sales in London were up 27% on the same three months in 2012, reflecting intense demand for properties in London, both from domestic and abroad.

“In his Autumn Statement the Chancellor unveiled plans to unleash a further £1 billion to unblock housing development to address the critical shortage in supply. This will play a role in preventing prices rising too far too fast. But this is only the beginning, and it’s vital that house building is given greater attention in 2014 and beyond, in order to ensure the recovery rolls forward at a sustainable level.” 

LSL/ACADAMETRICS WALES HOUSE PRICE INDEX

Welsh house sales maintain the three-and-a-half year high

  • Prices fall but this reflects increased activity by first-time buyers
  • Prices down by £1,530 from the start of the year

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£150,016

232.7

-0.2

-0.9

Oliver Blake, Managing Director of Reeds Rains estate agents, who has branches in Wales comments: “While the housing market across the UK makes a strong recovery, Wales continues to face an uphill struggle. House prices dropped in August and have fallen in nine out of the last twelve months. They fell by £373 in August and are £1,344 lower than twelve months ago.

“However there is cause for optimism as sales activity is growing and first-time buyer activity has bounced back bringing a whole new burst of energy.  House sales in Wales have continued to rise and for the second month running have reached a three and a half year high. It’s hugely positive to see the increase has been largely universal across all sectors of the market. First-time buyers have unlocked property chains, allowing sales to ripple higher up the ladder.

“First-time buyers now make up a larger part of the property market in Wales, which has caused the fall in average house prices. More first-time buyers mean more properties have been purchased at the lower end of the market, therefore lowering the average value. In the long term the rise in first-time buyer activity will make the market healthier, as sales from second-time buyers and home movers will boost levels and help drive prices upwards again.

“On a regional level, Cardiff had the biggest rise in sales in August due to the boost in the sale of detached and semi-detached properties which is barely the preserve of first time buyers. Demand is rising across the board and it is good to see there has been a rise in sales across all buyer types. The Government’s Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes have stimulated the market significantly. An array of attractive mortgage products have entered the market left, right and centre thanks to increased mortgage supply and the rise in competition between lenders. The more progress made in the first-time buyer market, the more likely it is we will see green shoots of recovery and more buyers tempted to step back into the market.

“The Welsh market needs to focus on house building to give it the shot of adrenaline it needs to fuel growth and return to a full recovery.”

LSL/ACADAMETRICS ENGLAND & WALES HOUSE PRICE INDEX

House prices hit fresh record high in September

  • Prices £8,526 higher than one year ago 
  • Up by £1,127 compared to a month ago
  • House sales 12% higher than last year 

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£235,534

239.8

0.5

3.8

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services plc, owner of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, comments: “2013 will be remembered as the year first-time buyers returned to the market. Up until this year the market was still in trouble thanks to the financial crisis. It was a long way from recovery. What a difference six months makes. In that time we’ve seen banks ease criteria on mortgages for people with small deposits, which has opened the door to new buyers who have spent years on the outside looking in. More people are in work. Inflation has begun to ease. And clearer forward guidance on interest rates has brought more certainty and confidence.

“The return of the first-time buyer has triggered a ripple of activity all the way up the housing ladder. It is starting to unclog the blockage at the bottom end of the market, which is helping make the whole system more fluid. Demand has increased significantly in a short space of time, and raced ahead of the supply of homes, which is causing house prices to rise. Think of it as shaking up a can of coke. When it is opened, you get the fizz, froth and overflow. Then it flattens out again. That’s what we’re seeing with the housing market. Demand has been bottled up by a lack of mortgage finance, but now mortgages have been made more accessible the backlog of buyers has spilled onto the market after years of frustration, scrimping and saving.

“But this is still only a fledgling recovery. First-time buyer numbers are still some way short of their historic levels. It is not a ‘boom’. Or a ‘bubble’. It is a market correction, albeit a fairly quick one. The only ‘boom’ is the loud noises coming from alarmists and sensationalists warning about a return to the bad old days of the 2000s. We’re not even close to that. There is no sub-prime mortgage lending, no lending above 95% LTV. Credit checks are tough, rates are fairly high on high LTV mortgages, and lenders now carry out stringent affordability checks for every single mortgage.

“Plenty of would-be buyers in the North of the country are still struggling to get a mortgage and get on the housing ladder. The South East is dominating the market because it has more equity-rich buyers, with London the target for scores of foreign property investors. The improvements in the North are much less pronounced, and there is still plenty of room for improvement. Help to Buy is needed to make the market accessible to the many, not just the few. In the South East, buyers need the scheme because house prices are so high. In the north, house prices are much lower, but so are incomes and wage growth. The whole country will benefit from the scheme. It does, however, need to be complimented by more house building so supply keeps pace with demand, which will make house prices more affordable for future generations.”

LSL/ACADAMETRICS WALES HOUSE PRICE INDEX

Welsh house sales hit a three and a half year high

  • Prices decrease but this reflects increased activity by first-time buyers
  • Prices fall by £1,750 from the start of the year

 

House Price

Index

Monthly Change %

Annual Change %

£149,769

232.3

-0.2

-1.5

Oliver Blake, Managing Director of Reeds Rains estate agents: “The housing market is recovering quickly across most parts of the UK, but not in Wales. House prices have fallen in nine out of the last twelve months. They fell by £250 in July and are £2,241 lower than twelve months previously.

“Things are starting to look up though. First-time buyer activity has had a major boost, providing some comfort amid the trials and tribulations. Sales in Wales reached a three and a half year high in July, thanks to the influence of first time buyers. The Government’s Funding for Lending and Help to Buy schemes have had a positive impact, and the Welsh housing market is slowly but surely moving forward on the road to recovery.  Increased mortgage supply and stronger competition between lenders, resulting in better pricing, have lifted the market.

“The fall in the average house price has been partly caused by the increase in first time buyer activity. Most of the properties being purchased are at the lower end of the price spectrum which drags down the overall average. The rise in first-time buyer activity will make the market more fluid as sales from second-time buyers and home movers will result in levels rising which will start to push prices back up again.

“On a smaller scale, it is clear, regional house price growth is directly linked with the way each area’s immediate economy operates. Employment rates and job expectations are key factors in determining the level of housing demand in the UK. Prices fell in 13 local authorities and rose in 9, and the region with the largest monthly fall (Merthyr Tydfill) had the second highest unemployment rate in Wales. Demand for properties is high, but many Welsh first time buyers are finding it tough to secure a mortgage. Many are still locked out of the market altogether and are having to stay in rental accommodation, which is putting pressure on their personal finances and making it tough to save for a deposit.

“The Government’s role is crucial in driving the rate of recovery forward, as the Welsh market is in need of a revival in new properties in order to promote a healthy housing market. The good news is the lending environment has warmed up and will continue to unlock the pent up demand from first-time buyers.”