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House price growth was fastest in the North West of England in the last year, according to the Office for National Statistics, while London again recorded the slowest rise. Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told BBC News: ‘There is no average UK price and the UK market reflects all different areas working at various paces.’ He expanded in The Evening Standard: ‘The trend in London is quite different, where an excess of supply and weak demand are combining to reduce prices consistently with no real prospect of an increase until early next year at the soonest.’
Developers are offering incentives to encourage buyers to put down deposits on new homes but it’s important not to be distracted by freebies. Jeremy Leaf told The Times: ‘Always focus on the value of the house, regardless of any extras thrown in.’
Many first-time buyers are being priced out of the property market. Jeremy Leaf told The Sun: ‘On the ground, we see first-time buyers struggling to save up for a deposit and it is so difficult to get on the ladder with stamp duty proving to be a deterrent. This has a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy as first-time buyers are the lifeblood of the market – which is why schemes such as Help to Buy were dreamt up in the first place and have proven to be so popular.’
London’s commuter belt has seen a spike in the number of homes left long-term empty. Jeremy Leaf explained to BBC News that there was evidence of ‘buy to leave’ in the commuter belt. ‘Buy-to-leave generates considerable negative publicity, but it constitutes a relatively small part of our ‘broken’ housing market,’ he says. ‘It is often forgotten that many of the foreign investors in the firing line for leaving these homes empty are the very people helping to finance developments, which include many affordable units and which may not otherwise be built.’
There was a 1.7 per cent increase in residential home sales between September and October, according to the HMRC. Jeremy Leaf told The Mail on Sunday: ‘These figures bear out what we’ve seen in other recent reports that the market is proving much more resilient than we might have expected. However, the government could do much more to promote transactional activity which would benefit the whole economy.’
As the property market stagnates in some parts of the country, many vendors are turning to property raffles to shift homes that might not otherwise sell. However, the tax implications are not clear. Jeremy Leaf said in The Daily Telegraph: ‘I believe if the balance is regarded as a gift by HMRC and there is no debt involved, then no stamp duty is payable. But if property raffles become more popular, this is clearly an area the Chancellor needs to look at in order to clarify the situation.’