UK asking prices fall for the first time in 8 years nationwide [Photo: merron via iStock]

Asking prices have fallen on a monthly basis for the first time in eight years, according to a new study, which suggests a drop in confidence is currently taking place nationwide. 
 
Data published by property portal Rightmove this week found that, over the past month between May and June, there was an average drop in asking price for properties of around 0.4 per cent. It was the first time that there had been a decline in asking prices in monthly terms since the same time of year in 2009. 
 
On an annual basis, there was also a slight fall in June, but asking prices still remain higher than they did a year ago in spite of this. However, the 1.8 per cent growth in asking prices experienced over the last 12 months represents a fall from the three per cent annual growth that was recorded just a month before. 
 
Rightmove's director and housing market analyst Miles Shipside believes that the fact this is the first time for eight years there has been a decline in asking prices shows that there is a certain degree of confidence dropping because of what people are seeing in the news. 
 
"The price of property coming to the market had increased in June in every year since 2009, so buyer confidence has clearly been affected by inflation outstripping their pay packets and current political events."  
 
"It now seems certain that we will have continuing political uncertainty, which the housing market traditionally dislikes, and with the first fall in June prices for eight years there is no doubt that the lack of stability is a factor," Mr Shipside said. 
 
The good news is that even though seller confidence may be down at the moment, demand in the housing market is not particularly so. According to the Rightmove data for June, there were seven per cent more completed sales in June than at the same point in 2016. In the north, this trend was even more prominent, with 11 per cent growth over the same time a year ago.

 

 


UK property listings on the rise in May, but some regions still falter [Photo: gustavofrazao via iStock]

The number of homes for sale grew in May across the UK, new data has shown, allowing the market to bounce back somewhat from a poor April in which new stock levels fell markedly. 
 
In April, HouseSimple previously said, the number of homes that were for sale fell by four per cent nationwide. However, the market has recovered extraordinarily well in May, with a seven per cent rise in available stock helping to wipe out this drop experienced in April. 
 
Overall, it reports, 80 per cent of the towns and cities across the UK experienced a rise in stock levels in May, with Barnsley being the best performer throughout the month, wherein there was a growth of 74.6 per cent in stock. Wolverhampton and Canterbury were also strong throughout the month, with each seeing stock rises of more than 50 per cent. 
 
Alex Gosling, HouseSimple's chief executive, said this latest data shows that there is not the sort of political uncertainty evident in the market that people might expect at the time of a General Election. Given that we are also currently waiting on Brexit outcomes, this is particularly pleasing in 2017.
 
"Political and economic uncertainty surrounding a general election can often see sellers hold off marketing until after the result is known. However, the seven per cent rise in May suggests many sellers aren’t waiting and marketed their properties last month," he said. 
 
However, while the vast majority of areas across the UK have seen rising stock levels in the last few weeks, there are still those that are experiencing sub-standard performance. According to the data from HouseSimple, places like Oldham, Blackburn and Northampton have all seen stock levels fall by around 20 to 25 per cent in May. 

 

 


What will the election mean for the British property market? [Photo: mrtom-uk]

On June 8th, the British public will once again be asked to vote to see who will lead the country for the next five years, after the prime minister Theresa May announced earlier this year that she wants the country to vote on who will lead Britain into its post-Brexit era. 
 
But with only a week to go until the polling stations open, what is each of the main parties promising for the property market? Here, we take a look at just a few of the main points in each of the big parties' manifestos. 
 
Conservatives
 
Should the Conservative party retain its majority in Westminster on June 8th, it will face a number of challenges in the UK property market. While it has previously committed to doing a lot for the sector, there have been critics who claim that the government has not done enough to make its house building targets a reality. Meanwhile, the Conservatives' continued taxation of landlords has seen it criticised time and again. 
 
Despite these criticisms, the Conservative party has made property one of the key points of its manifesto for the upcoming election, with housebuilding in particular at the top of its list. Despite not having yet hit its targets for 2020, the government has promised that it will now increase its efforts and build as many as 1.5 million homes by the end of 2022. At the same time, it has reaffirmed its commitment to carrying out many of the recommendations that came out of the housing whitepaper released earlier this year. 
 
Labour
 

The main opposition to the Conservatives, it's no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party is ready to take a different angle to the government when it comes to the property market in the UK. One of its main commitments is to stop the flow of social housing into the private sector, after it said that it will be looking to suspend the government's Right-To-Buy scheme for the duration of its time in parliament. 

On top of this, the Labour party wants to increase housebuilding, claiming that it would do so at a far higher pace than the government has so far managed to. Mr Corbyn's party wants to see one million properties, plus 100,000 council and housing association homes, built each year between 2017 and 2022. The Labour party also said it would be looking to introduce rent controls to stop tenants from facing annual rises. 
 
Liberal Democrats
 

While the main two parties have committed in a big way to the housing market with their manifestos, the Liberal Democrats have a more scaled down approach to the sector. But nonetheless, the party has made some promises ahead of the election on June 8th. 
 
It said that it will be looking to build as many as 300,000 new homes per year across the coming years, with 30,000 of these due to be rent to own properties. Meanwhile, the party is also committed to providing the UK with at least ten new garden cities across the nation, as well as increasing the pressure on landlords to only let properties that are of a high standard. 

 


How do supermarkets affect the prices of local UK property? [Photo: iStock/merron]

The list of amenities that people want to have near to their home is a long one. Good transport links, the chance for a bit of retail therapy, a strong nightlife, restaurants and high-performing schools are just a few that have topped the list of popular nearby features in recent years. 
 
But how does having access to basic necessities within an easy distance affect the price of UK property? According to a new report published recently, one of the most popular amenities to have near home is a supermarket, with many Brits now looking for the chance to be able to do their weekly shop without having to travel all that far. 
 
As a result of this appetite for groceries near home, the study from Lloyds Bank shows, average property prices near supermarkets have climbed markedly in recent times. It said that the average house near a supermarket is worth £21,512 more than a similar property that does not have such facilities close by. 
 
It would appear that the type of supermarket also makes a difference to the price of the home as well, however, with the data showing that it is those homes near to Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s or Iceland that have managed to command the largest premiums in recent times. 
 
Those properties that are within reachable distance of a Waitrose command the highest price differences, with homes in these areas able to sell for almost £37,000 more than the wider town averages. This is followed by Marks & Spencer, with homes near these stores going for £29,992 more than local averages. 
 
However, although these supermarkets manage to inflate property prices more than any other, the research also discovered that it is those that are closest to budget supermarkets that have climbed faster than any others over the past few years. 
 
Lloyds Bank said that homes near to budget supermarkets such as Aldi, Lidl and Asda have seen their prices climb by an average of 11 per cent over the course of the past three years. This is faster than the average price growth for the UK as a whole over the same period, the data shows. 
 
"With homes in areas close to major supermarkets commanding a premium of £22,000, the convenience of doing weekly shopping within easy reach may well be a pull for many homebuyers looking for good access to local amenities," said Andy Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgages director.
 
He went on to add that while the 'Waitrose effect' has always been something that is evident in the UK property market, it is interesting to see that even the budget supermarkets being close by is having an impact on property prices nationwide.

 

 


Do you know the costs of getting a mortgage? [Photo: roberthyrons via iStock]

First-time buyers are becoming a more prominent fixture of the property market, with more people now able to get themselves a footing on the ladder for the first time. According to new reports, newcomers are accounting for as many as 22 per cent of new mortgages as of the end of April 2017. However, despite the fact more are coming to market, there are still issues around affordability.
 
According to a report published by conveyancing services provider My Home Move, many people do not actually know what they would have to pay to be able to get themselves onto the property ladder. So if you are a first-time buyer coming to market now, do you know what it would cost you to get a mortgage? 
 
The study shows that the majority of people remain reasonably confident about what they would be able to afford in the current climate, and what they think they would be able to borrow to make their dreams of becoming a homeowner a reality. The majority of newcomers, it shows, would spend between £100,000 (21 per cent) and £150,000 (34 per cent) on a home, and believe they would be able to secure finance for a purchase of this size. 
 
However, it also indicates that despite a rising confidence from potential new buyers, many people are actually unaware of what it would cost them in terms of their mortgage repayments. My Home Move's spokesman Doug Crawford said part of the problem is that the vast majority of potential new buyers live in rented accommodation before they buy, and many use their rental payments as an indicator of what a mortgage would cost them. 
 
"According to industry figures the average rent outside of London and the South East hovers around £600 a month, suggesting that most aspiring first time buyers want a like for like swap in monthly outgoings, or even a saving," he added. 
 
On average, people who are buying a home that would cost them around £100,000 say they want to be able to spend around £350 per month on their mortgage repayments. However, the study found that the average spend for a house costing this much would be around £450 per month. It's a similar story for those who want to spend a little more, with the average buyer estimated to be wrong by around 28 per cent on their monthly repayments. 
 
The problem is even exacerbated when it comes to more expensive properties again. My Home Move said the average expected payment for a home costing £150,000 to £200,000 was still £550 per month. However, in reality, this type of property would cost buyers far more, with likely mortgage repayments sitting at between £676 and £900.
 
If you are planning on becoming a homeowner and getting yourself a mortgage, it can pay to speak to a financial advisor before you decide to apply for a mortgage. This will allow you to see what you would be expected to pay back, allowing you to judge whether or not you could afford your monthly repayments before you commit. 

 

 


Number of potential UK property buyers falls by 250,000 in just one year [Photo: Rawpixel Ltd via iStock]

As many as 250,000 potential new homeowners in the UK may have given up on the idea of getting themselves onto the housing ladder in the space of just one year, a new study has revealed. 
 
According to the findings published by HomeOwners Alliance and BLP Insurance, the number of non-homeowners who want to get themselves onto the property ladder fell for the first time in five years. It suggests that the decline in ownership that's been evident in the UK for a number of years could continue for some time to come. 
 
When the survey was first published in 2013, almost two-thirds (65 per cent) of people who did not own a home said they aspired to. This grew year after year until 2016, when it peaked at 73 per cent. However, in the 12 months since, this number has dropped to 71 per cent. 
 
Of those who do not think they will be able to buy, some 86 per cent said their concerns centre around the fact house prices are too high. Other concerns about the market include deposits for mortgages (85 per cent) and the supply of homes (80 per cent). 
 
Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance, said that this was an indicator that people are no longer simply having to wait until they are 40 to buy a home, but are instead potentially being priced out of the market altogether. 
 
"While aspiring home owners’ concerns about house prices, saving for a deposit and housing supply grow, the change in political rhetoric around home ownership and a lack of new homes being built in the last year, plus the removal of flagship government schemes like the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee, appear to have had a negative impact on consumer attitudes," she said. 
 
Ms Higgins also added that with the upcoming election in June, it's vital that results like these show the new government the importance of getting it right with improving the housing market. 

 

 


Flat prices rise quicker than any other UK property type since 2010 [Photo: iStock/JohnDWilliams]

The price that people in the UK have had to pay for properties has been increasing for a number of years now. However, there are some types of homes that have been rising far faster than others, a new report suggests. 

According to data from the latest Halifax index, the growth in popularity of flats over houses has meant that since 2010, the prices paid for these properties has climbed far faster than any other type of home. 

It said that in the past seven years, the average property price in the UK has climbed by 39 per cent. However, in the same period, the cost of getting a flat has increased by a far higher amount, with buyers having to shell out 53 per cent more than they would have done in 2010 on average. 

Overall, the price of a flat has increased by more than £84,000 in the space of just seven years. This means that the average flat price in the UK now stands at £243,936, up from a little over £153,000 in 2010.

Next on the list of the fastest increases in house prices are terraced homes, which have risen in the space of the past few years by some 43 per cent, according to the Halifax data. 

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said that the reason for house prices rising so quickly in terms of terraced homes, detached properties and flats is the fact that they are so popular with buyers. In particular, London has helped boost flat prices as buyer numbers climb time and again. 

"There has been an increasing trend for first time buyers to choose semi-detached homes over the past seven years, whilst terraced homes have shown a decline in popularity,” said Mr EllisThe rise in the age of a typical first time buyer may partly account for this change in preference towards the family friendly semi," he added, suggesting that other home types could rise faster in the next few years.

 


Relationships between UK landlords and tenants increasingly positive [Photo: iStock/Kenishirotie]

Traditionally, the working relationship that is shared by landlords and tenants is painted as being somewhat strained, with both parties wrestling for power and trying to get the most out of their agreement. However, a new study has shown that this portrayal is something of a myth, with the vast majority of landlords actually very happy with their sitting tenant at present. 

According to the Direct Line for Business survey, some 69 per cent of landlords in the UK believe they have a good working relationship with their current tenant, with some 33 per cent even going as far as to say they are good friends with the tenants who live in their properties. 

Surprisingly, only two per cent of those who were surveyed said they have a bad relationship with their tenants at present, while another 15 per cent added that they do not have any sort of dealings with tenants because they let letting agents handle all of their communications. 

Christina Dimitrov, business manager at Direct Line for Business, said: "The idea that landlords and tenants can’t get on is a fallacy, as many of these relationships are very positive and are often long lasting. Having a good relationship with your tenants is beneficial as they will be more likely to flag problems with the property quickly, enabling the landlord to arrange for a swift repair and therefore minimising inconvenience and expense for both parties."

The Direct Line survey also looked at what landlords and tenants are looking for from their working relationships. It said that the most important factors for property owners are having a tenant who pays their rent on time and someone who respects the property and its contents. 

And for tenants, the most important things they are looking for from their landlords are someone who responds quickly to any problems and issues they have, and reasonable rent prices that are not constantly being increased every year.

 


Mortgage lenders urged to go digital to streamline borrowing process [Photo: Courtney Keating via iStock]

Mortgage lenders have been urged to bring their practices into the 21st century in order to make it easier for people to get a house purchase loan in a less time-consuming manner. 

At the moment, when buyers have to provide details of their income and outgoings, as well as identity, most lenders still insist that they come armed with paper copies of things like bank statements and bills. However, in an age where many people are completely paperless, this method has been heavily criticised.

According to data intelligence specialists GBG, the process as it is at the moment is completely outdated, especially when the majority of people who are coming to banks and lenders looking for a mortgage will be younger borrowers, who are far more likely to have paperless documentation.

Its survey showed that at the moment, as many as 69 per cent of people receive paperless bank statements, while 46 per cent never receive a physical paper copy of their credit card bills, which means it's inconveniencing them to have to print these out. 

These figures are even higher when it comes to younger people, with 75 per cent of those aged between 18 and 24 likely to get their bank statements via paperless methods. 

And it's a similar story when it comes to utility bills. Some 42 per cent of people said they do not have any paper copies of their gas and electricity bills, with more than a third receiving these documents through email rather than through the post. 

"These paper first procedures had to be put in place to sort the good from the bad. However, it’s clear these old-fashioned measures haven’t caught up with what’s actually happening in the real world," said Nick Brown, group managing director at GBG .

"And as more customers opt to receive paperless statements and access their documents online, these traditional processes could hinder a legitimate individual’s chance of getting on the property ladder," he added. 

 


Property prices in England and Wales show only marginal growth in April [Photo: merron via iStock]

The average price of buying a home in England and Wales has remained largely static for the second month in a row, according to a new report, which suggests that April saw only small gains in the price of homes nationwide. 

The data, released as part of the Your Move index for April, shows that the average property price in England and Wales now sits at £301,606. This was only up by 0.1 per cent when compared to March, suggesting another month where there has been little in the way of new forward momentum. 

However, the good news is that even if gains are only minimal, prices are still headed in the right direction in general, and when they are examined on an annual basis, it's clear that growth is still very evident in England and Wales. 

When compared to April last year, the Your Move index shows a climb of some 3.5 per cent in house prices across the country, with the East of England and the West Midlands currently the two areas that are experiencing the fastest growth. 

At present, one of the biggest factors that would be expected to be playing into house prices would be the announcement of the snap election in June. However, so far this has actually had little impact on the market. But Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, said the main parties need to ensure they put housing at the forefront of their campaigns moving forward. 

"Real transformation is needed to address the housing supply shortage. Recent reports from House of Commons committees have made a strong case for the government to do more," he said. 

"As manifestos are published ahead of the upcoming election, we hope there is commitment to bridging the gap between supply and demand, which will stimulate more market activity, stability and enable more people to secure their dream home."

 


Demand for UK property falls in first few months of 2017 [Photo: vimvertigo via iStock]

More people across the UK may now be looking to rent homes rather than buy them, as a new report shows that the level of demand for buying houses has fallen somewhat in the first three months of the year. 

According to the eMoov National Hotspot Index Q1 2017, demand is lowest in Wales at present, but even London and surrounding commuter towns are seeing fewer buyers coming to market, which could suggest that more people are now renting. 

The eMoov report looks at the balance between the supply and demand for houses in each area of the UK and attributes a percentage score based on the balance between available stock and the number of properties sold, and it found that for the first quarter of the year, nationwide, demand is at 33.8 per cent. 

This represents a substantial fall in the space of just the first three months of the year. At the end of 2016, the level of demand nationwide stood at 17.56 per cent higher than it does now, showing a real change in attitude from buyers. 

In England, demand for properties remains highest, with a score of 39.4 per cent, while it sits a little over 36 per cent in Scotland. Wales is the worst performing British nation, however, with demand falling as low as 27.35 per cent as of the end of March.

The highest levels of demand at the moment are found in some of the most affordable towns and cities nationwide. In areas where more than 90 per cent of homes are classed as affordable, it seems that there are more buyers around. At present, eMoov said, Rugby, Portsmouth and Bristol are among the highest demand areas, while Aberdeen, Hartlepool and Middlesbrough see the lowest demand. 

eMoov chief executive officer Russell Quirk believes that one of the reasons for low demand in many areas could be the fact that it has become too expensive to live in cities for many people.

"With many of the UK’s major cities becoming too expensive for homeowners in the region and travel infrastructure improvements allowing us to live further away from work, it is no surprise that places such as Rugby and Portsmouth have grown in prominence amongst UK buyers. It isn’t just those in London that are looking outside of the larger city boundaries and opting for more affordable towns in the surrounding area," he said. 

 


Rents in England and Wales rise to reach £800 per month on average [Photo: mj0007 via iStock]

There have been reported worries about the future of the rental market in the UK thanks to increased tax commitments and political uncertainty over the last few months. However, even as some landlords remain slightly worried about the coming months, the private rented sector is once again showing that it has the strength to continue growing.

According to the latest Your Move data for March this year, there was a slowing of rental increases month on month, with the average tenant paying just 0.2 per cent more than they had in February for their rental properties. 

However, while this was only a slight growth in the market for March, it did continue an upward trend in rental prices in the longer term nationwide. According to the data, the average price paid for rental property in the UK now stands at some £800 per calendar month, which is 4.6 per cent higher than it was at the end of March 2016.

The best place for rental growth across the sector has been the East of England, where rental prices have climbed by some 7.3 per cent in the past 12 months to hit an average of £883, making it the most expensive place outside of London. 

Wales was the next most lucrative place for landlords in March, with prices having climbed by some 4.8 per cent month on month and by more than seven per cent when compared to March 2016.

In the capital, prices are now sitting at a little over £1,200 per calendar month on average. And while this still makes it the most expensive place in the UK to be a tenant, the fact that more people have been looking to find places outside the capital means that there has been a seven per cent reduction in the space of a year.

 


First-time buyers missing out on home purchase by not having enough for a deposit [Photo: Courtney Keating via iStock]

Over a third of potential first-time buyers are still missing out on getting themselves a foot on the property ladder because they are coming to the market with a deposit that is too small for the home they want to purchase. 

According to findings published by Nottingham Building Society, as many as 35 per cent of would-be owners have been told that the money they have stored away to buy a home is not enough to get themselves on the ladder, despite the fact nearly half of these had saved more than ten per cent of the property's value.

The research states that of those who were trying to buy a home for the first time, some 18 per cent had managed to save but still had less than ten per cent of the value of the home for their deposit, while a further 17 per cent had managed to save between ten and 20 per cent. 

It was also found that while deposits are now commonplace when it comes to buying a home, there are still those in the market who would be happy to get themselves a place without having had to save first. 

According to the data, as many as ten per cent said they would be comfortable with borrowing 100 per cent of the value of a home they were buying if it meant managing to get themselves onto the property ladder for the first time. 

Ian Gibbons, senior mortgage broking manager at Nottingham Mortgage Services, said current trends have to be viewed as somewhat worrying for anyone looking to get themselves onto the property ladder for the first time. 

"Borrowers with small deposits have a wide choice of loans to pick from but clearly many are struggling to buy the houses they want with so many potential deals falling through. It is particularly worrying that borrowers with a ten per cent deposit or more are struggling. They should be able to secure a mortgage and not have to miss out on house purchases simply because their deposit is too small," he said.

 


The average UK property sells for £25,000 below asking price [Photo: iStock/roberthyrons]

The average property in the UK is not getting owners as much as they expect when it comes time to make the sale, according to a new survey carried out this week by property portal Zoopla. 

In its survey, Zoopla compared what owners are expecting to be able to sell their home for when they first bring it to market, and what it actually goes for, and it was discovered that as many as a third of homes are being discounted. 

The number of homes being discounted from their original asking price sits at 31.6 per cent, and while this is down from 33.43 at the end of last year, it still indicates that owners are not getting what they want when they come to market. 

According to the results of the survey, the average home is reduced in price by £24,989, giving buyers a sizeable discount when they do eventually seal a deal. 

Discounts are most prominent in the north of England, with the data showing that seven of the top ten areas in terms of the number of homes discounted are in the north. In addition to this, all of the top ten highest average discounts are recorded in the north, showing the divide that exists nationwide. 

Lawrence Hall, spokesperson for Zoopla said that it's encouraging that the number of homes being reduced in price has fallen over the past few months, but added that the average reduction in price has actually climbed in the same period, but this is not a negative for everyone. 

"This is still good news for those looking to get onto the property ladder. With some thorough research first time buyers could be in with a better chance of spotting a bargain by filtering their property searches by most reduced and set up email alerts to help them be the first to know about homes that have been discounted," he said.

 


Mortgage market in the UK expected to have strongest post-recession year [Photo: PRImageFactory via iStock]

The UK's mortgage market is expected to experience its strongest post-recession year in 2017, according to the latest data, which suggests there has been a real rise in affordability of loans in the last few years. 

In a new report released this week by the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association (IMLA), it was revealed that by the end of this year, gross mortgage lending should hit some £260 billion. When compared to 2016, this represents a very sizeable increase, with mortgage lending totals up by 5.9 per cent from the £245 billion recorded 12 months ago. 

This change is being led by a surge in the number of people nationwide who are choosing to remortgage their home. At the same time, there is forecast to be a slight fall in the volume and value of buy-to-let mortgages witnessed across the UK, before this rises again in 2018. 

The IMLA said that in the coming months, net mortgage lending should also come in at some £45 billion. This is, surprisingly, the highest net mortgage lending recorded since 2007, when the market was at its highest point, as well as being the strongest year since the recession damaged the market in 2008, marking significant progress since then. 

In total, this means that the amount of mortgage debt for the UK as a whole has risen by 3.4 per cent in the past year. This is only slightly faster than the Office for Budget Responsibility says disposable income has climbed in the same timeframe. 

"The mortgage market shook off uncertainty and turbulence to register another solid year in 2016, and the IMLA predicts that the market is set to do the same again in 2017. There are many factors that have contributed to the continued strength of the mortgage market and are likely to support its growth over the rest the year," said Peter Williams, IMLA’s executive director.

The main strength of the market in 2017 remains the fact that there is an increasingly diverse group of buyers around at present. The IMLA expects that in the next few months, buy-to-let will continue to struggle to keep pace with what it has done in the past, which is likely to mean it seeing a six per cent contraction, but this is being accounted for by a rise in the number of people looking for remortgaging and house purchasing options. 

"The market has been supported by high levels of public demand for housing from a variety of different customer profiles. Furthermore, low mortgage rates and relatively modest levels of inflation have instilled borrowers with confidence, and made them willing to take out loans for purchase," said Mr Williams. 

"Different segments of the mortgage market had contrasting years in 2016. The remortage market performed very well, with existing borrowers eager to take advantage of rising house prices and low rates by securing a new deal. However, with lenders increasingly encouraging product transfers, it will be interesting to see if the remortgage market maintains this momentum in the long term," he added. 

 


How will the UK's snap general election affect the property market? [Photo: fazon1 via iStock]

In a surprise move earlier this week, prime minister Theresa May announced that the UK will be heading to the polls in early June, with the electorate facing a snap general election less than a year after Mrs May came to power. 

The announcement came as a shock to many sectors in the UK, with experts now scrambling to work out what the uncertainty and confusion will mean for them in the months ahead. The property market is no stranger to this sort of political upheaval, but is nonetheless still one of the sectors most likely to need to keep an eye on proceedings in Westminster. 

So, with just a few weeks to go until Brits head out to cast their votes, we ask: what will be the biggest factors to take into account, and what does the snap election mean for the UK's property market? 

Short timescale

One of the most beneficial elements of this election announcement for the UK is the fact that it comes in such a short timescale.

Previously, uncertainty has been hailed as the reason for price stalls and drops, but with only a few weeks’ notice, the market will barely have time to brace itself, and there shouldn't really be the time for worry and uncertainty to settle in and have any effect on the market as a whole.

Probable outcomes

One of the biggest factors in this projected lack of uncertainty is that the outcome of the election seems to be in little doubt. While previously it has been hard to predict with any certainty who would win the public vote, this time around it seems a little more obvious. 

The vast majority of experts are forecasting a Conservative landslide in the election, with the party expected to even eat into the number of seats Labour has in the current parliament. 

This certainty can only be good news for the market, particularly with the likelihood that it will bring about the opportunity for the Conservatives to continue the work they have already started on the housing market with the white paper released earlier this year. 

Market intentions

The good news is that the election announcement this week seems to have had little, if any, negative impact on the sentiment of those operating in the UK's property market. 

According to a survey released by eMoov, some 56.7 per cent of sellers in the market said they will have no qualms about continuing with their plans to bring their home to market and buy another property. This was compared to just 18 per cent who said they would put the process on hold until they see what happens.

 


Asking prices for rents climb by just 1.1% in year to March [Photo: iStock/G0d4ather]

The rental market in the UK is performing well at present, with both landlords and tenants having reasons to smile, according to the latest market report from HomeLet. 

It said that over the course of the last year, landlords have been able to see their investments climbing in value as a result of growing rental prices. However, at the same time, tenants have been enjoying the fact that rents have not been increasing as fast as they have in recent years. 

The HomeLet index shows that the average national rental price in the private sector now stands at some £906 per calendar month. This means that the average asking price for new tenancies over the course of the last year has climbed by just 1.1 per cent. 

While this is still positive growth for the market in terms of investors' income, it represents a far slower rate of growth than landlords have been welcoming over the past few years, perhaps showing a maturing market is now in place nationwide. 

It was also shown in the report that average rental rates differ greatly across the UK, as do the pace at which they are climbing. 

HomeLet said that in Wales, the average rental cost is now £616 per calendar month, compared to the £906 national average and the £614 and £610 recorded in Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. London still leads the way in terms of national rent, with the price per month in the capital now climbing as high as £1,546. 

Surprisingly, it's Wales that has seen the fastest growth in the past year. In the 12 months to March, Welsh rental prices climbed by 3.1 per cent, followed by Scotland with 2.1 per cent. In England, London saw rental rates climb by just 1.2 per cent, while the East Midlands welcomed growth of 1.1 per cent, and prices in the south-west were up just 0.9 per cent

 


40% of landlords in the UK are women, report reveals [Photo: kzenon via iStock]

The profession of landlord has long been seen as somewhat dominated by men. However, a new study has shown that the tide is changing in this regard, with recent years having seen a climb in the number of women who are buy-to-let property owners. 

According to the findings of the survey published by Simple Landlords Insurance, female landlords are now even more prevalent than small business owners. It said that at present, as many as 40 per cent of all landlords are female, compared to just 17 per cent of small business owners who are female. 

The study also showed that there was a marked difference between men and women in terms of what they are looking to get out of their investments in the rented market. It said that some 63 per cent of women are looking to use rental income as their main long-term market plan. 

In comparison, only some 53 per cent of men said they were looking to rental income as the main source of investment return. As many as 47 per cent of men were instead focussed on bringing in money in the long term through capital gains, which interested only 37 per cent of women. 

Alexandra Huntley, Simple Landlords Insurance head of operations, said that these statistics are a clear indicator of differing attitudes towards women as investors. 

"As recently as 1970 women could be refused a mortgage without a male guarantor. But buying, selling, renovating, and renting property is no longer just for the boys," she said. 

"Those stereotypes are firmly consigned to history. Women have been steadily gaining ground over the last 50 years and are increasingly gaining financial independence through property investment."

 


Quarter of tenants would not tell their landlord about property damage [Photo: sturti via iStock]

Damage can happen in any rental property. Over the course of a tenancy, people living in a property will bump into things, knock something over or have other minor mishaps that cause some sort of damage; it's only natural. 

However, a new study has shown that while many people admit they have caused damage to a property, more than a quarter would not tell their landlord, even if they were responsible for things being broken. 

According to TheHouseShop, as many as 27 per cent of tenants in the private rented sector said they would keep quiet if they felt they were at fault for something going majorly wrong in their home. And while many would opt to have it fixed at their own expense, they would not tell the landlord or letting agent what had happened. 

Of those who wouldn't tell the landlord about problems they had caused, 15 per cent said they would simply hire a professional to put things right. However, more worryingly, some 11 per cent sad they would attempt to do the repairs themselves, and one per cent instead said they would try to hide any damage from the landlord, without fixing it. 

"While the vast majority of tenants will not actively try to do damage to a property, accidents do happen, and even well-meaning and reliable tenants can end up inflicting significant damage during their tenancy," said Nick Marr, TheHouseShop's co-founder.

He said that landlords should make sure they foster a relationship with their tenants where the tenant feels like they can be open and honest with the owner. Most often, people won't come forward to admit to damage because they feel like they might incur a cost or be blamed for something going wrong. 

The good news is that the majority still feel like they can go to their landlord. Of the respondents, 58 per cent said they would own up to having caused any damage to the property during their tenancy, with 24 per cent even offering to pay the entirety of the repair bill up front. 

 


Young professionals paying £71,000 premium to live in popular areas [Photo: apomares via iStock]

Young professionals looking for a place to buy are having to spend far above the national average if they happen to be seeking out a home in one of the UK's most popular areas, a new study has discovered. 

The research that was published this week by Lloyds Bank shows that the average price young professionals are spending in the 20 most popular postcodes across the UK is £71,000 higher than the average elsewhere. 

It said that the average price paid in these areas is some £735,874, which compares to the £664,716 paid in the surrounding areas to these postcodes on average. It means that in order to live in one of the UK's most popular and trendy areas, young people are facing a 13 per cent premium. 

Lloyds Bank mortgage products director Andrew Mason said that prices are so high because these houses are in high demand, and because the young people who want to live there are not put off by the high prices they are asked to pay. 

"Aspiring young professionals are typically well qualified, in well paid jobs and tend to live in areas not far from the city centre where they work. These are also places where they can enjoy easy access to green space and a range of places to socialise. These buyers also don’t appear to be put off by the significant premium in price to live in areas popular with young professionals," he said. 

According to the report, the most popular area of the UK remains Hove, on the south coast, with Brighton, its near neighbour, coming in at seventh place on the list. Of the remaining 18, 16 are located in London, with Wimbledon and Wandsworth among the most popular in the capital. 

The only other two areas outside of London on the list are Didsbury and Reading, with the former, a part of Greater Manchester, being the only northern town to make the list.

 


Mortgage and Stamp Duty issues affect more than 1 in 10 buyers

Home movers are an important part of the property chain, and play a role in making sure that house prices remain headed in the right direction, as well as ensuring that there are always homes available for newcomers as everyone climbs the ladder. 

However, over the past few years, the number of movers in the market has reportedly not been as high as it might have been, with reports indicating that many people have been stopped in their tracks by financial issues. 

According to research from the Nottingham Building Society, as many as 11 per cent of homeowners, amounting to as many as 1.2 million households, said they have considered moving home in the course of the last three years, but had to put their plans on hold because of mortgage issues and Stamp Duty charges. 

Mortgage issues plagued as many as three per cent of movers, according to the study, with 327,000 people having been turned down for a mortgage when they were trying to move home, the research shows.

However, Stamp Duty, which has long been cited as one of the costliest parts of buying a home for those looking to get on, and move up, the property ladder, continues to be the biggest barrier. Of those surveyed, eight per cent said the cost of Stamp Duty was too high, and that they decided against moving for that reason. 

On top of financial problems, there are also a range of other hurdles that are preventing people from moving home at present. Some 25 per cent of those who were surveyed said a major issue the market has is that there are not enough suitable homes around. 

"Home movers clearly are also struggling to find suitable homes to move to which turns the spotlight on improving their existing homes rather than moving," said Ian Gibbons, senior mortgage broking manager at Nottingham Mortgage Services.

 


House prices 'unchanged' in March, new reports show [Photo: iStock/Pogonici]

House prices in 2017 remain up year-on-year, but only grew slightly in the first quarter of the year, with March rounding off what was largely a flat Q1 for the sector in terms of house price increases. 

When compared to last year, according to the latest report published this week by the Halifax, house prices are still up by 3.8 per cent as of the end of March, but the nationwide average of some £219,755 is only slightly higher than at the end of 2016. 

Halifax data shows that as of the end of March, prices were unchanged when compared to February, which meant that over the course of the first three months of the year, they have climbed by just 0.1 per cent. 

This is no doubt something to do with the looming Brexit process, with buyers and sellers alike unsure of what the market would bring nationwide in the build up to Theresa May's triggering of Article 50 at the end of March. 

It means that this is the lowest quarterly rise seen in the UK since October of last year, and while there are still increases when compared to 12 months ago, this data still indicates that annual rate of growth remains at its lowest since May of 2013. This is particularly out of character at this time of the year, when house prices normally start to accelerate. 

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said of the latest data: "The annual rate of house price growth has more than halved over the past 12 months. A lengthy period of rapid house price growth has made it increasingly difficult for many to purchase a home as income growth has failed to keep up, which appears to have curbed housing demand."

However, he did also say that the low levels of supply in terms of both new and existing homes means that the market will probably be able to sustain prices for months to come, and not see any significant backwards momentum. 

 


Luxury apartments have grown in popularity, with London leading the way [Photo: elenaleonova via iStock]

Over the past decade, the number of luxury apartments sold across the UK has soared, according to new reports, which show that London is leading the way when it comes to long-term growth in this regard. 

According to findings published by Lloyds Private Banking, in the space of just ten years, the number of sales of apartments costing more than a million pounds has climbed by a staggering 196 per cent. 

This makes apartments the fastest growing asset in the luxury market, far outpacing the rate of increase for million pound-plus terraced homes (165 per cent), semi-detached properties (154 per cent) and detached houses (88 per cent). 

The report also showed that the proportion of the property market that is made up of luxury apartments has climbed markedly in the space of just ten years. Lloyds' figures show that in 2006, these types of property accounted for 17 per cent of the sector. However, by the end of 2016, this had climbed to 22 per cent, with luxury apartments accounting for 26 per cent of the overall increase in sales above a million pounds in the last decade. 

And what is not surprising is that the luxury apartment market is still seeing London as its leader, with the capital experiencing higher numbers of sales than any other city in the last few months. 

Of all the million pound-plus sales of apartments across the country, 96 per cent take place in London, the data shows, and over the last ten years, there has been an increase of 193 per cent in the number of sales of these properties. 

Overall, apartments now account for 33 per cent of all sales costing more than a million pounds in London, showing just how popular such assets have become. 

"The past decade has seen substantial increases in the number of million pound apartments sold, outpacing all other property types, dominated by London. A finite supply of land in prime central London combined with a growing population has meant the only way is up with more and more developers focusing on apartments," said Louise Santaana, head of lending at Lloyds Private Banking.

 


Brexit ‘putting people off buying property’ [Image: fazon1 via iStock]

Brexit has been named as a major reason for people not wanting to move home, according to a new survey.

The news comes as the UK prime minister, Theresa May, triggered Article 50, which officially began the process of leaving the EU. Since the decision was made by the public, there has been some anxiety around the property market. However, this has not been at the level expected by many, which has highlighted the market’s resilience.

According to the annual homeowner survey, conducted by YouGov for the HomeOwners Alliance (HOA) and BLP Insurance, more than one million people in the UK have put on hold their plans to purchase a new property because of the Brexit vote. A total of 15 per cent of respondents said this was the main reason they were not moving this year.

The HOA said that the referendum result is “just one of a number of factors” contributing to rising numbers of British homeowners to stay where they are rather than move property. The survey revealed that over 7.5 million people have put off plans to move this year.

However, Brexit was not the only reason that homeowners were resistant to the idea of moving, with 26 per cent blaming rising house prices, 25 per cent claiming the increasing cost of living was responsible and 25 per cent saying they had difficulty securing a mortgage or remortgaging.

It was found that those in the north east of England (27 per cent) and Northern Ireland (21 per cent) were the most likely to have cancelled plans to move.

On average, UK adults say they have become less likely to buy or move in the past 12 months, with nine per cent of UK adults saying they are more likely to buy or move and 15 per cent saying they are less likely to do so.

The HOA said that the proportion is similar among current homeowners, with eight per cent of them saying that within the past 12 months they have become more likely to buy or move and 15 per cent saying they have become less likely to do so.

Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HOA said: “Our research demonstrates that both first-time buyers and those who already own a home are choosing to play it safe in these uncertain times.”

She added: “People putting off plans to buy or sell chokes housing supply and generates pent-up demand. The housing market needs certainty in order to be able to function most efficiently.”

Ms Higgins went on to add that the government could help to make things easier for homeowners by “looking again at Stamp Duty,” saying that it remains “stubbornly high and acts as a drag on the market”. She said that reducing the amount “genuine owner-occupiers” are required to pay could help to boost the market in these uncertain times.

 


First-time buyers in London face price rises of 67% [Image: Drimafilm via iStock]

First-time buyers in London are facing price rises of 67 per cent since 2012, according to new research.

Lloyds Bank has found that house prices have risen most rapidly in Waltham Forest, increasing by 93 per cent from an average of £212,629 in 2012 to £409,491 in 2017.

The boroughs recording the next biggest gains are Newham, which rose by 92 per cent to reach an average property price of £359,212, and Greenwich, where prices rose by 91 per cent increase to hit £382,945.

Westminster saw the smallest rise in prices since 2012, Lloyds Bank said, with an increase of 28 per cent, leaving prices standing at an average of £595,568. This is less than half the gain across London as a whole (67 per cent) and significantly below the UK average of 50 per cent.

The research found that Westminster was the most expensive borough for first-time buyers in 2012, with an average price of £466,4821, which was 92 per cent above the London average of £242,931.

Despite its comparatively small price gain over the past five years (47 per cent), Camden has become the most expensive borough for first-time buyers, with an average house price of £602,080.

Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage director, said: “Over the past five years, the price of a first-time buyer purchase in London has risen by an average 67 per cent, with some parts of the capital recording even more substantial rises.

“This means monthly mortgage payments and deposits have increased substantially, making it increasingly difficult for many young people to buy their own home, and as a result we saw a five per cent drop in first time purchases last year.”

Lloyds’ research also revealed that the average mortgage taken out by a first-time buyer in London has increased by 71 per cent, rising from £185,538 in 2012 to £317,253 this year.

 


House price sentiment in UK remains positive [Image: AndreaAstes via iStock]

New research has revealed that households across the UK perceive that the value of their home has risen over the last month.

According to the latest House Price Sentiment Index (HPSI) from Knight Frank and IHS Markit, it was the eighth consecutive month that the index has been in positive territory.

Some 20.8 per cent of the 1,500 households surveyed across the UK said that the value of their home had risen over the last month, while 5.9 per cent said that prices had fallen. This resulted in a HPSI reading of 57.5, which was unchanged from February.

However, it was also revealed that there are still fairly large regional variations, which reflects the wider housing market. According to the index, households in nine of the 11 regions covered by the index thought that the value of their property rose in February.

Those in the south east reported the biggest rise over the course of the month, posting an index figure of 64.4, which is above the positive level of 50. This was closely followed by those in London, where the index sat at 64.

Homeowners in the north east and Wales were the exceptions, according to the index, with households reporting a slight fall in prices over the month.

Oliver Knight, an associate in Knight Frank’s residential research team, said: “The latest survey data suggests that house price sentiment across the UK is becoming steadier. Households still report that values are increasing, but at a more modest pace than before the EU Referendum, which is consistent with wider housing market trends.”

He went on to add that future price expectations are still positive, particularly in the south of England and the Midlands, but he said there are “a number of headwinds which could weigh on the market”. He pointed to rising inflation and continued effects from Brexit as examples.

 


andrewmedina via iStock

Manchester has become the city with the fastest growing house prices in the UK, while London has slipped to tenth place, according to the latest city house price index by Hometrack.

House prices in Manchester have risen by 8.8 per cent in the year to February 2017, meanwhile, according to the index, London prices have risen by 5.6 in that period.

It was also revealed that the country had seen house price growth of six per cent, while 20 of the UK’s major cities saw growth slow to 6.4 per cent. Aberdeen was the only major city to see a fall in house prices, dropping by 5.9 per cent.

House prices in Manchester now sit at an average of £151,800, compared to an average of £488,700 in London.

Meanwhile, Portsmouth saw a rise of 8.1 per cent, taking the average house price to £225,600, and Bristol recorded growth of eight per cent, resulting in an average house price of £261,900.

The report released by Hometrack stated: “Affordability pressures continue to impact growth rates in high-value cities in southern England. While growth in Manchester has hit close to nine per cent, the supply/demand dynamics are not strong enough in regional cities outside southern England to support double digit rates of house price growth.”

Hometrack also said it expects sales volumes to fall by around five per cent in the highest value cities over the course of this year, as the market and pricing levels start to adjust to price sensitive and affordability constrained demand.

The company added that it expects to see slower growth in the number of sales in regional cities, where there remains a “continued upside for market activity” and more attractive house prices.

 


Should London renters think about buying? [Image: MarioGuti via iStock]

London has been named as the world’s second most expensive city to rent a home in, in relation to salaries. With only San Francisco’s rents taking up a higher proportion of people’s salaries, the news will likely be inspiring more people to consider buying their own homes rather than renting.

This is emphasised by the fact that rental price growth has actually dropped by 4.7 per cent in London. This means that despite prices falling, London is still one of the most expensive cities to live in.

According to Barratt Homes, rent now makes up a total of 45 per cent of salaries in London, while living in San Francisco will cost 47 per cent of renters’ salaries on average.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Renting must remain a viable option for those looking to move home, but residents might want to consider a buying market that offers plenty of incentives for first timers.”

There are a number of reasons for London renters to consider buying a property rather than continuing to rent.

In many cases, the most significant reason will be the cost savings. When rental prices are so high, most mortgage costs can seem low in comparison, especially when taking into account the low rates that are on offer at present.

According to many property analysts, mortgage rates will soon rise, which makes it more important that potential first-time buyers think about making their purchases in the near future.

Although the government recently put an end to the section of the Help to Buy scheme that meant buyers had to lay down just five per cent of the property’s value as a deposit, there are still ways that first timers can get help to take the first step onto the property ladder.

The London Help to Buy scheme helps those who want to buy in one of the most expensive areas in the world. The government has increased the Help to Buy: Equity Loan scheme’s upper loan limit from 20 per cent to 40 per cent for buyers in all London boroughs. These buyers are also given the chance to pay the five per cent deposit.

It also makes sense for new buyers to lock in a fixed rate mortgage at present because the rate of inflation is set to rise above the Bank of England’s (BoE) target of two per cent by April, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This will lead to a higher cost of living, which will then likely pressure the BoE to raise its interest rate from the current record low of 0.25 per cent.

Renters in London should therefore think carefully about whether they want to continue paying almost half of their salaries on their homes or whether they can take advantage of low mortgage rates to buy their own properties.

 


House prices up 0.6% in February [Image: George-Standen via iStock]

House prices grew at their fastest pace for 12 months in February, with average prices in England and Wales increasing by 0.6 per cent, according to the latest Your Move index. This was double the rate seen in January.

The average price of a house is now £297,832 on the back of strong performances in the east of England, Merseyside and Birmingham, as well as a return of growth in high value London property.

However, annual house price inflation continued to fall for the 12th consecutive month, dropping to 2.4 per cent, which represents the lowest annual rate since 2013.

The index also revealed that estimated transactions in England and Wales in February fell 0.4 per cent from January, but figures from the year to February remain higher than in 2015 and 2013.

Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, said: “It’s an encouraging start to 2017. We’ve seen the strongest house price growth in a year, the emergence of the promised Northern Powerhouse and the first tentative signs of a recovery in our highest priced properties in London.

“The good news too is that the number of first-time buyers grew last year and house building was up - although home ownership is now at its lowest level in over three decades.”

Your Move highlighted the the recent English Housing Survey, which showed that the market is being supported by rising numbers of first-time buyers and more transactions in the last year. According to the estate agents, the increasing contribution of a strong market in the North West of England - centred on Manchester - also gives hope for “more balanced, if modest, price growth going forward”.

 


UK rental growth slows in February [Image: AndreaAstes via iStock]

Rental growth in the UK has slowed, with values falling by 0.6 per cent in February from the same month the previous year.

According to the latest Countrywide lettings index, the drop in rental prices in London and the south east are responsible, with the former seeing a fall of 4.7 per cent and the latter experiencing a fall of 2.6 per cent.

It marks the first time rents have fallen in six years.

However, prices have increased in the rest of the country. When not taking London figures into account, prices rose by 0.8 per cent, but growth slowed in nine out of 11 UK regions.

The East and West Midlands were the only regions that saw faster rental growth in February than in January.

It was also revealed that in February, the average rent in the UK was £921 a month, which is £5 less than in February 2016. However, rents are still £112 a month more than their 2007 high, which reflects a 14 per cent growth.

According to the Countrywide index, the slowdown in average rental growth is due to a fall in the number of tenants as well as higher numbers of homes available to rent in London and the south east.

Johnny Morris, research director at Countrywide, said: “Rents are growing in most of the country but falls in London and the south east are dragging down the national growth rate. Recent falls in London and the south east are small in the context growth in recent years. Rents are a third higher in London and the south east than in 2007.”

He added that early signs are pointing towards a “rare year” when rents will rise faster in the north of the UK than in the south.

 


How are house prices going to fare in 2017? [Photo: apomares via iStock]

The property market has been performing well for the past few years now, with prices rising pretty steadily year on year after economic performance returned to a state of normality after the financial meltdown that struck in 2008. 

This is something that has filtered down to buyers and sellers in the market, and sentiment has changed somewhat in the last few years to show that more and more people now feel confident about the future prospects of the market. And this is something that looks set to continue for the year ahead. 

According to new data released this week by OnePoll on behalf of Freehold Sale, over the course of the coming 12 months, as many as four in ten people in the UK believe that the cost of homes will rise, showing that there's a rising belief that house prices are on a rather constant upward trend. 

When asked how much they believe prices will increase in that period, just under half of the market (48 per cent) believes that homes will cost as much as ten per cent more than at present in the coming 12 months. 

And although it is market health that has pushed prices higher and higher over the last few years, the data suggests that there has been a change in that attitude over the last few months, and many now think that as well as the health of the market, political uncertainty will have something of a part to play. 

Of those surveyed, some 43 per cent said they believe that the price of properties will increase because of the fact that the UK is readying itself to leave the European Union (EU) and the knock on effects of Brexit. 

It was also discovered that there are more people now looking to get themselves a brand new home in the UK rather than looking towards existing stock, as they believe that it offers them a better deal. In a group mostly made up of 25 to 34 year olds, some 31 per cent said that they would like to get onto the ladder via a new build in the coming 12 months. 

 


How extreme is the UK's supply and demand issue? [Photo: bjeayes via iStock]

The supply and demand issue in the UK property market has been a severe concern for some time, with buyers facing a reality wherein there is competition for every home that comes to market. It means that prices are severely inflated, and many are either having to pay over the odds to get that dream home or being priced out of the market altogether. 

But how serious is the supply and demand issue? And has the government's pledge to build a substantial number of new homes between now and 2020 helped to ease the rush for property somewhat? 

The simple answer is no. The issue has yet to be properly addressed, and in fact, despite there having been an increase in new building numbers in the last couple of years, there has also been a rise in competition for homes that become available. 

According to the latest findings from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), there are now as many as 11 potential buyers viewing and trying to get their offers in for every home that comes to market. This is an increase on the ten we saw just two years ago, when supply and demand was first lamented as a serious risk for the property market. 

When there are so many buyers looking at every home, it causes a severe issue for those who are trying to buy, because they face competition from other prospective homeowners, and more often than not, if they want to secure the property, they have to put in a bid well above the asking price just to be competitive. 

And the problem is not likely to go away anytime soon, either, with the report from the NAEA suggesting that early 2017 has seen the problem get worse rather than better, as the number of buyers continues to swell and the stock levels dwindle ever further. 

The number of homes available per branch in the UK in January, the NAEA said, stands at just 38 on average. The organisation said this is a marked fall from the average of 41 that was recorded in December, and was also the lowest recorded number since July of 2016. 

This becomes a real problem when it's coupled with the fact that there are more buyers coming to market in 2017 as well. The data shows that the average number of potential buyers registered per member branch in January of 2017 was 425. This was down by some ten per cent when compared to the 386 per branch recorded in December of last year.

Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive, said that this imbalance is causing a real rise in prices nationwide. 

"January saw a surge in buyers but competition is rife with an average of 11 buyers chasing each property. The increase in the number of properties selling for more than asking price in January could be a result of heightened interest and the fact there is simply not enough housing to meet demand," he said. 

"When the government issued its Housing White Paper at the start of February we stated how important it was for the industry to put forward robust solutions to really make a difference and it’s vital that building more affordable housing is at the very top of their agenda."

 


Rental demand in the UK still greatly outstripping supply [Photo: Oko_SwanOmurphy via iStock]

The rental market in the UK has been rising in prominence ever since the financial downturn in 2008. Up to that point, home ownership was seen as one of life's biggest milestones, and people were increasingly looking to own in an affordable marketplace. But ever since, mindsets have changed. 

Since the recession, sentiment in the market has taken a turn, and now, more than ever before, people are looking to rent rather than own. Ownership has dropped from almost three-quarters to a little over 60 per cent, and in the same time, the number of people renting property in the private sector has climbed to around five million - the highest it has ever been. 

However, one of the biggest challenges that the rental market has faced, and one that it is still struggling with somewhat, centres around supply and demand. While there has been large scale investment in rental homes over the past few years, demand is still far higher than the supply of stock, and it creates an imbalance that is affecting prices. 

Rental market in 2017

According to the latest ARLA Propertymark report released earlier this month, the number of prospective tenants has seen a rise in the first month of 2017. For January, it said, there were as many as 34 prospective tenants per letting agent branch in the UK, marking a 31 per cent increase in just one month from December. 

There has also been a rise of ten per cent in the number of tenants when compared to the same month a year ago, showing significant rises year-on-year. 

And while there has been a rise in the number of properties available in the rental market in the last 12 months - ARLA said supply has increased by 12 per cent year-on-year and three per cent month-on-month, the growth has not been enough to satiate demand from tenants. 

"As expected, the New Year brought with it a flurry of activity in the rental market. While supply of rental stock rose slightly, the number of prospective tenants increased by a much bigger margin," said David Cox, ARLA Propertymark chief executive.

"When supply and demand are out of kilter, as they have been for so long now, the market isn’t balanced and fair for tenants, and rent prices will just continue to rise. Worse still, should the government decide to implement an out-right ban on letting agent fees when the consultation takes place, the situation will likely get worse for tenants," he added. 

Rent rises have already been in evidence so far in 2017 thanks to the supply and demand problems. ARLA said that in the first month of the year, as many as 23 per cent of agents reported seeing tenants experience a rise in the price they are paying for rent. 

And although this is less than the 30 per cent who said the same a year ago, the problem with supply and demand being off balance creates a problem that needs to be addressed with schemes such as tax breaks, for example, allowing investors an easier route to market and helping them to make the sector better for everyone. 

 


Homeowners believe redecoration and renovation improves value [Photo: iStock/TinaFields]

When the time comes for selling a home, property owners are always looking for little ways to make sure they get the very best price possible. And for the vast majority, one of the keys to making this a reality is to renovate and redecorate throughout the time they own a house. 

According to a new study carried out this week from the Co-op, 91 per cent of people who own a home in the UK believe that the property has increased in value since they bought it originally. And redecorating is key to this, with the average owner believing that their home is worth £14,900 more because of the work they have done on it. 

Of those who own a home in the UK, as many as 76 per cent said they had made changes to the property since moving in, and 60 per cent said that they believed this specifically had had a positive impact on the value of their home. 

Specific rooms can have different impacts on the value of properties as well when it comes to renovations. Some 56 per cent believe that the kitchen always delivers the wow factor, which means it has to be the place to do work. Second on the list was the living room, with a quarter of people seeing the value in this, and third place went to bathroom renovations.

"Our study shows that homeowners believe by investing in décor and bigger renovation works they are adding value to their homes for future years," said Caroline Hunter, head of home insurance at Co-op.

"Kitchens have long been lauded as the heart of the home and our study continues to solidify this, with over half of homeowners believing that this is the room of the house that could make, or break, a sale," she added.

 


Tax changes could see private tenants experience a rise in rental prices [Photo: designer491 via iStock]

Landlords in the rental sector are set to face higher costs of operation from April this year, and it could be the case that high rental price rises are passed down to their tenants as a result, a report has warned. 

In April this year, landlords are set to experience a change to mortgage tax relief, which will mean they can no longer deduct mortgage interest from their taxable income. And according to a report from Imperial College London, there are concerns that this, as well as the Stamp Duty levy added to the market last year, will see higher costs passed down to tenants. 

The report said that private sector tenants in the UK could potentially see a rise of between 20 and 30 per cent in terms of what they are asked to pay as landlords try to recoup their losses in tax terms. 

David Miles, professor of financial economics at Imperial College London, said this comes from a series of calculations that look at the need for a higher rate of yields for landlords in order to make as much as they were before tax changes came into play. 

The changes would mean that the average landlord would need a higher rate of yield amounting to 6.1 per cent to simply make sure their profits are in line with where they were before the government implemented its new rules. 

"Of course not all rents would go up this much. Some buy-to-let properties are bought with cash or owned by basic rate tax payers, and for these landlords it is only the stamp duty change that would require higher rents. And part of the adjustment to the tax changes might come through lower house prices. But given the size of the private rented sector one should expect most of the adjustment to come through higher rents rather than lower house prices," Mr Miles added. 

However, overall he also said that the government should be looking to halt the tax changes because they are not fair to those operating in the rental sector. 

"Rather than being a move towards neutrality, as was claimed, they in fact represent a further penalty against private provision of rented properties by potential suppliers who cannot, or chose not to, invest via a corporate entity," he said. 

 


House prices rise 'marginally' in England at start of 2017 [Photo: Photobuay via iStock]

House prices in England have risen slightly in the early part of 2017, but falling prices in other parts of the UK are helping to fuel a growing north-south divide in the nation, it has been claimed. 

According to the latest data released this week by Home.co.uk, England experienced a month-on-month house price rise of some 0.3 per cent in January when compared to December last year. 

By way of contrast, house prices in Scotland were down by 0.3 per cent in the same period, while final sale values in Wales fell by around 0.2 per cent between December and January, according to the report. 

England's best performing region, opening up something of a north-south divide, remains the East of England, where prices for January rose by 1.9 per cent, taking the average in the area to an all-new peak of over £348,000. 

However, while there were slight falls in the price of homes month-on-month in some areas, overall the UK's property market looks in good shape as of the start of 2017. Data shows that at the end of January, house prices across the UK as a whole were some three per cent higher than they were in the same month last year. 

This means that the average property price in England and Wales now sits at some £298,445, while in Scotland the average price has risen to some £177,037 as of the end of January. 

Doug Shephard, Home.co.uk director, believes that prices could rise across the coming months, but added that this is likely to be in places where there are more tenants than buyers, as landlords will tend to invest heavily in such areas. 

"It is an established fact that some of the best buy-to-let yields in the country are to be found in the North, and Yorkshire will not be alone in attracting the attention of investors going forward," he added. 

 


New report claims that Right to Rent pilot scheme is 'discriminatory' [Photo: aydinynr via iStock]

A scheme designed to make sure landlords check their tenants are legally allowed to live in the UK before letting them sign a lease, which was trialled over the last year, has been labelled discriminatory. 

According to a new report released by the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, the year-long pilot of the rule, which is due to be rolled out nationwide in 2017, shows that private rental market landlords are more likely to discriminate simply because they don't want to fall foul of the law. 

In a survey, it found that as many as 51 per cent of landlords said they would be less likely to let their property to someone from another country just to play it safe. Some 48 per cent even said they would not let to anyone without a British passport because they would fear criminal retributions of getting it wrong. 

In the year since the pilot scheme was started, as many as 91 landlords have already been handed sanctions for failing to carry out checks correctly. 

The main concern from landlord groups is that those operating in the private sector are not qualified to properly assess someone's legal right to be in the country, but they are still being forced to do so simply because they own property. 

Clare Higson, a member of the Eastern Landlords Association, said: "How can we, as landlords, ever know really if someone has got the right to rent. Why should we be working as immigration officers when actually we haven’t got a clue and we certainly don’t have any information, or any training?"

She added that many may fall victim to being caught out by false papers and stolen identification because they do not have any experience dealing with immigration documents. 

This was a concern shared by the Residential Landlords Association, which said there are as many as 400 documents that could be used, in theory, to show someone has the right to be in the UK, adding that the sheer volume makes it impossible to expect landlords to take responsibility in a fair and accurate way. 

 


Average house price in England and Wales reaches in excess of £300,000 [Photo: apomares via iStock]

A strong start to 2017 for the UK property market has helped to push house prices up past a new landmark price, according to the latest reports released by LSL Property Services and Acadata. 

It said in its latest index that for January 2017, the average property price across England and Wales rose by 0.3 per cent when compared to the end of 2016. In addition to this, prices experienced a rise of some 3.1 per cent over the same month a year ago. 

This means that property prices across England and Wales have now topped £300,000 for the first time, hitting £300,169 across the two nations. Annual house price rises are even more impressive when we consider the fact that the number of transactions across England and Wales was down by around 2,000 when compared to the same month in 2016. 

The best house prices over the course of the last year were experienced in Barking and Dagenham, where prices were up by 13.6 per cent annually, while this was followed by the East of England, which experienced an annual increase of some 7.1 per cent. 

Oliver Blake, managing director, Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents, hailed the early part of the year and said it was a good indicator that the market may perform well throughout the coming months. 

"It’s been a confident start to the year from the housing market. Following a strong December, the performance in January shows a market whose resilience continues to defy the doubters," he said.

In the past 15 years, house prices across England and Wales have now managed to double, which is an impressive statistic for the market given that it suffered something of a crisis in the 2007-2008 period, when financial downturn struck. 

 


Property price growth stalled in early 2017, reports show [Photo: BrianAJackson via iStock]

The rate at which property prices in the UK have been rising has slowed in the early part of the year, thanks to a month-on-month drop in prices paid, according to data released this week by Halifax. 

According to its latest report, the price that people were having to pay for homes fell in January to £220,260, down some 0.9 per cent when compared to December 2016. This is a surprising drop given the swell in activity that often takes place at the start of any given year, and it means that overall price growth has slowed. 

The bank said that the year-on-year rate of growth in the UK now sits at some 5.9 per cent, and while this is still an impressive rate of increase, it does mark a downturn compared to the 6.5 per cent annual climb that was in evidence in December of last year. 

However, while annual growth levels remain well below the ten per cent that was being recorded as recently as March last year, Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said that quarterly growth rates remain impressive. 

"UK house prices continue to be supported by an ongoing shortage of property for sale, low levels of housebuilding, and exceptionally low interest rates. These factors are unlikely to change materially during 2017," he said of the 2.4 per cent increase over the last three months. 

"Nonetheless, weaker economic growth and increasing pressure on spending power, along with affordability constraints, are expected to dampen housing demand, resulting in some downward pressure on annual house price growth during the year." 

However, most experts predict that the market will actually continue to perform well over the course of the year ahead, saying that performance over the last turbulent 12 months shows that the property sector cannot be underestimated in terms of how well it rebounds from short-term slowing. 

 


Government pledges action to bring more homes to market in a quicker time scale [Photo: iStock]

The government wants to see more homes built for both buying and renting nationwide, according to its new Housing White Paper, after it was revealed this week that many councils do not have plans in place for how to tackle housing shortages.

Announced this week, the plan is a reaction to the news from the government that as many as a third of the homes that had been granted planning permission in the last five years have yet to actually be built. 

It also said that 40 per cent of all councils across England and Wales do not have a plan in place to handle housing demand, so it wants to make sure that there is a central government power to control housing to improve the supply of property coming to market.

The main crux of new plans to improve housing supply will be a focus on making sure that the right homes are being built in the right places, with demand dictating supply in a more targeted way. 

The government will require councils to put in place plans for dealing with housing supply that will mean they have to use their land better, as well as efficiently checking, reviewing and updating plans at least every five years in order to ensure they remain relevant and in line with demand. 

In the White Paper, the government also said it wants to bring more builders to site in a quicker time scale to improve the number of completions. This will mean that anyone granted planning permission will have two years to start the home rather than the three they currently have. 

Communities secretary Sajid Javid said the new plans were bold, adding that it was clear that the system for approving and building homes is just not working. 

"The housing market in this country is broken and the solution means building many more houses in the places that people want to live. We are setting out ambitious proposals to help fix the housing market so that more ordinary working people from across the country can have the security of a decent place to live. The only way to halt the decline in affordability and help more people onto the housing ladder is to build more homes," he explained. 

 


Brexit negotiations should keep mortgage rates low, to the benefit of home buyers [Photo: Evgeny Gromov/iStock]

Buyers in the UK property market are likely to see the price they have to pay for their mortgage repayments remain low, or even reduce, in the next few months, as the uncertainty around the Brexit process, set to kick in from the end of March, keeps mortgage rates low. 

Earlier this week, parliament voted to pass the Brexit bill, meaning that the government is now free to put in place its plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March this year. And the negotiations that follow are likely to leave the UK in a period where everything is a bit up in the air. 

And according to experts in the lending industry, the central bank is likely to take an approach where the mindset is to wait and see what happens, meaning that there will be no drastic moves to increase the base rate in the near future, which will help to keep mortgage rates at historic lows, and make borrowing for a purchase affordable. 

This is a trend that could help many newcomers, who will fear not being able to afford a home in the future, get onto the ladder now while it's cheaper to do so. Although inflation could hit 2.8 per cent this year, base rate levels are set to stick at 0.25 per cent, giving borrowers some of their best conditions for years. 

Ishaan Malhi, chief executive officer of online mortgage broker Trussle, said: "This is great news for hopeful first time buyers, who are being given more time to take advantage of extremely low mortgage rates as they climb onto the property ladder. The Bank of England’s strategy should also be welcomed by existing mortgage holders looking to switch to a more suitable deal."

Russell Quirk, eMoov chief executive officer, went on to say that there has rarely been a better time, at least in recent years, for first timers to make that initial step onto the property ladder. 

 


UK property prices rose modestly in January, data shows

Property prices across the UK rose modestly in January to mark a good start to the year, but there are warnings that moving forward, price rises could be dampened by the arrival of Brexit, with Article 50 set to be triggered in coming months. 

The latest data released by Nationwide shows that in January, prices rose by 0.2 per cent when compared to December, with the average price of a home now sitting at a little over £205,000. When compared to the same month last year, the market has shown significant growth as well, with a 4.3 per cent rise in comparison with January 2016. 

However, despite the steady growth seen in the last 12 months, and the fact that the market has so far not reacted badly to the Brexit vote, with the looming exit from the EU getting nearer, Nationwide said the outlook for the sector in the year ahead is not clear. 

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: "Recent data indicates that the economy didn’t slow in the second half of 2016 and the unemployment rate remained stable at an 11 year low in the three months to November. However, there are tentative signs that conditions may be about to soften."

While sentiment and the economy did not suffer in the wake of the Brexit vote, it's the looming reality that it's about to happen that could reawaken uncertainty and cause prices to stall, although the market may well have enough to see it through this time. 

"On balance, we agree with the consensus view that the economy is likely to slow through 2017 as the squeeze on household budgets intensifies and heightened uncertainty weighs on business investment and hiring," said Mr Gardner. 

He also went on to say that over the coming months, inflation should rise again, which would put a squeeze on household finance and mean people paying less on homes than they have done in recent times. 

 


Rental property demand hit two-year low in December [Photo: Richard Sharrocks via iStock]

Rental properties may be quickly becoming the most popular way to live in the UK, but a new report has shown a surprising dip in demand from tenants towards the end of the year in 2016.

According to data published by the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), the number of potential tenants per letting agency branch fell markedly to just 26 on average in December 2016. It said that this was the lowest reading recorded since January 2015, leaving the market at a two-year low in terms of demand. 

This also represented a 19 per cent fall month on month, although this is to be somewhat expected given the fact that in the year before, demand for rental homes in December was down 15 per cent when compared to November. 

The bad news for tenants, however, is that while the demand for homes has dropped off somewhat in recent months, the simultaneous fall in property availability in the rental market has meant that the cost of renting has headed in the opposite direction. 

According to those surveyed by ARLA, the number of letting agents across the country who experienced tenants seeing their rents hiked rose from three to 19 per cent in December. This could largely be put down to the fact that there has been a fall in the number of rental homes that are on the market, a reading that hit just 185 per branch in December. 

"Although December’s figures could indicate a bright future for renters, with the government’s impending ban on letting agent fees, the future is actually rather bleak for the UK’s renters," said David Cox, ARLA managing director.

"Although we saw demand fall and supply rise slightly last month, these are in line with seasonal expectations and is what we expect to see in December. If the government goes ahead with an outright ban on fees, tenants will unfortunately be the ultimate victims, as costs are recouped for the vital services fees cover."

 


Estate agents welcome increased numbers of sales to newcomers [Photo: oneinchpunch via iStock]

The end of 2016 saw a rise in the number of newcomers looking to get their foot onto the property ladder, according to a new report, which has shown that December was a record month for first-time buyers. 

According to the report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), December saw 32 per cent of all sales made go to first timers, which marks the fastest December seen since 2001. It was also a ten per cent higher reading than experienced in November, the report states. 

December was also a record for this time of year when it came to demand. According to the NAEA, there were more buyers looking to get themselves onto the property ladder - an average of 386 per branch - than at any time since 2003. 

Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director, said: "With demand at an all-time December high and sales to first time buyers at their highest on record, 2016 closed on a positive note following several months of uncertainty.

However, there remains a shortage of homes to buy in the market, even though there has been a rise in demand, which meant a 25 per cent fall in the number of completed sales overall in December. From November, the number of homes for sale grew by only two per branch on average to 41. 

"Despite an encouraging December, there remains a clear shortage of homes. We await the government’s housing white paper to see how it intends to tackle this and hope the market continues to improve for both buyers and sellers," said Mr Hayward. 

Overall, though, it was a good month for the market. November tends to be when the property sector sees a spike, before it all dies down in December before Christmas, but there was a bucking of this trend in 2016, as people continued to buy and look for homes into December.

 


House price sentiment continues its post-Brexit recovery [Photo: merron via iStock]

Homeowners across the UK's property market feel positive about the future value of their homes in the coming months and their recent performance, according to the latest index, which suggests that since Brexit, there has been a continued rise in sentiment among owners. 

When the Brexit vote was announced in late June last year, Knight Frank and IHS Markit reports, there was an immediate drop in sentiment, and July saw a marked contraction of positivity in the sector from owners. 

However, since then, there has been little but growing sentiment among those operating in the sector, and according to the latest report from the two organisations, January marks the sixth month in a row that house price sentiment in the UK has grown. 

In January, as many as 17 per cent of UK homeowners said they believe the value of their home has increased over the course of the last month, compared to just five per cent who believe it has fallen, giving a house price sentiment index (HPSI) of 55.8.

And although this reading was a little lower than the 56.1 that was recorded in December of 2016, it remains far ahead of the 48.3 recorded back in July. January also saw positive sentiment in as many as ten out of 11 regions, which suggests overall market health spread across the UK. 

In terms of future HPSI, which measures what people expect to happen with the value of their homes across the next year, the reading was at 65.1, even higher than the 62 that was measured in December last year. 

Gráinne Gilmore, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said: "The continued rise in the future sentiment index indicates that households are not focusing solely on the uncertainty around the path to Brexit."

 


2016 saw a greater number of first-time buyers in the UK [Photo: Alija via iStock]

The past year saw more first timers come into the property market, with the market seeing growth in first-time buyer numbers having continued for the third year in a row, according to new reports. 

However, the data, released by Halifax in its First Time Buyer Review shows that the changing market means that there has been a rise in the price that first timers have had to pay to get onto the ladder in the past year, which has meant that as a result, the average age of newcomers to the property sector has risen. 

In total, in 2016, there were as many as 335,750 getting themselves a footing on the property ladder. This was up 7.3 per cent year on year, and meant that there have been three consecutive years of growth in the newcomers sector, which shows just how strongly the market has been performing in the last few years.

There is still room for growth in the sector as well, however, with the market still remaining some way below its pre-financial crisis peak of some 402,000. 

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said it's vital that first timers are able to get themselves onto the property ladder as they help the market to push on all the way up the chain, as well as helping to improve levels of house building. 

"The number of buyers getting on the housing ladder exceeded 300,000 for the third year in succession, a welcome boost for current home owners, house builders and the government. Continuing low mortgage rates, high levels of employment have supported the market and government schemes such as Help to Buy have improved affordability, enabling more first-time buyers to buy their own property," he added. 

However, while there has been a boost in the number of buyers getting onto the ladder, there has also been a rise in costs, with the average cost of a deposit having doubled to £32,321 in the last ten years, meaning there are now more older first timers getting onto the ladder, as it takes longer to save.

 


UK asking prices edge upwards in January

Homeowners in the UK are feeling more confident in the new year about the future prospects of their property, and as such are increasing their asking prices when coming to market, it has been reported. 

However, according to the latest Home.co.uk property index, prices still remain far lower in some parts of the country than last year, as the effect of Brexit and related political uncertainty still weighs heavy on the market as a whole. 

When compared to January last year, the report shows, asking prices have climbed by as much as 3.1 per cent on average across England and Wales. However, London, where we're used to seeing positive after positive, has suffered from the goings on of the past year, and asking prices have fallen by 1.1 per cent compared to last January.

Across the country as a whole, asking prices at the moment sit at £296,761, which is 0.1 per cent higher than experienced in December. However, three English regions, as well as Scotland and Wales have all seen the average prices sought by buyers falling when compared to 2016 prices. 

"Any region where prices rose too high too quickly runs the risk of price deflation. London is already suffering this fate and the South East and later the East of England look set to follow," said Doug Shephard, Home.co.uk's director.

The good news nationwide, however, is that more buyers are also coming to the market in early 2017, which should help to address any supply issues that are still in place at the moment. According to the report, Scotland saw the highest number of homes coming up for sale, with an increase of 23 per cent, while the East of England experienced a rise of 18 per cent. 

 


The majority of British tenants cannot afford to buy their own home [Photo: PRImageFactory via iStock]

Over the last few years, reports have shown that there has been a marked fall in the number of homeowners in the UK, with the period between 2008 and 2016 having seen a drop of more than four per cent in homeowner numbers. 

However, while much of this has been down to the fact that an increasing number of young people now prefer to rent rather than buy a home for the convenience, there are still many people living in rental properties in the private sector who are doing so because they cannot afford to buy their own home. 

In a survey released by Knight Knox, it was revealed that as many as 52 per cent of the five million tenants in the UK cannot afford to buy their own home. On top of this, 25 per cent of private tenants do not even meet the criteria for mortgage borrowing, meaning they have little chance of ever getting onto the property ladder. 

Knight Knox believes that this trend, fuelled by people not saving for a deposit or not having enough income to get a mortgage will mean that the private rented sector (PRS) continues to rise in prominence, becoming more akin to what is seen elsewhere in the world. 

"The lack of people saving for a deposit, coupled with the apparent affordability problem, could mean we are seeing a shift towards a PRS centric property landscape, similar to that which has long been a way of life in Germany and wider continental Europe," said Andy Phillips, commercial director at Knight Knox.

However, while the lack of affordability in terms of homes might be seen as a problem, the study also discovered that an overwhelming number of people who rent are happy with their current situation. Of those surveyed by Knight Knox, 60.7 per cent said they are content with renting in the current climate.

 


UK home ownership levels fall by half in two decades among young people [Photo: Bartłomiej Szewczyk via iStock]

The rise of generation rent and a trend towards becoming tenants rather than homeowners, either by necessity or choice, has meant a drastic fall in ownership levels among young Brits across the last few years, according to a new report released this week. 

Data from the Local Government Association (LGA) has shown that in the past two decades, there has been a halving in the volume of people aged 25 who own the property that they live in. 

It said that in 1997, the proportion of people aged 25 who owned their own property was 46 per cent. However, in 2017, this has fallen markedly, and now sits at around just 20 per cent of people of this age. 

There are two main reasons for this fall in ownership levels nationwide. On one hand, it has become harder and more expensive to be able to get onto the housing ladder in that period, leading many young people to rent. But it's also true that renting has simply become more popular in the same period, and many young people now prefer to rent rather than buy a home thanks to the freedom it offers. 

The report also shows that the number of people who own their own home in general has dropped in the last few years. Between 2008 and now, there has been a fall of some 4.4 per cent in the number of homeowners. In the same period, the volume of tenants nationwide has climbed by around 5.1 per cent. 

However, the LGA said there are other problems, such as a lack of housing stock, keeping people from getting onto the property ladder. 

"Our figures show just how wide the generational home ownership gap is in this country. A shortage of houses is a top concern for people as homes are too often unavailable, unaffordable and not appropriate for the different needs in our communities," said Martin Tett, LGA housing spokesman.

"The housing crisis is complex and is forcing difficult choices on families, distorting places, and hampering growth. But there is a huge opportunity, as investment in building the right homes in the right places has massive wider benefits for people and places," he explained.

 


FAQ - How much is Stamp Duty? [Photo: iStock]

Stamp Duty, or Stamp Duty Land Tax, to give it its full title, is a tax that is payable by anyone when they buy a home or property in England and Wales that comes in at a price higher than the respective thresholds. As a general rule of thumb, anyone spending more than £125,000 on a residential property, or £150,000 on a commercial property, will need to pay Stamp Duty.

You will pay Stamp Duty if you are; buying a freehold property, a new or existing leasehold, buying through a shared ownership scheme or if you buy a share in or take on a mortgage for a house. 

How much is Stamp Duty?

The price you pay for Stamp Duty has changed in recent times from one block payment based on the entire value of your home to a system whereby each part of the value of your home that falls into each price band will be taxed differently. This has made it cheaper in most cases. 

For example, if you buy a home that is worth £300,000, you would have paid three per cent of this value (£9,000) under the old system. However, under the new rules introduced in 2014, you now pay two per cent of the proportion between £125,000 and £250,000 (£2,500) and five per cent of the value above £250,000 (£2,500), giving you a total price of £5,000. 

To work out what you would have to pay on any property purchase, the government has released an easy to use Stamp Duty calculator

Who pays Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty is paid by anyone who is buying a residential property costing more than £125,000. Regardless of your position on the property chain, the tax is always paid by the buyer and not the seller, and will always need to be factored into decisions over budgeting and purchases. 

How do I pay Stamp Duty?

When you have purchased a house, the next stage is to fill in a Stamp Duty Land Tax return and send it to the government. Thereafter, you will have 30 days to settle the bill and pay your Stamp Duty charge to the government. 

This is something that you as the buyer can do yourself, but in the majority of cases, it's something that the solicitor dealing with your purchase will manage. They will normally fill in the return and pay Stamp Duty on the day of completion, and simply bill you for it along with all their other fees, making the whole process much smoother. 

Do I have to pay the surcharge?

Not unless you are buying a home to let out to tenants. Only those who are buying a home that is not their primary residence have to pay the additional three per cent Stamp Duty surcharge on top of the standard charge. If you are simply buying a house that you will be moving into, then you will only be expected to pay the standard rate. 

However, those who move home without having first sold their previous property will have to pay the three per cent surcharge. This is refundable, however, as long as you manage to sell the original home within the first 36 months after you pay the surcharge. 

If you would like more information about this, read our FAQ on the Stamp Duty surcharge.