John Halman is Managing Director of Gascoigne Halman, an estate agent with seventeen offices in South Manchester and is the North West Regional Residential Spokesman for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The much heralded green shoots of the property market which have been referred to over the course of the last couple of years are now well established and moving close to full bloom!
As the year has progressed we have seen a steady increase in sales and also an increasing number of press articles relating to the recovery of the property market with many anticipating an undesirable housing market boom. For the most part these articles become self fulfilling as they provide the confidence that the market lives off to encourage purchasers to buy, and sellers to sell.
Much of the speculation surrounds the affect of Help to Buy 2, the Government’s housing initiative where they will offer guarantees on the first 20% of the loan, thereby allowing cheaper mortgages for purchasers requiring up to a 95% mortgage. Whilst it is still early days, the products that have been released so far tend to be at interest rates of around 5% and some carry an arrangement fee as well. This compares to current loans which are normally available for purchasers looking to borrow not more than 60% at a range of rates between 2% and 2.5%, fixed for three years.
Whilst Help to Buy will undoubtedly be a catalyst for purchase for some buyers, it is unlikely to transform the nature of the property market and will have a less beneficial effect than the press speculation that surrounds it.
There is no doubt, however, that the property market needs first time buyers and any assistance that can be given for this type of purchaser, many of whom will already be living in rented accommodation, can only be regarded as helpful and therefore a stimulant to the market overall.
There are currently many people paying rent in excess of that which they would pay in mortgage payments, if only they could find a deposit and have the confidence to buy. Each of these aspects has been aided by Help to Buy 2.
This increase in confidence has brought with it an increase in activity in our own property market and has also resulted in pressure on prices in the more desirable locations for the first time in five years. Our number of housing transactions has increased over the last six months on a month by month basis and it would seem that there is a considerable amount of pent up demand from families who have been sitting tight for the last few years and are now looking to move over the coming year.
For this reason if no other, we are optimistic that those blooms I referred to may well be in full flower by next spring, but beware of the coming frosts.