16
Oct 19

When looking to sell a property finding the right estate agent can feel like a real mine field.

As a London based property developer with over 30 years of industry experience, being able to identify effective estate agents to sell my completed units has been vital to ensuring that premium prices are achieved. As someone who started their career as an estate agent, I have seen both sides of the coin and consider myself well- placed to advise on how to recognise a competent estate agent.

For many people, a property is their largest asset, so it is imperative to take time in instructing an estate agent and consider a variety of options

First impressions count so check out your potential agent‘s website. How are their properties marketed and what are their online images like? They should be of a professional quality, not substandard smartphone shots, and ensure that their property write-ups are informative. With the majority of homebuyers searching online make sure that your favoured agent is signed up to one of the major online portals including Rightmove, Zoopla or OnTheMarket.

Try registering as a buyer on their website and see if and how quickly they call you back. Don’t be afraid to test them through this process and find out if the person who makes contact with you is knowledgeable about the area. An effective estate agent should encourage you to go and view properties. It may be worthwhile attending a viewing to sample their customer service and sales technique. Equally, a good agent should conduct the viewing themselves and not leave it to the seller to essentially market their own home.

When it comes to having a property valued many sellers are tempted to instruct the agent that provides the highest valuation. A good estate agent should be able to provide comparable sales evidence from the past three to four months of what they have sold in the area, including how close to asking price they achieved.

Look for an agent with a strong success record, sold boards in the area are a good indication of this. It’s important that your agent is a strong negotiator, so if they are easily talked into dropping their fee, this doesn’t bode well for them negotiating the best sale price with a buyer on your behalf.

Following the above tips will help ensure that you select the best agent to sell your home efficiently and for the best price.

5
Oct 19

Brexit is responsible for a great deal of misery, not least in the property market.

Vast numbers of people who have a desire or need to move are reluctant to make big buying decisions while we are beset by the uncertainty that Brexit has brought. As a result there’s a shortage of stock in all sectors, so even those who are pushing on through despite the Brexit drama are having to work hard to find what they want.

The problem with the seemingly endless wait for political issues to resolve themselves is that life can rarely be put on hold. Three years is a long time in life – children arrive and start growing up, jobs change, relationships move on, lifestyles adapt to new ages. For some, moving is non-essential, but for those whose lives aren’t static, waiting is a painful process.

So why shouldn’t you wait any longer? James Greenwood of Stacks Property Search explains:

1. On the face of it, the market looks thin with a seemingly limited choice of property available, but if you look hard and are determined you’ll find the right property, and you should be able to negotiate a good deal, especially as some vendors are determined to make a sale before Brexit happens, so you can put the boot in on price. The advantage is that you shouldn’t have too much competition.

2. Prices have remained relatively stable, so it’s an excellent time to both buy and sell. An unpredictable market with big price moves in either direction makes moving tricky, this is an excellent opportunity to transact without having to contend with difficult fluctuations.

3. Interest rates are at an all-time low, so there’s really only one way for them to change, and that’s up! While we don’t expect any dramatic rises in the short term, it’s sensible not to overstretch yourself, and to fix at a good rate if you can. Great fixed deals are available, and as long as you build in plenty of contingency, it’s a good time to obtain finance. Current levels of Stamp Duty are, in our opinion, here to stay, so don’t hold your breath waiting for any improvements.

4. There will always be something to prevent you buying and selling, we have had over ten years of political and economic uncertainty, but if you wait for a perfect blue sky, you could wait for ever, there’s always something around the corner. But not making a move that is required has a big impact on personal and family life and can cause tensions and unhappiness. It’s better to take the bull by the horns, make the move, and enjoy getting on with your new life in your new home.

5. The costs of moving continue to rise, and that’s a trend that’s unlikely to change. The sooner you do it, the lower the costs are likely to be.

6. By not moving, you are potentially restricting your life choices whether they’re about jobs, schools, partners, or lifestyle. Don’t put your life on hold. There are numerous examples of people who haven’t waited, they’ve taken a deep breath and got on with it. We can honestly say that of the many people we have helped move over the course of the last three years, none have regretted it.

We’ve helped people move out of London. While others have been waiting to sell at the top of the market, those who have moved out of the capital have settled children into schools, made new friends, and started enjoying their new lives, feeling the financial advantage of trading into the country market.

Downsizers have started to enjoy the benefits of the freedom that downsizing brings, whether that’s financial or practical, allowing them to help offspring with their own purchases, lock up and leave and travel, move nearer families and start enjoying grandchildren, and generally enjoy their lives unburdened by excess property.

Second home buyers have enjoyed several years of high demand from those seeking UK holiday rentals. The number of UK residents taking holidays at home is rising steadily – factors such as very weak Sterling, better summers, and uncertainty about the changing face of European travel are all very relevant.

Returning expats have found themselves in an enviable position due to the drop in Sterling. In particular, buyers who are paid in Dollars have been patting themselves on the back.

Buy to let investors have been able to find excellent bargains in the new build sector, and rents have been buoyant. We expect to see further rises in rents.

Whether we wind up with a hard Brexit, a soft one, or none at all, we are unlikely to see any dramatic effect on the property market. In either of the first two scenarios activity is likely to increase, but big fluctuations in price are unlikely, so there really is no sensible reason to wait.”

25
Sep 19

Estate agent comparison website, GetAgent.co.uk, has been crunching the numbers and looked at the seasonal impact on property transactions, sold prices and the premium carried by seasonally influenced road names.

The firm looked at the change in transactions and sold prices across each season last year, as well as the current sold prices for road names with a seasonal twist to have sold so far this year.

According to the figures, last year the average price for property transactions was at its highest during the summer months at £265,546, up 20.5% from the spring average of £220,366.

While Brexit uncertainty has seen property prices stutter for much of the nation, there could be more bad news on the horizon and more than a cold snap in the weather as we head into Autumn. Last year, the average sold price dropped -7.7% between the summer and autumn months to £244,984 and the market froze further during the winter months with a -17.4% fall in sold prices. Transactions also dropped -1.8% between summer and autumn and -1.1% between autumn and winter.

With Brexit still a factor, it looks as if things may get worse before they get better for UK home sellers.

The bright side?

While the autumn and winter months aren’t great for the market as a whole, they could see home sellers with seasonal road names quids in. So far this year, road names containing winter in them have seen property sell for an average of £284,741, considerably higher than the national average. Autumn ranks second with an average sold price of £281,380, closely followed by summer at £280,576, with spring ranking the lowest but still at a notable £263,146.

Colby Short, Founder and CEO of GetAgent.co.uk, commented: “While the dark clouds of political uncertainty continue to overshadow the health of the UK property market, seasonal trends show that prices and transactions are due to dip even further.

Seasonal swings are a factor that influences many different areas of business, not just property, however, when coupled with an already uncertain landscape, they can make mediocre market conditions seem a lot worse than they really are.

While home sellers won’t welcome an even tougher time to sell and for the price that they would like, those with the Brexit silver bullet of a winter of autumn related road name should be able to defy the doom and gloom to secure a good price for their home.”

19
Sep 19

The latest research carried out by One And Only Pro has identified the best places in England and Wales to find a buy to let property for under £65,000.

The site’s unique algorithm identifies the 'Diamond' properties most likely to increase in value, which means that even the most inexperienced investors are guaranteed a healthy return whatever their budget.

Darlington takes the top spot where 22% of properties with a price tag under £65k have been awarded Diamond status. The average price of a Diamond property in this market town is £56,468. In second place is Burnley, with 21% of properties within this price bracket achieving the highest score, and the average Diamond property costing just £37,210.

Bootle and Grimsby, where buyers can secure properties with top marks for investment potential for an average price of £53,278 and £56,188 respectively, made third and fourth places. Fifth place went to Bradford with an average Diamond property price of £64,681.

The North East continues to dominate the remainder of the table, with Sunderland, Middlesbrough, South Shields and Hartlepool, securing the next four spots. Keighley, where the average price of a Diamond property is £64,268, took the final place in the top ten.

Henri Sant-Cassia, CEO at One and Only Pro, shares his advice for property buyers with a budget: "When looking for real market bargains, patience is key. In some circumstances, sellers will be looking for a quick sale and much more open to negotiation. In these cases it may be possible to secure a 25% discount.

Empty properties can make perfect buy-to-let investments and there are deals to be made if they aren't generating an income for the current owner and have become a burden. If the property requires refurbishment, vendors will also need to price competitively to reflect this. Fixer uppers are often portrayed as an instant win but tread carefully here.

These can be time-consuming projects and this will be reflected in the building costs involved. Calculate the additional investment required and know the ceiling price of the property. Arrange a survey to uncover any hidden problems and factor in any further costs that this may incur. Another drawback attached to a fixer upper is that many mortgage companies will not give a mortgage on a property that requires a substantial amount of work and ones without an existing kitchen or bathroom are often deemed inhabitable. In these cases, it may be worth seeking a specialist mortgage or bridging loan to finance any work.

Buyers able to quickly finance a deal could find a bargain at an auction and this is certainly worth exploring when it becomes a buyers' market.

For any deal, don't forget to take into consideration the market. External factors, such as Brexit, could help you find a perfect property at the best price. Never feel pressurised to increase your offer if you aren't comfortable with the figure. Sit tight and wait for another opportunity to arise.

Finally, as the results from our recent study show, always remember location, location, location!"

2
Sep 19

Traditionally, Spring is the season to give your home a much needed refresh and time to complete all the jobs left over from the winter.

However, there are many essential jobs that can be done come Autumn to prepare you home for the cooler months. That’s why Hoppy.co.uk have decided to share some top tips on how to refresh your home and help to save you money as the nights get colder.

Seal the windows and doors

Checking all your windows and doors for even the tiniest cracks can not only keep your house warm but save you money on your energy bills. Look at every door and window and simply use Polyfilla to cover those cracks and limit any areas where heat can escape your home. Investing in thick curtains can also help keep your home warm. The curtains act as a barrier that prevents the heat escaping out the window helping to keep your home warm whilst also saving you money. Making sure that all the heat is trapped in your house can be relatively low cost and effort and can have a positive effect on your energy bills.

Freshen up your home

A lick of paint will not only give your home a refresh before the arrival of Autumn but a change in colour scheme may also be able to save on your energy bills! While cooler shades like magnolia and pale grey are perfect for creating a cool living space in the summer months, decorating your home with darker tones will absorb the heat in your home, resulting in a warmer space.

Choice of lighting can also have a vast impact on the look and feel of a room. Not only can your choice of lighting effect the aesthetic of a room but the bulbs you choose can also have a huge impact on your energy bills too. Simply changing the bulbs in your home to LED bulbs, can save households on average £7 a year on energy usage and the bulbs can last for two whole decades, saving the additional cost of rebuying.

Clear out those gutters

Forgetting to unblock drains and guttering can leave your home in danger of suffering water damage which can be a costly repair.

Insulate your pipes

Having exposed pipes through your house may be costing you money as the heat escaping is simply lost in your home. By wrapping some insulating foam tubes around your pipes, the heat will be contained to the pipes resulted in less heat wasted. Another benefit of insulation is its ability to stop pipes from freezing and avoiding another costly repair come winter

Time your heating

If you are away from the house during the day make sure you can put a timer on your heater and set for the heating to come one hour before you wake up and one hour before you return home. This will ensure your home is warm during the busiest times but also helps to keep your energy costs down.

Swap and shop

Before the colder months draw in, take a look at your gas, electricity and water contracts – all utilities that surge in use during winter months, to see if you could be paying less. Use online home management tools such as Hoppy.co.uk to compare all publicly available energy deals to provide you with the best deal for your household.

28
Aug 19

There were 95,126 mortgages approved by the main high street banks in July, the highest monthly total since July 2009, according to the latest data from UK Finance.

Its figures show that mortgage approvals for home purchase were 16.4% higher, remortgage approvals were 19.4% higher and approvals for other secured borrowing were 12.7% higher than the same month last year.

Gross mortgage lending across the residential market was £26.1 billion in July, 2.9% higher than the same month in 2018 and the highest since March 2016.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, commented: "Finally, some positive news for the housing market with mortgage approvals at the highest monthly level since July 2009. These give an indicator of lending activity in coming months so it looks as though many borrowers are shaking off their indecision and getting on with things.

"Lenders continue to offer cheap mortgage rates, so for those borrowers ready to take the plunge there are many excellent deals to tempt them."

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman, added: "House purchase mortgage approvals are always a good lead indicator of market activity and although on their own don’t represent a summer bounce, they do show once again resilience among serious buyers and sellers and a determination to put Brexit concerns to one side.

"Looking forward, we are certainly seeing a little more optimism which will undoubtedly improve if the prospects for a deal pick up or even if negotiations are concluded one way or the other."

22
Aug 19

If we had the choice, what would our dream home really look like and what are the features we are obsessed with having in our homes?

Arlo & Jacob asked Brits what their dream home would look like both from the outside and in.

When it comes to the type of home Brits desire the most, the results are surprisingly modest with the majority of people wanting a 3-bedroom semi-detached house. Just 1.4% of Brits wanted a house with 6+ bedrooms and less than a third wanted a detached home.

Looking at the interior of the dream home the results show that Brits are keen to master a balance between modern and luxury, with the most desired features emerging as a fireplace and patio doors onto the garden, as well as smart appliances and a smart TV in almost every room.

The Kitchen

The survey reveals that the key feature Brits want in their dream kitchen is a kitchen island to socialise around, with 42.1% of people wanting this.

Over a third (37.5.%) want patio doors leading to the garden and an open-plan kitchen diner, which again allows for the kitchen to become a social hub of the home.

Technology is another key feature Brits want in their dream kitchen - over a third (32.3%) of people want smart appliances such as a smart fridge, dishwasher and washing machine in their kitchens.

The Lounge

Entertainment comes out as a top priority when it comes to Britain’s dream lounge, with just over half of Brits wanting a smart TV. These results come as no surprise with the living space being an area for us to relax after a long day at work. With the average Brit spending almost 10 years of their life watching TV, it comes as no surprise that a smart TV is a top feature for the kitchen, lounge and bedroom.

With relaxation being a key activity in the living space, Brits desire an open fire or fireplace (41.4%) and corner sofa (38.1%). Over a quarter of Brits also want big windows/doors looking out onto the garden, allowing plenty of sunlight to fill and lift the room.

The Bedroom

Privacy and space come out as two important qualities in Britain’s dream bedroom, with the most popular feature being an ensuite with over half (55.2%) wanting this, closely followed by a walking wardrobe and dressing room.

Brits’ dream bedroom results demonstrate the epitome of luxury, with 34.4% of people also wanting a balcony and nearly a quarter wanting a four-poster bed.

The Garden

Having a back garden is crucial for the British dream home according to our survey results, with over 40% of Brits wanting one. The most popular garden feature is a BBQ and outdoor cooking area for homeowners to enjoy entertaining guests, at 37.2%. A hot tub and swimming pool also came out in the top five features Brits want in their garden.

Interestingly, Brits are also aware of the cost of maintenance of gardens, which is shown by over a quarter of people wanting to have a simple and easy-to-maintain garden.

Interestingly, as lavish and dreamy as the chosen features are for Britain’s dream home, the majority of people are only willing to pay a maximum of £400,000 for it. Whilst this may be achievable in some areas of the UK, for cities such as London where the average house price is £460,000, and other locations, this figure is unrealistic and shows that Brits want an impressive home, but don’t want to pay the price.

Timothy Newsome, marketing director at Arlo & Jacob, commented: “Homes are a big part of raising families and socialising with friends - we spend, on average, around 45% of our lives at home. But the way we live is constantly evolving and our homes are always adapting to reflect this. At Arlo & Jacob, we conducted this research to find out what is really important to people when it comes to their ideal home. How are our priorities changing and how is this influencing the housing market? How are our homes adapting to accommodate and reflect changes in the way we live our lives?

"Our findings suggest that people are now seeking social spaces that serve multiple functions within the home, with a big focus on bringing people together and having the space to entertain and accommodate friends and family. Kitchens continue to be the heart of the home, with people wanting kitchen islands and open plan kitchen-diners to create space to come together as a family or with friends.

"While the classic semi-luxury elements, like ensuites and walk in wardrobes, are still popular there is a definite reminder here that one of the main things that make a house desirable is its ability to appeal to buyers’ self image. We’ve found that small elements like home-tech and on-trend interiors have a huge impact when it comes to the age-old question, ‘Can you see yourself living here?’

"While a smart washing machine and luxury rug may not seem like big selling points - especially when we consider these are things that are unlikely to remain in the property after the sale - it’s clear that these things help to build an image of living everyday life in the property, for potential buyers, adding personal appeal and a sense of aspiration.”

21
Aug 19

The north-south property divide is still favouring the south despite market uncertainty hitting the more expensive, southern regions the hardest, according to research by Springbok Properties.

Springbok looked at the number of property transactions and the average house price across the north and south over the last year, multiplying the average house price in each region by the number of transactions to find the average amount of property sold.

The research shows that when it comes to transactions the South has been struggling, with total transactions down 7.3% year-on-year, compared to just 3.3% in the North and 3.3% again in the Midlands and Wales.

When it comes to growth in the total value of sales, the South again is bottom of the pile with a annual drop of 7% in the total value, compared to a drop of just 1% in the North. The Midlands and Wales are the only team to see the total value increase annually with a change of 1%.

However, when it comes to the actual value of the property sold, the South remains firmly in front despite the year-on-year drop with a huge £138.37bn worth of property sold in the last year.

The Midlands and Wales rank next with just £37.79bn worth of property sold and the North ranks last with just £36.18bn worth of property sold in the last year.

A previous survey found that the majority of the UK think the Midlands is part of the North but even with the additional firepower of these two regions and Wales, the total value of property sold comes to just £73.97bn, having dropped marginally year on year and coming in at around half that of the South.

Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, Shepherd Ncube, commented: “We’ve seen some much stronger market performances across the Midlands and the North since the EU referendum where transactions are concerned, and when it comes to the individual value of property, homeowners in London and the South East have suffered far worse at the hands of market uncertainty.

"However, as a proud citizen from the outstanding city of Manchester, it pains me to say that the South is still miles ahead when it comes to the actual value of property being transacted and only marginally behind on transactional volume when compared to the North, Midlands and Wales as a whole.”

14
Aug 19

The latest data and analysis from UK HPI has revealed that average house prices across the UK increased by 0.9% in the twelve months to June, unchanged from May's figure.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.7% between May and June, the same as in May and June 2018. However on a seasonally adjusted basis, prices increased by just 0.1%.

The East Midlands was the English region with the highest annual house price growth, with prices increasing by 3.2% in the year to June. This was followed by the West Midlands, with prices increasing by 2.6%.

The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices fell by 2.7% over the year. Average house prices in London have now been falling over the year each month since March 2018, a period of 16 months. This compares to 15 months of prices falling over the year in London during 2008 and 2009, the period of the economic downturn.

As ever, the property industry was quick to react. Here's what they're saying:

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: "Would-be buyers and sellers are still waiting for Brexit to be resolved. Whether it is hard, soft, or no Brexit, the important thing is that a decision is made so people can get on with things. Sales volumes are relatively similar to last year and the couple of years before that because Brexit indecision has been going on for so long. This will improve once a decision is made, and pent-up demand will be released.

Prices have fallen slightly in London but not dramatically so. This average figure masks significant falls at the top end, where prices have come off by 10 or 15 per cent. If we have a hard Brexit and the pound is badly affected, foreign buyers will come back into the market as they will be buying 20 or 30 per cent off market value with a much stronger Euro, Dollar or Yen against the pound. This is likely to push volumes and values up."

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “The lowest rate of annual house price growth since the Brexit vote demonstrates the detrimental impact that our current political position continues to have over the sentiment of UK buyers and sellers, particularly those in London.

However, while other reports based on asking prices and mortgage approvals may provide a more sensationalist view, figures on sales completions suggest a market that is ticking over in neutral rather than careering off a cliff.

Transaction levels remain muted but steady and while prices aren’t accelerating, they are stable, and we are world’s away from seeing a market crash. A seasonal uplift in buyer activity over the coming months should see property price growth climb through the gears and depending on which EU exit we take; the market should return to full speed with ease before the year is out.”

Shepherd Ncube, Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, commented: “The property market is certainly stuttering, and this won’t be welcomed by the nation’s homeowners but, of course, those looking to get a foot on the ladder won’t complain about a momentary respite in the escalating cost of doing so.

It’s important to note that we aren’t seeing a market freefall, far from it, but after such a prolonged period of notable house price growth, the market is now adjusting at a natural rate to align itself with the current climate.

As a result, the rate of growth in London and the South East continues to see negative movement while the traditionally more affordable regions of the UK remain defiant, registering healthy levels of growth across the board.”

Kevin Roberts, Director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, comments: “While house price growth in recent years has helped many existing homeowners build equity, for those looking to take their first steps onto the ladder, current prices have stretched affordability. Fortunately, help is available. The Government’s Help to Buy scheme has supported thousands of first timers onto the ladder and innovation from mortgage lenders has offered new and existing homeowners a lot of different ways to find a mortgage.

Lenders are increasingly finding new ways to help consumers meet affordability requirements and the low interest environment has helped many reduce their monthly repayments. Whether looking to remortgage or secure finance on a new property, speaking to an independent mortgage adviser is where the journey should start. These professionals have access to thousands of mortgage products and can offer bespoke advice, making them well-placed to find the solution most suited to the needs of the consumer.”

Josef Wasinski, co-founder of Unmortgage, said: “These figures won’t ease the struggle for the millions of reluctant renters who are crying out for a realistic route to get onto the property ladder. The sad reality is that the stability of homeownership is a distant dream for millions of hardworking, credit-worthy people.

When Brexit-related uncertainty’s added to the mix, the future looks bleak for would-be homeowners without either bank or mum and dad or hundreds of thousands of pounds in savings.

Without real and meaningful change to the UK’s housing market, too many would-be homeowners will remain locked out, effectively blocked from ever owning their own home.”

Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agent Housesimple, adds: “A summer slowdown isn’t surprising – we seldom see big spikes during the warmer weather. But, with the threat of a no-deal Brexit looming we could see considerable changes in usual seasonal property patterns in the months ahead.

The Halloween deadline is fast approaching and with that comes the fear and urgency of home movers to complete deals before we leave the EU. While the longer-term outlook remains uncertain, this is likely to stimulate a lot of buyers and sellers throughout the housing chain in the next three months – from first-time buyers all the way up to downsizers.

At a regional level, the Midlands has the highest annual house price growth. Favourable economic fundamentals has resulted in continued house price growth year on year, again showing the resilience of the property market in this particular region. Meanwhile, London’s ongoing price fall was toned-down in June after a dramatic drop the month prior, but the capital’s decline continues to weigh down on the overall UK average.”

Dilpreet Bhagrath, from online mortgage broker Trussle, says: “With house prices unchanged from May 2019, the property market still remains stagnant. And with a no-deal Brexit looming, this suggests that would be house-buyers are wary of committing to make the move.

However, for those that can afford to get onto the housing ladder, more borrowers are thinking strategically of how best to protect themselves against the ongoing Brexit chaos by locking into decade-long fixed rate mortgages1. And with some lenders offering longer term security products, this approach is possible.

As ever, it’s always important to consider any personal and future circumstances when securing a mortgage, and seek advice to ensure you’re aware of the available options.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, comments: ‘It is steady as she goes for the housing market, which is no mean feat given that it is the summer months when things traditionally get quieter and the backdrop of Brexit uncertainty. London is still creating a drag on average house price growth, with prices falling 2.7 per cent over the year to June. However, this was an improvement on the May fall of 3.1 per cent, suggesting price falls could be slowing and the market stabilising.

Mortgage approvals rose slightly in June. Lenders remain keen to lend with a number cutting rates or easing criteria in order to encourage business. Remortgaging is likely to be particularly busy this autumn with many borrowers coming to the end of deals and lenders ready to pick up that business with long-term fixes in particular.'

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: "We are finding that the mood among many homebuyers and sellers is matching that in Westminster. Decision-making has been put on hold until more clarity emerges which is reflected in very little movement for property prices this month.

What is more concerning is the reduction in number and pace of transactions which are lower than this time last year with once again London acting as a drag on the rest of the market. Nevertheless, some are taking advantage of greater realism among sellers and on the plus side we have seen no evidence of widespread reductions on previously-agreed prices, or withdrawals."

17
Jul 19

This morning's figures from UK Finance have revealed that confidence among prospective homeowners remains strong as first-time buyer and remortgage lending saw a rise during May, with buy-to-let lending holding steady.

According to the data, there were 30,720 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in May, 0.5% more than in the same month in 2018. Remortgages with additional borrowing saw annual growth of 19.8% and the average additional amount borrowed in May was £52,000.

Additionally, pound-for-pound remortgaging was 19.7% higher than in May 2018. Homemover mortgages dipped by 1.2% compared to May 2018 and buy-to-let purchase mortgages totalled 5,500, the same number as this time last year.

There were 29,430 homemover mortgages completed in May 2019, 1.2% less than in the same month a year earlier.

Stuart Wilson, corporate marketing dDirector at more 2 life, added: “Today’s statistics from UK Finance show that confidence amongst first-time buyers remains high despite some other areas of the market being more subdued. Help-to-Buy, along with other government initiatives, have gone a long way to help this pool of homeowners fulfil their borrowing needs – but some need to look further afield for financial support to afford their first home. While prices have dipped slightly, the average UK house price (£308,692) remains high in comparison to average salaries and finding enough to put down a 25% deposit (£77,173) without help is out of reach for most people.

Consequently, the Bank of Mum and Dad remains strong as parents and grandparents continue to support these borrowers’ by stepping in with a ‘gift’ to assisting them onto the property ladder by sharing their property wealth. According to last Autumn’s report from the Equity Release Council, 1.1 million properties in England were purchased with the support of a gift or a loan from family or friends between 2017 and 2018. As more older homeowners realise the full potential of equity release and the benefits it can bring not only to their lives, but also to their families, advisers will have a crucial role to play in helping to guide these individuals to the right solution for them.”

Shaun Church, Director at Private Finance comments: “Improving not moving seems to be the current mentality across the UK’s property market, as remortgages with additional borrowing have soared by 20% in the space of a year. Homeowners are turning away from upsizing, taking out additional loans against their existing property to fund improvements that will make their home suitable for the years to come, saving thousands of pounds in stamp duty in the process.

Stamp duty is paralysing the UK property market, meaning UK housing stock continues to be in short supply. In order to galvanise the property market, we call on the UK government to give serious consideration to the current property tax system. Minimising stamp duty liabilities will incentivise more people to move, freeing up housing stock and sparking a chain reaction of property transactions. Reigniting the market could in turn lead to a resurgence in stamp duty receipts for the government, making this a win win solution for homeowners and the treasury.”

Louisa Sedgwick, director of mortgage sales at Vida Homeloans, commented: “First-time buyers remain an important part of the mortgage market, they made up the biggest part of the property market in 2018 for the first time in 23 years. It is no surprise that they are a sector of the industry that mortgage lenders are keen to attract, with the amount of completed first time buyer mortgages rising year on year.

With the average age of a first time buyer now 32, the industry must continue to support those facing an uphill climb when it comes to buying a home. By providing affordable and sustainable rates, offering innovative, out the box thinking and diversifying product choices, lenders will continue to do their part in driving the UK FTB mortgage market forward.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: "It is always a positive to see more first-time buyers in the market, in spite of the difficulties in borrowing from the banks, with lending at only 2.78 times income. This is likely to be based on a few factors, but most of all improved sentiment regarding a possible market upturn. There is a growing feeling among buyers that the time is right to make a move, either because property prices and volumes will increase once a new prime minister is installed with positive plans regarding stamp duty reform, but also the fear that at some point in the next year the Bank of England may feel the need to hike Base Rate.

We aren’t seeing a flood of buy-to-let investors selling up as a consequence of the extra taxes that have hit them. Investors are absorbing the extra costs and refinancing, hoping that in the long term values will go up. This once again proves that higher stamp duty and extra taxes haven’t helped create more movement in the housing market, but have done the complete opposite and created stagnation instead."

Kevin Roberts, Director, Legal & General Mortgage Club, comments: “A competitive mortgage market and slower house price growth are helping more first-time buyers make homeownership a reality. However according to HSBC, with people now expecting to be on average 39 years old before they buy their first home, there are clearly still challenges facing people trying to take their first step, particularly if they don’t have the support of a Bank of Mum and Dad.

Saving a deposit remains a big barrier for younger buyers, but there are options. Speaking to a mortgage adviser could be a great starting point for these individuals. Through their extensive knowledge and view across the market, these professionals will be able to show borrowers some of the great routes to get onto the housing ladder, such as guarantor mortgages and Government schemes like Shared Ownership, which could make the difference when it comes to getting the keys to their first home.”