Residential Property Review – May 2018

Our monthly residential market review is intended to provide background to recent developments in property markets, as well as to give an indication of how some key issues could impact in the future.


Highest number of vacant houses in England for decade

The UK government’s ‘Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’ has revealed that the number of vacant residential properties across England has risen for the first time in a decade, by 2.6% in 2017 to 205,293. This figure represents 0.9% of the housing stock available across the country; according to estate agent Savills.

Regionally, London appears to be the hotspot, with 20,237 properties being left empty long-term in 2017, followed by Birmingham with 4,280 and Bradford with 3,931.

The Chief Executive of estate agent ‘HouseSimple’, Sam Mitchell, said that having empty housing stock on this scale, in a country suffering a supply crisis “…is a situation that needs to be addressed urgently.

Help needed to shop around for cheaper mortgage deals

The City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stated that, with over 80% of the UK’s household liabilities comprising mortgage debt, it should be made easier for mortgage owners to shop around for lower-priced deals, particularly as the Bank of England is signalling a rise in interest rates in the near future.

Whilst the FCA acknowledges that competition in the mortgage market is currently “working well” for many people, it hopes that lenders may make their lending criteria available to other market lenders and that it should be made easier for borrowers to be able to compare mortgage brokers’ offerings.

The Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, Christopher Woolard was quoted as saying: “For many the market is working well with high levels of consumer engagement. However, we believe that things could work better with more innovative tools to help consumers.”

Construction of luxury flats in central London falls in 2017

According to London Residential Research (LRR) and the highend estate agents London Central Portfolio (LCP), starts for new-build luxury flats in central London fell by 25.4% in 2017, compared with the previous year. LRR report that seven of the eleven inner London boroughs covered by its research saw declines; with Southwark seeing a 62% fall – despite the major development at Elephant & Castle – whilst Wandsworth also saw a decline of 42%. Altogether, the inner London boroughs have seen a fall of 3,810 new-build units being constructed.

LCP’s Chief Executive, Naomi Heaton, commented on this data: there was “a huge oversupply of over-commoditised new-build boxes” in London. “An awful lot of what was built was generic and overpriced and they struggled to sell It.



HOUSE PRICE INDEX (MAR 2018)* 117.6*
*(Jan 2015= 100)

  • UK house prices grew by 4.2% in the year to March 2018
  • Scotland showed the highest annual growth at 6.7%
  • The second fastest growing region was the East of England at 5.8%



Region   Monthly Change (%) Annual Change (%) Average Price (£)
England   -0.3 4.0 £240,949
Northern Ireland
(Quarter 1 – 2018)
  0.3 4.2 £130,026
Scotland   0.5 6.7 £146,009
Wales   -0.1 3.5 £152,999
East Midlands   -0.6 5.6 £184,736
East of England   1.0 5.8 £291,415
London   -0.9 -0.7 £471,944
North East   -1.5 2.1 £124,381
North West   -0.3 5.2 £157,461
South East   -0.2 3.3 £320,682
South West   -0.3 4.9 £249,839
West Midlands Region   -0.8 5.1 £188,697
Yorkshire & The Humber   -0.3 3.7 £155,251
Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 23/05/2018 Next date release: 13/06/2018




Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 23/05/2018

Contains HM Land Registry data © Crown copyright and database right 2017. This data is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.



Gross mortgage lending in March is estimated to have been £20.5bn

  • This is 2.3% lower than one year earlier

Source: UK Finance (formerly Council of Mortgage Lenders)
Release date: 26/04/2018

Are first-time buyers still underestimating the importance of a broker?

 “First-time buyers may not necessarily be factoring in support from brokers early on in their home buying journey”

Just 28% of potential first-time buyers plan to finance their property with a mortgage arranged by a broker, according to a survey by Yorkshire Building Society.

The research found that aspiring first-time buyers are underestimating the importance of a broker when they start their house-hunt.

However, of those who have purchased their first property within the last 12 months, almost half (47%) said they eventually turned to a broker for help with their mortgage.

Findings from the report also indicate almost a third (32%) of potential first-time homeowners would aim for a detached house as their first property and nearly half (49%) would consider a semi-detached house. Less than a quarter (24%) would be happy to settle for a studio or flat.

The findings also revealed how important purchasing a first home is to potential borrowers, with nearly two in five (39%) saying it is more important to them than any other life event, including getting married or having children.

Jeremy Duncombe, director of intermediary distribution at Accord Mortgages, said: “Buying a house is one of the biggest financial commitments someone can make in life so it’s no surprise that we see a shift in first-time borrowers turning to a broker for help in taking that important first step on to the property ladder.

“It does however highlight that first-time buyers may not necessarily be factoring in support from brokers early on in their home buying journey, perhaps because they’re unaware of how intermediaries can help. This shows there is still much opportunity for brokers to promote their services to help guide aspiring buyers to a mortgage best suited to their needs, at a potentially overwhelming time of their life.

“Our latest First-Time Buyers Report offers an insight into the world of first-time buyers and could help give brokers a better understanding of the challenges they face for example, or what they’re looking for in a property or mortgage which could help brokers when they are speaking to clients just starting out.

“From a customer point of view, it shows that an earlier conversation with a mortgage broker could help prospective first-time buyers consider their options and understand the possibilities sooner in the process.”

Article written by – Rozi Jones – Financial Reporter –


Alex was fit and Healthy


Alex always considered himself a fit and healthy person who led an active and busy life, working 60 hours a week as a self- employed field agent. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in June 2017 at the age of 66, and wanted to offer his advice to those thinking about taking out insurance.

“I felt perfectly well. One morning I went to the toilet and there was blood in the bowl. I went to see my GP who sent a sample off, which came back negative, which is common.

My GP decided I should still see a specialist who proceeded to carry out a colonoscopy and it was then that they found the tumour. I knew it was bad when the nurse started crying. The diagnosis was told there and then, that I had cancer.”

“I was surprised as I hadn’t felt ill. I saw a consultant who told me what was being planned – a four month course of chemotherapy followed by a procedure which would remove a bit of my bowel.”

“I carried on working as much as possible during the treatment as it gives you something to do but there are times when you really can’t work. I had regular hospital visits with treatment and drugs – I never knew how I was going to feel. I could be fine one minute and the next couldn’t face anything. It’s really horrible. One thing that made me feel really ill was the chemotherapy; now that I would not wish upon anyone. I cannot describe what that does to you. On one occasion I had to come home in an ambulance as I couldn’t walk and my vision was blurred. You just feel rotten.”

“I remember sitting in the hospital reception thinking ‘I’m going to die, I’m just going to die here’”.

Alex waited until just before his surgery before contacting us regarding his critical illness claim.

“It became clear to me that whatever happened, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work again as I was going to have to wear a colostomy bag. It would be very difficult to do what I did with a colostomy bag due to the nature of the job. So that was when I decided to claim.

Alex was amazed at how easy the claims process was. “You usually feel like you are just a number but I was surprised when I rang up and was able to speak to someone who knew what they were talking about. They explained clearly from outset what would happen and what would be required, the person I spoke to was great. I was particularly pleased that the payment went through so easily. I was very pleased with the whole process.”

Alex also claimed on our unique claims support fund which can pay up to £300 for a variety of out of pocket expenses as a result of illness or a family members death.

“Small things like that make a huge difference. I wasn’t allowed to drive after my operation so I had to get a taxi to the hospital. £10 there and £10 back. My wife coming to visit me was also £10 there and £10 back. This amount adds up. So the support fund was enormously useful to cover those costs.”

“My intention was to work until I was 70 and then retire, but due to the surgery I had to stop work earlier than I intended. This payment has aided me financially and that’s putting it mildly. Being self-employed and having not been able to work to full capacity since June 2017, means no money. There are other things too, things people don’t think about – contracts for TV, mobile phones, broadband, monthly outgoings and so on. All those things you don’t think about. For your income to fall or suddenly stop due to being ill, it can be very very difficult.”

“Anybody who is thinking about getting critical illness cover or looking for excuses not to do it – speaking to me for 15 minutes will change their mind, because it does make a difference. I wish I was 30 years younger with a mission to change attitudes towards insurance.”

For Alex, the surgery he underwent was successful and they managed to remove all of the tumour with the cancer not spreading any further and he is doing well.

AIG customer case study – claim paid in 2017. The image shown is for illustration purposes.


Our monthly residential market review is intended to provide background to recent developments in property markets, as well as to give an indication of how some key issues could impact in the future.


Remortgages hit a nine-year high

In their recent mortgage trends update, UK Finance revealed that remortgages reached a nine-year high in January. In addition, both the number of home movers and first-time-buyers increased, when compared with the same period last year.

Jackie Bennett, the Director of Mortgages at UK Finance commented on these findings: “Remortgaging in January reached a nine-year high, as a number of previous fixed rate mortgages came to an end while borrowers locked into attractive deals amid expectations of further interest rate rises. While an increase in remortgaging is expected in the New Year as people put their household finances in order, this strong growth is above the seasonal fluctuations we tend to see at this time of year.

Despite this marked increase in remortgaging, the appetite for buy-to-let remains subdued, as a direct result of the government’s tax and regulatory changes.

Improved transport links boosts residential demand

Savills ‘Market in Minutes’ UK development research paper on new homes and infrastructure has highlighted the vital role that transport plays in residential property development. Developers are taking advantage of the increasing demand for new homes and infrastructure in commuter locations, as an increasing number of people look to relocate from the Capital.

The research pinpointed that stations experiencing the highest increase in passengers over the last two years were those situated within a 19 to 39 minute journey from a central London terminal. Cheaper locations in the Home Counties, in up-andcoming areas, such as Luton and Ebbsfleet, look set to become increasingly popular, as transport links improve – helping to support residential property demand and prices.

When people are considering relocation to a new area, the presence of a transport hub, such as a station, can fuel demand, boosting house prices as a result. Over the last five years, stations with the largest increase in passenger use, such as Didcot Parkway and Aylesbury Vale Parkway, have experienced house price growth that is on average 5% higher than surrounding areas.

Is Help-to-Buy working in everyone’s interest?

The government’s popular Help-to-Buy housing policy has recently been criticised following beliefs from various housing market observers that it may have actually fuelled demand as opposed to addressing the housing market’s major issue – supply. Many feel the policy requires reform to prevent housebuilders exploiting it to enhance their profits irrespective of the number of homes they build.

Specifically designed to support would-be first-time-buyers in their efforts to step on the housing ladder, Colin Lewis, the Chief Executive of housebuilder Avant Homes, has called on other residential property developers to get a social conscience regarding the number of house builds actually started and their subsequent profit margins, he commented: “If we are to continue with this valuable initiative, changes must be made to rebalance the benefits of the policy to homebuyers and away from housebuilders.”

This follows the uproar caused over the recent executive pay deal at Persimmon, the UK’s second largest housebuilder. Accused of benefitting from the Help-to-Buy scheme, they were forced to reduce the bonus payments of three executives by £51 million.


HOUSE PRICE INDEX (JAN 2018)* 118.3*
*(Jan 2015= 100)

  • UK house prices grew by 4.9% in the year to January 2018, down from 5% in the year to December 2017.
  • The largest annual price growth was recorded in Scotland, where prices increased by 7.3%over the year to January 2018.



Region   Monthly Change (%) Annual Change (%) Average Price (£)
England   -0.5 4.6 £242,286
Northern Ireland
(Quarter 4 – 2017)
  1.0 4.3 £130,482
Scotland   1.4 7.3 £148,512
Wales   -0.5 4.5 £153,034
East Midlands   -0.1 7.3 £185,568
East of England   -0.7 5.3 £289,729
London   1.0 2.1 £485,830
North East   -5.5 0.7 £122,870
North West   -1.5 4.3 £155,788
South East   0.2 3.4 £323,435
South West   1.4 6.9 £255,307
West Midlands Region   -2.0 5.3 £187,905
Yorkshire & The Humber   -0.7 5.1 £156,484
Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 20/03/2018 Next date release: 18/04/2018



Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 20/03/2018

Contains HM Land Registry data © Crown copyright and database right 2017. This data is licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.


  • Gross mortgage lending in January is estimated at £21.9bn
  • 9.7% higher than one year earlier
  • Above the monthly average of £21.4bn for 2017

Source: UK Finance (formerly Council of Mortgage Lenders)
Release date:

Chancellors – Spring Statement

We have sought to pick out all of the key points from the Chancellors Statement on 13 March, including:

 The economy



Inflation and wages




Other news

Closing comments

Taxation infographic 2018-19 tax year

Download – 07760 – Spring Statement 2018_4 page_My Mortgage Experts

 We do hope that you find this update both interesting and informative. Should you have any queries, or require more information on any of the areas covered or any other financial matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Residential Property Market Review – February 2018

Our monthly residential market review is intended to provide background to recent developments in property markets, as well as to give an indication of how some key issues could impact in the future.


First-time buyers reach a ten-year high

One of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders, Halifax, has reported that the number of first-time buyers in the UK has reached a ten-year high at 359,000. The average deposit for these purchases has climbed by 91% over the last decade.

To put that into perspective, the average house deposit back in 2007 was £17,740, this has rocketed to £31,339 today. This can be largely attributed to the fact the average house price has risen by 21% (or £37,377) over the last ten years to £212,079.

The Halifax Managing Director, Russell Galley was quoted as saying: “This ten-year high in the number of first-time buyers shows continued healthy movement in this key area despite a shortage of homes and the ongoing challenge of saving enough of a deposit.”

Residential development land – values on the rise

In their recent Market in Minutes research paper on UK residential development land, Savills reports that residential land values have moved away from their historically benign state as land values are beginning to increase and competition for sites intensifies. This is particularly noticeable in the North of England and in Scotland. As a result of this, Savills forecast higher than average house price growth in Northern England over the next five years.

The report goes on to say that strategic land is a focus for investors and developers. Several major housebuilders are aquiring more of this strategic land, as it allows them to maintain their margins and retain greater control over their land pipelines.

At the same time medium-sized housebuilders are purchasing larger sites, with the typical build now encompassing an average of 87 plots per development, versus 72 plots seen in 2016.

Government’s new-build housing target doubtful

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) recently reported that just 12% of respondents to their survey believe that the government will be able to reach its target of 300,000 new-build homes across the UK over the next few years.

One of the main reasons cited by respondents to the survey for this perceived shortfall is the severe shortage of skilled workers and in particular, trained professionals, such as quantity surveyors.

Difficulty in finding suitable sites with the required planning consent is also seen to be a crucial problem, together with the lack of local authority infrastructure funds being made available for the necessary amenities to be put in place for such developments.


House Prices Headline statistics

HOUSE PRICE INDEX (DEC 2017)* 118.9*


Average House Price                         £226,765


Monthly Change 0.4%


Annual Change 5.2%


*(Jan 2015= 100)

·         The North East of England saw the highest monthly gain of 2.7%

·         The South East of England saw the only monthly decline (-0.5%)

·         London average house price now £484,173


House Prices Price change by region



Monthly Change (%)

Annual Change (%)

Average Price (£)

England 0.4 5.0 £243,582
Northern Ireland
(Quarter 3 – 2017)
  1.0 4.3 £130,482
Scotland   0.2 7.7 £148,783
Wales 1.0 5.4 £154,398
East Midlands   0.6 6.3 £185,694
East of England   0.2 5.2 £290,341
London   0.8 2.5 £484,173
North East   2.7 3.6 £130,838
North West   0.2 5.9 £158,370
South East   -0.5 4.2 £322,269
South West   1.0 7.5 £254,081
West Midlands Region   0.1 6.3 £191,050
Yorkshire & The Humber   0.2 2.8 £156,781


Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 13/02/2018 Next date release: 20/03/2018


UK Unemployment Figures

·         There were 32.15 million people in work

·         There were 901,000 people (not seasonally adjusted) in employment on “zero-hours contracts”

·         There were 8.77 million people aged from 16 to 64 who were economically inactive


Jobless total

Unemployment rate

Source: Office for National Statistics
Release Date: 21/02/2018


Mortgage Activity

·         2017 saw highest number of first-time-buyers in decade

·         5,300 new Buy-to-Let mortgages completed in December

·         There were 30,800 First-time-Buyers in December


Source: UK Finance (formerly Council of Mortgage Lenders)
Release date:


It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this document is based on our current understanding and can be subject to change without notice and the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. It does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are those currently applying or proposed and are subject to change; their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without prior permission.


With the annual growth rate for UK residential properties having slowed to an estimated 1.8% at the end of 2017, this year could offer better prospects for would be first-time buyers.

New data from Barclays Mortgages shows that there are some simple but effective ways of making sure you get a good deal when buying a property. Their research shows that one in five first-time buyers who bought over the last five years wish they had negotiated a better price for their property. Those who had paid more than the asking price did so to the tune of around £8,000 on average, £13,000 in London. This was largely due to fears that they would lose their purchase if they made an offer closer to the asking price.

So, the advice is to take your time. By getting an ‘agreement in principle’ from a mortgage lender, this will give sellers confidence that any deal they make with you has a good chance of going ahead.


Many estate agency websites give you access to data regarding the actual sale prices achieved for properties in the area where you are looking to buy, rather than what properties are currently on the market for. This information can help you form a realistic picture of what the property is likely to sell for, meaning you can pitch your offer accordingly.

If you find a property you are really keen on buying, get a professional survey carried out. By doing so, if there are defects that you will need to put right, the report should tell you what the cost of repairs is likely to be. If you’re still keen to proceed with your purchase, you can often use the survey findings to negotiate the price down.

In addition, as part of the mortgage process, your lender will want to carry out a mortgage valuation to ensure the value of the property will cover the amount you want to borrow. If it’s overvalued, the report will show what it’s realistically worth. Don’t forget that being a first-time buyer can mean that, from the seller’s point of view, you are a more attractive purchaser than another potentially-interested buyer who has a property they need to sell before they can proceed.


One of the big stories from the Autumn Budget was the abolition, with immediate effect, of stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. To help those in expensive areas, the first £300,000 of the cost of a maximum £500,000 purchase will be exempt from stamp duty, with the excess of up to £200,000 incurring 5% duty. This is a huge positive for all those first-time buyers saving hard to get a first foot on the housing ladder. The Scottish Government is deciding on any equivalent Land & Buildings Transaction Tax change.

Residential Property Review – January 2018

Our monthly residential market review is intended to provide background to recent developments in property markets, as well as to give an indication of how some key issues could impact in the future.


UK house prices increased 5.1% to November 2017

In their recent UK Residential Market Survey, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reports that UK house prices increased 5.1% in the year to November 2017, a 0.3% decrease on October figures. Estate agents report that stock levels remained stable and new buyer enquiries stabilised, and for the 23rd consecutive month the net balance for new instructions remained negative in November.

The latest Bank of England Agents’ summary of business conditions, outlined that housing market activity moderated in Q4 2017, following a pickup in activity post-summer. Demand remained weak in the secondary market and in London, particularly for high-priced properties. Demand for new housing showed signs of softening across the UK in the last three months of 2017.

House price growth to slow in 2018

Respected news agency Reuters, reports that their recent poll of 28 housing market participants reveals that residential property prices will increase by 1.3% across the UK in 2018.

Some of the factors behind this prognosis include the possibility of continuing political and economic uncertainty ahead of Brexit in 2019, the possibility of further interest rate rises, weaker consumer confidence, falling real wages and issues surrounding mortgage affordability.

Leasehold sales on new build homes to be banned in England

The Government has announced that people purchasing new build homes will no longer be required to enter leasehold agreements. This follows a consultation where thousands of homeowners criticised leasehold practices. In some instances people have been subject to vastly increasing ground rents, others have had their freehold sold to investment companies, and were required to pay large sums to purchase it.

The Government’s Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid said that: “It’s unacceptable for home buyers to be exploited through unnecessary leaseholds, unjustifiable charges and onerous ground rents. It’s clear from overwhelming response from the public that real action is needed to end these feudal practices.

Given that this initiative from the Government will require new legislation, it will be some time before it can be enacted. It is unclear what relief, if any, there will be for the 1.4 million households in England who already own their house under leasehold arrangements.

Relocation from London reaches 10-year high

According to The Guardian, in the first six months of 2017, 292,000 people left the capital for other parts of the UK. This represents an increase of 14% compared with a decade earlier and is the highest level recorded since 2006. This exodus has primarily been driven by people leaving London’s increasingly expensive residential property market. In addition, London’s financially stretched local authorities are attempting to house their homeless residents in more affordable locations outside of the city.


HOUSE PRICE INDEX (NOV 2017)* 118.6*
*(Jan 2015= 100)

  • An annual price increase of 5.1%, which takes the average property value in the UK to £226,071
  • The North East saw the largest monthly fall in value of 1%
  • The West Midland Region saw the largest annual gain in value (7.2%) to Nov 2017


Region   Monthly Change (%) Annual Change (%) Average Price (£)
England   0.1 5.3 £243,339
Northern Ireland
(Quarter 3 – 2017)
  3.0 6.0 £132,169
Scotland   1.1 3.6 £145,992
Wales   -0.7 4.5 £152,855
East Midlands   0.2 6.4 £185,047
East of England   -0.2 6.0 £289,731
London   -0.9 2.3 £481,915
North East   -1.0 2.3 £127,737
North West   1.4 6.2 £159,066
South East   0.3 5.7 £325,270
South West   -0.5 6.2 £251,923
West Midlands Region   1.3 7.2 £192,119
Yorkshire & The Humber   -0.8 3.0 £155,778
Source: The Land Registry
Release date: 16/01/2018 Next date release: 16/02/2018



  • There were 32.08 million people in work, 56,000 fewer than for May to July 2017 but 325,000 more than a year earlier
  • 8.86 million people aged 16 to 64 were economically inactive
Jobless total
Unemployment rate
Source: Office for National Statistics
Release Date: 13/12/2017**
** Latest data available



  • First-time-buyer market performs better than expected
  • Resilience in jobs market strengthens mortgage demand
  • Buy-to-let market remains sluggish

Source: UK Finance (formerly Council of Mortgage Lenders)
Release date: