There’s no doubting that the sun shining brightly certainly lifts our mood and after one of the longest, coldest winters on record, spring couldn’t have come a moment too soon. Combine this with a flurry of bank holiday weekends, the general excitement of the Royal Wedding, the forthcoming Diamond Jubilee and of course the Olympics and suddenly we are all experiencing the stirrings of an almost forgotten feeling: optimism!
A recent Halifax report has reminded people that the long term benefits associated with investing in bricks and mortar are likely to ensure that home ownership will continue to be an aspiration for many and found that it is now cheaper to buy a home than to rent one. Their research reveals that tenants are paying on average almost £100 a month more than mortgage holders, which equates to being approximately 14% cheaper to finance the cost associated with buying a home in this country.
Rising rental costs are also being fuelled by significant property investment from overseas, with Britain becoming a magnet for the Chinese market in particular due to China’s spiralling property values, a shortage of mortgage availability and a recently introduced restriction on families to a maximum of two properties to deter speculators. Alongside this many domestic investors have also turned their attention back to the property market, including the residential sector. There are a number of underlying reasons believed to be contributing to this, not least the low interest rates on savings which appear to be pretty stagnant and, I believe, the acute housing shortage which shows no sign of abating and is likely to continue if the land released for planning isn’t increased and population levels continue to grow in line with government forecasts.
The First Buy Scheme introduced in the last budget is to be welcomed as people getting onto the property ladder means movement for others already on it but they may also be dependent on mortgage funding and so availability and, crucially, accessibility must also be widely available for the majority of house buyers who want their home to be their own.
Another thing that struck me when I read the Halifax report was how little we promote the immediate real savings that a new build property affords through reduced heating bills and maintenance costs due to the energy efficiency rating that has to be attained, enhanced build materials and of course the overall quality of construction that is rigorously checked and certified by regular inspection – all things that we possibly take for granted in the industry but perhaps we should be shouting about a little louder.