Kate's 5 'must read' property news stories

publication date: Sep 22, 2014
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
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Kate's 5 'must read' property news stories this week from
the ONS, Scotland and AXA

1. UK house prices are on the up according to the ONS

According to the Office of National Statistics, house prices are looking increasingly strong across the UK at 11.7% growth to July 2014, compared to 10.2% in the year to June 2014.


London prices showed the highest growth at 19.1%, with a UK average of 7.9% excluding London and the South East. With seasonal adjustment, this means that average prices rose by 1.6% between June and July 2014. First-time buyers were paying, on average, 13.5% more than last July. For existing owners, prices increased by 10.9% in the same period. Read more 


My thoughts are although a few reports are still coming in with high year on year increases, this doesn’t seem to be likely to continue as most reports are now saying markets are levelling out with demand and supply matching.

Read - How to work out your property market checklist


2. Scottish house sales reach a six-year high, but supply slow-down is on the horizon

Despite this, more than half of Scotland saw prices drop in July, and monthly house price growth slowed to 0.2%. Home values are still 0.6% away from peak levels, with sales sticking at 30% lower than pre-crisis levels.


The more positive news is that first-time buyer activity is fuelling new record prices in Aberdeenshire and Edinburgh. It remains to be seen how Scotland’s decision to remain within the UK will influence sales and price growth.


My thoughts on Scotland is independence could well have damaged some of the market, especially the second homes market, making it tough for many to sell. However, now we remain as a United Kingdom, it’s likely Scotland will still see prices recovering.

Read - First Time Buyer Checklist

3. Advice for landlords to maintain tenants’ goodwill

A recent survey by AXA Business Insurance has revealed the main concerns of the UK’s 8.3 million residential tenants, and rings some serious alarm bells.


Chief reasons for disgruntlement amongst tenants included:

  • Finding properties dirty when moving in (38% of respondents), with dingy décor also a gripe
  • Unfriendly landlords (although in general tenant-landlord relationships are friendly)
  • High energy bills due to poor insulation and old heating systems
  • Safety risks where essential and routine maintenance is delayed or omitted altogether (a massive 70% of landlords fail to carry out legally-required annual gas inspections, 60% don’t fit a carbon monoxide alarm, 58% don’t fit a fire alarm)
  • One in five tenant’s top security wish was locks on all external windows and doors, yet 73% of properties don’t have them fitted

Despite this list of woes, the survey suggested that half of tenants thought highly of their landlord, with only 17% describing them negatively.


Landlords’ poor awareness of their legal responsibilities, rather than deliberate neglect of their properties, is leaving them open to property risks and even prosecution.


From April 2016, the government will oblige landlords to introduce any ‘reasonable’ energy efficiency measures, such as updating heating and energy systems, to help keep tenants’ bills down. Read more 


My thoughts – this report is interesting as although some of the numbers don’t stack up versus things like the English Housing Survey, it does highlight that tenants don’t feel it’s acceptable to treat them like ‘second class citizens’ and they want a good quality property. If you don’t provide one, it will impact on your rent by taking longer for your property to let.  

Read - How to rent a property checklist

4. Borrowers with low incomes and dependants hit hardest by Mortgage Market Review

According to a new IMLA study, borrowers with dependents and low incomes have been most affected by new mortgage lending limits arising from the MMR. The majority of brokers report more declines and falling loans as a result of stress tests.


However, the majority of lenders (71%) and brokers (58%) believe that MMR will have a positive effect by improving the quality of advice consumers receive. According to IMLA Executive Director Peter Williams, borrowers’ short-term pain now will in the long run protect their finances when the interest rate rises and meanwhile new solutions need to be found that will match creditworthy consumers to the right product for their circumstances.
Learn more


My thoughts – MMR has to be seen as a good thing, in fact it’s ridiculous this wasn’t done in the first place! But with new mortgagees being on repayment loans and having their affordability properly considered, this can really help protect people when interest rates rise.

Read - Finding a home checklist


5. More 20-34s are ‘boomeranging’ back home

The ONS reveals that in 2013, over 3.3 million adults in this age group, or 26%, were living with a parent or parents. This means that in the past decade, there’s been an increase of 25% in young adults living at home compared to 1996 figures of 2.7 million, or 21%.


Of the 1.7 million who left home but ‘boomeranged’ back, 78% said they had left to go to college or university and returned because they couldn’t afford to live independently. Young men, especially if unemployed, are more likely than young women to be living back home.


London has the lowest percentage of young people living with parents, at 22%, with the highest percentage, at 36%, in Northern Ireland and the North East close on its heels at 34%. It also has the highest percentage of young adults who have never left home.


The research suggests that there are other reasons, including relationships breaking down and health failing, for young people to return to the nest. Visit the ONS site for more information

My thoughts – although billed as a ‘bad thing’ that people live with their parents, I think it’s actually good news. In my local village, many siblings have moved in with parents to help them as they get older. I moved back in with my mum, in between buying and selling a home. Many first time buyers move back home to save for a deposit. Also for many, parents are property rich, but cash poor and younger people the other way around, so sharing accommodation can only really be a good thing, as long as the property doesn’t become overcrowded.


 Read -  Is it cheaper to rent or buy checklist

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