Well the figures are out and we’re still in a recession, the economy continued to contract over the third quarter of 2009 by 0.3%. But it’s not quite as bad as the predicted 0.4% so there is some good news. And there’s more: according to Nationwide’s latest figures, there’s been a 7% rise in house prices since the end of the first quarter which aint bad seeing as we’re getting closer to the depth record held by the 1930s recession.
When you look at the overall figures, 7% may not sound amazing and there isn’t many occurances of a quick house sale that’s for sure. Since the housing market downturn began in September 2007, house prices had fallen 23% up until April of this year. The increase we’ve seen recently is no doubt down to the quantitative easing policy introduced by HM Government and the increase in lending by a number of high street banks.
According to Britain’s largest student landlord Unite Group; more and more investors are looking into student property as market growth is way ahead of any other. In a country where student numbers continue to rise, the student rental market increases as well offering many investors a more secure proposition.
What this means for the average home-owner is that more investors will be interested in properties in university towns and cities. And where there are cash rich investors, there are always fast sales and even sell and rent back opportunities. All in all it means there may be some life in the housing market despite what the media say.
Anyone who owns a property: Rejoice! The construction Company Persimmons have shown encouraging results so far this year with their average sale price rising 6pc to £173,000. Now this may be great for them but…so what? Well, this is actually a good indicator of the economy and in particular, the housing market. It means there’s credit to buy and movement throughout the chain.
None of us should expect a quick house sale but there will, it seems, be a little more viewings than there has been over the last 18 months. In total, the group has taken £500m of sales for next year, 50% up on 2008 and even more of an indication of market growth.
The mortgage market is finally strengthening inline with the increase in quick house sale numbers and steadying of the housing market, which can only mean one thing – banks are lending again. Both Nationwide and Northern Rock have made it clear they’ll be cutting mortgage interest rates and offering higher loan-to-value borrowings. But something tells us that NR will get back to the days of +100% mortgages, especially now it’s keen to be known as a ‘Good bank’.
Following the Financial Services Authority (FSA) issuing their Mortgage Market Review Discussion Paper to lenders last month, there seems to have been an increased focus on ‘being competitive’. This would seem to go against the policy most banks have had over the last, oh say, 200 years but the Discussion Paper proposes one big thing – Regulatory Reform. The new boss would be the FSA and this new ‘customer-first’ attitude means some lenders may be looking to get on the Authority’s good side as early as possible.
As we always say here at HFC; the state of the housing market depends on who’s results are out that week. With so many conflicting figures, it’s difficult to know what to believe and this week it’s the turn of the estate agency Savills.
They’ve seen prices rise by 3.7% in 2009 but don’t go hoping for a quick house sale as there are only 2 applicants per property and Savills believe prices will fall next year by 6.6%. Fear not though, if they’re to be believed: house prices will go up 2.7% in 2011 and a further 27% between 2012 and 2015. Of course, this is all guess work and even the estate agents can get it wrong; 12 months ago Savills predicted an 11% fall in 2009.
It looks like the slight pick up in the housing market has had a positive affect on the Good bank/Bad bank Northern Rock. After the EU announced the black and white bank had been a little grey when lending and split it in two last week, the housing market rise has helped Northern Rock reduce it’s overall number of repossessions.
Their figures were released today (Wednesday) and show a halving in the number of repossessed homes, bringing it down to 2000, compared to the same period last year. Whether the reduction is due to home-owners dodging foreclosure through a sell and rent back scheme or other form of quick house sale is unclear.
Scottish housing charity Shelter Scotland believe that the number of repossessions could continue to rise dramatically if countering action isn’t taken soon. In Scotland alone, figures show a 20% rise in mortgage actions and a 50% rise in decrees granted. Speaking in support of a Govt. initiative, the charities Director, Graeme Brown said: “The action the Scottish Government has taken to offer additional protection to homeowners has been timely”.
The figures for house repossession across the entire UK are at their highest for a decade and with more figures being released every week, the number don’t make good reading. For many home-owners in financial difficulty, charites such as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) and Shelter Scotland provide invaluable and impartial support and advice.