Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that in the year ending in September 2016, UK house prices rose by 7.7%, continuing the trend for strong growth in the current economic climate. This means the average price of a property in the UK now stands at £217,888.
The ONS stated that housing market indicators for September suggested a period of relative stability during the month. House prices grew by 7.7% in the year to September, unchanged from August. While there is some evidence of a slight recovery in demand on the month, both demand and supply indicators remained somewhat weaker than in 2015 and early 2016. There is evidence of regional variation with the Bank of England Agents’ Summary saying there was a marked slowdown in activity in London and surrounding areas, but activity has fared better elsewhere in the UK.
The monthly price change was a rise of 0.2%, showing a market which is more stable than has been the case in much of the past 12 months – a reflection that both the political and economic situation was more settled.
In terms of housing demand, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors(RICS) market survey for September reported a modest increase in new buyer enquiries – the first increase since February. The volume of lending approvals for house purchases also rose by 3.2% in September compared to August. However, this follows 3 months of consecutive falls and the volume of lending approvals remains around the same level as early 2015.This is reflected in data for home sales in the UK which fell by 4.3% between August and September, with levels remaining lower than in 2014, 2015 and before the stamp duty changes in early 2016.
On the supply side, RICS also reported that new sales listings fell again in September compared to August, continuing the trend over the past 7 months. The latest ONS Output in the Construction Industry reported a 1.3% monthly fall in new-build housing output in August, although new-build housing output remains 8.0% higher compared with August 2015.
Meanwhile, the UK’s largest online lettings agent has suggested that in 2017 the biggest issues facing landlords will be contending with rent arrears.
Upad says that currently, 62% of UK landlords are grappling with tenant arrears and with rents predicted to rise faster than house prices over the next five years to offset tax increases from April 2017, this situation is set to worsen.
James Davis, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Upad, says, “Rent arrears are becoming the fastest-growing problem for landlords, as well as tenants across the UK, and this will no doubt be their biggest issue in 2017.
“Not only have investors had to contend with the new 3% stamp duty surcharge this year, but from April 2017, they are also facing plans to prevent landlords deducting mortgage costs from rental income and limiting tax relief on mortgage interest payments. These increased landlord costs will only make matters worse, especially for tenants who in some of the most expensive areas, such as our capital, are paying up to two thirds of their salary on rent.
“The Chancellor needs to think carefully about the damage that is likely to be done, primarily to tenants, particularly if people are relying more on the lettings market than the sales market going forward in the wake of Brexit. Over-stretched landlords will try to recoup these additional taxes by increasing rents, but if wages struggle to increase more than inflation, landlords will struggle to secure rises, putting the entire lettings financial model at risk.”