Press Round Up May 2022
Those buying off plan should be careful of artist’s impressions. Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told Mail Online: ‘CGIs can be very accurate but equally they can be a bit misleading because they are an image of what’s expected. Building issues may mean the developer physically can’t create what they want to; there may be issues on site, changes to planning and conditions. There needs to be a bit of flexibility, common sense and wiggle room on both sides. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the builder or developer is deliberately trying to be deceitful or trying to get away with something.’
The Bank of England has increased interest rates to their highest level in 13 years. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard: ‘Once again it’s first-time buyers who seem to be clobbered on all sides by rising rents, higher interest rates and more stringent lending criteria. Yet while they often come off worse, they are so vital to the successful operation of the housing market, not only at the bottom of the ladder but connected in chains right to the top.’
Estate agents are no longer able to list properties as ‘price on application’. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Telegraph: ‘I’m not surprised the practice is going to be banned, most people just find it annoying. Buyers want to know how much a property is before making unnecessary enquiries and finding it’s not in their price bracket. Although sometimes a seller will insist on it being listed as price on application, especially new home developers who release properties in phases.'
There is little evidence that the pace of house-price growth is losing much momentum, according to the latest RICS survey. Jeremy Leaf told The I paper: The RICS survey has proved to be historically accurate in terms of what’s happening on the ground and in the near term. These figures bear out what we’ve been seeing – lower quantity but higher quality of enquiries which is resulting in strong but fewer sales and slightly longer transaction times as movers are no longer feeling the hot breath of competing buyers on the back of their necks. Stock levels are improving modestly but not fast enough to keep up with demand, particularly for family houses so prices are still on the up, albeit not so rapidly. Looking forward, we don’t expect too much change particularly while higher cost of living and interest rate pressures remain a priority for many.’
The number of properties sold in Britain fell 10.5 per cent between April and March, according to HMRC. Jeremy Leaf told This is Money: ’With available stock at around half the level it was before the start of the pandemic, it’s no surprise transaction numbers have started to fall as demand cannot be satisfied. Although activity has held up remarkably well despite successive increases in interest rates and inflation, on the ground we are starting to see the cost-of-living crisis prompting at least an uplift in market appraisals, it not listings, in sufficient numbers to keep up.’
The latest Bank of England figures show mortgage approvals for house purchases fell from 69,500 in March to 66,000 in April. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Mail: ‘Mortgage approvals are always a good lead indicator of housing market direction. This latest reduction confirms what we have been seeing at the sharp end over the past few months – successive monthly increases in the cost of living as well as interest rates compromising confidence to take on additional debt and having an inevitable knock-on effect on price growth.’