By Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property, Latimer Hinks Solicitors www.latimerhinks.co.uk
The outlook is healthier for the housing market, as the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveal that house prices are higher now than at pre-crash levels. Although inevitably skewed by the property hot spots in the capital, there is supporting evidence out there to back the positive ONS data.
According to our research into estate agents views based on their current experience of the housing market in the County Durham area there is now much to be positive about in the region.
The property experts reveal that over a 12 month period they have seen an increase in the number of instructions and that their areas house prices had almost returned to the same level as during the first house price peak of 2004. This bodes well for a return to pre-recessionary house price levels in County Durham.
The positive findings reflect the UK house price index of 185.0 from July, which is only 0.5 lower than the previous high from January 2008. According to the ONS figures, annual house price inflation rose by 0.2% from June to 3.3% in July, with the average house price in England being priced at £255,000.
Each of our estate agents surveyed 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 more than a year. Property hotspots were also identified in Darlington and Sedgefield, as the estate agents have seen an upsurge in instructions over the last 12 months. This was in contrast to smaller, rural villages which hadnt experienced rises as they may arguably have stronger and more stable house prices.
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. Since its launch in 2012 by the Bank and HM Treasury, FLS has been widely credited with bringing down mortgage rates, which has made things easier for house buyers as fixed rates have fallen and been snapped up. Together with the Help to Buy scheme launched in April that allows buyers an equity loan of up to 20 per cent of the value of a property up to £600,000, these schemes have had a positive impact.
With such measures in place, the housing market at long last looks set for a more positive future.
For further information: www.latimerhinks.co.ukor call 01325 341 500.