Property News

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Frenzied buyers in NI

With property prices soaring and a shortage of houses on the market, buyers in Northern Ireland are becoming 'frenzied' according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

For example in a fashionable area of East Belfast a a four-bedroom, three-reception detached house recently went on the market at £495,000. After a flurry of offers the latest bid stands at £820,000, and it is unlikely to stop there.

All over Northern Ireland, developers are cold-calling homeowners fortunate enough to occupy a generous site in a prime location. In Bangor, a group of residents complained when developers turned up on their doorsteps over the Christmas holidays and asked if they'd be interested in selling their homes - all of which are substantial period properties with large gardens.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mortgage market strong in Jan

A new report out by the British Bankers' Association on the mortgage market in January, said the number of approvals during the month dropped very slightly from just over 140,000 in the same month last year to 134,200. Indicating that higher borrowing costs appear to be having very little impact on the UK's housing market.

However, the BBA stressed that this January's total gives a slightly false impression because of the one-off removal of around 7,000 long-outstanding approvals. The total value of January's approvals was 13.1 billion, up from last year's equivalent of around 12.7 billion.

'January saw a continued stable demand for mortgages,' said David Dooks, the BBA's director of statistics. 'Actual borrowing on mortgages remains strong compared with this time last year, so the impact of higher interest rates has yet to feature,' he added.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Record rise in house prices

According to the latest report from property consultant, Hometrack, house prices climbed in February at their fastest annual rate since June 2003, with robust growth in London and the southeast overshadowing weaker increases elsewhere.

House prices rose 6.4% this month from a year earlier, up from 6.0% in January. Price growth was once again concentrated in London and the southeast, with property prices in areas such as the Midlands and Wales edging up by just 0.1%. However, unlike the previous month when growth was concentrated in a quarter of areas, prices in February rose more evenly, with rises in 42% of the nation.

"Despite the January rate rise, it seems that a lack of supply is continuing to support higher prices, primarily in London and the southeast," said Richard Donnell, Hometrack's Director of Research.

Friday, February 23, 2007

20% rise in value for Canford Cliffs

According to, a property valuation website, the exclusive Canford Cliffs area of Poole topped a South West property survey after house values soared by more than 20% during the past year.

Wareham and Westbourne were the other top performers, with house prices rising by 16.1% and 15.7% respectively, boosted by new developments driving up prices to record levels.

The survey comes just weeks after another revealed that 15 of the top most expensive streets in the South West are in Poole, with average prices ranging from £1 million to £1.52 million. Areas also showing healthy increases in property values during the past year include Ferndown, Swanage, New Milton, Christchurch, Poole Quay, Southbourne and Ringwood.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

'Unruly neighbours from hell' cause 4.5m to move

According to new research from mortgage lenders, Abbey, around a third of people in the UK (18.8 million) have chosen to move house in the last five years in order to find a better quality of life for their families.

Nearly 5.3 million people said the main reason for the move was that there was too much crime in the area and they wanted to move to somewhere their family could be safer. The survey also found that 4.5 million people moved home to avoid unruly 'neighbours from hell' while a further 2.6 million people moved to fit into a better school catchment area.

Regionally, the research revealed that the Welsh were most likely to move in order to seek a better quality of life in or out of the city, while people in Northern Ireland were most likely to move home because of their nightmare neighbours.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mortgage lending high in January

According to The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), mortgage lending hit an all-time January high last month, indicating that the long-running housing boom remains intact despite higher interest rates.

They reported that lenders advanced £26.8bn in new home loans during the month, down 6% on December's figure but still a January record. The figure suggeststhat buyers shrugged off January's quarter-point rise that took interest rates to 5.25%.

The CML's director general Michael Coogan said: "Mortgage lending kicked off 2007 in robust shape, and we expect this strength to continue over the next few months. Quite how strong it will be later in the year depends on what happens to interest rates." The Bank of England kept rates steady this month, but financial markets are pricing in one more rise, to 5.5% this year.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

London property hotspots rise £1 a minute

Property prices in one London borough have risen by close to £1 a minute over the past year.

The asking price for homes in Kensington and Chelsea are, on average, £500,000 higher than they were last year. That is equal to a rise of almost £1,370 a day, about £57 an hour, or just over 95p a minute.

The average asking price in the borough now stands at £1,194,965, with experts attributing the boom to this year's record City bonuses as well as an influx of wealthy overseas buyers. Other boroughs that have seen spiralling prices include Westminster, where average asking prices are up by more than £300,000 to £837,421.

Asking prices in five boroughs - Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham, Wandsworth, Islington and Hackney - have all increased by more than £100,000 in the year to this month

Monday, February 19, 2007

House price rises starting to slow

According to the property website Rightmove, asking prices for homes rose an annual 11.5% this month, the weakest reading in four months, in a sign the market is stabilising amid higher borrowing costs.

The data has not been adjusted for seasonal factors but February's annual rate compared with a 13.5% rate in January was the lowest since last October.

Rightmove's commercial director, Miles Shipside said "With prices still at record levels and upwards interest rate speculation, sellers are showing signs of realising that buyers' resources have a limit."

London continued to report the fastest rate of house price growth in the UK, up 21.7% on the year, and asking prices in south east England were up 14.8%, but Rightmove said the pace of growth seemed to be slowing.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Scottish slowdown in top-end properties

According to Lloyds TSB latest Scotland House Price Monitor, house prices in the top end of the market in Scotland are slowing.

The monitor reports that detached properties recorded an annual rise of 8.4 % and semi-detached 10.2 %, while lower-priced properties continue to show stronger rises of 16.5% for terraced dwellings and 11.3% for flats.

In the three months to 31 January, 2007, the quarterly price index for the average domestic property in Scotland rose by 3.3% to give an average Scottish house price of £147,763. On an annual basis, Scottish house prices have risen by 11.0% and average prices had now risen steadily for 72 consecutive months.

The largest annual rise is recorded in Aberdeen at 18%. Average prices in Edinburgh have risen by 10.6% year-on-year and Glasgow city shows an annual increase of 5.9%.

The north of Scotland (excluding Aberdeen) reported a quarterly fall, as did Dundee, but both of these follow significant rises in the previous quarter.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Woes of First Time Buyers

New figures from Nationwide show that higher house prices alone add £75 to a typical first time buyer monthly costs compared to last year. And interest rate increases bring this up to almost £120.

Meanwhile, locking into a fixed rate loan this time last year would have saved a typical first time buyer £170 to date, with further monthly savings of £50 at current mortgage rates.

Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's Chief Economist, makes the point that as interest rates have increased to their highest level in over five years, the question of affordability again raises its head.

House prices alone rose by just over 10% in 2006 adding almost £14,000 to the cost of a typical first-time property, but three interest rate rises in six months add considerably more to the borrowing costs for this already struggling group.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Scotland's 'cheapest' experiencing mini-boom

As mentioned in a previous post, the former mining town of Lochgelly in Fife was one of the cheapest places to buy in the UK, with average house prices falling below the 100k mark.

However, it is now experiencing a mini-boom thanks to people clamouring to snap up these cheaper properties. Local estate agents say it is only a matter of time before the average house price in Lochgelly, in the heart of Gordon Brown's constituency, breaks through the £100,000 barrier.

After its inclusion in several lists of the best places in the UK to invest in property, interest in buying former council houses in Lochgelly has gone through the roof. Angela Lawrie, valuer at Delmor Estate Agents in Cowdenbeath said being labelled the cheapest town in Britain had definitely focused more attention on Lochgelly.

Monday, February 12, 2007

South West London sees strong price growth

The latest results from Knight Frank's London House Price Index reveal the strongest rate of price growth since 1979, with prices climbing 30.5% in the year to January.

International demand, the City bonus season and low supply have all helped push London prices higher. Annual growth stands at 30.5%, with prices growing 8.6% in November, December and January.

In January alone prices rose by 3%, the fastest monthly growth rate on record. Price growth has been led by South West prime London postcodes, an area including Belgravia and Knightsbridge. This is the most international residential market in London. The influx of overseas buyers - European, Russian, Indian and Middle Eastern - has seen this area lead price growth. Prices rose 38.2% for houses and 36.0% for flats in this area in the year to the end of January.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Enhanced mortgages from Leeds building society

Leeds Building Society has made a number of enhancements to its lending criteria, including improvements on income multiples, buy to let and sub prime mortgages.

Key highlights include increased income multiples for both single and joint applications across all loan to values, while up to 100% of income received from state pension will now be accepted.
The maximum loan on 100% mortgages has increased to £250,000, while 100% mortgages are now accepted on an interest only basis and available to self employed clients. The maximum age at the end of the mortgage term has also increased from 75 years to 85 years.

The group has also announced the availability of easier buy to let criteria on verification of existing rental income and its ‘Fasttrack’ Further Advance facility. In addition to this, it has improved its guarantor and sub prime lending criteria.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Interest rate on hold at 5.25%

The Bank of England, today left rates unchanged at a near six-year high of 5.25%.

This was widely expected, but a majority of analysts predict another hike to 5.5% by end-June following a surprise quarter-point rise last month.

A poll by Reuters shows that house price inflation has peaked amid signs that higher interest rates are already biting and there is a risk of a correction starting this year if borrowing costs climb much higher.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Northern Ireland house prise rise greatest in Europe

A fresh review from The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors European Housing has shown that house prices in Northern Ireland have risen more than anywhere else in Europe.

The cost of property increased by an average 36% in 2006, more than three times the figure for the UK as a whole.

The survey found that of the big four markets - the UK, France, Germany and Italy - only the UK outstripped its 2005 performance. According to RICS Northern Ireland spokesman Tom McClelland, "The UK market as a whole performed well, with growth of around 10%, but it was Northern Ireland at 36% that was the real powerhouse of Europe as our relatively buoyant economic conditions, a strong investor market and a significant shortage in housing supply pushed prices up very significantly".

France recorded a price drop of 7% and Italy was down 4%, and the German market remains stagnant.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

'Olympic effect' on house prices

New research from Halifax has shown that house prices in three London postal districts close to the site of 2012 Olympics games have risen by more than 15%, or at least £35,000, since London's winning bid was announced.

The best performance has been in Leytonstone (E11), which saw a 23% (£50,714) increase in its average house price since mid 2005 followed by Hackney (E8) with a 21% (£48,578) increase and Clapton (E5) 18% (£38,895) rise.

Seven areas close to the Olympic site recorded house price increases of more than 10% since the second quarter of 2006, while all areas close to the Games site have seen at least a £15,000 rise in their average house price. Stratford (E15), the focal point for Olympic construction activity, saw an 8% (£16,801) increase in its average price since June 2005 to £225,652.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Sharp rise in price of fixed mortgages

The price of fixed rate mortgages has moved up sharply since the surprise 0.25% increase in the base rate to 2.25% and there appears to be is practically nothing left at 5% or less.

Nationwide is the latest to announce its new rates which range from 5.28% to 5.88% for house purchase. The lowest interest rate is a two-year fix at 5.28% but it is only suitable for larger loans as it carries a hefty £899 arrangement fees. Most expensive is a no-fee two year fix at 5.88%.

The three year fixed rate is 5.63%, five years at 5.48% and 10 years fixed at 5.48% too. These all carry an arrangement fee of £499. Rates for remortgages range from 5.38% to 5.98%.

‘Money market rates have been rising steadily over the past few months and virtually every lender has been forced to launch new fixed rate products that reflect these higher costs,’ said John Sutherland, marketing director at Nationwide.

Friday, February 02, 2007

65% leap in mortgage repossessions

Latest figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) have shown that the number of mortgage repossessions leapt by 65% last year.

Repossessions increased to 17,000 in 2006 from 10,310 in 2005, its statistics have shown . The CML is now forecasting that repossessions will rise to 19,000 in 2007 and 20,000 in 2008, because of the recent hikes in interest rates.

Peter Tutton, national debt policy officer at Citizens Advice, said the figures showed that more people were being forced into marginal homeownership. ‘A lot of people have taken on mortgages that stretch them to the absolute limit, they are less likely to be cushioned by fixed rate mortgages from the impact of interest rate rises.'