Activity in three English counties around London has seen instruction levels to estate agents increase by 10% in the last couple of months compared with the same period a year ago. The latest report from Waterfords estate agents, which operates across Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire, says there has been a definite improvement in the housing market through the first half of the year with instruction levels up through May and June.
The latest data from the Bank of England shows that British mortgage approvals hit a three and a half year high in May. Brendan Cox, managing director of Waterfords, said that the positive impact of slightly more lenient lending criteria towards both new purchases and remortgages is being felt across the market. ‘Whilst we don’t expect to see a return to the boom years, it is a very promising sign that lenders are coming up with better multiples on borrowers’ annual income and higher loan to value offers which are making it easier for people to contemplate a move,’ he explained.
Waterfords says that whilst it is still too early to accredit governmental initiatives with the change, positive steps and media messages do finally appear to be filtering through, improving market sentiment and encouraging buyers and sellers to test the water. Many prices within the areas they operate have not only recovered but are now exceeding their previous highest values. ‘Governments don’t make markets, confidence makes the property market, which in turn drives so many other areas of our economy and there are strong signs that the market is now more active than it has been for years,’ added Cox.
Quote from PropertyForum.com : “Property prices are rising steadily in the UK but this growth alone will not necessarily translate into a real estate recovery, it is claimed. Currently the residential property market is experiencing restricted supply and rising prices.”
He also pointed out that as a general rule, the sales and lettings markets run opposed to one other, so improved activity in the sales market has meant slightly slower growth in lettings compared to the first six months of 2012. Despite this, Waterfords says demand from tenants has not waned but stock levels are slightly diminished which could be a result of some accidental landlords deciding the time is right to sell up, after delaying when the market dipped.
‘The lettings market remains steady but is going through a period of change. I don’t believe it will significantly drop because for some, the culture and attitude towards home ownership has shifted,’ said Cox. ‘As a result, more investors are considering starting up or adding to existing buy to let portfolios and with more attractive buy to let mortgage schemes available, it is only a matter of time until we see this,’ he added.
West End estate agency, LDG, has also reported a buoyant sales market. In the second quarter of 2013 it says there have been an increasing number of UK buyers compared to those from Europe, and a number of people choosing to cash in their pensions in order to invest in property. ‘Approximately 75% of our buyers have been from the UK this quarter. Previously, we would have seen a lot more buyers from countries such as Cyprus and Italy but with the ongoing financial crisis in such countries, people are no longer in the position they once were to invest in property,’ said Laurence Glynne, a partner at LDG.
‘We are also witnessing a sudden surge in the completion of deals on properties that have been on the market since Spring. For example, two flats that we have had on the market for three months in Burton Street, Bloomsbury, with limited viewings, now have a combination of five offers,’ he explained. ‘Our very drawn out winter probably didn’t help matters, but more than ever before, buyers seem to have more stamina when it comes to a property search, and are prepared to look for longer periods of time to ensure they really are purchasing the right property for the right price,’ he added.