The Government and Barclays have announced a £1 billion housing development fund to help deliver thousands of new homes across England.
Under the agreement loans ranging from £5 million to £100 million, which will be competitively priced, will be available for developers and house builders who are able to demonstrate the necessary experience and track record to undertake and complete their proposed project.
Funding is open to new clients as well as existing Barclays clients, and will put greater emphasis on diversifying the housing market, as at present almost two thirds of homes are built by just 10 companies.
A key priority of The Housing Delivery Fund is to support small and medium sized businesses to develop homes for rent or sale including social housing, retirement living and the private rented sector, whilst also supporting innovation in the model of delivery such as brownfield land and urban regeneration projects.
‘There is a vital need to build more good quality homes across the country. This £1 billion fund is about helping to do exactly that by showing firms in the business of house building that the right finance is available for projects that help meet this urgent need,’ said John McFarlane, Barclays’ chairman.
Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said that it will see Barclays in partnership with Homes England also help to see more design and innovation introduced to new home building.
‘It is a further important step by giving smaller builders access to the finance they need to get housing developments off the ground. This is a fantastic opportunity to not only get more homes built but also promote new and innovative approaches to construction and design that exist across the housing market,’ he added.
According to Sir E Lister, chairman of Homes England, the organisation will play a more active role in the housing market and do things differently to increase the pace, scale and quality of delivering new homes.
‘The Housing Delivery Fund demonstrates Barclays’ commitment to the residential sector and will provide a new funding stream for SME developers to help progress sites and deliver more affordable homes across England,’ he said.
Brokenshire added that it will move towards the target of 300,000 new homes being built a year by the mid-2020s and that with 217,000 homes built last year, England has seen the biggest increase in housing supply for almost a decade.
The number of homeowners from London buying properties outside the capital has increased, according to new research from Hamptons International.
Just over 30,000 of Londoners looking to buy a new property left the capital in the first half of 2018, some 16% more than H1 2017 and an increase of 61% over the last decade.
The majority of homeowners moving, around 38%, moved to the South East, a modest 3% fewer than the first half of 2017, followed by 30% moving to the East of England.
However, the number of movers leaving London and buying property in the North and Midlands has more than tripled in the last decade, with over a fifth (21%) moving to these regions compared to just 6% ten years earlier.
First-time buyers are also buying outside of London, with around 31% buying their first home beyond the capital. Whilst this is nearly double the number recorded five years ago, it is a 2% decline on last year’s figures, due to savings from stamp duty relief and the Help-to-Buy scheme.
Although the vast majority of first-time buyers, some 85%, moved to East of England or South East, Hamptons notes this is 10% fewer than four years ago. On the other hand, more than one in ten (12%) buying their first property in the North or Midlands, four times the number recorded in 2010.
“With affordability stretched, more Londoners are moving out of the capital to find their new home,” said Aneisha Beveridge, research analyst at Hamptons International.
“More people are making a bigger move and buying a larger home sooner to avoid having to pay stamp duty on additional moves as they trade up. But for many, this means heading further North.”
Beveridge goes on to note that despite more first-time buyers staying in the capital, “raising a deposit remains a hurdle for many, which helps explain why increasing numbers of first time buyers who leave London are heading North.”
House prices in England and Wales fell for the fifth month in succession, but some cities bucked the trend with Leicester recording the fastest growth, according to new data.
Overall, average house prices slipped 0.2 per cent in July to £302,251, figures compiled by Your Move show. Despite the fall, the average price is still up 1.6 per cent on a year ago and all regions of England and Wales have recorded “modest” growth on an annual basis.
Slow activity has held prices down with an estimated 75,000 fewer activities in July compared to June; 2 per cent down on June and 6 per cent lower than the seasonal trend. Transactions in the first seven months of 2018 are estimated to be 4 per cent below the same period in 2017.
The West Midlands recorded the fastest annual growth at 3.3 per cent while the South East and East of England were the slowest at 0.5 per cent.
What effect the Bank of England base rate rise at the start of August will have on the market remains to be seen, Your Move said.
The average price of a property In London now stands at £625,529 at the end of June with prices falling in almost two thirds (21 out of 33) of the city’s boroughs on an annual basis.
The biggest drops on an annual basis have been seen in the City of London, down 19.4 per cent (albeit on a small number of transactions), Hammersmith and Fulham, and Southwark, both down 11.7 per cent. In both Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham, sales of new builds in previous months or years can explain much of the swing in prices.
Overall, the most expensive borough remains Kensington and Chelsea, where prices are down 1.9 per cent on an annual basis to £1,765,033, while the cheapest borough is still Barking and Dagenham, with an average price of 308,547, up 1.8 per cent annually.
Upgraded projections follow a drop in new landlord instructions
Over the next year, rents are due to increase by 2% nationally, due to further drops in the supply pipeline and a rise in tenant demand exerting upward pressure on rental growth.
This trend, reported by the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), is said to become more impactful in the medium-term, with a cumulative surge of 15% expected by the middle of 2023.
The survey shows that a net balance of 22% of survey respondents reported a drop in new landlord instructions, falling in negative territory for the eighth consecutive quarter.
According to RICS’ chief economist Simon Rubinsohn, the lettings data reflects the impact of recent tax changes on the supply of buy-to-let properties. Commenting on the figures he said:
“The risk, as we have highlighted previously, is that a reduced pipeline of supply will gradually feed through into higher rents in the absence of either a significant uplift in the build-to-rent programme, or government-funded social housing.
“At the present time, there is little evidence that either is likely to make up the shortfall. This augurs ill for those many households for whom owner occupation is either out of reach financially or just not a suitable tenure,” he concluded.
UK pension companies may be harbouring billions of pounds of losses from home equity release loans, according to research seen by the BBC.
Under equity release, homeowners borrow money against their house’s value and don’t repay anything until it’s sold.
That’s fine for the borrower, but there are fears lenders have underestimated how much these loans could cost them.
At least one firm assumes house prices will rise 4.25% a year. If they don’t, firms face losses – or even bailouts.
Pensioners whose firms invest in the loans would be protected through the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) which is funded through a levy on the industry meaning losses would be ultimately borne by all pension holders.
Parliament probed insurance rules last year and one MP wants to reinvestigate.
John Mann, MP for Bassetlaw and vice chair of the Treasury Committee, which investigated the market last year, told the BBC: “We need to hold a new hearing, a new session, to go into the issue.” He added: “I think some financial institutions have pushed the boat out too far with this, and that creates a potential systemic risk.”
Parliament’s report was seen as broadly supportive of the industry, focusing on competition and innovation.
Equity release works like this:
Borrowers over the age of 55, take out a percentage of the value of the house.
They pay nothing; the money is paid back when the borrower dies or moves into care. Interest is added each year or month, and because of compound interest, the loans can grow in size very quickly.
Borrowers are safe. The loans come with a guarantee that they won’t have to pay more than the value of the house. Any difference is absorbed by the lender.
But the loan can exceed the value of the house it is secured against, especially if borrowers live longer than expected or the value of the house drops, and that threatens some lenders.
The Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), which oversees the companies offering these loans, says it is considering whether to tighten the rules. But critics say it has been too slow.
If new rules don’t emerge, house prices continue to rise and there are no surprises for insurers when it comes to people living longer, equity release lenders may never realise these losses.
Which is the problem, says Professor Dowd. A property price crash or a period of consistent negative growth would see equity release loans become a loss-maker for their providers. So, says Professor Dowd, equity release providers are gambling that house prices will continue to rise.
Just Group, to which borrowers owe more than £6bn of these loans, said last month that a PRA draft “does contain proposals, which if implemented would result in a reduction in Just’s regulatory capital position.” This would mean a smaller financial cushion to absorb losses.
Professor Dowd’s calculations suggest its guarantees could cost it £2bn if accounted for correctly in his view. Just Group declined to comment on his estimate.
It said: “At Just we set aside substantial prudent resources against UK residential property risks. We calculate these on a basis equivalent to a 28% fall in the property market and property prices never rising thereafter which is much stronger than the more severe economic scenarios that the Bank of England prescribes for the banking sector. […] Protecting the guarantees we have made to our policyholders is, and has always been, of paramount importance to Just.”
It declined to comment on the size or nature of these resources, or how they might be affected by a change in the rules.
The PRA watchdog is considering whether to change the rules to stop companies assuming house prices will rise.
Equity release mortgages are increasingly popular as older homeowners seek to top up their retirement funds.
In the three months to the end of June, homeowners aged 55 and above borrowed a record £971m through equity release, according to the Equity Release Council.
Case Study: Anne and Chris Lee
They are in their early 60s and borrowed about 30% of the value of their home to finance renovations and help fund their retirement.
Their loan was £112,000, at a rate of 6.78%. It will take just over 10 years for that amount to double.
But they are sitting pretty. And that’s because of the no negative equity guarantee, borne by lenders.
Sharing Professor Dowd’s concerns is Dean Buckner, a former senior technical specialist at the PRA who retired in May. He said progress at his former employer in fixing these loans had been slow. Part of that may be the nature of the regulator and the many roles it must fulfil.
“The regulator is there both to protect firms and to protect the general public,” he said. “The Bank of England has part of its mission statement to protect the good of the people or something like that. I think it’s a horrible failure of regulation and I’m very sorry about that.”
The PRA said in a statement: “Following a review announced in 2015, more robust expectations of firms were published in 2016 and confirmed in 2017. Clearer and more precise tools to determine whether firms are meeting these prudent expectations have been out for public consultation since July 2018.
“They benefit from experience of Solvency II in practice and the collective expertise within the PRA, in which a plurality of views is actively encouraged when determining policy”.
However, the disruption caused by the “Beast from the East” that hit this March led to the economy growing by just 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year and the Bank opted to keep interest rates at 0.5 per cent.
Two more rate rises are expected in 2019 and 2020.
Will I still be able to afford my mortgage after today’s interest rate rise?
“According to Nationwide Building Society, only a third of London borrowers are on variable rates. This means the vast majority of borrowers will see no impact on their mortgage payments have taken advantage of the low fixed rates that have been on offer,” said Colin Payne, associate director at Chapelgate Private Finance.
Today’s interest rate rise will push up the average mortgage by £26 per month to £1,180, further squeezing household incomes.
“In real terms, wage rates are still at levels prevailing in 2005. Moreover, a small proportion of households already have a relatively high debt service burden. For those, some of whom will be on variable rates, any rate rise will be a struggle, even though the impact on the wider economy and most households are likely to be modest,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.
That said, while a rise in interest rates may come to a shock to anyone who bought their first home in the past decade, higher mortgage interest will have been factored into lenders’ calculations since new rules were introduced in 2014 to curtail high-risk lending, so don’t panic.
Should I fix my mortgage now?
People on a variable rate mortgage benefit from interest rate changes when the base rate drops. However, mortgage experts agree that today’s announcement heralds a general upwards trend in interest rates.
Mark Carney, governer of the Bank of England, announced the Bank rate rise to 0.75 per cent today (Bloomberg)
This means that borrowers on a variable rate should seek out a new deal now if they can.
“If November’s rate rise was important for its symbolism, today’s rate rise is equally important for its message to the market: the record low interest rate era is over, and interest rates are now headed in one direction,” said Craig McKinlay, sales and marketing director at Kensington Mortgages.
“This rise should be a call to action for those borrowers who haven’t yet remortgaged to get in touch with a mortgage broker and seek a new competitive deal.”
Will house prices go up or down now interest rates have risen?
The 0.25 per cent rate rise may push down already falling London house prices, as the cost of home ownership looks set to rise further.
“It’s not the relatively modest increase in interest rates which is significant – the message it sends about their future direction is far more important,” said London estate agent and former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Jeremy Leaf.
“The change is likely to compromise already fragile confidence to take on debt in the property market and wider economy.”
London house prices fell for the fourth month running in May to £479,000, a drop of £2,000 off the value of the average home in the capital.
Prices were expected to continue to decline slightly for the next couple of years due to uncertainty over Brexit, combined with the likelihood of further interest rate rises.
“In our regional forecasts we predict price falls in London in 2018 and 2019 of 1.7 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively,” said Richard Snook, senior economist at consultants PwC.
U.K. house prices fell for the first time in seven months as sellers adapted to the reality of the weaker market.
Asking prices slipped 0.1 percent in July from a month earlier, property website Rightmove said on Monday. In London, prices slipped 0.5 percent, with smaller apartments falling faster than bigger homes.
The reduction in asking prices can “be a sign of a falling market,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said. “With more price reductions at this time of year than in any of the last six years, there is likely to be a combination of both initial over-pricing and failure to react fast enough — or to reduce by enough — when initial buyer interest fails to lead to a sale.”
The British housing market is weakening after a three-decade boom amid slower economic growth and the uncertainty created by Brexit. London, where the average house price is more than double the national average, has been hit harder than the rest of the country. This month’s declines also reflect a normal summer slowdown in activity, Rightmove said.
A separate report by Acadata showed U.K. house prices fell 0.2 percent in June. Most regions in the U.K. still have higher house prices than a year ago, the property services firm said.
On an annual basis, Rightmove said house-price inflation slowed to 1.4 percent in July from 1.7 percent. In London, prices fell 1.7 percent from a year ago. The average U.K. asking price stood at 309,191 pounds ($400,000).
There are more sellers coming to the market than buyers, the report showed. The average number of houses in the window of each U.K. estate agency branch is at the highest since September 2015, meaning sellers are having to compete harder on price.
The slump is an opportunity for first-time buyers in London as properties with two bedrooms or fewer saw prices decline. The trendy borough of Hackney posted a 3.5 percent drop.
Other reports on Monday were more positive for the U.K. economy. Business confidence has reached a two-year high since the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union — and was strongest in London — according to Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. At the same time, consumer spending saw its first back-to-back monthly increase since early 2017, Visa’s Consumer Spending Index showed.
he value of Britain’s housing market has fallen by £26.9bn, or 0.33pc, since the start of the year, as growth in the North East and Wales has failed to counteract falling prices in many other regions across the country.
The nation’s homes decreased in value by an average of £927 each between Jan 1 and June 30 this year, and are now worth a collective £8.2 trillion, according to figures from property site Zoopla.
While the value of the housing market in the North East has risen by 3.31pc, and Wales’ by 1.4pc, poor-performing regions such as the South West, which endured a decline in value of 2.51pc, and Yorkshire and The Humber (-2.12pc), has dragged the overall market value down.
It marks a reversal of fortunes for the UK housing market, which registered an increase in value of 3.5pc in 2017, despite a slowdown in London and the South East.
Zoopla’s most recent data found that on a local level, the English town of Barrow-in-Furnessin Cumbria was the top-performer in terms of house price growth, with prices rising 6.7pc in the past six months. Holt in Norfolk experienced second-best growth of 6.27pc, followed by Pontypool in Torfaen (6.06pc).
By comparison, Reigate in Surrey saw price growth in the first half of 2018 decline in value by 6.7pc. The second and third largest reductions were seen in Lydney in Gloucestershire, and Sturminster Newton in Dorset, which reduced in value by 6.69pc and 6.64pc, respectively.
Despite property prices in London falling at their fastest rate since February 2009, the capital’s homes collectively rose in value by an average of 0.75pc in the six months to June 30.
Zoopla’s Laurence Hall said it was “not surprising” to see a small drop in values since the start of the year.
“Uncertainty around Brexit is a very real factor in the market, however on the positive side, the drop is creating a potential opportunity for first time buyers to get a foot on the ladder in some regions across Britain,” he said.
Analysts have blamed Brexit for the slowdown in the UK’s property market since 2016. House prices have risen more slowly than before the EU referendum, which hit consumer confidence and spending as the pound’s fall pushed up inflation.
According to figures from Nationwide in April, house prices were growing by about 5pc a year around the time of the Brexit vote, but in 2018 growth has consistently hovered around 1pc.
A buoyant property market depends on the UK’s economic health, so if the pound weakens further, inflation surges, and interest rates are raised, the capacity for house price growth would be reduced.
Equally, if Brexit negotiations are successful, economic growth continues to remain positive, and confidence is boosted, house prices could increase faster than initially thought.
New research by Hamptons International proposes that the private rented sector will continue to grow despite recent policy changes.
Demand for rented property will be a key driver of the sector’s performance, due to long-term demographic changes and a consistent decline in homeownership levels as house price increases outpace income growth.
As a result, the estate agency forecasts that 20.5% of households will be renting in Great Britain by 2022, up from 19.4% in 2018, and that there will be six million households renting privately by 2025.
The research goes on to explore the different ways in which properties can appear on the market. For example, it estimates that around 80,000 homeowners decided to let their home out as they struggled to sell.
However, Hamptons predicts that the build-to-rent sector will become a larger part of the market, as it found the development pipeline will deliver more than 100,000 units, with more expected to come in the future.
Cash owners outnumber those buying with a mortgage, the research also highlights, noting that cash buyers have increased for 23 out of the last 25 years.
In 2017 alone, 65% of investors purchased using cash, equating to billion in property.
“The mass of cash in the market alongside increasing institutional interest is acting as an insulation to changes in policy. Creating a firm foundation on which the sector can continue to grow, particularly as the demand for rented homes will continue to rise,” the research concludes.
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.
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
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.”