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Does House Price Index Data Provide A Clearer Picture Than The Newspaper Headlines Suggest?

Does House Price Index Data Provide A Clearer Picture Than The Newspaper Headlines Suggest?

Does House Price Index Data Provide A Clearer Picture Than The Newspaper Headlines Suggest?

There can be a great deal of contradiction with the rising number of published House Price Indices, (HPI), that attempt to show the general public what is happening in the UK residential property sales market.

Many Spotlight subscribers are already aware that some of the published House Price Index data provided by mortgage lenders only relate to residential property sales, whilst others relate only to property asking prices.

However, property purchasers are often told to use the official published Land Registry data as a true guide to property prices rather than rely on any house price index data, but Land Registry data is a few months out of date because the Land Registry only record actual completed residential property sales.

Consumers need to know if all the HPI data is anywhere near accurate before they decide to part with cash to purchase a property, and with some degree of disparity between different indices the information provided can be confusing.

However, one thing is becoming very clear – UK property price growth is slowing!

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One In Five Property Buyers Pay Over The Asking Price To Secure Purchases

One In Five Property Buyers Pay Over The Asking Price To Secure Purchases

20% Of Property Buyers Are
Willing To Pay Premium Prices

One in five buyers willingly paid more than the original asking price for a residential property during the month of March, as the competition in the UK property sales market continues to heat up, according to the latest data published by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

According to the NAEA data, the average number of residential properties available for purchase through estate agencies across the UK has fallen for the sixth consecutive month (March 2014) resulting in the number of properties available for sale reaching an almost a 10-year low.

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How Estate Agents Are Regulated And Who Regulates Them

Currently estate agency as a profession is self-regulated. The Office of Fair Trading has previously stated that it believes self-regulation within the industry serves to relieve unnecessary regulatory burdens. However, research carried out by the Guardian newspaper regarding the consumers view on estate agency shows that;

  • Just one in ten people asked thought that estate agents were trustworthy.
  • 70% of people interviewed were of the opinion that estate agents were prone to giving misleading advice.
  • 41% were under the false impression that estate agents need certain qualifications to enable them to practise.

Despite consumer bodies campaigning against self regulation, estate agents are not currently legally obliged to belong to an industry regulatory scheme. Just one third of estate agents in the United Kingdom currently belong to an industry regulatory scheme, according to the Guardian. This can be disconcerting for consumers as taking action against an agency which is guilty of miscode of conduct  that does not belong to such a scheme is not as straightforward; the complaint must be logged directly to the Office of Fair Trading. Even though estate agents are not legally obliged to belong to a scheme, legally they must abide by the rules set down by the Estate Agency Act 1979, amended for undesirable practices.

Within the confines of this Act a complaint may be registered by a consumer if they believe that the estate agent they have instructed has breached their duty of care; this could mean providing misleading information such as presenting a developer as a first time buyer with no chain or not displaying their terms and conditions clearly. If the estate agent concerned is a member of an approved scheme the complaint may be taken to the Property Ombudsman. They will subsequently  look at the case individually and compensation may be awarded to the affected consumer, compensation can be up to a maximum of £25,000. If the agency is not listed with an approved scheme however, the complaint may only be registered with the Office of Fair Trading; in this case the investigation will not look at the individual complaint, but at the agency as a whole, no compensation will be offered despite the conclusion of the investigation.

The most well-known scheme within the estate agency industry is the National Association of Estate Agents; this was founded in 1962 by estate agent Raymond Andrews. The scheme is only available to agents who pass the necessary exams and must abide by the NAEA code of practice. This practice includes protecting clients from fraud, misrepresentation and malpractice; Noncompliance of these rules can result in a fine of up to £5000 per branch and membership will be revoked. Another approved scheme is the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, founded in 1968. It is an independent scheme which regulates property professionals and surveyors; it is suited mainly to agents working with commercial property transactions.

From October 1st 2008, estate agents were legally required to register with an Estate Agents Redress Scheme. This was an Order made under the Estate Agents Act 1979 by the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Each of these redress schemes must be approved by the Office of Fair Trading for the registration to be legally binding, one of the approved schemes includes the Property Ombudsman. This was created on May 1st 2009 and was formerly the Ombudsman for Estate Agents created in 1998. The title was changed to reflect the broadening of authority in relation to complaints including commercial and overseas property. The scheme is only available to companies whose director or partner is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The Property Ombudsman provides impartial assistance to any customer who feels they have been treated unfairly. For the complaint to be considered by the Property Ombudsman the agent must have either infringed the legal rights of the consumer, breached the terms of any practice that they are working under or be guilty of maladministration. Although this scheme is voluntary, it is recommended to instruct an agent who is registered with The Property Ombudsman, any complaint about an agency which does not belong to the scheme should be submitted to the Office of Fair Trading.

When selling a property, it is recommended that research is carried out before instructing an estate agent. By choosing an agent who is a member of the National Association of Estate Agents the property vendor can be assured that the necessary qualifications will have been obtained.

If in doubt consumers may verify an agency’s NAEA membership by calling 0844 387 0555.

Written by Urban Sales and Lettings Nationwide Online Estate Agents

The new version of the EPC, and the new legislation governing their use, are meant to come into force on Good Friday, 6th April 2012.
However, changes to the rules governing EPCs were supposed to be implemented in July 2011, and then in October 2011. Both dates came and went without any sign of the changes happening and with no explanation of what was going on.
Detailed guidance from the Department of Communities and Local Government, (CLG), is promised well in advance of the date, but it’s rumoured that the new version of the EPC hasn’t been approved yet!
In practical terms, this is more of a worry for lettings and estate agents than it is for the general public, who will become legally responsible for EPCs, and face censure and EVEN have to pay fines if the new rules governing their production and use are broken!
Yet they are almost completely in the dark about what’s going on!
However, the big question is will any changes make EPCs more useful?
The official government line is that anything which increases the awareness of the energy efficiency and environmental impact of a property has got to be a good idea.
But so far, there is little evidence to suggest that buyers actually care about energy efficiency very much. After all, there is a lot more to choosing a home than the cost of heating it.
Very few buyers are showing signs of rejecting properties that they like and can afford, simply because they have a “G” energy rating.
Of course, this may change as we are forced to become greener. However, that day is still a long way off.
Alan Kirkman

However, Communities and Local Government department insisted on Friday that guidance for lettings and estate agents on EPC changes has been issued.
The department denied keeping property lettings and estate agents in the dark and says it will be issuing further guidance, although it has not said when.
CLG said that guidance was issued on March 2nd 2012 .
CLG confirmed that the changes to UK EPCs will be implemented on April 6, and the new-look EPC will be released on April 1.
Regarding further guidance, CLG said: “To avoid piecemeal announcements, it is the Department’s intention to make further information available, including the Q&A guidance, with details of other changes being made to enhance and improve the energy performance of buildings regime which will also be implemented in April.”
But the claim that any guidance had been issued baffled the NAEA and ARLA, who said that they had not received anything to circulate to members, and bemused individual estate agents.
The Communities and Local Government department statement said:
“The Property Agents EPC Retrieval Service guidance issued by DCLG on 2nd March provides UK estate agents with details of the service being provided to enable them to attach a copy of the first page of the EPC to electronic on-line written particulars to ensure the most up to date EPC is always provided directly from the EPC Register. This service has been set up at the specific request of property agents. If required, a copy of the first page of the EPC can also be printed and attached in hard copy to written particulars. This guidance has been made available to key partners within the property industry for circulation to their members. However, any property agent is welcome to contact us and request a copy of the guidance. A summary sheet regarding the regulatory change is also available.”

Mortgage approvals, residential property sales and first time buyer numbers increase

Is the UK property market making a comeback?

January figures from a variety of trusted and respected sources offer a major boost for the UK property market as mortgage approvals, first time buyer numbers and residential property sales all increased during January.

Data gathered from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), British Bankers’ Association (BBA), National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is viewed as a major boost to the UK property market.

UK property buyers have been taking advantage of the two-year stamp duty exemption due to end in March 2012, with the number of First-Time Buyers (FTB’s) registering with estate agents also being the highest since May 2011.

The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) say that, 38,092 applications were approved in January, 34% up on the same time last year, and the highest figure seen in two years.

The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) figures show that 23% of overall property sales in January were made to First-Time Buyers, a rise from 21% in December, marking the third consecutive monthly increase.

Mortgage lenders have claimed that one of the driving forces behind the increase in activity has been the imminent end of the two-year stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported that the £10.5 Billion (GBP) loaned in the form of mortgages during January 2012 was the sixth month in a row that the year-on-year figure has risen, and overall mortgage lending in January was up 10% on a year ago.

Despite general consumer caution around borrowing, first-time buyers have flocked to get on the property ladder, showing stamp duty was a major deterrant.

NAEA President, Wendy Evans-Scott, said: “The figures suggest that stamp duty is a key factor for those on tight budgets who are considering a property investment”.

Overall residential sales across the UK property market increased from 5% per branch in December to 6% in January.

The number of residential properties sold in the UK was 12,000 up on January 2011 and also at its highest level for four years.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) figures showed that a total of 64,000 property transactions went through during January, up on the 52,000 deals in January 2011 and the best start to a year since 2008’s tally of 79,000.

David Dooks, BBA statistics director, said: “January saw the high street banks approve more mortgages for house purchase than of late, despite low household confidence, as some people try to complete transactions before the stamp duty holiday ends in March.”

All in all, this is great news for the UK property market and a warning sign to property investors that they are no longer the only people buying property.

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