Busy Spring in store for the property market

Busy Spring in store for the property market

In this month's edition, we're looking forward to another typically busy Spring season in the property market.

There's plenty of good news on offer too, as first-time buyer activity reaches its highest level in over ten years and property investors are continuing to pour money into British projects, even with Brexit looming. Finally, if you're looking to sell your home, why not read our step-by-step guide to the selling process?

Busy Spring in store for the property market

Spring has always been a popular time of the year for buying and selling properties, with the change from the colder months of winter to the warmer spring temperatures often galvanizing people to make a change. This year is forecast to be no different and spring 2019 is set to be a busy time for estate agents across the UK…

Recent analysis from The Advisory, an independent advice service for house sellers, has shown that March is statistically the best month to sell. The average amount of time taken to sell in March stands at 57 days, compared to other months later in the year at 79 days. With gardens starting to bloom, the weather becoming fairer and properties looking at their best, it is no surprise that spring is at the top of the list for when to sell a property.

Of course, spring 2019 is a little different than any of those prior due to the uncertainty that lies around Brexit. Although it may seem like the political climate could be a hindrance to property sales, there are many indicators which would suggest quite the opposite, with spring 2019 actually buoyed by Brexit.

There could indeed be somewhat of a surge after 29th March from potential buyers and sellers who have waited for the Brexit date to pass before they enter the market, and with supply and demand already at their highest levels for over a decade, this would see the property market in a particularly strong period.

Twinned with the historically low-interest rates, and the most flexible mortgage offerings ever provided by the banks, buying a property this spring will be on the minds of many and could indicate something of a renaissance for the property market, which has proven to be stable rather than spectacular in the last few months.

First-time buyer activity at highest level for over a decade

The number of first-time buyer mortgages has reached its highest level for 13 years, with some 370,000 new first-time buyer mortgages completed in 2018. Official trade body UK Finance has released data which shows that the highest number of first-time buyer mortgages since 2006 was reached last year, underlining the fiscal viability of purchasing a home for first-time buyers.

This consistent increase in the number of first-time buyers entering the property market can be seen as a result of; government schemes, greater mortgage availability and fewer rental properties on the market. Government policy has consistently targeted buyers who are keen to enter the property market primarily through their Help-to-Buy scheme and financial aid to first-time buyers, whilst competition amongst mortgage providers has brought a greater variety of finance options to the market. Amongst these mortgage varieties, we have seen more providers offering the 100% mortgage (or Loan-to-Value) and variations thereof, thereby opening up property to more people than ever before.

Richard Campo, managing director of Rose Capital Partners, said: “Lenders have been making it easy for first-time buyers over the last couple of months, with several providers announcing reduced rates on high loan-to-value mortgages.

“There are currently over 17,000 products available for first-time buyers.”

Twinned with the influx of mortgage varieties, and mortgages demanding a lower deposit value, is the reduced cost of these lower-deposit mortgages. The average two-year fixed rate LTV mortgage has fallen by over half a percent since last August, and big brands are also reflecting the consumer desire for LTV mortgages with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, NatWest and Santander all cutting their rates.

Yopa chief property analyst Mike Scott agrees: “Since FTBs drive the whole housing market, allowing home movers to find a buyer and take the next step on the ladder, this is good news for the whole market,” he says.

In fact, the Halifax bank has recently found that first-time buyers are now so active in the marketplace that they make up the majority of home purchases bought with a mortgage in the United Kingdom. Based around the same UK Finance statistics, Halifax has found that the average price of a typical first home has jumped by 39%, from £153,030 in 2008 to £212,473 in 2018 with terraced houses and semi-detached remaining the most popular choices for first-time buyers.

Property investors remain unfazed even as Brexit approaches

As we’re now finally closing in on 29th March, the UK’S scheduled departure date from the European Union, there is anticipation as to what Brexit will look like. In terms of property development, however, a recent study has shown that the majority of property investors are unfazed by the political upheaval and remain steadfast in their faith in the British property market.

A recent global survey carried out by SevenCapital, a leading property developer, has found that 85% of individuals who are currently investing in property around the world are investing in the UK’s property market, in spite of the Brexit furore whipped up by news headlines.

Andy Foote, director at SevenCapital, said: “These figures demonstrate that people generally recognise that there are bigger factors to consider over Brexit when it comes to the overall trends in the UK property market. Realistically, it’s the fear and the perception of Brexit that will have any effect, rather than the physical act of leaving the EU.”

“Ultimately, if the market were to take a dip after Brexit, seasoned investors will know that this would more likely be a catalyst for the inevitable swing back. The property market is a prime example of well-known cyclical patterns, growing through recovery and emerging stronger than previous peaks. In other words, if it takes a dip, as it did 10 years ago, it will recover and come back stronger.”

The survey of “High Net Worth Individuals” (HNWIs) – defined as earning more than £100,000 per year – has shown that property remains as popular as ever for global investors, with 59% investing in property, second only to stocks and shares. Out of those who responded, more than 30% of those from within the United Kingdom confirmed they were investing in UK property and, furthermore, almost a quarter actually cited Brexit as one of their reasons to invest.

With cities such as Birmingham performing impressively well post-Brexit vote, with property prices growing 16%, the investment possibilities remain strong. Moreover, the rental yields being posted by the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool are amongst some of the highest around the country at between 5 – 10%.

Overall, the sensational headlines which Brexit has provided have been utilised well by the media as a means to engage people. However, when we look at the statistics it is evident that there are further far-reaching events which weigh more heavily on the property market, such as interest rates. With property investment remaining encouragingly high across the United Kingdom, first-time buyer activity at unprecedented levels and the pound being predicted by Goldman Sachs to be the highest-performing G-10 exchange rate this year, the property market is set for a strong and stable year ahead.

Thinking of selling your home? Read our step-by-step guide

Moving home is consistently included in the list of life’s most stressful activities, up there with marriage and starting a family. We like to make this process as simple as possible in order to keep the transition to your new home straightforward and enjoyable, so take a look through our guide and start your stress-free move with us…

1) Cash is king
First and foremost in our guide to selling is your finances – getting these in check will go a long way to smoothening out the whole process. Speak with your bank or mortgage provider to let them know your intention of moving in order to understand your financial position – for example, are there any charges for paying your mortgage back early? Of course, organising your new mortgage or understanding your options either with your current provider or elsewhere will put you in a good position when you are ready to move.

2) Don’t budge on the budget
Once you have understood your position with your current mortgage, it is important to consider what it will actually cost to sell your home and budget for this accordingly, in order to avoid any nasty surprises during the selling process. Of course, estate agency fees should also be budgeted for as these are the foundation to selling your current property, but don’t forget the EPC document which sets out the energy efficiency of your home which is a necessity for a seller to provide. There are also conveyancing fees for your solicitor or legal conveyancer, as well as removal costs – don’t forget to factor in how much it may cost to move your possessions.

3) Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
You have your financials in place, you know how much it is going to cost to sell your property, as well as what your mortgage options are moving forward, so it is time to get hands-on with the property sale. Prepare your property for selling in order to encourage a quick sale will put you in a better position to make an offer of your own on a property. The premise is simple; allow others to imagine themselves in your home by decluttering and showing off the raw potential that your property can offer to them. By decluttering the surfaces and removing the majority of your personal items and mementoes, a buyer will be able to imagine their own possessions in your home and therefore be more likely to purchase your property. If necessary, bite the bullet and make the bigger changes – a fresh lick of paint here and there, a tidy up of the garden or a new bathroom suite will all help you to sell more quickly.

4) List early
To avoid missing out on your dream property, get your house on the market as early as possible – sometimes this may seem like you’re listing too early, but don’t be afraid to take the plunge. Listing your properly early will also help to focus your mind on the fact that you have made the decision to sell, and encourage you to be active in your own property search.

5) List with us
Our experience in estate agency and commitment to customer service sets us apart from other agents in the area – if you are looking for a smooth selling process with dedicated professionals, then look no further.

6) Offers galore
Your estate agent is legally obliged to pass on all offers which are made on your property – even if they are unrealistic, so be prepared to receive lots of differing offers and don’t jump at the first one. If you aren’t happy with the offer, you can reject it outright or alternatively if you are pleased with the offer, you can accept it straight away. Between those two extremes, however, there lies much room for negotiation so think carefully about what you’re prepared to accept for your property, and how this will affect your own search for your next property.

7) Say “I do”
Once you have formally accepted an offer, your next move will be to remove your property from the market – often offers will be made with the caveat that your home will be immediately removed from the property market to avoid gazumping (a higher offer being later accepted). At this stage, a formal acceptance is not legally binding – it is simply an agreement so do not rest on your laurels that the buyer is 100% committed; this is where being organised and making the process swift will help to avoid any second-thoughts by the people in your purchasing chain.

8) Contract tact
So, you have accepted an offer on your property. The next stage will be negotiating a draft contract between yourself and your buyer to cover things such as; whether fixtures and fitting are included, if they would like to seek any discounts for anything which has come up in their survey of the property and how long the passage of time will be between exchange of contracts and completion dates. Once the minutiae have been agreed upon, it is time to make the whole process legally binding and exchange contracts – if you pull out after this point then the buyer will get their deposit back and you may well be sued. If this point has passed without a hitch, then congratulations – you have sold your property! Once the exchange of contract happens, you will then have an agreed number of days to move out of the property (agreed when drafting the contracts which have just been exchanged between you and your buyer).

9) Moving day
You can move out right up to your day of completion – we’d recommend not leaving it quite so late just in case there is a problem with the moving process, but you do have the option!

10) Done and dusted?
Completion is official when the property changes ownership (contracts signed and exchanged), payment for the property is accepted and the keys have been handed over. All of these final touches occur on a pre-agreed date to ensure that all parties are in accordance, and there is no break in the selling chain. On this day, the property deeds as well, as the money, are transferred between the legal teams for each party, who will then register the transfer of ownership with Land Registry. Once the money has been transferred to your legal team, they will pay off the mortgage and you will then only have their fees to cover in order to finish up your sale neatly.