Property news roundup: Price dip or just a blip?

Online mortgage applications are set to double. And why it’s cheaper to build your own home...

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The Independent Online

A fifth of parents who have moved in the past six months wanted a bigger home, believing their children will live with them until their late twenties, a new report shows. Almost half of homeowners interviewed by Royal Mail also said they waited longer than they had wanted for the move. More than a third of these said the biggest factor was a shortage of suitable properties with 15 per cent blaming the high cost of the next property. “It is interesting to see so many people buying larger properties in the expectation that their children will be living with them longer,” said Andrea Martin, Royal Mail’s managing director of Data Services. “Alongside this, patience is proving a virtue with people prepared to sit it out to find the right home.” 

Is this a dip or a blip?

House prices fell slightly last month, by 0.2 per cent, according to the latest figures from Halifax. This represents the second successive monthly price fall and the third in the past six months. It follows the Nationwide’s report last week that prices went up by 1.2 per cent and the Land Registry report which suggested a 0.4 per cent fall in March. Halifax’s figures also show that house prices between February and April this year were 2.3 per cent higher than the previous three months and 8.5 per cent higher than the same time last year. Nicholas Ayre, managing director of buying agency Home Fusion, said: “With prices levelling out and even tailing off a little in the past month, we could be seeing the first signs of resistance from buyers who are not prepared to pay what sellers are asking. However, this may just be a blip rather than the beginning of a downwards trend in prices.”

Online mortgages to double

Nearly one in six homeowners applied for their current mortgage online, a figure which is set to double, with a third saying they are likely to apply for their next mortgage this way. However, according to latest research from HSBC, just under half of homeowners who expect to remortgage, say they plan to speak to an adviser face-to-face for their next application.

“With current and prospective homeowners becoming more comfortable with managing their finances online, and with the time taken to complete the application process reduced to 30 minutes, it is perhaps less of a surprise that online applications are set to double,” said Peter Dockar, the head of mortgages at HSBC. Younger homeowners are the most likely to apply online, with half of those aged 25-34 planning to do so compared with 19 per cent of over-55s.

Saving for a deposit still a major obstacle to buying property

More than 80 per cent of British adults say saving a deposit remains the main obstacle to owning a home, according to a report from mortgage insurer Genworth. Although nearly four out of five homehunters say  borrowing money from parents is essential to fund a deposit, a separate Genworth study among hopeful first-time buyers shows fewer than one in five can rely on the bank of mum and dad.

“With most British households anticipating that house prices are going to continue to rise while wage levels will not, the difficulties households face in saving for a deposit are not going to go away,” said Simon Crone, Genworth’s vice-president of mortgage insurance Europe.

Should you build your own home?

Building your own house is a more affordable way to provide a family home, says Planning Minister Nick Boles. Speaking at Grand Designs Live, he said that the UK lags behind many other countries in the number of homes which are self and custom built (where people work with a developer). Government figures show that in Austria about 80 per cent of all homes are self-built, while in Germany, France and Italy the figure is about 60 per cent. In the US and Australia around 40 per cent of homes are custom built. The figure for the UK is about 8 to 10 per cent. “There is huge potential for many more people to build their own home as a cost effective way into home ownership,” said Nick Boles. “Custom building can be a cheaper way to provide a home and I want to see many more people making use of it.”

Are sellers biding their time?

The first three months of 2014 saw a rise in new property listings, a drop in selling times and new highs for home prices, says a new report.

“It’s no longer just London which is experiencing rises in the average asking price, it’s happening in many regions in Britain,” said Robin King, a director of Move with Us. “Sellers flocked to the market in the first three months as new listings increased 114 per cent. This is welcome news as they were the lowest on record in December 2013. There were over 23,500 fewer properties on the market in March 2014 than in March 2012 and 13,965 fewer than March 2013. This could indicate some sellers are biding their time before listing their property due to climbing asking prices.”

The figures indicate the average asking price for Greater London reached a five-year high in March, growing £69,761 in the past year to £438,118. Prices in the South-west and East Anglia are also at their highest since 2009.The average asking price in the North-east was £153,413 in March, the highest it has been since December 2010. The average selling time in Wales  was 186 days, two months longer than the national avergae.

A handyman can

According to a poll for mortgage broker, 9 per cent of those questioned said they would pay a professional to bleed a radiator and 7 per cent would get someone in to assemble flat-pack furniture. More than half said they would get someone in to clear the gutters.Three quarters of Londoners have splashed out on a professional to do odd jobs at some point, while less than half of those in the North-east would consider doing so. On the other hand, just over 10 per cent of those questioned admitted that they have at some point had to pay someone to fix their own DIY disasters.

GCSE mortgages

New research by the Open University suggests 70 per cent of adults struggle to understand personal finance basics and can’t answer GCSE level questions (personal finance will be part of the national curriculum in September). The survey shows 44 per cent of people admit their lack of knowledge prevents them making informed decisions around mortgages.