House prices 'a national emergency', RICS warns
Wed 13 May 2015
You are here: Home Shortage of new homes and rising house prices are a 'crisis' the government must address,say surveyors
The Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has warned that rising house prices are in danger ofbecoming a "national emergency".
House prices are rising at the fastest rate since August last year while the supply of homes coming on to themarket fell more swiftly than any time since 2009.
RICS urged the prime minister to do more to support the construction of new homes "in unusually forcefullanguage", Reuters reports.
"The affordability and availability of homes in the UK is now a national emergency and addressing this crisis mustbe the priority for the new government," RICS's head of policy, Jeremy Blackburn, said.
He called on the Conservatives to put forward a "coherent and co-ordinated house building" strategy across thepublic and private sectors.
While rising house prices may come as "good news for property owners, they offer little encouragement forfirst-time buyers already struggling to get their foot on the property ladder and finding it hard to secure sufficientfunds from stringent mortgage lenders," Sky says.
Mortgage lender Halifax said that their figures showed house prices had risen by 8.5 percent over the past year.
The average home has risen to a new record of 193,048 more than five times the average full-time malesalary.
Around 140,000 homes were built last year, which fell well short of what is needed by at least 100,000 properties,the Financial Times estimated.
Blackburn urged David Cameron to deliver on his pre-election promise of one million homes by 2020.
Last month, mortgage lender Nationwide said that weak activity in the housing market was most likely connectedto uncertainties around the general election.
RICS's chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn, said that the shortage of houses for sale was partly due tohomeowners waiting to see the election results before putting their property up for sale. Now that the election haspassed, the Conservative government will be under pressure to begin building new homes and take steps to bringrising house prices under control, analysts say.
London has just 43 'affordable homes for a typical young family'
Just 43 homes on the market in London would be affordable for a "typical" young family buying their firstproperty, according to research by housing and homeless charity Shelter.
The 43 property listings which include four houseboats account for 0.1 per cent of the market, making London the least affordable area in the country.
Shelter calculated the average earnings for a "typical" family (defined as one part-time and one full-time earnerboth aged between 23 and 29 with one or two children) and how much they could borrow based on that income,using data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.
It then used a snapshot of every property advertised for sale on Zoopla on one day in March to determine thenumber of houses the family could afford in their area.
Further analysis of the London listings found that even 43 is likely to be "optimistic" number, since only ninewould be a "genuine option" for a family to buy, said the charity. "The remaining 34 properties had incorrectinformation in their listings, were likely to only be sold for a higher amount than the listed price at auction, or wereinappropriate as family homes, including four listings for houseboats."
The research found that, across England, only one in six properties were "affordable and suitable" for familiesearning the median income of 30,748. In 35 areas, there were zero affordable homes for families that need atleast two bedrooms.
For single people looking to buy a home, only 7.5 per cent of properties were listed at an affordable price.
Previous Shelter research found that buyers are paying over 76,000 more than they should be for their firsthome because incomes have not kept pace with house prices.
"For those struggling on even lower incomes, owning a home will seem little more than a dream," said the charity.
House prices: market cools ahead of general election
House price growth has slowed and new mortgage lending is down, according to the latest housing market data.
The Office for National Statistics found that UK house prices increased by 7.2 per cent in the 12 months toFebruary, down from 8.4 per cent in the 12 months to January.
Gross mortgage lending totalled 13.6bn in February, an eight per cent decrease from January's total and aneight per cent decrease compared with February 2014, according to data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders
The council's director general Paul Smee blamed "seasonal factors" and suggested the dampened lendingactivity might have been made worse by uncertainty ahead of the general election .
Buy-to-let saw an increase in annual lending and lending values in February compared with the same period lastyear. The number of buy-to-let loans (15,900) was up 11 per cent, while the worth of the loans (2.2bn) was up 16per cent. But every other market segment, including first-time buyers, saw decreases, reports Financial Adviser .
London house prices are also no longer the UK's fastest rising, as growth in the capital has slowed downcompared to other regions.
In a list of year-on-year house price growth for different areas of the UK, London has fallen from top place inJanuary to third place in February, with Northern Ireland and the east of England now occupying the top spots.
Peter Rollings, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, told City AM : "We're used to London being the country's house priceengine, but today's figures suggest that the city may no longer be the lone driver."
He suggests there has been a "slight tail-off in appetite" from overseas buyers in light of "acute politicaluncertainty and proposals for a mansion tax".
Nevertheless, the average house price in London is still climbing and remains the most expensive in the countryat 490,000 157,000 more than the South East, the UK's second most expensive area for houses. WhileNorthern Ireland tops the growth list, it has the cheapest average house price of 152,000.
House prices 2015: growth 'will slow to 4%'
The number of first-time property buyers in the UK has risen to its highest level in seven years, according to newresearch from one of Britain's biggest lenders, but overall growth in the housing market will be lower in 2015 thanit was last year, experts predict.
Halifax said that the number of buyers entering the housing market increased by 22 per cent to 326,500 last year,just short of the 23 per cent increase in 2013.
Government schemes such as Help to Buy, better job prospects and cheap mortgage rates have all contributed tothe increase, the BBC says.
The news comes as an estate agent says that prime London property, which has been running ahead of the restof the market, is starting to cool. In 2014, several areas outside the capital ouperformed it for the first time in sixyears.
"The cost of a home in London's most expensive boroughs rose by an average of 2.6 per cent last year, whilegrowth in the UKs top regional markets averaged 3.2 per cent," The Times reports, quoting figures from Savills.
"The international property group partly attributed the slowdown in the capital to the recent overhaul of the stampduty system."
At the same time, the improving prospects for first-time buyers is likely to have a positive effect on the rest of themarket.
"First-time buyers are vital for a properly functioning housing market," Halifax's mortgages director, CraigMcKinlay, said. "Improving economic conditions and rising employment levels have boosted confidence amongthose thinking about getting on to the housing ladder for the first time, contributing to the significant increase inthe number of first-time buyers in the past two years."
But the news comes amid predictions of slower growth across the property market in 2015, with the BBC notingthat many experts anticipate growth of just four per cent this year, compared with 7.2 per cent in 2014.
The looming general election will be the major factor affecting activity in the housing market in the early part of2015, explained Ray Boulger from mortgage brokers John Charcol. Growth is unlikely to pick up until the resultsare known, he added.
The outcome of the election could have a huge impact on the market, says Nicole Blackmore in the DailyTelegraph , as "many buyers at the higher end of the market will be concerned about Labours proposed 'mansiontax', which will apply to all homes worth more than 2m".
This "nervousness" among high-value property buyers, particularly in London, will serve to restrict house pricegrowth not just in the capital but across the UK, housing expert Henry Pryor told the BBC.
Of course, forecasting property prices "isn't an exact science", notes BT.com . In a rundown of the predictions ofleading experts over the past eight years, the site found that many were extremely inaccurate, with someforecasters' calculations out by as much as ten per cent. "Given their track record, it will be interesting to seewherever any of them get close."