London's Housing Crisis Continues...

You'd have to live under a rock not to know that house prices in London are incredibly expensive... and, for most people, a rock might be all they could afford in the capital.

A recent study by the National Housing Federation has found that a 20% deposit on an average London property has increased to £113,000, putting stepping on the property ladder in the capital out of reach for many. And renting isn't cheap either, with an average monthly rent over 60% of a typical salary. Factor in living expenses and there is little left over to start saving towards a deposit. It's no wonder perhaps, that fewer people than before expect to own their own home in the future.

Of course, some areas in London are more affordable than others - the average price in Barking & Dagenham, for instance, is around ten times the average wage, whereas properties in Kensington & Chelsea top the list of the least affordable, with prices being nearly 35 times the average local wage. Other expensive areas are Westminster, Camden, Hammersmith and Fulham and the City of London, and cheaper areas are Bexley, Havering, Newham and Croydon.

So how are people managing? More and more people in London are turning to the welfare system to make ends meet, with around one third of all housing benefit claimants being working people. This proportion is higher than any other area in England, which highlights the difficulties in the capital.

The housing crisis is experienced more acutely in London than any other area, and action is needed to address the issue of affordable housing.  Housing associations have been the recipients of more funding and flexibility from the Government, and the National Housing Federation is keen to work closely with the mayor to deliver affordable homes in the capital.

 


Report indicates falling numbers of house movers

Numbers of home movers have fallen for the first time since 2011, according to a report by Lloyds Bank. The figures suggest that around 13,000 fewer people moved home in 2016 than the previous year. So what factors are causing the numbers to drop?

High stamp duty and a shortage of supply have been blamed for the fall in numbers. Fewer second-time buyers find themselves able to afford a larger home, while fewer older people seem to be downsizing. Stamp duty increases for the more expensive homes may be causing sluggishness in the lower end of the market as wealthy homeowners are not moving and freeing up properties for those climbing the property ladder.

Leading politicians have called for a review of stamp duty in March's budget, but given that over £2.5 billion was generated by the purchase of expensive properties, Chancellor Philip Hammond may be reluctant to reverse the increase in the tax brought in by Chancellor George Osbourne in 2014.

Stamp duty is not just an expense for the wealthy, however. As house prices rise, stamp duty has become increasingly expensive for all buyers, who now have to factor in an average cost of £11,000 to cover stamp duty, estate agents' fees and legal fees.

Even though affordability for first-time buyers is in a slump, Lloyd's figures suggest that first time buyer numbers have increased. The slowing down in the market then is more as a result of homeowners not moving up the ladder to the more expensive properties due to cost, and, as the bank suggest, a lack of suitable properties to purchase combined with concerns about the impact of Brexit on the housing market.

More stringent affordability rules is also constraining the market as some homeowners may be unable to move their loan to a new property.


Is the North-South divide narrowing? House price trends in the UK

According to a recent report by Hometrack, growth in house prices in our regional cities is continuing to outstrip that of London, with Bristol and Manchester seeing the largest increases.

Manchester is now vying for top spot with a growth of 8.9% compared to Bristol's 9.6%. For Manchester, the rate price inflation is at its highest since July 2005. But why is London falling behind in the rankings?

Hometrack suggests that demand is falling in London because of high levels of unaffordability. With an average house price in excess of £580,000, about 14 times the average salary, many citizens struggle to obtain a mortgage, and house price growth in the capital is projected to slow further over the year. Other cities outranking London in the list of house price growth include Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton and Birmingham.

However, to suggest that this means the traditional North-South divide is lessening is inaccurate. House prices in Scotland, for instance, showed slower growth than London, which at 7.3%, is still considerably higher than Glasgow (4.9%), Edinburgh (3.7%) and Aberdeen (-3.2%).

So while the divide isn't disappearing, it is true that in Manchester, and to a lesser extent Birmingham (7.5% growth), market conditions are stronger than in the capital. But what does this mean for Mancunians? It's a double-edged sword. The supply of homes is just keeping pace with the demand, which is maintaining the upward pressure on prices. That's good news for homeowners, many of whom will have increasing equity in their homes, but not so good for first time buyers or those wishing to move up the property ladder, who will find their finances squeezed.

The promised Housing White Paper this month will demonstrate whether and how the Government will build on its pledge to provide a stock of affordable homes.

 


What a difference a year makes...

This time last year, buy-to-let landlords were snapping up properties before the April 2016 increase in stamp duty and were proving to be tough competitors in the housing market for first time buyers.

This year, however, according to Rightmove there are more smaller properties available to first-time buyers, because there are fewer landlords seeking properties compared to this time last year. Available housing stock has increased and the increase in supply means that first time buyers have more opportunity to negotiate and get a great deal on their first property.

However, it's not all plain sailing. The average price for first homes has increased by 6.4% in the last year, and with relatively stagnant wages, affordability is becoming more of an issue than ever. According to a recent report in the Telegraph, there has been a recent increase in the number of people relying on the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' with 1 in 12 purchases partly funded by a family member or friend.  

So, this year, for first time buyers, it's a mixed picture. On the one hand, there's less competition from landlords and more choice of properties, but on the other, first time buyers may struggle to pass lender affordability tests and parents may feel under pressure to assist with the costs of house buying. The picture is not the same across the UK however. In certain areas house prices have fallen slightly. Wales and the North East of England, for example, have fallen between 1 and 2%. In the East of England, in contrast, prices have risen around 6%. This increase in prices however, may now be mitigated by the stronger negotiating power of first time buyers who have less competition from landlords. And with low mortgage rates on offer, lenders are trying to attract first time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

Policy initiatives may also help first time buyers.  For example, the government is investing £1.2 billion in the Starter Homes Land Fund, and the much-anticipated Housing White Paper, due this month, is predicted to detail radical changes to improve the supply of housing.  

 


First time buyers in Didsbury

Amid reports today that the number of first-time buyers has risen sharply for the first time since the financial crisis, observers have noted that the size of deposits has also risen rapidly, doubling from £15,000 in 2007 to over £30,000 now. So if you're thinking of climbing onto the property ladder in Didsbury, what are the things you need to consider?

There's no doubt that South Manchester is an attractive area to live both for young people and families - there are quality schools, restaurants and nightlife and all within a few miles of Manchester City Centre. The house prices reflect this, with the average house price being £290, 000. Out of reach for a first time buyer?

With constant changes to the housing market, and the prospect of first time buyers taking on 30-35 year mortgages it is easy to feel confused about what options are available to first time buyers in a sought-after area of Manchester like Didsbury. Help to Buy schemes may be available, or shared ownership may also be an option. Since many would be first time buyers are in their 30s, a longer term mortgage would mean paying mortgage payments into your 60s and possibly 70s, but it does mean that the amount to be repaid each month is lower.

Asking your mortgage broker to look for deals with lenders that would suit your needs when buying a house or flat in Didsbury. They may be able to acquire a mortgage deal for you that might be longer term but may also allow for overpayments should your financial situation improve in the future. Regular or occasional overpayments should allow you to reduce the term of your mortgage.

There's no doubt that Didsbury is a desirable area to live, and if you're thinking about buying in this area, check out the options available to you. The average property price in the area has been steadily rising in recent years so  buying here could be a good future investment.





Struggling to get a mortgage?

If you are finding it difficult to get a mortgage, you can either struggle a lot or a little. Most of us would prefer the least amount of effort and tips available on http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mortgages/boost-mortgage-chances provide some good advice on active steps you can take if you are finding it difficult to get a mortgage.

But, and there is a big but, there are other avenues open to you that sites like Money Saving Expert would prefer not to tell you about. These sites are mortgage brokers and advisors who are independent or 'whole of market' as the latest ludicrous phrase from the FCA comes into use.

Using this blog post as a case study, it can be easily demonstrated that independent mortgage brokers are far better placed to find suitable and competitive mortgages for all types of home buyer. Wythenshawe - part of Greater Manchester that includes the airport is an area of huge economic growth and has a very active housing market. If you were to approach a bank or building society to lend you the money to buy a property you would be letting yourself in for paying higher rates and getting a much worse deal than you would if you were to use one of the independent brokers.

Best Mortgage Deals (Manchester)

So what are the best mortgage deals currently available in the UK? Many people use the advice on Money Saving Expert and their advice can be found at https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/mortgages/best-buys/, but this is a countrywide assessment. Area specific deals exist, often supplied by micro lenders who have an in depth knowledge about certain geographical locations, one such area is Wythenshawe, but Greater Manchester is a property hotspot and local experts and brokers Manchester Mortgages (go to http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/ are able to provide excellent mortgage advice that will beat any offer from a large lender such as the Halifax or Virgin Money.

So whilst Money Saving Expert will provide decent UK wide advice, my recommendation is to also use a local mortgage provider / broker if you know the specific area you wish to live in. Using Manchester as an example (as it's where I live) I know that there are parts of Manchester where a lot of houses are being sold - such areas are Wythenshawe, Bury and the Wigan area. Now, the big UK web sites will give you a best rate of 2.39% fixed for the first 5 years of a 25 year term, but a Manchester mortgage broker was able to find me 2.19% fixed for 3 years with only a 12.5% deposit required. If I had a mortgage deal already, this deposit fell to 10%.

It's worth doing the extra maths and using a local or whole of market mortgage broker, especially in Manchester as the savings can be huge.

Mortgage Approvals at All Time Low


News from Reuters reports that UK mortgage approvals are currently at the lowest they've been for 2 years (http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-lending-idUKKCN11Z0TC), why is this?

Granted, house prices are expensive, and there is a lot of debt around but debt hasn't traditionally been a big 'make or break' reason for people not to apply for mortgages.

People's apparent willingness to accept debt has been noteworthy of late. The British people seem to embrace debt with open arms - at least during boom times. The last boom years of 2003 - 2008 saw lots of 'free money' being given away - this 'feel good' attitude persuaded many of us to take on debt, and this study regarding the amount of uk household debt makes interesting reading.

People in the UK seem to still want to buy houses - in Europe this is very different with many more people willing to rent property. This is not necessarily a good idea on the part of Europe in my opinion, as what as house gives you (once you eventually own it) is an asset that you can use in later life. Renting a property gives you no such advantage.

With money being tight at the moment it's imperative to find a mortgage that works for you as cheaply as possible. Don't go to banks, don't go to building societies, they will only sell you their own products, use an independent mortgage broker who will find you the best deal. Doing this one thing will save you  thousands of pounds over the lifetime of your mortgage.


Does a poor credit rating prevent a mortgage ?

A common question mortgage advisers get asked is about credit scores and if a bad credit rating can prevent getting a mortgage to buy a house. Here's a typical question:

"I'm interested in seeing if I can obtain a mortgage but am worried my credit rating may be a problem.

Please could I make arrangements to speak to someone in this regard."

So in this enquiry the person obviously has some problem with some form of debt. Perhaps they are young and have to repay their student debt, or perhaps during the boom years of the noughties they overstretched themselves financially and to bridge the gap took out loans on 0% credit cards which they are now struggling to repay.

The subject of debt is of course huge, with many UK workers now on the minimum wage and zero hours contracts, what hope is there for buying a house for people in this position? The reaction has been that many people are now forced to rent houses because they can't afford the deposit to buy a house. The hour prices on the property market are also inflated as many people have chosen to invest in bricks and mortar rather than trust their money on the stock market. This has created a house price bubble as too many people, a second house is their investment and was bought when house prices were high. This keeps house prices (unrealistically) high as no one wants to loose money on their investment.

So, buying a house in todays Britain is tricky. It's tricky is you're in full time employment and have a good credit history. It's even more difficult if your circumstances aren't ideal and you think your credit rating may be a problem. Fortunately there is good news: mortgage advisers like Manchester Mortgages (http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/) are experts at finding mortgages for people with poor credit ratings. Most high street lenders will not consider many people with poor credit histories for a mortgage: this is a mistake. It's a mistake because people are increasingly running short of money and are having to work harder to make ends meet. This produces the follow-on effect that fewer people will be eligible for high street mortgages, this presents a huge opportunity for the likes of Manchester Mortgages and similar companies.

The difference an independent mortgage lender can make is huge, and in my opinion the days of the high street mortgage business model are over: these services are old and out-dated. An independent mortgage adviser will look at hundreds of mortgages from a huge number of different lenders and will also speak to them personally, describing people's credit situations (see the page specific to bad credit mortgages at http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/poor-credit-mortgages/) in detail and filling in a mortgage application with the correct information to ensure that a mortgage offer is given rather than rejected.

So in summary then, having a poor credit rating will certainly cause difficulty in getting a mortgage, and the best way of getting around the problem is to use an independent broker as described above.



Wythenshawe - A Great Place To Buy A House

I've recently been working closely with Alan Dee, a mortgage broker from Wythenshawe, whose company, 'Manchester Mortgages' arrange a lot of mortgage deals for house buyers not only in Wythenshawe but also the more expensive surrounding areas of Cheadle and Gatley (see http://manchestermortgages.co.uk/wythenshawe-mortgage-broker-advisor/ for more).

In a recent Manchester Evening News article (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/wythenshawe-the-new-didsbury-house-9419435), Wythenshawe was termed the new Didsbury - a rather posh and Bohemian area of Manchester.

I met with Alan for a coffee in Wythenshawe's busy town centre and discussed the apparent housing boom that was going on all around us.

"It's only a few years ago that nobody wanted anything to do with Wythenshawe" said Alan, "there were lot's of empty homes and the area had a very bad reputation". Recently though this has changed and I asked Alan why he thought this was. "It has a lot to do with the development of Manchester Airport, which is only a couple of miles away. This has bought a huge amount of new business to the area, and that good because house prices in Wythenshawe are still affordable, whilst many other  areas such as Cheadle and Gatley aren't. Also, there's been a lot of redevelopment of the Wythenshawe as a whole - many of the older properties that were is disrepair have been pulled down and whole areas have been redeveloped. This had attracted many new people into the area - it's a great place for first time buyers and buy to let housing."

I went on to ask Alan how difficult it was to get a mortgage in Wythenshawe? "It depends who you go to" he offered. "The high street lenders like the banks will still make you jump through hoops and then it'll take several months to even get the mortgage application process up and running. With an independent or 'whole of market' mortgage broker like Manchester Mortgages, we can give people the best deals available from all the lenders and usually get a mortgage offer out to people within a week".

Was it difficult using a mortgage advisor like Manchester Mortgages I asked Alan? "No, it's not hard at all, we do all the paperwork and fill in the application forms. Also as we have so much experience in providing mortgages we can advise people on the best type of deals and even tailor deals specifically to suit them. A big area for us is getting mortgages for people with bad credit ratings. Many banks and high street lenders won't touch people with a large amount of debt, we do, and we often find them mortgages too" said Alan.

After our coffee I took a walk around Wythenshawe a noticed that it really is an up and coming area - full of potential and promise for the future.