November Newsletter - How will the general election affect the property market?

November Newsletter - How will the general election affect the property market?


In this month's edition, we kick things off with a look at how December's general election could affect the property market, alongside a look at how the mortgage industry's current state is offering competitive rates for borrowers. 

We also reveal what homebuyers value most when looking for a property and finally, don't forget that November is the last month to start your Help to Buy ISA!


How will the general election affect the property market?

 
Over the past few years, Brexit has dominated the political landscape of the United Kingdom, but for the next month the general election will take up the headlines. Here, we investigate what the general election, and its result, could mean for the property market.

With the property market performing well over the past month, with a particular uptake in the last quarter, there is hope that the general election may bring with it yet more good news as potential vendors and buyers are buoyed by the stability of a new Prime Minister. In previous general elections in 2010, 2015 and 2017, an uptick in sales volumes were reported across the property market and Nedbank, the private wealth firm, have stated that they expect a significant impact on the property market following the election.

As it stands, the two main frontrunners in the general election are the Conservative party and the Labour party, both of which may well have to rely on other political parties if they fail to reach a majority.

The Conservative Party – Focus on First-Time Buyers
As the party already in power in the UK, should the Conservatives win the vote then the biggest effect on the property market will almost certainly be the break from Europe which Boris Johnson has been working towards since taking over as Prime Minister. For months, many have been predicting a flood of property transactions as soon as Brexit is agreed thanks to the people who have been waiting to buy or sell simply due to the political uncertainty – with Brexit completed, transactions should increase in the property market.

Further to Brexit, the Conservatives have pledged to create up to 100,000 new starter homes with a 20% discount for first-time buyers under 40 years of age in order to continue with the momentum that has been seen over the last two years amongst this group. They will maintain the Right to Buy scheme which will continue to see the number of council owned properties declining, and the rental market fluid.

This should come with a note of caution, however, given that Whitehall’s spending watchdog recently discovered that the party has failed to build any of the 200,000 starter homes promised in 2015’s party manifesto.

The Labour Party – Mansion Tax
Labour have plans to shake up the property market on a bigger scale, and this is no more evident than with their proposed Mansion Tax where property owners whose homes are worth more than £2m would face an annual charge, based on the value of the property. In line with this, those who own second homes would pay higher rates of tax, as well as those who own properties which are empty or owned by non-residents of the UK.

In terms of first-time buyers, Labour have pledged to build 200,000 homes a year in order to keep the market fluid and meet the demands of an ever-increasing population who have recently faced under-supply.



November is the last month to start your Help to Buy ISA

 
This is the last month that Help-to-Buy ISAs can be opened before they end on November 30th, with no new applicants accepted onto the scheme past this period. If you have any aspirations of getting onto the property ladder, now is the time to open your account - you only need to deposit £1!

The Help-to-Buy ISA was launched at the end of 2015 and the accounts are available from both banks and building societies. The account has proved to be extremely popular as you can receive up to £3,000 from the government based on the amount of money you have put aside in the ISA.

Essentially, for every £200 saved in the account you can receive £50 with just a few strings attached;

• This is an account solely for those who have never bought a property before
• £200 is the maximum amount which can be saved in a single month
• The maximum government bonus is £3,000 (meaning that you need to have saved £12,000 to receive this)
• You may use the ISA to buy a home up to the value of £250,000 outside London, or £450,000 in London
• If you have any other ISAs open, you must transfer the value over
• You can keep saving in the Help-to-Buy Isa up until November 2029

If you miss the deadline at the end of this month, there is still the Lifetime ISA (LISA) which is similarly aimed at first-time buyers, but also for retirees. The LISA has a comparable 25% bonus from the government based on your own contributions into the account, and once you then 60 you can access the money that you have saved completely tax free.

Read more about the Lifetime ISA here.



What do homebuyers value most in a property?

 
According to recent research, homebuyers regard traditional features as one of the most important factors in a property when looking for their next home. With the prevalence of first-time buyers in the marketplace, traditionally important factors such as school catchment areas are descending in terms of their importance to buyers.

At the top of the list of considerations for buyers is green space – either private or shared - with almost a third of those surveyed ranking this as the most important factor when looking for a property. For those currently thinking of selling, the garden may take a backseat in terms of priorities over winter; however, in light of this research it may pay dividends to ensure that your outside space remains as pristine as your home over the coming months.

With a focus on green areas, it may come as no surprise that a private car parking space was ranked second with people now prepared to travel a little further to get that all-important green space.
Interestingly, in the capital city good transport links were considered the most important factor, with 31% rating this as priority number one.

Amenities such as shops and restaurants, as well as good transport links, followed in the list of priorities with around 13% of respondents noting the importance of good local facilities.

Michael Stone, Founder and CEO of Stone Real Estate, noted that: “Buyers are now searching for the right lifestyle fit for them and not just the right property and this level of innovation by developers in order to remain competitive and stand out from the crowd has resulted in homebuyers getting much, much more for their money.”



Mortgage market - borrowers continuing to enjoy competitive rates

 
Whilst the mortgage industry continues to face difficulties when it comes to finding good returns, borrowers are continuing to benefit from low rates, according to the latest month-on-month data.

Moneyfacts.co.uk has discovered that competition within the market is continuing unabated, with rates for two-year fixed mortgages dropping just 0.01% to 2.44% and the average rates for three and five-year fixed mortgages staying still at 2.60% and 2.75% respectively. The biggest drop in rates was seen for 10-year fixed mortgages, but with the decrease sitting at 0.07% and the rate shifting to 2.91%, this hardly represents a significant fall.
 

Mortgage fixed rate analysis 

Mortgages

Two year fixed

Three year fixed

Five year fixed

Ten year fixed

Six months ago

2.47%

2.66%

2.85%

3.00%

Last month

2.45%

2.60%

2.75%

2.98%

Today

2.44%

2.60%

2.75%

2.91%

 

Savings fixed rate analysis (£10,000 investment tier)

Savings

One year fixed

Two year fixed

Three year fixed

Five year fixed

Six months ago

1.46%

1.63%

1.84%

2.15%

Last month

1.31%

1.41%

1.56%

1.88%

Today

1.29%

1.36%

1.51%

1.77%

 
“It appears that fixed mortgage rates are continuing to be cut despite the rise in interest rate SWAPs, a market that lenders generally use to hedge themselves against future interest rate fluctuations,” offered the website’s finance expert, Darren Cook. “The significant increase in SWAP rates indicates that markets may now be clawing back a previous factoring of a forecasted Bank base rate cut in the short term.

“The current average two-year fixed rate is currently 2.44%, however, this average rate reached its historical low of 2.20% two years ago in October 2017, so the current drive by some mortgage providers to cut rates could be a conscious strategy to make sure that they retain the borrowers who may be maturing from a very low fixed rate secured two years ago.”