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Shared Ownership Proves Magnetic for Cash Rich

[ Posted January 31st, 2010 ]

It is indeed a bracing thought for the vast majority of first-time buyers in today’s difficult market conditions: The fact is that they may well require a fairly hefty deposit in order to be in the offing for an affordable home. First-time buyers will also require a decent job with a reasonable income-as well as being able to boast a spotless credit rating in order to qualify for help through one of the multitude of government-backed initiatives as many bad credit mortgages on the market today are simply foreclosures waiting to happen.

A package designed to help those lower-paid council tenants-as well as so-called ‘key workers’-get their feet on the property ladder (known as shared-ownership) has been badly affected by the recession. The credit crunch has resulted in the majority of lenders refusing to offer a depositless mortgage-assuming they remain in the mortgage lending sector, as many have withdrawn, regarding the mortgage sector as simply ’sub-prime’. Under current market conditions it appears that only the wealthiest, those with sufficient disposable income to save, or those able to rely on financial aid from their parents will be able to afford an affordable residence.

The head of marketing from Metropolitan Home Ownership, Jim Munson, stated that his Housing Association was seeing many more people with ‘double-barrelled surnames as well as support from the bank of mum and dad’. He added that buyer types have changed, due to the fact that terms of eligibility have widened to permit those earning up to £60,000 a year to apply  along with the fact that saving requirements are much tighter. As there are no longer any 100% mortgages to be had buyers now require a 30% deposit just to get a good interest rate. The demand for shared ownership is at unprecedented levels, yet starved of the backing of lenders housing associations are largely unable to sell. Buyers with money put by, however, have a good range of choice, with the best prices in those areas seeing the largest number of new builds immediately pre-recession. There is hope for others, however. Instead of facing the prospect of leaving unsold homes vacant, a number of housing associations have implemented a range of different rental schemes with the aim of aiding potential buyers in their quest to save a deposit. Indeed, taking the example of the One Housing Association Group, of their 640 affordable home occupied during the last two years 200 were rented to potential buyers through these various rental schemes.

Noughties Sees Coastal Tide Turn UK Property Market

[ Posted January 30th, 2010 ]

The longest-running monthly measure of house prices in the UK has shown that house prices in Britain doubled during the last decade in real terms, and the most significant growth was seen in coastal areas. According the the latest research from the Halifax Building Society, the years of the last decade were very significant as far as the UK property market was concerned, and, despite experiencing a blip between the mid point of 2007-mid 2009, where property prices dropped by in  excess of one-fifth, property prices still rose by more in real terms during this decade than in any other during the last half century.

The figures for the last decade indicate that UK property prices rose by 105% over the last decade, which saw the average UK house price rise from £81,595 in the fourth quarter of 1999 to over £167,000 for the fourth quarter period of 2009. The figures also show that, in terms of the national average, the price rose by a whopping 145% between the beginning of the last decade and the market’s apex in the third quarter of 2007. The next seven quarters, however, saw a full 21% fall. Following this, prices rose by 6% in the final two quarters of the decade with property prices themselves reaching similar figures to those seen during the third quarter of 2005. In regional terms, the statistics show that Redruth in Cornwall saw the largest price rise of the past decade, with huge gains of 207% overall.




Cornwall, to underscore its powerful performance, boasts three of the four towns that saw the largest gain s in value, with Penzance and Helston alongside Redruth. In the north of the country, prices in Wallasey, Merseyside rose by 172% and in Wallsend in Tyne and Wear increased by 164%. These figures made them the north’s best performing towns. As far as the south east is concerned, prices in Ramsgate rose by 181%, and by 160% in Southend on Sea, marking them out as the regions best performers. Indeed, the ten areas showing the fastest growth in house prices are located on, or very near to, the coast. The lowest house price rises were seen in Greater London and the south east due to both growing competition on the market and increasing mortgage offerings for some prospective home owners looking to take advantage of the best mortgage rates seen in quite some time and lock in a good fixed-rate mortgage, with rises of 80 and 85% respectively, marking a reversal of fortune from the last decade where London saw the largest house price increases. It seems that the attraction of a coastal seaside location has helped to boost properties located in coastal areas and towns.

Easing Monetary Pressures Could Aid Housing Rebound

[ Posted January 29th, 2010 ]

According to recent claims made by a Bank of England policy-maker, residential property prices in Britain will recover in the same manner as happened during the 1980s, thereby avoiding the meltdown in the market witnessed in the 1990s. In line with other predictions, Andrew Sentance, a member of the Monetary Policy Committee that sets interest rates, stated that during the coming few years the property market will be propped by a supply shortage compared to events in the 1990s when, after the crash, there was an over-supply of residential properties following an earlier spike-which led to a crash.

He also stated that the wider economy-as well as the property market-was depressed as a result of the continuing recession and that business and consumer confidence has been rocked as a result of concomitant turbulence. He also believes that subsequent fiscal policy have calmed the shocks, and restored some confidence, leading to at least a partial recovery in the financial markets, thus stimulating a similar partial recovery in the housing market. It has also been noted that the recovery of the housing market in the 1980s was a good deal stronger than that experienced in the 1990s-mainly as a result of the still-existing surplus properties held over form the 1980s boom which grounded the housing market during the opening half of the 1990s.

Analysts identified that, whilst house prices rebounded relative to inflation during the early years of the 1980s, by contrast, the first half of the 1990s, real house prices kept falling before eventually levelling out some 15% below levels at the beginning of the recovery. It is widely thought that the balance between the supply and demand in the residential property market is much more reflective of the early years of the 1980s than the 1990s.

This has been underscored by the fact that the middle years of the last decade saw no spike in terms of housing investment, and building activity was curtailed, ensuring that supply was not swamped. If interest rates remain at their historic low levels in order to help foster good mortgage rates for both fixed-rate mortgages as well as any re-mortgages residents may need to clear debt and if general monetary conditions stay relatively relaxed in conjunction also with easing pressures in the banking system it seems that we could see a significant recovery in the housing market generally.

Google Housing Poised to Corner UK Market

[ Posted January 28th, 2010 ]

From February 2010, the internet’s most ubiquitous search engine giant will be eliminating the middleman and taking on the big real estate professionals in their own backyard. As a result of the shake-up that may well ensue, selling and buying homes and properties may never be quite the same ever again. Google, with their plans for a house-sales website in the UK, plan to turn everyone into potential estate agents.

Despite Google’s reticence to discuss actual plans a number of estate agents have indicated that they have been negotiating with Google with regards to the website. Google Real Estate in the UK may well end up being reminiscent of the property site currently running in Australia, where Google real estate started running in July 2009. This subsequently revolutionised the way in which houses are bought and sold, as consumers have been empowered to take all matters regarding selling and buying into their own hands, negating the need for an estate agent. Still, it may not offer some of the professional and experienced assistance that may come along with many agents in help prospective buyers locate the best mortgage deal around, so it can’t be seen as a complete replacement tool as of yet, especially for many first time buyers.

The service from Google’s site is free, and all individual homeowners and landlords can utilise it as can professional estate agents. The service works by sellers e-mailing the details and images of their properties to Google, which subsequently puts the images and details into a database called Streetview. Analysts in Australia state that the service has cracked the real estate market, pointing the way forward for sales of both residential and commercial property.

Despite the fact that up until this point estate agents have not lost a great deal of business. Most expect this to change radically during this year if Google’s service stays free, as sellers will no longer need to pay  estate agents for a service they can undertake themselves. Analysts and estate agents in the UK believe that the same will probably happen here too, as long as the Google service is free. If it isn’t forecasts are that it could fail.

Some agents are already experimenting with what they call a ‘mew media strategy’, including interactive websites and oft-updated blogs. By so doing they believe that Google’s service will complement what they are already doing. This is, however, still quite an unusual way of doing things, as the majority of estate agents still simply advertise properties on websites, relying principally on printed literature as well as personal trips to branch offices. Some believe that, whilst such private sales are much discussed, this method still accounts for only 5% of current sales.

Wealthy Investors Eye Real Estate

[ Posted January 27th, 2010 ]

The possibility of a powerful recovery in bargain property stock is fuelling interest in the sector – particularly with the very wealthiest investors – with this group of people forecast to boost property allocations up to 30%. Among the most wealthy investors, it may not be out of the ordinary for their portfolios to contain over 50% of property holdings. Current market conditions appear to have resulting in investors regarding the expense of financial as detrimental, whereas the perceived mid-long-term potential prospects has overtaken the allure of stocks and bonds. Currently, the US residential property market is most favoured by investors.

Indeed, according to recent figures the richer the investor the greater likelihood that they will choose to invest in property. According to the figures from the survey by Barclay’s, double the number of investors plan to increase their investments in both commercial and residential properties as opposed to those looking to reduce. The investors currently at the head of the property investment field are those with in excess of $800,000 to invest, and the sheer scale of their plans for the sector appear to have taken analysts and researchers very much by surprise.

One major factor behind the phenomenon is that, with the global recession having suppressed property prices in all regions with the exception of certain parts of Asia, many properties are now undervalued, thereby stoking the trend for rising property investment. In fact, property investment among wealthy investors looks primed to climb to 30% of the average portfolio during the course of the next few years, compared to 28% at present according to Barclay’s researchers. The research does not include those properties used by investors as a main residence.

The study also found that investors from the Gulf States and Canada were among those more likely to raise their property allocations both domestically and overseas. The average increase in real estate looks set at 4% among these investors. The only country likely to see investors reducing their proportion of property investments in their portfolios was Spain. In Spain, roughly 60% of wealthy investors have more than half of their assets sunk into property.

Three out of four respondents stated that residential properties seem an attractive option, with two-thirds choosing to invest in commercial properties. Despite this, around 75% of those asked said that they felt restricted by the current cost of borrowing, though in some locations are still able to take advantage of some of the best mortgage rates available for quite some time. Still, this fact is an exception rather than a norm amongst the current fluctuating property market.

Tenant Numbers On Rise in UK Property Market

[ Posted January 26th, 2010 ]

New research has indicated that the property market in Britain is seeing a new pattern of reluctant tenants, as we see a change in the patterns of supply and demand for properties. The research, which was undertaken by the Association of Residential Letting Agents, showed that an excess of rental properties is falling as the demand for properties is growing. According to the Association the changing pattern has produced a new breed of reluctant tenants, as in the final quarter of last year an average of 41% of Association members said that there were more tenants than properties which compares to only 24% during the previous quarter. The Association’s research also showed that 54% of landlords questioned believed that customers were being pushed into renting instead of buying. The operations manager at ARLA, Ian Potter, stated that the number of new tenants largely comprised homeowners that had no choice but to sell their properties in the course of the last year-as a result of either financial turbulence or job  changes. Also, he stated that a lot of those able to buy properties now are having problems finding the right properties. This is due to the fact that there also exists a lack of properties on sale as well as a lack of realistic mortgage levels.

Mr Potter also believes that the growing number of tenants is positive for the industry, indicating as it does market motion. He stated also, though, that the expansion in market demand causing it to exceed supply will provide the market with a fresh challenge, mainly to provide the right quality and quantity of rental properties to meet the growing demand as well as challenge lenders processing buy to let mortgages to think even more carefully before approving or declining a mortgage. The private rental sector could well serve to meet the accommodation needs of future generations of property hunters as long as it remains strong according to analysts. Many believe also that government support will be necessary to ensure that it remains so.

Tenants have continued to snap up available properties leading to a fall in unoccupied properties with the average unoccupied period for properties in the UK dropping from four weeks to 3.9 weeks for the final quarter of last year. Industry analysts believe also that these figures and trends demonstrate that renting is no longer what they describe as ‘the ugly sister’ of the UK property market as it also offers a simpler and more flexible option that home ownership, without the stresses of repairs and meeting fluctuating repayments necessitated by volatile interest rates should an owner not be able to get into a reasonable fixed rate mortgage.

The Trials of the First-Time Buyer

[ Posted January 25th, 2010 ]

Despite the fact that property is now generally more affordable for first-time buyers in the UK than at any time recently, this is only true in some areas-with figures suggesting that it may only be the case in four out of ten areas compared to those seeking a re-mortgage. The main culprit for giving many first-time buyers problems is the intial deposit required to buy a house, as whilst the average property price of a house purchased by a first-time buyer in 2009 fell by 10% on its 2008 levels to stand at £133,794, the average deposit put down stood at just under £30,000-a huge outlay. For many young, first-time buyers without parental help, this figure will most likely price them out of the housing market for some considerable time to come, and will obviously hit those without savings especially hard. Interestingly, the average age of first-time house purchasers has remained at approximately 31% for the past several years, whilst the average age of first-time buyers doing so sans financial aid from family has risen from 33 to 37 over the last two years. The Council of Mortgage Lenders believes that the increasing stringency of lending criteria throughout the credit crunch has made it extremely hard for young people to obtain a mortgage without some kind of aid towards getting the deposit together.

The number of house buyers buying a property for the first time now stands at its lowest point since November 2008, with figures from the National Association of Estate Agents showing that only 19% of those buying houses in November 2009 were first-time buyers, whilst the comparative figure for May 2009 stood at a much more inflated 45%. Many analysts feel that parental help is still a vital feature for young first-time buyers being able to get their feet on the property ladder in times of such inflated deposits for those attempting to save for a deposit out of their incomes whilst simultaneously paying rent. It is something of a dichotemy for first-time buyers as they, on the one hand, witness house prices fall, but on the other hand, see the details of the mortgage products on the market change immeasurably, with deals tiered by the level of available deposit. Clearly, the very best deals will go to ‘prime candidates’, those typicaly able to amass a deposit of between 35-40% seeing the best rates. Those unable to do so are not necessarily disbarred from the housing market, but they will have to pay much more.

A Fast Start to 2010

[ Posted January 24th, 2010 ]

According to new figures released by UK property firm, Rightmove, there are very encouraging early indications that the residential property market in the UK has enjoyed a sprightly beginning to 2010, marked by a rise of 0.4%. During the first week of the new year, figures for asking prices recovered by a surprising 1.2%, showing a marked difference and rebound from the fall of the previous week of 0.9%.

Analysts believe that these conditions have produced an excellent window of opportunity for people selling properties, coupled also with the rise in average asking prices seen throughout January. Sellers should also be encouraged by factors such as a larger number of buyers looking for properties and the lowest number of available properties for sale at any time during the last century, all contributing to and stoking a sellers market. Rightmove have forecast that there will be no price change during the coming year, and they advise sellers to cash in on the expected price rises prior to the expected price dip after the General Election, due in May this year.

Miles Shipside, Commercial Director at Rightmove, stated that the rise in asking prices is most likely an early signal from the market that sellers entering the market this year are confident of trying for higher asking prices. He stated that, as far as Rightmove were concerned, January 2010 represented the busiest ever start to a year, exceeding their expectations of a drop of around 1%.

He also believes that the factors that amalgamated to fuel the real estate market’s recovery throughout 2009 would strengthen for now, irrespective of the fact that the General Election is just around the corner. He urged potential sellers to get into the market as soon as possible, stating that the second half of 2010 held certain concerning factors that could curtail market enthusiasm, such as the possibility of interest rates rising a well as cutbacks in government expenditure.

London – the place that has driven the UK’s property price recovery – also fared well in the figures, as asking prices rose 2.3% for the month and 5% for the year. Analysts at Rightmove have forecast that London property prices may rise by as much as 5% throughout the coming year. Rightmove’s Consumer Confidence Survey, due for release later in the week, appear to support all of the forecasts, revealing as they do that around 70% of people looking to relocate in 2010 are not expecting the upcoming General Election to alter or upset their plans in any way. This optimism may well change once future government cutbacks are detailed, however current favourable market conditions and circumstances are dwarfing the concerns of the longer term, including interest rate levels and the shrunken housing market.

 

As for buyers any interested in getting into the market should look at doing so now in order to lock-in some of the best mortgage rates available in a fixed rate mortgage before any interest rate adjustment, especially first time mortgage seekers, before the market takes off again and solidifies into a position highly favourable to sellers throughout the country.

Mortgage market recovering, fraud rising

[ Posted January 23rd, 2010 ]

Recent research has shown that there are currently 2,500 mortgage-related products available to consumers in the UK-the first time availability has reached this level since May 2009. However, the figures also show that re-mortgaging has fallen and mortgage fraud is rising.

The number of available mortgages has risen for the third consecutive month, thereby affording buyers a greater range of choice. The figure, however, remains some way below the 30,000 products on the market in August 2007 which still represents the apex of the market. This also represents competition for house buyers, both for experienced home owners and first time buyers alike, suggesting some bargains might be had. Some analysts have also speculated that, as this is the third month in a row that has shown a growth in available products, the rises might just be sustainable. The figures also show, however, that the market is still a good way from full recovery.

Research from Hometrack, the housing intelligent group, mortgage lenders are turning away from the remortgaging market-and this seems set to remain the case until at least 2011. According to risk and economics director, Gary Styles, this is partly due to the fact that lenders have government targets they must meet.

As well as this, remortgaging has slumped as historic low interest rate levels  encourage those borrowers that are approaching the end of fixed mortgage deals to stay with the comparatively good reversion rates of their lenders.

On top of this, the most recent figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed that the number of remortgages allowed in December 2009 dropped 6% on November 2009, and this represents a 39% Y-O-Y fall to 31,000.

The director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, Michael Coogan, stated that refinancing and remortgaging were proving especially unappealing for homeowners-particularly with the continuing low interest rate level, and that this contributed to the market being much more buyer-oriented and reminiscent of the early part of the last decade. The research also pointed at ever-increasing levels of reported mortgage fraud. In fact, during last year, reported cases of mortgage fraud saw a rapid rise, accounting for 18% of all cases of reported fraud and 27% of fraud cases in the finance and insurance sector in the UK. In such cases, the frauds are perpetrated when a large loan is taken out on a property that is over-valued and involves a fraudulent buyer in conjunction with a crooked valuer and lawyer.

Buy-to-Let Suffering Shifts in Recent Days

[ Posted January 22nd, 2010 ]

With the renter’s market in a constant state of flux lending companies today are beginning to decline many prospective borrowers from receiving a a buy-to-let mortgage in many areas that are facing less-than-optimum value growth rates. While this may seem natural for many property enthusiasts this shift means that many home owners looking to expand their portfolios or simply those who are looking for a first time mortgage to break into the rental market may not be able to do much in the coming months as property prices continue to be less than desirable.

Of particular interest as of late are not central properties with high immediate rental yields but rather residential properties that may have lower than average rental returns yet high probability for profitability over a year. A good sized detached home in a residential district, for example, may cost you a half-million Pounds in investment and only yield a four to five percent return each year, but at the same time that home is also projected to increase nearly 30 percent over the same year. This, compared to a central flat that is more affordable with a higher yearly rental yield but low appreciation over time, is seen as a much more desirable loan candidate. Unfortunately as most novice home owners looking to invest in a buy-to-let home right now are focusing more on immediate rental returns this means less and less loans are actually granted, particularly to those who are looking to somehow lock-in the best mortgage rates possible now before any increase may occur over the recent news of the UK’s high inflation rates in recent months that may in turn drive up interest rates.

In the meantime this means that those who are holding a substantial amount of funds and are able to invest in the top homes most likely to appreciate over time right now are those sitting in the best position to realise some sort of profit or even to be granted a loan in the first place. With mortgage uncertainty on the rise many lending establishments are simply leaning on the side of caution and are becoming more and more leery about granting funds to risky propositions, so bear this in mind as you’re going able your home search if you’re considering a buy-to-let investment.

 
 
 
 
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