Ready Steady Go
A recent survey suggests that the cost of renting a home in England and Wales fell in January for the third month in a row, but remains higher than a year earlier. The average rent in January was £732 a month, 0.3% down on December and the lowest level since July last year – but still 2.8% higher than in January 2012; and it remains true that in many cases, it is more expensive to rent than to buy.
The sharpest monthly fall in rental costs was in the south-east of England. However, there was a rise of 1.2% in the East Midlands, and most commentators are predicting more rises in the coming months: so this could be a good time to secure your new rental accommodation, or even try to renegotiate a longer fixed term on your contract.
This coincides with two other pieces of notable news: a significant rise in the number of first time buyers (according to CML, up 12% – the highest number since 2007), and also a fall in the number of repossessions (down to 33,700 in 2012).
Part of the reason is that mortgages are becoming more competitive, as the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme gathers momentum. There are currently more than 50 deals available of over 90% LTV, and also new five-year fixed offers at only 2.69% interest (ING).
Perhaps it is not surprising that estate agents across the UK are reporting higher levels of buyer activity (despite the January snow), with many now experiencing an emerging shortage of stock – or perhaps more accurately, properties correctly priced and in good condition from motivated vendors.
It appears that for the first time in years, confidence in the property market may be returning – with buyers and sellers deciding that after a protracted period of delay and uncertainty, now is a good time to move forward with their lives.