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What’s Happening In The UK Property Market? March 2023

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House prices have risen this month, buy-to-let mortgage choices are recovering, and there’s welcome news for homeowners in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget. Read on to find out the latest property news!

HOUSE PRICES ON THE RISE AGAIN

Figures released by Rightmove show that average property prices have increased in March as the housing market continues to defy predictions that it’s heading for a slump.

Prices rose by 0.8% across the country in March, only a little less than the typical 1% increase seen at this time of year for the past two decades.

The rise takes the average asking price of a property to £365,357 – an increase of nearly £3,000 on the previous month.

While spring is traditionally a buoyant time for the housing market, the increase is also partly down to a fall in mortgage rates in recent months, which soared to around 6% after the government’s mini-budget in September last year. With rates below 5% again, prices could rise modestly as we head toward summer.

BUY-TO-LET MORTGAGES BOUNCE BACK

The buy-to-let market shows strong signs of recovery, with the number of different mortgages available at its highest level since before September’s mini-budget.

Around 2,400 buy-to-let mortgage deals are currently available to investors – a figure not seen since July 2022.

A typical two-year fixed rate mortgage can be secured, charging 5.81%, and five-year fixed rates charge a slightly more attractive 5.72%.

While these figures are encouraging for buy-to-let investors, the rates are still significantly higher than in previous years. In March 2021, the average interest rate on a two-year fixed mortgage was 2.14%.

HOW DOES THE SPRING BUDGET AFFECT THE HOUSING MARKET?

Mid-March saw the government’s Spring Budget revealed, and little was announced that directly impacts the housing market, but a couple of changes will affect homeowners and landlords.

While previous Budgets have seen changes to stamp duty, this year, it was explicitly focused on stimulating the economy and jobs.

For homeowners and renters, there’s some welcome relief with an extension to the support for home energy bills. The government’s previous support was due to end before April, but the extension means that bills will remain capped until the end of June. While customers will no longer receive monthly rebates of £66, the energy cap will stay at £2,500. It was previously due to increase to £3,000 from April.

In a change for landlords, the level of tax-free gains before they pay capital gains tax has been lowered, while stamp duty remains unchanged. First-time buyers are exempt from the tax for purchases under £425,000, while movers will pay no stamp duty on properties under £250,000.

TENANTS BEING PRICED OUT OF MAJOR CITIES

Data released by Rightmove has shown a significant rise in the number of renters priced out of major cities by rent and cost of living increases.

The figures reveal that rental prices are up 12% over the past year and that 42% of renters are looking to move out of the city they currently live in, compared with 37% a year ago and 28% in February 2020 before the Covid pandemic.

London is where most renters are being squeezed out, followed by Sheffield and Manchester, while Edinburgh is the city that has seen the most significant rise in rents, with average costs up 19% from 12 months ago.

While an increase in flexible and remote working has undoubtedly allowed some people to move out of major cities, Rightmove has confirmed that the primary drivers are the rising rental costs and increased competition for properties. Many renters are having to compromise on either location or the type of properties they are looking at to stay in the same city.

AREAS WHERE HOMES ARE SELLING FASTER THAN A YEAR AGO REVEALED

With the housing market stabilising and buyers taking more time to look at what they can afford, the average time it takes to sell a property has increased to 66 days – an increase from 12 months ago when homes were being snapped up within 42 days on average.

However, Rightmove has released figures to show the areas where homes are bucking the trend and selling more quickly than they were this time last year.

Top of the list is Hoole in Chester, where homes sell in 32 days – more than half the national average.

It’s a similar story in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where properties in Jesmond and Fenham are selling in just 33 days, along with Ashtead in Surrey.

At the other end of the scale, properties in Witney, Oxford, are selling in 58 days on average, which is still below the national average and much less than 12 months ago, when 75 days was the average selling time for the town.

For more local property news and updates and a more detailed overview of the London area, get in touch with Properly .

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