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May 21, 2024

Record Highs in Rightmove House Price Index

The May 2024 Rightmove House Price Index reveals record-breaking trends in the UK property market. The average asking price for properties has surged to a new high of £375,131, an increase of 0.8% (£2,807) from the previous month. This growth is attributed to the Spring selling season, which typically exerts upward pressure on prices. Despite this rise, the market remains sensitive, with average asking prices only 0.6% higher than a year ago. The top-of-the-ladder sector, encompassing large homes, leads this growth with a 1.3% increase compared to last year. Pent-up demand from buyers who postponed their plans last year is driving increased activity, even though mortgage rates remain high. Sales agreed in the first four months of 2024 are 17% higher than the same period in 2023, surpassing the 12% increase in new sellers. However, the lengthy process from sale agreement to legal completion remains a challenge, averaging 154 days. Sellers hoping to move by Christmas should act now, as it takes over seven months from listing to completion. Rightmove's data shows that properties priced correctly from the outset sell significantly faster, averaging 32 days to find a buyer, compared to 112 days for properties needing a price reduction. For first-time buyers, affordability remains a key issue. The index considers average mortgage payments, rent, and borrowing capacity based on earnings to evaluate affordability trends. Rightmove’s index, based on data from over 13,000 estate agency branches, provides real-time insights into the housing market, reflecting asking prices at the start of the selling process. #UKHousingMarket #PropertyPrices #RightmoveIndex #RealEstateTrends #HomeBuying #SpringSellingSeason

May 16, 2024

The Rise of Ultra-Long Mortgages Among UK's Under-30 Homebuyers

In recent years, a noticeable surge in ultra-long mortgages has emerged among young homeowners in the UK. Estimates suggest that hundreds of thousands of individuals have embarked on mortgage agreements that extend well into their retirement years, marking a significant shift in housing finance trends. Figures from the Bank of England highlight this phenomenon, indicating a rising share of new mortgages with maturity dates stretching beyond the state pension age, particularly among the under-30 demographic. This trend has been partly fuelled by the prevalence of higher mortgage rates, prompting many to opt for extended repayment periods as a means to manage costs effectively. However, while longer mortgage terms may offer short-term financial relief, they come at a price. As borrowers commit to paying off their mortgages over extended periods, they inevitably incur higher interest payments, leading to an overall increase in the cost of homeownership. Insights from a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, spearheaded by Sir Steve Webb, former pensions minister and current partner at pensions consultancy LCP, shed light on the challenges young homebuyers face. Webb emphasizes the dilemma faced by many young individuals, forced to gamble with their retirement prospects by committing to ultra-long mortgages. Clearing such debts using limited retirement savings poses a significant risk of financial instability in old age, he warns. While longer mortgage terms may offer temporary relief, the flexibility to switch to shorter terms in the future remains an option for many borrowers. Changes in income or housing circumstances may prompt homeowners to reconsider their mortgage arrangements, opting for shorter terms when feasible. The duration of this trend hinges on various factors, including fluctuations in mortgage rates and economic conditions. Data from the Bank of England reveals a notable increase in the proportion of new mortgages extending beyond retirement age, with approximately 42% of new mortgages in this category compared to 31% just two years prior. The pressure on young homeowners is evident, with a sharp rise in the proportion of mortgages extending beyond pension age, particularly among those under 30. Over a two-year period, the number of homeowners under 30 taking out such mortgages more than doubled, while those under 40 saw a 30% increase. Conversely, older age groups witnessed a decline in similar mortgage arrangements. These trends unfold amidst two years of upheaval in the mortgage market, characterized by significant fluctuations in interest rates. However, recent signals from the Bank of England hint at potential relief, with speculation of base rate cuts on the horizon. For homeowners grappling with affordability concerns, various strategies can help alleviate financial strain. Making overpayments during low fixed-rate periods, considering interest-only mortgages to manage monthly payments, or exploring longer mortgage terms can provide avenues for greater affordability and financial stability in homeownership. In conclusion, the rise of ultra-long mortgages among the UK's under-30 demographic reflects the evolving landscape of housing finance. While offering temporary relief, these trends underscore the importance of careful financial planning and consideration of long-term implications for young homeowners navigating the complexities of the housing market.

May 10, 2024

Opening The Gates - Episode 4: April 2024 UK Property Market Update

Welcome to the fourth installment of "Opening The Gates: UK Property Market Update." In this episode, I delve into a comprehensive review of the April 2024 property market, offering a detailed comparison with data from both April 2024, April 2023 and April over recent years. My primary goal is to equip estate agents with invaluable insights, expert analysis, and the most current information on the ever-evolving UK property market. Throughout the episode, I'll be drawing from a diverse array of sources, including property portals, lenders, Land Registry, and more, to provide a holistic perspective. ? Join a community of proactive estate agents committed to staying ahead of the curve by subscribing and hitting the notification bell? Stay informed about the latest developments shaping the UK property market landscape. #OpeningTheGates #UKPropertyMarketUpdate #EstateAgentInsights

May 10, 2024

April 2024 UK Property Market Update

We are now a third of the way through the year, Spring has arrived (kind of) and the property market is certainly starting to show signs of heating up even if the weather isn’t quite yet! The number of properties for sale, new listings entering the market and sales being agreed were all on the up in April when compared to previous years, which is evidence that confidence is returning to the market. Both the average asking prices of new properties coming to market and those having sales agreed were also on the rise in April 2024. Mortgage approvals were on the up in March and hit their highest number since September 2022. All of the above are signs that mortgage rates plateauing at around 4.5% (5-year fixed rate at 75% LTV) and mortgage payments being 61% higher than three years ago are not dampening the appetite of people wanting to move home or causing property prices to fall. There also appears to be an increased commitment from serious sellers with a lower number of properties withdrawing from the market in April and a higher number of sellers reducing their asking price to entice buyers. However, it must be noted that an increase in the number of properties reducing their asking price also shows that some sellers are perhaps being too optimistic with their initial asking prices. Whilst there is positive sentiment in the market, sellers must remember that buyers have more choice, and lower budgets, which means if you do not price competitively they will shop elsewhere. Rightmove have reported that reduced properties are 20% less likely to sell versus those that price correctly from the outset and those that end up selling will take 2.5x as long to do so.  This is also evidenced by the number of sales falling through being higher than in recent years, which means if things are not quite right a buyer will walk away from a transaction knowing there are other options for them to buy. In conclusion, we appear to be in a pretty stable and normal property market if there is such a thing, where both buyers and sellers are making the decision to make a move if the price and conditions are right. This is not such a bad thing following the ups and downs of the property market between 2020 and 2023. Perhaps a prolonged period of stability in the market will give potential homemovers the confidence to enter the market. If you would like to discuss the market in more detail, please do feel free to contact me and I will be very happy to help.  Thank you for reading.

May 9, 2024

Navigating the Impact of Interest Rates: What You Need to Know

As the Bank of England maintains its interest rates at 5.25% this May, speculation about forthcoming cuts looms on the horizon, promising potential relief later in the year. Understanding the Ripple Effect of Interest Rates Interest rates wield significant influence over mortgages, credit cards, and savings rates, touching the lives of millions across the UK. But what exactly are interest rates and why do they fluctuate? Simply put, an interest rate signifies the cost of borrowing money or the return on saving it. The Bank of England's base rate, the benchmark for other lenders, dictates the rates at which financial institutions extend loans, impacting everything from mortgage rates to savings interest. These rates are dynamic, subject to the ebb and flow of the economy, particularly in response to inflation—a key concern for the Bank of England, which aims to maintain it around 2%. But when can we anticipate a decrease in UK interest rates? With the current rate marking a 16-year high, questions arise about the delay in rate adjustments despite a noticeable decline in inflation. However, the Bank exercises caution, awaiting further evidence of inflationary slowdowns before committing to a rate cut. While June holds potential for a cut pending inflation and wage data releases, a reduction later in the summer appears more probable, balancing the imperative to curb inflation against safeguarding economic growth. The Impact on You: Mortgage, Credit, and Savings For homeowners, fluctuating interest rates translate into immediate changes in mortgage payments for approximately 1.2 million individuals on tracker and standard variable rate deals. Even those on fixed-rate mortgages face implications for future deals, amidst a market where rates are notably higher than in previous years. The influence extends beyond mortgages, affecting credit card and loan interest rates, where lenders may adjust rates in anticipation of Bank of England movements. Conversely, savers feel the impact through fluctuating returns on their deposits, urging consumers to explore competitive deals amid a landscape of minimal interest offerings. Global Trends in Interest Rates While the UK grapples with its interest rate trajectory, other major economies, including the US and the EU, have paused rate hikes, with downward adjustments on the horizon. Despite being among the G7 economies with the highest rates, the UK mirrors this trend, signaling a broader global shift towards easing monetary policies. Navigating the realm of interest rates requires vigilance and foresight, as individuals and economies alike adapt to the ever-evolving financial landscape.

Feb 10, 2024

UK Housing Market Outlook: January Sees Highest House Price Rises in a Year

As the curtains drew on January, the UK housing market saw a surge in house prices, marking the most substantial increase in a year. The Halifax, one of the nation's leading mortgage lenders, reported this rise, attributing it to the continued easing of mortgage rates alongside other favorable economic indicators. According to the Halifax, a combination of factors contributed to this upward trend. A slowdown in inflation coupled with a robust job market created an environment conducive to property price appreciation. The average cost of a home now stands at £291,029, reflecting a notable 2.5% jump from January 2023. These figures emerge amidst significant industry news, including the announcement of Barratt's acquisition of Redrow in a landmark £2.5 billion deal. This strategic move comes at a time when housebuilders have grappled with challenges like higher interest rates and escalating construction costs over recent years. However, the tide seems to be turning, with expectations of rate cuts and a deceleration in inflation instilling newfound confidence in the housing market. Despite this optimism, Halifax cautioned that interest rates, although showing signs of improvement, remain relatively high compared to historical lows, potentially deterring prospective buyers. First-time buyers, in particular, are feeling the pinch, facing average deposits of £53,414. This financial hurdle has prompted a shift towards joint purchases, with nearly two-thirds of new buyers opting for this route, as noted by Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages. While acknowledging the current uptrend in house prices, Halifax underscored the importance of acknowledging lingering affordability challenges. Ms. Kinnaird emphasized that such challenges may persist in the foreseeable future, especially against the backdrop of broader economic uncertainties. Halifax's house price data, while insightful, excludes cash buyers and buy-to-let transactions, accounting for about a third of housing sales. Additionally, first-time buyers and homeowners seeking to remortgage properties have faced increased borrowing costs due to the Bank of England's decision to maintain interest rates at a 16-year high of 5.25% since August 2023. However, there's hope on the horizon, with experts predicting a potential rate cut as early as summer, fueled by anticipated inflation deceleration. This positive outlook has already translated into better mortgage rates, providing relief to first-time buyers and those seeking to refinance their homes. Looking ahead, the housing market appears to be gaining momentum, buoyed by improving sentiment and lower mortgage rates. Barratt's recent acquisition of Redrow reflects this optimism, with both companies eyeing a joint effort to address the UK's housing needs. In summary, while challenges persist, there's a palpable sense of optimism within the UK housing market. With favorable economic indicators and strategic industry moves, stakeholders are poised to navigate the evolving landscape with resilience and determination.