Wed 03 May 2017
The announcement of a general election in May took everyone by surprise and led to speculation as to what it would mean for the housing market. Jeremy Leaf, the principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told The Daily Mail: ‘The period of indecision starts from now until the election and thankfully it is relatively short. Inevitably, a lot of decision-making will be put on hold, particularly as the polls fluctuate, and that includes the decision to buy and sell property.’ He added in The Financial Times that a decisive outcome in any direction was ‘likely to result in a surge in activity at least for a honeymoon period afterwards, however long that may last’.
Demand for homes near London’s top primary schools pushes prices up by £80,000, according to research from Rightmove. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard: ‘An Ofsted ‘outstanding’ school will often have a remarkably small catchment area as parents clamour to buy what they perceive to be a stake in their child’s future. The effect of families buying around desirable schools produces ever-narrowing catchment areas.’
House prices are rising at the slowest rate in nearly four years, according to the Halifax, with buyers and sellers now adjusting to the idea that prices were lower. Jeremy Leaf told The Times: ‘What we have found on the ground is that there is more of a general acceptance that prices are flattening and if people want to move, then Easter is the time to get on with it and be more realistic about making and accepting offers.’ He added in The Daily Express: ‘While demand to buy is still strong, accessibility and affordability are proving illusive for many. Going forward, the most significant characteristic we have seen over the past month or so has been a weakness in rental demand from younger people, which if it continues will inevitably have an effect on house prices as well as investors’ appetite to increase or retain their stock.’
The British Bankers’ Association said the number of mortgages approved in March was lower than expected. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Telegraph: ‘Bearing in mind the long run of house-price rises last year the market had to hit the buffers sooner or later, irrespective of the general election and Brexit. What we are seeing is homebuyers reaching an affordability ceiling and saying ‘no more’. Unless buyers and sellers recognize that the market it not what it was 12 months ago, further inertia and falls in transactions will result.’
Things are getting tougher for landlords with Jeremy Leaf telling The Daily Telegraph that the reduction in tax relief for higher-rate taxpayers is ‘the biggest issue on the horizon for landlords’. However, he added in The Mirror: ‘While things will get tougher for landlords, we don’t expect to see a mass exodus from the sector. There are few other investments generating similar returns, so the question is, where else would you put your money? We expect buying decisions to be more considered than in the past, and there may be a reluctance to add to portfolios, but we don’t expect a mass sell-off.’
The Victorian terrace has taken a dive in popularity. Jeremy Leaf told The Sun: This indicates a shift in house-buying habits. It’s sad people aren’t going for the Victorian quality any more but it shows that buyers want a house that will be suitable for as many ages and stages of life as possible. They want to add value by extending and also have room for a home office, grown-up kids to move back or grandparents to move in. Costs of bills in old homes are now a big factor in choosing which type of property you want, hence the increased desirability of modern homes.’