It looks like Spring has finally sprung after a month or two of absolutely dismal weather. I still wouldn’t leave the house without your parka if I were you right enough. With Spring in the air and a sense of optimism sweeping across the country as we see the mysterious yellow orb in the sky that some people with long memories call ‘the sun’, it’s nice to be able to report some good news in the property market too! I will start with my usual review of some of the key property-related stories in the Press and then move on to our own experience of what has been happening in the property market. Fingers crossed it won’t be raining again by the time that I finish…
Press Coverage of the Property Market This Month
Lending to First Time Buyers at a 5 Year High
Mortgage lending to First Time Buyers (FTBs) has risen to its highest level in 5 years. The Council of Mortgage Lenders reported that lending to First Time Buyers in February 2013 was 18% higher than in the same month of the previous year. http://www.mortgagestrategy.co.uk/latest-news/cml-ftb-lending-at-five-year-high/1069464.article
Why is this good news? First Time Buyers are often described as the ‘life blood’ of the property market. Without people deciding to take the plunge on their first house, existing property owners can’t move ‘up’ the property ladder. The tightening of lending criteria post-banking crisis made it virtually impossible for a first time buyer to get a mortgage for a while.
I’ve been reporting for some time now that these restrictions seem to have eased significantly in the past few months and years and that, whilst lending criteria are certainly more restrictive than they used to be a few years back, it is not as hard to get a mortgage as some people would have us believe. These statistics do seem to back this assertion up and it’s encouraging for the housing market in general to see that lending levels are starting to rise again. To see them rising for First Time Buyers, however, is even more encouraging as these are precisely the people who have been struggling in the last few years and they are crucial to the overall health of the housing market in Scotland.
What Have We Seen Happening in the Property Market in the Past Month?
March and April are traditionally the busiest months of the year with longer days and an upswing in temperatures (normally) leading a lot of property sellers to see it at the best time to get their properties on the market.
March’s dismal weather led to a bit of a bottle-neck this year with many waiting (or indeed having to wait because of poor driving conditions) until April to get onto the market, so we were always expecting a busy month. So, have we seen an upswing in April? Yes, and how! This April has been comfortably our busiest month since we started MOV8 in terms of people putting their properties on the market.
However, the most heartening thing has been that we haven’t just seen a glut of new properties coming onto the market. Sales have also been very strong, with a record number (for us) of properties selling in April compared with any previous month too. That said, March was not far behind, in spite of the terrible weather, which just goes to show how important the internet has become as a marketing tool for properties: with people tucked-up in the warmth of their houses, they still continued searching for properties and taking the breaks in the snow and rain to get out, view and then make offers on the properties they had found. Seeing strong demand, high numbers of viewing requests, a few closing dates and a handful of properties selling within two days of going on the market certain bodes well for the property market in the east of Scotland and is very encouraging.
Prices, as you will bored of hearing from me, are neither really rising or falling in general. However, with economic woes never far from the front pages of the papers, some stability in property prices is no bad thing. That said, the usual demand for family properties, particularly those at the more ‘affordable’ (it’s all relative!) end of the market, certainly seems to be pushing prices in that sector gradually upwards and we are seeing quite a few properties selling for a little and, more rarely, quite a lot over the Home Report value. Surveyors are likely to be more cautious and take a ‘longer term view’ of these things, whereas the market will respond more quickly to demand in a certain area or sector of the market, so this does suggest that demand is outstripping supply and causing a bit of a feeding frenzy in certain parts of the market.
I hope, as always, that this update is a little informative and helpful and I look forward to updating you on the market next month.