Paula Jones: Market news

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The Independent Online

GOING UP...

Buy-to-let profits. Landlords enjoyed a healthy hike in the return on their investments last year. The average rent rose from £617 a month in 2006 to £698 a month in 2007, the average landlord's property rose by 10.9 per cent in value to £154,795, and the typical return on investment increased from 13.5 to 16.3 per cent over the same period, according to Birmingham Midshires.

GOING DOWN...

Your chance of getting a mortgage for more than the value of your house. A handful of lenders who had offered 125 per cent mortgages to first-time buyers have now withdrawn the products. Northern Rock was the first to provide a 95 per cent mortgage supplemented by a top-up loan to the tune of 30 per cent of a property's value. Around 200,000 borrowers availed themselves of the facility between 1999 and this year. Halifax subsidiary Birmingham Midshires, Alliance & Leicester and Coventry Building Society introduced similar arrangements in 2007, but all have now scrapped the deals.

GO FIGURE... £6.5bn

The total amount the Treasury made in stamp duty in the past year. Halifax has studied the amount of stamp duty we paid from 2002 to 2007, and come up with some eye-watering revelations. Buyers in 118 of the UK's 405 local authorities have a stamp duty bill equivalent to more than 20 per cent of average annual earnings, compared with only 19 local authorities five years ago. South Buckinghamshire is the hardest hit, with the average homebuyer paying stamp duty of £21,241 in 2007, equal to 49 per cent of average annual full-time earnings in the area – the highest proportion in the country.

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