Robust Demand Pushes U.K. Home Prices to All-Time Highs
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Robust Demand Pushes U.K. Home Prices to All-Time Highs

Frenzied activity despite continued Covid-19 restrictions pushed the average asking price up.

By Liz Lucking
Tue, Apr 20, 2021 12:29pmGrey Clock 2 min

Homes hitting the market in the U.K. are more expensive than ever, with prices propelled by a flood of zealous buyers, tax breaks and low mortgage rates, according to a report Monday from Rightmove.

From March 7-April 10, asking prices for newly listed homes jumped 2.1% from the roughly four weeks prior, equating to an increase of £6,733 (A$12,096) that pushed the average national asking price to an all-time high of £327,797 (A$588,909), the online property portal said.

“This is only the second time over the past five years that prices have increased by over 2% in a month, so it’s a big jump, especially bearing in mind that the lockdown restrictions are still limiting the population’s movements and activities,” Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property data, said in the report.

In England, lockdown measures eased last week, and the government has said it hopes to lift almost all restrictions by the tail-end of June if strict conditions are met. Individual timelines are in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The property market has remained fully open and operating throughout wider limitations, “and is fully active to such an extent that frenzied buyer activity has helped to push the average price of property coming to market to an all-time high,” Mr. Bannister said.

“The stars have aligned for this spring price surge, with buyers’ new space requirements being part of the constellation alongside cheap mortgages, stamp duty holiday extensions in England and Wales, government support for 95% mortgages and a shortage of suitable property to buy,” he added, noting that the coronavirus vaccination rollout is also injecting growing optimism into the market.

In March, the government announced that it would prolong the stamp duty holiday. Introduced last July, the tax break scrapped the transfer tax on the first £500,000 of a home sale, for a maximum savings of £15,000.

Originally set to expire at the end of March, the initiative has been fully extended until the end of June and will taper off by the end September.

But as those economic support measures begin to come to a close later in the year, “some of the froth is likely to come off this spring surge,” though activity is expected to remain robust for the remainder of the year, the report said.


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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Philip Lowe’s comments come amid property industry concerns about pressures on mortgage holders and rising rents

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Leaders in Australia’s property industry are calling on the RBA to hit the pause button on further interest rate rises following yesterday’s announcement to raise the cash rate to 4.1 percent.

CEO of the REINSW, Tim McKibbin, said it was time to let the 12 interest rate rises since May last year take effect.

“The REINSW would like to see the RBA hit pause and allow the 12 rate rises to date work their way through the economy. Property prices have rebounded because of supply and demand. I think that will continue with the rate rise,” said Mr McKibbin.  

The Real Estate Institute of Australia  today released its Housing Affordability Report for the March 2023 quarter which showed that in NSW, the proportion of family income required to meet the average loan repayments has risen to 55 percent, up from 44.5 percent a year ago.

Chief economist at Ray White, Nerida Conisbee, said while this latest increase would probably not push Australia into a recession, it had major implications for the housing market and the needs of ordinary Australians.

“As more countries head into recession, at this point, it does look like the RBA’s “narrow path” will get us through while taming inflation,” she said. 

“In the meantime however, it is creating a headache for renters, buyers and new housing supply that is going to take many years to resolve. 

“And every interest rate rise is extending that pain.”

In a speech to guests at Morgan Stanley’s Australia Summit released today, Governor Philip Lowe addressed the RBA board’s ‘narrow path’ approach, navigating continued economic growth while pushing inflation from its current level of 6.8 percent down to a more acceptable level of 2 to 3 percent.

“It is still possible to navigate this path and our ambition is to do so,” Mr Lowe said. “But it is a narrow path and likely to be a bumpy one, with risks on both sides.”

However, he said the alternative is persistent high inflation, which would do the national economy more damage in the longer term.

“If inflation stays high for too long, it will become ingrained in people’s expectations and high inflation will then be self-perpetuating,” he said. “As the historical experiences shows, the inevitable result of this would be even higher interest rates and, at some point, a larger increase in unemployment to get rid of the ingrained inflation. 

“The Board’s priority is to do what it can to avoid this.”

While acknowledging that another rate rise would adversely affect many households, Mr Lowe said it was unavoidable if inflation was to be tamed.

“It is certainly true that if the Board had not lifted interest rates as it has done, some households would have avoided, for a short period, the financial pressures that come with higher mortgage rates,” he said. 

“But this short-term gain would have been at a much higher medium-term cost. If we had not tightened monetary policy, the cost of living would be higher for longer. This would hurt all Australians and the functioning of our economy and would ultimately require even higher interest rates to bring inflation back down. 

“So, as difficult as it is, the rise in interest rates is necessary to bring inflation back to target in a reasonable timeframe.”


Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

Americans now think they need at least $1.25 million for retirement, a 20% increase from a year ago, according to a survey by Northwestern Mutual

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