Britain's mortgage-free hotspots: Property news roundup

Plus, improving renting standards, first-time buyer mortgages, and when do people search online?

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The Independent Online

Plymouth is the nation's home-owning capital with 44 per cent of people in the city owning their home outright. At the other end of the scale is Glasgow where just under a quarter of residents live mortgage-free.

The figures from Which? Mortgage Advisers show that 11 per cent of over 65s are still paying off their mortgage. 

Leeds boasts the highest proportion of younger mortgage free homeowners - around 26 per cent of homeowners in the city under the age of 44 own their homes outright.

New ‘best practice’ Code launched

Seventeen major property organisations have launched a new Code to drive up standards and quality in the private rented market. It outlines mandatory and recommended best practices for landlords and lettings agents in order to improve the stock of privately rented homes in the UK.

It covers subjects including how to truthfully market property, terminate tenancies, and repair and maintain buildings    

First-time buyer mortgages up

There were 30,200 first-time buyer loans in July, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, a rise of three per cent compared to June, and up 25 per cent on July 2013.

The number of loans made to other movers was 37,500, up 15 per cent on June  and 19 per cent on July last year. 

"First-time buyers are returning in their droves, propelling the mortgage market forwards," said Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors. "This is a sustained, healthy recovery rather than a bubble. Lenders are signalling a desire to boost lending even further towards the end of this year. But at the same time, new regulation has ensured that borrowers are given more advice than ever before and are tested against future rate rises."

Where do people rent?

Outside London, Bournemouth is the rental capital of England with 30 per cent of households privately rented, according to new figures from Direct Line for Business.

In total, 44 per cent of the entire country's rent is paid in London. Outside the capital, Leeds pays the greatest amount of any city, with annual private rent totalling £565 million, followed by Birmingham (£521 million) and Manchester (£401 million).

London and the Home Counties dominate rental incomes, with the highest average rents in Inner London (£1,633 per month). Elmbridge, Surrey, has the highest rents outside London, (£1,579 per month), followed by South Bucks, where monthly rental costs are £1,530.

Jazz Gakhal head of Direct Line for Business said: "Buy to let is becoming an increasingly attractive option for people as property prices continue to soar."

Online property search

Friday at 4pm is the most popular time for agents to upload new properties, according to Rightmove, even though Friday afternoon is one of the quietest times for people looking for a new home on its site.

Peak search time is Tuesdays at 9pm, while searching on mobile has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past 12 months - smartphone and tablet browsing now make up more than half of all property detail views on Rightmove.