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House Prices Officially Rising Across The UK

House Prices Officially Rising Across The UK

UK House Prices Rising Faster Than Inflation

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has recorded year-on-year house price increases across the UK with property values increasing by:

  • 5.6% in England
  • 5.4% in Wales
  • 2.5% in Scotland
  • 3.3% in Northern Ireland

The increase in house prices and activity in the UK property market has been credited to an increase in first-time buyers (FTB) purchasing residential property using the Government’s Help-To-Buy scheme.

The ONS have revealed that annual house price growth outpaced the cost of living in November 2013, even after removing property market activity in London and the South East of England from the calculations, property prices were up by an average of 3.1%, compared with a 2.1% rate of inflation.

Property price increases in the UK are generally driven by market activity and price increases in London and its surrounding areas, although other regions have started to show accelerating property price increases.

Property prices in London were up by 11.6% in November 2013, compared with a year earlier, and property prices have also increased strongly across the whole of the UK according to official figures

Regional Property Price Increases

  • London: up 11.6%
  • South East: up 4.5%
  • West Midlands: up 4.4%
  • North East: up 4.2%
  • East: up 4.1%
  • Yorkshire and the Humber: up 3.2%
  • South West: up 3.1%
  • East Midlands: up 2%
  • North West: up 0.6%                           Source: ONS annual change, Nov 2013

UK regions are becoming far more buoyant and less reliant on activity in the London property market and the majority of buyers are having to look further afield than central locations to find affordable properties, creating a halo effect on property prices.

The annual increase in UK property prices in November follows on from the 5.5% rise observed in October 2013 and although the annual comparison did not show any acceleration, property prices were higher than the previous month increasing by 0.5% in November compared with October, with an average residential property valued at £248,000 (GBP).

The ONS house price index is based on mortgage completions, and is considered to be more comprehensive than House Price Indices (HPI) produced by mortgage lenders such as the Halifax and Nationwide whose figures are based on their own mortgage data.

Will It Be A Happy New Year For Property Investors And Landlords?

Will It Be A Happy New Year For Property Investors And Landlords?

Goodbye 2013 – Hello 2014!

2013 may have been the year when the recovery of the UK housing market began following the introduction of the Government’s Help-To-Buy scheme and Funding-For-Lending initiative, but it also saw proposals for greater regulation of the private rental sector including extra responsibilities for UK landlords.

New regulation proposals caused major concern among property professionals after the Government announced that they wanted UK PRS landlords to police the immigration status of all tenants. Landlord associations and industry professionals argued over the proposals claiming that landlords would end up unpaid agents of the UK Border Agency and demanded that the legislation be watered down.

The Government want to have more control over the private rented sector as they know that property investors and landlords are able to generate decent returns offering property for rent as tenant demand remains strong, however there is the danger that over regulation may end up discouraging property investors and landlords from expanding property portfolios.

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UK Property Growth Cycle Has Already Started

Cash In On The UK Property Boom!

Cash In On The UK Property Boom!

Unless you are a professional property investor, you may not know that the next property growth cycle has already started and the media would have us believe that the UK will see another property boom!

The recent Budget put the property market back in the spotlight, while better mortgage deals have already been delivered by the Funding for Lending scheme (FLS). 

So now, thanks to the easing of the tough mortgage restrictions, UK residential property may be set for a historic run.

For the first time since the previous 2007 peak of the property market, millions of first-time buyers and owner occupiers will have the chance to purchase property without the ultra tough lending requirements and large deposits that have discouraged property purchasers for the last 5 years.

Cash In On The UK Property Boom!

Cash In On The UK Property Boom!

And according to the latest media reports, they’re likely to do that in droves.

So what does that mean for you as a property investor?

Please click here for the details.

  • UK property prices pushed up due to market activity?
  • Government intervention inflating a national property price bubble?
  • Difficulty in buying a reasonable priced residential property?
  • Discounts disappearing? (This is a big one…)
  • The beginning of the end?

So the BIG question is…

Is now the time to purchase as many cheap discounted properties as you can, before it’s too late?

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UK Property Prices Up £7,000 In Four WeeksUK Property Prices Hit 2008 Peak Values

UK property prices have jumped up £7,000 (GBP) in a month as UK property market activity picks up.

The huge increase in property values over the last four weeks is confirmation that the UK is enjoying another property boom.

The £1,750 weekly uplift puts the price of a typical residential three-bedroom semi detached property at £252,418 (GBP), according to popular property portal, Rightmove.

The biggest increase in property prices was recorded in London where new vendors have added an extra £50,484 (GBP) to average residential property asking prices this month, however property prices in the nation’s capital are over inflated compared to the rest of the UK.

The rise in UK property prices is being driven by first-time buyers and second step buyers following the introduction of the Government’s Help-To-Buy mortgage scheme.

Fears of a housing bubble have also been eased as the number of new property vendors entering the property market has also increased by 8%, however property shortages have driven up property prices in some UK regions.

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Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Industry welcome to weak tenants’ charter that could see UK PRS landlords at odds with

Buy-To-Let Mortgage Lenders

The new tenants’ charter was announced by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (CLG), Eric Pickles, last Wednesday, allowing tenants to ask for longer tenancies and better transparency of letting agents’ fees.

The new tenants’ charter will also aim to force all lettings and property managing agents controlling PRS rental properties to join a compulsory redress scheme.

The Tenants’ Charter, published for consultation, outlines what tenants should be looking out for at every stage when renting a property in the UK’s private rented sector, including lettings agents having to inform customers what all their fees are upfront, before they have committed to anything, including visiting a property.

However, the introduction of these terms under the banner of the tenants’ charter could threaten the business future of large numbers of landlords who would technically be in breach of the strict buy-to-let mortgage terms imposed by many mortgage lenders, which generally stipulate that tenancy agreements are to be for a period of no more than one year.

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Secretary Of State For Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles

Mr Pickles stated that the Government intend to publish a code of practice setting standards for the management of property in the private rental sector (PRS) along with guidance setting out the role of public bodies in protecting tenants from illegal eviction.

Mr Pickles said: “This government is on the side of hardworking people and the last thing we want to do is hurt tenants and kill (property) investment by increasing costs and strangling the sector with red tape. But tenants deserve better value for money, and dodgy landlords should be under no illusion they can provide a shoddy service with impunity. These proposals will raise the quality and choice of rental accommodation, root out the cowboys and rogue operators in the sector, and give tenants the confidence to request longer fixed-term, family-friendly tenancies that meet their needs”

Mr Pickles also said that the Government will develop a model tenancy agreement which will clearly set out the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, and ensure families can benefit from longer tenancies, without changing the existing legal framework for the rental market. He said “Longer tenancies will give families greater certainty and security, especially for those with children at school, and reduce costs for both tenants and landlords who will not have to pay letting agents to arrange frequent contract renewals.”

Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee said: “I am pleased that the Government has embraced many of the recommendations in our private rented sector report. The proposals for a tenants’ charter and model tenancy agreements reflect our calls for greater awareness of rights and responsibilities. Far too often the security needed by families is not being provided by the private rented sector. I am pleased, therefore, that the Government has listened to what the Committee said about the need for more family friendly tenancies. It is also welcome that the Government is taking forward our proposal to allow rent and housing benefit to be clawed back when landlords have been convicted of letting out dangerous property. The Committee will be watching closely to ensure that they are translated into action. We will also press to ensure that the Government’s gathering of information on selective licensing leads to action to raise standards. Much remains to be done if renting is to become an attractive alternative to owner occupation. It is disappointing; therefore, that the Government does not see fit to crack down on cowboy letting agents and their rip off fees and charges. It is also regrettable that the Government has declined to give local authorities the powers and freedom they need to improve housing in their areas.”

Tenants Charter Proposals For Longer Tenancies Breach Mortgage Lenders Current
Buy-To-Let Mortgage Terms

Property professionals generally agree with the introduction of the new tenants’ charter but many think that the Government have sidestepped the opportunity to enforce much tighter regulation of landlords in the private rental sector and lettings and property managing agents in particular and many feel that the new measures fall short of what is really needed.

It will be interesting to see if the Government put pressure on the banks and mainstream mortgage lenders to abolish or ignore such limiting clauses, allowing them to deliver on the real aim of the tenants’ charter.

Caroline Kenny, an executive of the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) wants the Government to build on the experience and expertise of those industry bodies which already require higher standards of their members. Commenting “Responsible agents who choose to belong to professional bodies which require client money protection insurance, impartial redress and an adherence to a strict Code of Practice are forced to compete with those who show little regard to professional standards or the needs of their clients. UKLA believe that this package of proposals represents a missed opportunity for the Government to make mandatory the kind of comprehensive protection offered by the UK Association of Letting Agents and other industry regulatory bodies, which are called UKALA & NLAfor by those working in the property industry and needed by hardworking consumers who are unable to differentiate between good and bad letting agents.”

Richard Lambert, Chief Executive of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “The NLA has long argued that private renting can be far more flexible than commonly perceived, and we need to tap into this potential to meet the changing needs and expectations of those who rent. We look forward to working with government to make a success of these proposals. However, we believe that the Government has missed an opportunity to require greater professionalism of letting agents. While the requirement to belong to an approved redress scheme is a step in the right direction, it does little to protect the financial interest of landlords and tenants working with unregulated agents.”

Residential Landlords Association

Join The Residential Landlords Association

Alan Ward, Chairman of the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) welcomed the Government action to improve tenants’ understanding of their rights and responsibilities saying: “Tenants take more trouble buying a second-hand car than renting a house” Ensuring that tenants and landlords each understand clearly their rights and obligations to one another ensures a balanced relationship and enables them to hold each other to account based on the large number of laws already in existence. It will also play a vital role in rooting out those willfully criminal landlords who reap misery on tenants. We look forward to working with Ministers on the Charter as well as on how to best get this information to tenants.”

RICSPeter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said “The long overdue announcement was definitely a step in the right direction. The lettings sector has for far too long been the Wild West of the property industry, with many tenants having absolutely nowhere to go should they wish to complain about shoddy service. The introduction of a code of practice specifically covering those managing rented property should certainly improve standards.”

Chief Executive of the Housing & Homelessness charity Shelter, Campbell Robb said “This announcement is recognition that current private renting arrangements are not fit for families with children, who need greater long-term stability. This is a welcome step in the right direction, and ministers now need to consider how to make longer tenancies a real choice for the families desperate for a more stable place to live.”

The announcement of the new Tenants’ Charter was good news for consumer champions, Which? Who have been campaigning since 2007 when they first called for an amendment to the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007 requiring letting agents to join an approved complaints scheme, just as property sales agents are. The consumer groups investigations also discovered earlier this year that major letting agents are acting unlawfully by not being upfront about the fees charged to clients.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, looks set to be implemented in Spring 2014, giving all landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme. This will mean that 40% of agents who currently aren’t signed up to a redress scheme will have to become members

Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Renting is now the only housing option for millions so we’re pleased to see the Government taking steps to address problems in the lettings market. Making charges clear upfront will enable people to shop around more easily, and longer tenancies could mark the end of unnecessary renewal fees. The new legislation giving landlords and tenants access to a complaints scheme now needs to be brought in as soon as possible and there must be strong action taken against any agent in breach of the scheme.”

  • Do you think the proposals go far enough?

Take our Poll on the Tenants Charter or leave a comment below!

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Mortgage Loan Approvals Increase

Mortgage Loan Approvals Increase

More “Help To Buy” Mortgage Lenders Announced

The number of mortgages given to first-time buyers increased by a third in the 12 months to August 2013 according to the latest data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), with new entrants to the property market accounting for 44% of all residential property purchases during the month.

The CML figures were published as Barclays became the latest high street lender to confirm it was signing up to the second part of the government’s Help to Buy scheme, which is designed to make more 95% mortgages available to first-time buyers, second steppers and home movers.

Barclays join Santander, RBS, Halifax and HSBC in confirming it will use the taxpayer-backed guarantee to make high Loan-To-Value (LTV) mortgages available for property purchasers, meaning that more than half of UK mainstream mortgage lenders are now signed up to provide more mortgages at higher loan to value ratios.

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Demand May Outstrip Supply As Lenders Brace For Help-To-Buy Stampede

Demand May Outstrip Supply As Lenders Brace For Help-To-Buy Stampede

Demand May Outstrip Supply As Mortgage Lenders Brace For Help-To-Buy Stampede

Over 600,000 residential properties are eligible for the £12 Billion (GBP) scheme, while Zoopla says buyers will still need average £10,000 (GBP) deposit

More than 600,000 residential properties on the market are eligible for inclusion in the £12 Billion (GBP) second phase of the Help-To-Buy scheme, according to the latest in a series of surveys leading to predictions that UK mortgage lenders will be inundated due to the expected demand for the government-backed mortgages.

Details of the 95% mortgages, which are available to existing property owners as well as first-time buyers, are to be unveiled by Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, with some banks expected to invite loan applications within hours of the announcement expected next week.

The second phase of the Government’s flagship scheme to allow more first-time buyers and second steppers, wider access to the UK’s residential property market has already been brought forward by three months, with high street bank Santander claiming that up to 1.7 million people want to use the scheme.

The Help-To-Buy scheme will cover existing residential properties as well as new-build properties, but as yet there are no plans to allow Buy-To-Let property investors use the scheme.

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Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Government Set To U-Turn On Immigration Checks By Landlords

Immigration Checks Unworkable Say Critics

There could be a moral victory for common sense on the cards as the UK Government are set to perform yet another U-Turn on policies as they are forced to back down on requiring landlords to conduct immigration checks on all tenants.

The Government plan was announced in the Queen’s Speech back in May and intended to force private rented sector (PRS) landlords to check their tenants’ immigration status or face fines of up to £3,000 (GBP).

Under the intended reform, all UK landlords and letting agents would be forced to check the immigration status of every tenant and tenants would have to produce documents showing they have permission to be in the UK.

There are also been concerns raised about landlords’ ongoing responsibilities for tenants already in their rental properties whose status may have gone from legal to illegal. Under the proposals, first-time offenders could face fines of £1,000 (GBP) per illegal immigrant in their rental properties. Landlords who failed to make proper checks within the last three years could also be fined £3,000 (GBP) per tenant.

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Government Seek Bids For Build-To-Rent Scheme

Government Seek Bids For Build-To-Rent Scheme

Build-To-Rent scheme seeking bids from property developers to help bring about the fastest rate of affordable residential property construction for two decades 

UK Government Housing Minister, Mark Prisk, last week announced a second round of funding for the construction of new rental properties and the government are seeking fresh bids for a share of at least £400 Million (GBP) to build new properties specifically for the private rental sector (PRS).

The funding is part of the flagship £1 Billion (GBP) Build-To-Rent fund, which offers support for property developers and property investors who want to get into the private rental sector for the first time.

Mr Prisk said the new Build-To-Rent scheme would encourage investment in the UK’s private rental market and offer prospective tenants a greater choice of rental property. The scheme is intended to run alongside up to £10 Billion (GBP) in government housing guarantees.

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Chancellor Insists Help-To-Buy scheme Is Part Of A Healthy Property Market

Chancellor Insists Help-To-Buy scheme Is Part Of A Healthy Property Market

Chancellor insists that 95% mortgages underwritten by Government are Part Of A Healthy Property Market

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne has hailed the wider recovery of the UK’s economy and taken a swipe at the critics of his housing policies, insisting that large home loans are part of a “healthy market” and “aspirational society”.

Several Government schemes have been announced since the start of the year aimed to get banks and mortgage lenders to increase both the availability and affordability of mortgages in the UK.

The Government’s Help-To-Buy scheme has been the most controversial, because the Government underwrites high loan-to-value (LTV) mortgages, removing some of the risk from mortgage lenders, enabling them to offer cheaper mortgage loans to borrowers who only have small value deposits.

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