The outlook is now starting to look much healthier for the housing market, Britains biggest mortgage lender Halifax can reveal. Its latest survey, for February, shows that prices rose by 2.4% during that month, leaving them 7.9% higher than a year ago. That was the fastest annual pace of increase since October 2007 and means the average UK home now costs £179,872. The Halifax said the pick-up was mainly due to improved economic conditions.
According to our own research into estate agents views and experience of the housing market, there is now much to be positive about. That positivity is starting to be reflected in a more buoyant and robust property market.
The property insiders reveal that, over a 12-month period, they have seen an increase in the number of instructions and that the areas house prices have almost returned to the same level as during the first house price peak of 2004. This is positive news for the robustness of the County Durham property market.
The Halifax also pointed out that house sales in the UK have risen for the ninth month in a row in January, and that the number of mortgages approved for home buyers, but not yet lent, was 42% higher than a year ago, suggesting a further rise in sales is still to come.
All but one of our estate agents has seen an increase in the number of instructions over the past year. The majority of agents questioned said that the sale of the average Band D property takes between 12 and 24 weeks from the point of advertising, which is an improvement on two years ago when many properties remained on estate agents books for over a year. Property hotspots were also identified in Darlington and outlying villages as well as in Sedgefield.
All agents bar one stated that property values had returned to 75% of 2004 values, at the peak of the housing boom.
The housing market as a whole is starting to benefit from the variety of schemes that have been introduced, with the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) and the governments Help to Buy scheme helping to kick-start the hitherto stagnant market. With such measures in place, the housing market at long last looks set for a more positive future.
The Halifax uses its own database of approximately 300,000 mortgage approvals per annum (ca. 25 per cent of all mortgages) as a basis for its monthly house price reports. Because it uses approved loans rather than completed mortgages, the Halifax can obtain data earlier than the Land Registry. The index excludes property sales that are not for private occupation and those that are likely to have been sold at prices which may not represent 'free' or 'normal' market prices, e.g. council house sales and sales to sitting tenants.
Please note: This article is intended as guidance only and does not constitute advice, financial or otherwise. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.
Martin Williamson is Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors in Darlington. Latimer Hinks has a team of around 40 people serving private and corporate clients. For further information: www.latimerhinks.co.ukor call 01325 341500.