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House prices continue to rise across England and Wales while the number of transactions is down, the Land Registry has reported.
Nationwide this morning reported that house prices across the UK went up 0.6% this month, now at an average of £196,807 (every person looking to purchase a property in London just rolled their eyes) as the average price here is just under half a million pounds at £499,997.
The latest month for which transaction data is available, according to the Land Registry, in July –there were 81,696 sales, compared with 84,691 in July 2014, yet this was still the highest figure of the year so far, just as they were the year before.
Revealingly, sales transactions figures have been down every single month of this year compared with the corresponding month of 2014.
The biggest falls were in January and May, of 10%, many people have attributed this to the change in Stamp Duty thresholds and of course the run up to the General Election and the uncertainty over which government would come in to power.
If this trend continues, there will be fewer transactions this year than compared to 2014. The Land Registry says there were 914,909 sales competed in 2014.
Transaction figures decreased by 4% across England and Wales on an annual basis, in London, transactions fell by 10%.
The number of sales at;
- under £250,000 dwindled by almost half due to increases in value while sales of homes over £1m also fell hard in the wake of Stamp Duty reforms.
- between £1m and £1.5m were down 7%
- between £1.5m and £2m, fell 23%
- over £2m, fell 26%.
In only one region – the north-east – are prices down annually, by -0.3%. It was also the only region where prices fell monthly, down 0.3% between August and September, to stand at £99,559.
The average price across the whole of England and Wales in September was £186,553, up 5.3% annually and 1% on the month.
The region with the biggest growth both monthly and annually was London (up 1.8% and 9.6% respectively).
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Land registry data from the first 6 months of 2014 compared to the first 6 months of 2015 shows a stark difference in the volume of property transactions between the London Boroughs.
Transactions of H1 2014
TRANSACTIONS OVER H1 2015
Source: Land Registry:
The lack of property for sale has increased competition between buyers who are looking for similar properties to purchase.
On a slight tangent, in my personal experience, it is not due to a lack of people wanting move home but their inability to find a suitable property to move to. In one example, an elderly lady living on her own in a large 5 bedroom house has been unable to find somewhere the matches her requirements in the areas the she wishes to reside in. A house such as her’s is highly sought after however, from a generation that would prefer to find first, then sell their home, it is not proving fruitful.
“Chicken & Egg Scenario”
A phrase I am hearing a lot recently from motivated sellers but the property they are looking to purchase to make that next step, be it an upward or downward move either doesn’t exist, hasn’t been on the market for a long time (e.g. bungalows) or they themselves have been priced out.
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Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England said they were "focussed" on "raising interest rates" and the correct time to review monetary policy, he told the Mail on Sunday.
Low inflation, expectation that the US Federal Reserve will not raise rates until next year and China's economic slowdown mean markets do not expect the Bank of England to lift rates from a record low of 0.5% until April 2017.
The base rate is only expected to rise to 1.5pc by 2020.
Mr Carney urged UK households to prepare for tighter monetary policy now. ‘If we think there is a prospect, a possibility – that’s a possibility not a certainty – of rate rises, then that is far, far better to let the British people know so they can prepare."
However, he also suggested that rates could remain low for longer. "If events mean that does not happen and rate rises are not appropriate, then we will do the right thing and we will not adjust rates," he said.
Mr Carney emphasised that any increases would be "modest" and "gentle", reinforcing the Bank's expectation that rises will be gradual. The Governor also warned that hundreds of thousands of mortgage holders were vulnerable to increases in interest rates. Mark Carney said 4% of all mortgagors - or around 280,000 homeowners - could struggle to pay back their debts if the Bank raised rates.
The Bank's annual survey of around 6,000 households, revealed;
- a "substantial proportion" of UK households were still "carrying a lot of debt".
- around 480,000 borrowers could be at risk of defaulting on their mortgage if their payments increased by 2 percentage points, even if incomes rose by 10%
- around 4% of UK borrowers spend more than 40% (aka. vulnerable borrowers) of their gross income on mortgage repayments – this could increase by 50% to around 6%
Last summer, The Bank took steps to ensure lenders “stress test” borrowers’ ability to repay their loans if the mortgage rate were 3% higher than the representative rate at the time the loan was approved.
Its next household survey is due to be published in December 2015.
Forward-thinking borrowers are already taking action to shelter themselves from an increase in the base rate. Bank data shows that 79% of new home loans taken out in the second quarter of this year were fixed rate mortgages, up from 38% at the beginning of 2008.
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A statistical bulletin from the ONS was today released comprising the House Price Index for June 2015.
The below summary along with further information can be viewed on their website; http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/hpi/house-price-index/june-2015/stb-june-2015.html?
- UK house prices increased by 5.7% in the year to June 2015, up from 5.6% in the year to May 2015.
- House price annual inflation was 6.1% in England, 0.8% in Wales, 9.0% in Northern Ireland and -0.6% in Scotland.
- Annual house price increases in England were driven by an annual increase in the East (9.2%) and the South East (7.7%).
- Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 5.2% in the 12 months to June 2015.
- On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 0.4% between May and June 2015.
- In June 2015, prices paid by first-time buyers were 5.1% higher on average than in June 2014. For owner-occupiers (existing owners), prices increased by 6.0% for the same period.
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Whether you are on the market, thinking about selling, or just a nosey parker, these tips will see you achieve your goal of selling your home, when implemented correctly.
1. The Front Shot
Perhaps the most crucial part of marketing your property for sale, will be the first and therefore the main image that is displayed on the internet. A nice external picture on a bright day with lots of colours will be sure to grab a buyer’s attention.
Things to consider;
- Time of day – ideally you want the sun behind you and shining onto the front of the property. Or does you property have uplighters and looks good at night? This would look very appealing and stand out from the crowd on the internet.
- Obstructions – cars, vans, bikes, toys, wheelie bins, pot plants and so on.
- Windows – should all be closed with the curtains/blinds all open.
2. Pricing Strategy
Isn’t that just a fancy word for price? Not at all. Your agent should discuss with you the price at which they market a property in order to elicit a specific response and what they expect that response to be? This will depend on your own requirements. Whether your sale is time-sensitive or you are looking to obtain the best price or a compromise of the two and so on.
Ever seen a property advertised at £999,995 or £999,999? ‘Psychological pricing’ for property in 2015 is dying out. Nice, round figures with consideration as to where your property fits within the price brackets of the major portals that your estate agent is advertising on (either Rightmove + Zoopla or Rightmove + OnTheMarket are the two preferred choices). For example, at 899,995, your property will be displayed if a purchaser was to select a search between £800,000 - £900,000. It is important to note that properties priced on the nose at £900,000 would feature above that of £899,995 as the default setting on Rightmove is ‘Highest Price’ first. However, if that same purchaser was to search in the next available banding between £900,000 and £950,000 (on Zoopla) or £1,000,000 (on Rightmove), for the sake of £5 on the asking price, your property will not be displayed in the new search but at £900,000, it would appear in both searches. Therefore, maximising the number of people who would potentially view your property online and subsequently arrange a viewing.
Especially now that the stamp duty thresholds have changed, pricing around certain figures is less of an issue. Historically, for example, a property at £1m would incur 4% Stamp Duty equalling £20,000 and 5% over £1m (£25,000+). This has now changed, resulting in less of a barrier for a property to exceed certain figures that were considered the upper limit due to the various thresholds.
Not enough photos, i.e. none, 1 or 2, just looks suspicious (to me at least). Too many photos can be worse than not enough. Your target audience will get bored and click on another property that looks more appealing.
The purpose of those 10-12 photos (the optimum number) is not to showcase every single nook and cranny of your property (even if it is fully deserving of it). It is to entice buyers to want to take a look inside your property and make a decision on that basis. Consider for a minute, adverts for feature films, they show some the best bits of a film to get punters to buy tickets at the box office. The aim is to motivate a purchaser to pick up the phone and schedule an internal viewing.
Any extra photos, can be rotated with current photos every fortnight or so to keep the listing fresh and purchasers engaged when they’re scrolling down the pages of the portals.
Personally, I find beautiful, bright, colourful external photograph more visually appealing than that of a very nice but neutrally decorated white internal shot of the lounge or kitchen, however wonderful they are in real life. This will of course vary depending on the sort type of property you are selling. Do a search online now and compare your property to that of similar properties for sale. How does it compare?
4. Floor plans
I am stickler for a simple, yet accurate floor plan. It helps a buyer gauge room sizes, how many of them there are and their proportions without the need to fully review the room measurements and property description.
5. Olfactory offense
If a buyer has scheduled a viewing, no doubt because of the beautiful external picture of the property, chances are they like the location, size, layout and age of the property.
Despite everything else that influences a buyer’s decision upon walking through the front door, smell can be a major factor.
It could be pets, cooking smells, damp (has that musky odour to it, very distinctive and a tell-tale sign) or any given number of factors. Giving your property a good airing (opening all the windows) will help clear any lingering odours and allows the air circulate, preventing the occurrence of damp (and it’s unsightly black mould).
Solutions are abundant and commonly found popular options tend to be; light a scented candle, spray air-freshener or get a plug-in adapter for a wall socket, make a coffee or bake bread.
TIP: Got black mould? Use 1:3 ratio of bleach : warm water, wipe gently with a clean, damp cloth. This will kill the bacteria that is growing and prevent any further growth.
Try it out on your next viewing and wait for the compliments to roll in.
6. De-clutter / Smarten up
Sometimes clutter such as piles of old magazines and books that haven’t been moved since the mid-1990s can often be the cause of smells not to mention an inefficient use of space. It can also make certain areas difficult to access properly and therefore clean effectively, thus causing an odour.
Whilst the viewer will appreciate that this is your home and you live there, enabling them to picture themselves living there with their furniture and belongings is a hugely understated factor when selling a property.
Ever wondered why some people hire ‘home stagers’ to fill their property with trendy furniture? This is because a neutral, well furnished property will attract more attention than the same property that is completely empty.
Help fuel your buyer’s imagination and remove some items from view on your next viewing.
7. For Sale board
An essential weapon in any estate agents arsenal.
A for sale board can prove extremely useful when prospective purchasers are viewing other, similar properties nearby or just happen to be passing by.
It can also aid those that have specifically set out to look for your property with the idea that if they like the look of the outside, they’ll book a viewing. A board can help a buyer locate a property when otherwise it might be more challenging such as in the evening when it is dark or if your property is obscured from view somehow.
8. Review property description
In my opinion, many people prefer a short, concise description of what the property is and where it is when scrolling down the page on the portals. Bullet points are something that can help grab the viewers attention to something that is relevant to them and their requirements i.e. ‘spacious kitchen diner’, ‘fully refurbished throughout’ or ‘off-street parking’. Telling them what they need to know in the shortest way possible.
You can always add further information you feel is relevant in the main description.
9. Call Lyttons Estate Agents on 020 8432 2800 and ask how we can help you, as well as provide more in-depth advice about selling your property.