UK house market picks up - with sharp regional differences

Good news for UK homeowners. It’s unlikely Brexit will dampen UK house price growth and mortgage rates are increasingly favourable. Will the upward trend last?

Photo of stone houses in the Cotswalds illustrates a September 2017 article about UK house price increases and more mortgage options
The latest official figures show UK house prices have risen 5.1 per cent year-on-year, although with marked regional differences.Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday showed that in July, the average house price stood at £226,000, about £2,000 higher than a month earlier and a rise of some £11,000 on July 2016.Property in England led the increases with an annual rate of 5.4 per cent, although there were marked variations between different parts of the country. The East Midlands led the way with a 7.5 per cent rise while homes in London rose by only 2.8 per cent.The local authority recording the biggest annual growth was the Cotswolds, where prices jumped by 16.2 per cent to reach an average of £385,000, while the City of London saw prices fall by 18.4 per cent to average £744,000.Prices in Wales rose by 3.1 per cent to an average of £151,000; Scotland saw an increase of 4.8 per cent to £149,000; and Northern Ireland notched up a 4.4 per cent to bring the average price to £129,000.

Brexit unlikely to dampen further UK house growth

Russell Quirk, chief executive of online estate agents eMoov, said the ONS data provided the most compelling evidence yet that the UK property market had now shaken off the downturn experienced after last year's general election.“The rate of growth during this period is higher than previously reported by Halifax and Nationwide, which is impressive given that this price data usually lags slightly behind other industry sources that base their figures on mortgage approvals rather than sales completions," he said.“A sustained level of growth can now be expected and it is unlikely that any further developments in the Brexit process should dampen this.“Although the market has taken a wobble, UK homeowners should rest assured that the worst is now behind them and we won’t be seeing a repeat of the 2007 crash.”

Re-mortgaging rates excellent because of increased competition between providers

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said that, with the purchase market still relatively quiet because of a lack of stock, lenders were turning their attention to re-mortgaging with some excellent rates on offer.“Santander is the latest lender to cut pricing on its two- and five-year fixed-rate re-mortgage deals, while other lenders have also been tweaking pricing - HSBC scrapping standard valuation fees and First Direct halving fees and increasing rates - as they jockey for position in the market," he said.
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“This is encouraging as it means other lenders must be forced to offer borrowers incentives so as not to be at a competitive disadvantage.”His view was supported by a report from the financial sector body UK Finance, which showed that the amount of re-mortgaging had bounced back in July to reach its highest level since the beginning of the year.July saw 36,800 home owners re-mortgaging in July, up seven per cent on June and 10 per cent higher than a year earlier. The report said that, over the past year, the total of re-mortgages was the highest since 2009.

The number of homeowners re-mortgaging at highest levels since 2009

June Deasy, head of mortgages at UK Finance, said, "Re-mortgaging strengthened in July and reached its highest level since January, with customers attracted by borrowing rates that are at or close to their historic low point."The increase in activity in July means that, over the last year, the number of people re-mortgaging has been at its highest since 2009."Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau, added, "It's highly likely that the increasing competitive market, with rates at historic lows, is finally starting to tempt consumers off their SVRs (standard variable rates) and encourage them to review their borrowing, either due to the monthly savings that are potentially available, or the opportunity for some to reduce the overall term of their mortgage by switching products or lenders."For related news and features, visit our Residential Property section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit

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