Inflation and poor growth see Bank of England ditch rate rise plans

Interest rates could stay low for as long as another two years, as falling inflation and weak economic growth force the Bank of England to scrap plans to push up rates in the coming months.

Mark Carney is expected to hold rates at 0.5pc at Thursday’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting, postponing a highly-anticipated rate rise for at least three months. The freeze will disappoint savers who have laboured under historically low rates for almost a decade – and a boon to borrowers who get extra time with cheap money.

But economists now suspect that inflation will keep falling quickly towards the Bank’s 2pc target, making it harder for policymakers to raise the rate.

Poor GDP growth at the start of this year and signs of a slowing global economy could also dent the Bank’s longer-term inflation estimates.

If that forces it to cut back its inflation forecast then the case for higher rates could evaporate altogether.

“They are stuck. The Bank can’t raise rates now, the economic numbers have been too weak recently,” said Martin Beck at Oxford Economics. “They should not have raised rates in November, closed the term funding scheme or worried that credit growth was too strong – those three things have contributed to the economy slowing.”

Markets are currently pricing in only two rate rises by August 2019, but George Buckley, an economist at Nomura, thinks even this may be too many if inflation is slowing sharply.

“Should the Bank publish a forecast with inflation below target based on market rates that would be quite a statement, as it would imply that even limited market pricing for rate hikes might prove too much,” he said.

UniCredit’s Daniel Vernazza believes it will be at least another year before rates rise to 0.75pc.

Kallum Pickering at Berenberg Bank fears the Bank has missed its chance. “They should have hiked by this stage of the economic    cycle, but they cannot do it now because of the soft data,” he said.

Banks push back BoE rate forecasts after growth data shock

LONDON (Reuters) – Banks scrambled to push back their forecasts for the next Bank of England interest rate raise after data on Friday showed a sharp and unexpected slowdown in Britain’s economic growth.

The new forecasts anticipate the next BoE hike to take place in August this year or as late as 2019.

Before Friday’s GDP data most economists had expected the central bank to tighten monetary policy in May.

The change in banks’ forecasts signals a much weaker outlook for the pound, which has been among the best performing major currencies in 2018.

Last week expectations of higher rates lifted sterling to its highest since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

The likelihood that the BoE will not hike next month also means bond prices could rally further and presents a more volatile backdrop for the UK stock market.

UBS scrapped its estimate of a single rate hike in 2018 after the weaker-than-expected growth figures while Nomura, which has long been hawkish on UK interest rates, now sees a first hike in August.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Natwest Markets strategists pushed back their May rate hike calls to November.

“We view the (economic) slowdown as more serious, and see no prospect of hikes in 2018,” said UBS, the world’s largest wealth manager, in a note.

John Wraith, a UBS economist, said inflation could fall back to the central bank’s target of two percent later this year and that concerns about talks between Britain and the European Union over the terms of their divorce could resurface.

Market expectations of a rate hike in May tumbled to less than 20 percent from around 50 percent, after GDP data showed Britain’s economy slowed to 0.1 percent growth between January and March, the weakest quarter since 2012.

Earlier this month the market was pricing in a 90 percent chance of a rate rise.

The market is now also forecasting no more than one 25 basis point rate hike over the remainder of 2018, from a near-certain two rate rises expected a fortnight ago.

Sterling GBP=D3 tanked more than one percent to $1.3748 and government bond prices surged in the aftermath of the data.

Reporting by Tom Finn and Saikat Chatterjee, Editing by Tommy Wilkes and William Maclean

One Third of Millennials Will Continue to Rent in Their Retirement

The number of families with children living in rented property tripled between 2003-2016…

The Resolution Foundation has proposed a series of reforms aimed at protecting tenants and landlords in the private rented sector.

According to the think-tank’s research, half of all millennials – people born between 1980 and 1996 – will be living in rented property up to their 40s, whilst a third are likely to be renting beyond retirement.

Furthermore, four out of ten millennials aged 30 are already renting, double the rate of the previous generation and four times that of baby boomers, whilst the number of families with children lived in the private rented sector has grown substantially, from 0.6m in 2003 to 1.8m in 2016.

Although they acknowledge the policies the government has introduced to make housing more accessible for first time buyers, the Resolution Foundation argues that more needs to be done to provide greater security for those that rely on renting.

This includes short-term measures such as proposals for indeterminate tenancies, which are essentially open-ended leases. Such tenancies are already in use in parts of Europe, including Scotland.

A new tribunal system could also be created, in order to resolve disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Lindsay Judge, a senior analyst at the Resolution Foundation, notes that support needs to be available across all areas of the housing market: “While there have been some steps recently to support housebuilding and first-time buyers, up to a third of millennial still face the prospect of renting from cradle to grave.

“If we want to tackle Britain’s ‘here and now’ housing crisis we have to improve conditions for the millions of families living in private rented accommodation.”

Extent of North-South Renting Affordability Gap Revealed

Households outside London spend an average of just over half their income on renting…

Households renting in London are putting a significant percentage of their income towards rent compared to the rest of the country, according to new data from Landbay.

Annual rental growth in the UK, excluding London, rose to 1.21% in March, bringing the average monthly rent to outside the capital.

In London, the average monthly cost of renting is more than double the national average, at 2100

However, the average disposable income for a worker in the capital is per 2455 month. As a result, 89% of their take-home pay is used on renting.

Outside the capital, rental payments amount to just over half (52%) of the average disposable income, which is per 1760 month.

In England, renters in the North East have the lowest percentage (41%) of their incomes going towards rent, followed by Yorkshire & the Humber (43%), the North West (44%) and the East Midlands (44%).

“Rents have continued to rise over the last five years, increasing by 9% across the UK since March 2013 and by 7% in London,” notes John Goodall, CEO and founder of Landbay.

“Not a day goes by when there isn’t more news about the supply-demand mismatch in the UK housing sector and until this is resolved, tenants will continue to rely on the private rented sector to support them.

“With the right property and the right location, there are attractive yields to be had, and consistent rental demand will drive returns in the long-term,” Goodall concludes.

 

Buy-To-Let Investors Target North West and South East

Two-fifths of landlords are planning to purchase more property in 2018

Landlords in the UK are optimistic that their buy-to-let (BTL) property portfolios will continue to perform well in 2018, despite the challenges the market faces from Brexit-related uncertainty and affordability stress tests.

According to the annual ‘buy-to-let barometer’ by Shawbrook Bank, 65% of investors were confident in their portfolio, whilst just 14% of respondents were concerned.

Growing returns and rising demand were cited as the two primary reasons for the confidence, as 21% of landlords had seen an increase in tenant demand in 2017.

Meanwhile, investor sentiment towards the UK economy is waning due to lacklustre growth and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, as more landlords in 2017 (42%) expressed concern than in 2016 (33%).

Despite this, appetite for buy-to-let property remains healthy, with 39% of landlords planning to invest in an additional property in 2018, whilst expressing a strong preference for property in the North West and South East regions.

Commenting on the data, Karen Bennett, managing director of Shawbrook Bank commercial mortgages said: “There’s a healthy dose of uncertainty around at the moment, but the BTL market is showing its resilience. Property continues to offer an excellent underlying investment vehicle for professional landlords with the right investment strategy.

“Whilst the investment case for BTL remains strong, there are particular challenges ahead for portfolio landlords and the additional impact of the PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority) changes.

“Landlords now face much more stringent affordability tests and it’s therefore more important than ever than landlords are clued up on their obligations as the market continues to get even more complex.”

Rental Rates Increased Nationally by 16% Over Last Decade

East and West Midlands top annual rent increases in Q1 2018

 

Rental growth has remained stable in the first quarter of 2018, the latest Rental Tracker from Rightmove suggests.

 

Excluding Greater London, the average asking rent for all tenures has risen by 0.9% annually, compared with an annual increase of 0.7% recorded in the final quarter of 2017.

 

This comes despite rents being down on a quarterly basis by 0.2% between Q4 2017 and Q1 2018, bringing the average asking rent per month to

 

The East Midlands was the strongest performing region for annual growth, with asking rents rising by 2.6%, followed by the West Midlands (1.9%), Wales (1.8%) and Yorkshire & the Humber (1.5%).

 

In the capital, asking rents for Q1 2018 were down 0.1% year-on-year, but had increased 0.2% from Q4 2017.

 

Looking back on the last decade, the data shows that the cost of renting a two-bedroom home has increased nationally – excluding London – by 16% in 10 years, and 25% in London.

 

“A look at the first few months of this year shows the usual seasonal trend of asking rents falling slightly compared to the last quarter of the last year, but we’re likely to see a rise again next quarter,” Rightmove’s housing market analyst Miles Shipside said.

 

“London asking rents remain flat compared to this time last year, a sign that we are highly unlikely to see the same big increases over the next ten years that we’ve seen in some areas in the capital over the previous ten years.”

Government Announces £400m Housebuilding Investment Fund

The Housing Secretary Sajid Javid has revealed a new government investment fund to help boost housing construction in Greater Manchester, Oxfordshire and the West of England.

Almost million is being put towards building more homes, as well as delivering local infrastructure projects like schools, roads and hospitals.

The fund is similar to the £ 120m grant to build 215,000 new homes in the West Midlands, announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Statement.

Of this, Greater Manchester is set to receive m to accelerate economic growth in the Northern Powerhouse and support the construction target of 227,200 new homes in the region by 2035.

An interim package of 120m will be given to the West of England, which covers Bristol, Bath, and parts of Gloucestershire and Somerset, to nearly double the number of new homes built each year from 4,000 to 7,500.

Oxfordshire will receive the rest of the funding, some m, which will support the construction of an additional 100,000 new homes by 2031, as well as the building of vital bridges, roundabouts and roads.

Meanwhile, the government announced that shortlisting has finished on bids for the bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, with 44 bids for high-impact infrastructure projects successfully progressing to the next assessment stage.

“This government is determined to build the homes this country needs,” Sajid Javid said of the fund. “That’s why we’re working with ambitious areas across England and backing them with investment and support.

“We’re also investing in local infrastructures like schools, roads and hospitals so that we can help unlock even more new homes in the areas where they’re needed most.

Rents Continue to Grow Across England and Wales in February

London experiences lowest annual rental growth in over 7 years….

Official figures suggest the rental market remains subdued at the start of the year, whilst regional differences in performance persist.

In the 12 months to February 2018 rents in England increased by 1.1%, which remains unchanged on January, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed.

This rises to 1.6% if London is excluded, where rents increased slightly by 0.1%; the lowest annual growth in the capital since September 2010.

The strongest rental growth was recorded in the East Midlands (2.5%), followed by the East of England and South West (2.1%), and the West Midlands and South East (1.7%), with above-average increases also reported in Wales (1.4%).

Kate Davies, executive director at The Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, believes the ONS figures demonstrate the burdens buy-to-let landlords are having to face, saying:

“Whilst [the data] may be giving tenants some temporary respite from higher rents, the flip-side is that landlords will be facing downward pressure on their cash-flows and profitability. This comes at a time when successive policy changes in the buy-to-let sector have proved detrimental.

“We therefore ask the Government to recognise the benefits that a strong private rented sector brings for the UK, and the importance of maintaining a good supply of rental properties for the periods when home ownership is not suitable or achievable for households.”

Decade-High Number of First-Time Buyers in 2017

25,000 more first-time purchases in 2017 than 2016

First-time buyer numbers rose by 7.4% in 2017 compared to 2016, according to recent figures from UK Finance, the trade association for banks and finance firms.

 

According to the association, approximately 365,000 first-time buyer purchases were made throughout the last year, exceeding 2016’s total by more than 25,000 and reaching the highest level for a decade.

 

The report also revealed that the average age of a first-time buyer in the UK now stands at 30, whilst the average income of those taking their first step onto the property ladder was now

 

Last November, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, utilised the Autumn Budget to introduce the abolition of stamp duty land tax on the first of any property purchased by a first-time buyer, with the surprise move helping to boost activity in the final month of 2017.

Furthermore, interest rates remain historically low despite rising in November to 0.5%, although the Bank of England has indicated that rates may increase earlier than they originally intended.

Paul Smee, head of mortgages at UK Finance, believes that low mortgage activity will moderate the market in 2018: “2017 saw the number of first-time buyers reach its highest level in a decade, which is welcome news for those getting started on the housing ladder.

“But although the market remains competitive there is no room for complacency, with weaker December figures consistent with our market forecast of subdued growth this year.”

Property is Most Popular Investment Choice for Retirement

Retirement savers turn to property due to complexity of pensions and low interest rates

The majority of people believe that investing in property is the best way to fund retirement, according to a new survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

49% of non-retired respondents claimed property was their preferred option for making the most of their money between July 2016 to June 2017, the latest Wealth and Assets survey reveals.

The second most popular method, employer pension schemes, was picked by just 22% of those surveyed.

With interest rates historically low, cash savings and ISAs have declined in popularity amongst the group; while personal pensions and premium bonds were favoured by less than 10% of those surveyed.

With the pensions system becoming increasingly complex, only 42% of respondents felt they had the sufficient knowledge on pensions to consider it as an option.

The survey also revealed that 23% of those not yet retired expected to downsize as a source of income in retirement, whereas 44% would use their savings or investments, further demonstrating the popularity of property as a means of funding retirement.