First-time buyer sales defy rate rise fears
First-time buyer sales rose 7% year-on-year in August, despite growing concerns over a rate rise and falling incomes, according to research from Your Move and Reeds Rains. Interest rate rises pushing up mortgage repayments was named as the number one concern putting off prospective homebuyers from purchasing property by 15% of first-timers in August, compared to 12% a year ago. Worries over decreasing income was cited as the biggest block to homeownership by 11% of first-time buyers, more than double the 5% a year ago. There were 28,300 first-time buyer completions last month, 7.2% higher than the same period a year ago, and the third consecutive month in which first-time buyer completions topped 28,000. Compared to July, first-time buyer completions dipped 6.3%, however monthly volumes remained 9.3% above the 25,900 average figure for this year to date.
Renters fight for property as demand increases
Over a third of ARLA members say would-be tenants outweigh available properties. Supply of buy to let properties managed by ARLA Licensed members down 6% from 143 to 135 per branch. Landlords selling property exceeds landlords buying property for the first time in 4 years. Consumers looking to rent will face fierce competition for privately rented residential property as demand amongst tenants' increases and supply contracts, according to the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA). ARLA's third quarterly report found that over two thirds (68%) of respondents reported more would-be tenants than properties available. This figure represents the third and biggest successive increase, from 46% in Q3 2013, 54% in Q1 2014, 59% in Q2 2014; meaning an increase of 9% between Q2 and Q3, and the largest increase since numbers were on the up.
'Money challenge' as more people reach 100 years old
Policymakers face "huge challenges" in financing an ageing population, analysts say, as centenarian numbers in the UK hit a new record high. There were an estimated 13,780 people aged 100 and over in the UK in 2013, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show. That is up from 3,040 in 1983.The number of centenarians is predicted to accelerate, prompting analysts to suggest people will need to work later and save more. Better health and medical treatment have led to an ageing population in the UK. This has also meant more men and women surviving to see their 100th birthday. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), which sends out congratulations cards to centenarians, said some had celebrated their big day with street parties, hot air balloon rides and even a pool party. The ONS has predicted the number of people aged 100 and over will rise to 33,989 in 10 years' time, and then quicken to 83,940 a decade after that.
Economic cuts to last five more years, ex-civil service boss says
The outgoing head of the civil service has predicted another five years of UK Government spending cuts - and he said making the cuts would be "even harder". Sir Bob Kerslake said one of the difficulties was that "easier" savings had already been made. He said the "sense of urgency" would be reduced and the need for cuts would be hard to explain to public sector staff. Sir Bob stepped down from his role this month and was replaced by former Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood.
Government announces Rent to Buy scheme
The Government is set to launch a new scheme allowing tenants to pay below-market rents for up to seven years, after which they will be given the opportunity to purchase the home. The scheme, called Rent to Buy, will see the Government give housing associations and social landlords £400m in discounted loans to build up to 10,000 new properties between 2015 and 2018. These will mainly consist of one and two bedroom properties. Half of the £400m funding will be allocated to London. Rental prices for the new homes will be capped at 80% of local market value for a seven year period.
Estate agents: 'No vote will boost Scottish housing market'
The National Association of Estate Agents say the No vote on independence will give potential buyers greater clarity and serve as a boost for the Scottish property market. NAEA managing director Mark Hayward says the vote will lead to a 'less frenetic housing market' and will spark an increase in activity levels. Hayward says: 'With the outcome now certain and Scotland voting to remain part of the United Kingdom, we can expect to see some positive movement in the Scottish housing market - good news for Scottish estate agents and their customers who can now look forward to a less frenetic housing discussion and market.
Business 'relief' over Scotland's rejection of independence
Businesses have spoken of 'relief' over Scotland's rejection of independence, but said the 'No' vote is just the beginning of a period of change. However, banking giant RBS said it would no longer be shifting its head office to London. The bank said it would be 'business as usual for all our customers across the UK'. Pro-independence businesses were 'disappointed' with the referendum outcome.
Financial services companies including RBS, Lloyds, TSB, Standard Life, Clydesdale, and Tesco Bank had indicated that they would move headquarters or parts of the business south if Scotland had voted 'Yes'. RBS said: 'The announcement we made about moving our registered head office to England was part of a contingency plan to ensure certainty and stability for our customers, staff and shareholders should there be a "Yes" vote. That contingency plan is no longer required. Following the result it is business as usual for all our customers across the UK and RBS,' it added.
Gross mortgage lending £18.6 billion in August, says CML
The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that gross mortgage lending reached £18.6 billion in August. This is 5% lower than July (£19.7 billion) but 13% higher than August last year (£16.4 billion) and the highest lending total for an August since 2008 (£19.3 billion). Commenting on market conditions in this month's Market Commentary, CML chief economist Bob Pannell observes: 'The narrative of recovering house purchase and buy-to-let activity continued through August. However, it is important to be aware that this picture is being flattered by strong seasonal factors through the summer period. A gentle slowing of lending activity may now be in prospect, as a result of the continuing impact of tighter lending rules and a softening of the London market.'
Rents rocket to reach record high
Rents have eased slowly up to reach an all-time record high as the rental market approaches its autumn peak according to the latest buy-to-let index from Your Move and Reeds Rains. The average residential rent across England and Wales is now £761 per month. This is £3 higher than the previous record £758 set in October 2013. On a monthly basis August rents are on average 1.1% higher than was seen in July - or an increase of £8. This leaves monthly rents 2.4% higher than a year ago - in August 2013 average monthly rents previously stood at £743. In absolute terms this annual growth represents an increase of £15.