Press Round Up
Halifax reported house prices rising at their fastest pace in almost two years. Despite some people being critical as to the accuracy of the survey in recent times, Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told This is Money that the index had proved to be ‘one of the most reliable house-price indices. Halifax confirms what we have been seeing at the sharp end since just before the Election - that there is a modest recovery under way,’ he said. He explained further in The Guardian: '‘More demand, appraisals and offers but no fireworks as the market remains price-sensitive and the improvement patchy. We will probably only see if a more sustained uplift is underway if stock levels as well as the pace of sales increase - and developers come out of hibernation to acquire more sites.’
Activity in the housing market has picked up since the start of the year but the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has warned that this momentum may not continue. Jeremy Leaf told BBC News: ’We probably won’t know until the end of February or the beginning of March whether this renewed interest can translate into sales giving us more confidence that this housing market revery is robust and sustainable.'
Rightmove has also reported a jump in asking prices - by more than £2,500 over the past month alone. Jeremy Leaf told The Week: ‘Although Rightmove’s are asking not selling prices, confidence is clearly slowly returning but is fairly patchy while the market remains price-sensitive.'
The number of new first-time buyer mortgages completed in December also rose 0.3 per cent year-on-year, contributing to the rosier picture for the market. Jeremy Leaf told City AM: ’Trends in mortgage lending are always a useful indicator of future market direction. However, these figures relate what was happening in the months leading up to the election so only show a more solid resilience in activity in what was still quite a turbulent period.’
Nationwide building society also confirmed that average property prices increased by 2.3 per cent over the past year. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Express: ’Strong Nationwide house-price growth is no surprise. This is the latest in a series of surveys - and one of the most respected - which confirm what we have seen in our offices, that confidence returned, even before the Election. Recovery will only be sustained if stock levels and the pace of sales improve. However, the activity will be short-lived if sellers do not recognise the market remains sensitive and buyers won’t overpay.’
Thousands of flat owners are unable to sell or remortgage their homes as the cladding crisis spreads. Jeremy Leaf told Mail Online: ’The first thing to check is whether your home is affected or not. It could be that you have cladding but it’s not tho the type which is attracting attention. Sometimes you only find these things out when you try to remortgage or sell, and a buyer’s surveyor comes along. But because of the furore that has brewed since Grenfell, it would be as well to find out for yourself what the position is before you leave it to someone else to do it for you. Approach your managing agent or freeholder and find out what type of cladding you have and what steps are being taken to identify and deal with it.’