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Latest: December property market report

6 months ago
Latest: December property market report

Although we are almost at the end of 2023, the news keeps coming. November saw the Chancellor deliver his Autumn Statement. Although there were no major changes for home movers, there were some peripheral announcements to note.

The Mortgage Guarantee Scheme is extended. This is designed to help purchasers with a low-value deposit. The Government will continue to back lenders who loan to those with 5% deposits and the scheme will now run until June 2025.

New help for Welsh mortgage borrowers

The Welsh Government made its own mortgage announcement in November. It unveiled a Help To Stay loan, aimed at those struggling to meet mortgage repayments. Those who qualify can access an equity loan that is interest-free for the first five years.

House-to-flat conversion to become easier

In a bid to address supply issues, the Government will consult on new permitted rights. If sanctioned, property owners will be able to turn one house into two flats without planning permission. If the idea is approved, it will be introduced in 2024.

A house building boost may also be on the way. Autumn Statement measures include fast tracking some developments planning decisions and unlocking developments that have stalled due to a lack of nutrient mitigation schemes. An extension of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme and an additional £32 million across housing and planning should also accelerate housebuilding.

Private landlords who take benefits as rent will be pleased to learn that the Chancellor increased the Local Housing Allowance rate. This has been frozen since 2020, while rents have risen sharply. The freeze has been lifted and the Local Housing Allowance rate is now at the 30th percentile of local market rents.

One seemingly throwaway line in the Autumn Statement could mean significant changes for movers. The Government pledged £3 million to develop a range of measures to improve the home buying and selling process. Work is already happening behind the scenes, and we may revisit Home Information Packs and see reservation agreements trialled to reduce fall-throughs.

Before the Autumn Statement we had the King’s Speech. It detailed the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill – touted as the biggest upheaval of the leasehold system. The Bill was introduced to Parliament at the end of November, with hopes that it would be adopted as law before the General Election.

Leasehold changes suffer a setback

Sadly, experts noticed the Bill didn’t contain the exact wording needed to actually ban leaseholds on new build houses. As a result, the Government is seeking an amendment to its own Bill to retrospectively add the crucial element. It is also hoped a further amendment could see the leasehold ban extend to new build flats.

How did the market hold up the penultimate month of 2023? The biggest portals agree that sellers are becoming more realistic when setting asking prices. To illustrate, Rightmove announced average new seller asking prices dropped by 1.7% in November. Additionally, Zoopla found the average UK house price is now £264,600, with property prices falling by 1.2% compared to last year.

Sales agreed rising month-on-month

This doesn’t mean the market is muted. The number of sales agreed is rising, as noted by Rightmove. When benchmarking, sales in November were 10% below the same period in 2019. This is an improvement on the 15% below recorded in October.

Zoopla added that buyer demand is 10% higher now than a year ago. The portal also found there are 15% more agreed sales now than the same period in 2022, and 5% more than in 2019. There’s more choice too, with the highest number of homes for sale in 6 years.

If you would like to know more about your local property market, please get in touch.

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