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House prices rise on limited supply: Rightmove

Rightmove

House prices in February 2021 grew 3 per cent on an annual basis, shows Rightmove’s latest house price index.

Measured monthly, house prices rose 0.5 per cent compared to falling 0.9 per cent between December 2020 and January 2021, and in doing so became the first positive move in this direction for three months.

The average UK house price now comes to £318,580, the data shows.

Rightmove says that a supply and demand imbalance is causing this rise in prices – new seller numbers are down 21 per cent over the past four weeks compared to a year ago, which is believes could be due to a delay in family homes moving into the market because of home-schooling demands.

Backing up this belief is the fact that there are 25 per cent fewer houses with three or more bedrooms on the market while those with two bedrooms or fewer are down by 16 per cent.

The data also shows that visits to Rightmove in February 2021 were up 45 per cent compared to a year ago, 18 per cent more enquiries were sent and purchases agreed rose by 7 per cent – the much-talked about 31 March cliff-edge does not seem to be affecting demand.

“Early 2021 buyer data shows that despite the imminent end of the stamp duty incentive, all of the key buyer metrics are ahead of early 2020, itself an active period as the market was boosted by the post – election ‘Boris bounce’”, says Rightmove director of property data Tim Bannister.

“As well as the current lockdown motivating buyer demand again, the restrictions have also been a factor in limiting new supply, leading to some modest upwards price pressure. These are strong signs that new buyer demand is not facing a cliff-edge after 31 March.

He adds: “It remains to be seen if this momentum will be enough to make up for the removal of the stamp duty savings that are benefitting many buyers and have been adding a sense of urgency to the whole market.”

Original Article from Mortgage Strategy 15/02/2021

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90% LTV product choice doubles as lenders return to market: Moneyfacts

Increase

The number of residential mortgage products has risen for the third consecutive month to 2,893 – the highest availability recorded since April 2020 as the impact of the pandemic was beginning to be felt, the latest Moneyfacts data shows.

The largest monthly growth in availability was at 90% LTV, where the number of products almost doubled, increasing by 72 to 160, the highest seen since June 2020.

Those with higher levels of equity or deposit have also seen an improvement. At 75% LTV, availability rose to 629 deals, the highest level seen since July 2020.

The average two-year fixed rate for all LTVs increased for the sixth consecutive month, rising by 0.03% to 2.52% – the highest this rate has been since January 2019 when it was also 2.52%. This is now 0.08% higher year-on-year and is an increase of 0.53% compared to the record low of July 2020.

The equivalent five-year average fixed rate also increased this month. However, at 2.71%, this remains lower than the 2.74% seen this time last year, but is still a rise of 0.46% compared to the low of July.

Eleanor Williams, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “The UK property market remained unseasonably buoyant in the lead up to the New Year, where, perhaps bolstered by the increase in product availability over recent months supporting demand from borrowers, the latest Bank of England data recorded that house purchase approvals had rocketed to the highest level seen since August 2007. Following the sharp drop off in availability in 2020, it is positive to see that we are beginning 2021 with the total number of mortgage deals rising for the third consecutive month. With 111 more deals on offer this month, at 2,893 this is the highest we have seen since April 2020, when the sector experienced mass product withdrawals as the impact of Coronavirus and subsequent base rate cuts began to be felt.

“This month also saw further positive movements at the higher end of the LTV spectrum, with the number of products for those looking to secure a deal at 90% LTV nearly doubling to 160, and at 85% LTV increasing by 43 to 439. As more lenders have returned to these higher LTV tiers, there is greater choice for those borrowers with lower levels of deposit or equity, who spent much of last year with so few options available to them. Furthermore, this has also extended to those who have higher levels of deposit or equity, who may be pleased to note that in the 75% and 80% LTV tiers we have also recorded increased availability, with both brackets now offering the most products they have since July.

“Not only is the increase in product choice a positive for borrowers, but it seems that a measure of competition may have started to return to some sectors as well. At the higher end of the LTV tiers, both the average two and five-year fixed rate deals for those looking to secure a mortgage at 90% LTV saw the largest monthly reductions, dropping by 0.14% and 0.13% respectively this month, while the equivalent rates at 85% dropped by 0.05% and 0.06% respectively, indicating that lender confidence may be returning to this part of the market, despite the still uncertain economic outlook.

“However, not all LTV tiers saw rates fall this month, which has resulted in the overall two-year average rate continuing its march upwards for the sixth consecutive month. At 2.52%, this is 0.08% above where this rate sat this time last year and equals the high this rate last reached in January 2019. Those who are interested in the slightly longer-term stability of a five-year fixed rate deal may notice that this rate, while rising by 0.02% this month, at 2.71% remains 0.03% down year-on-year. Those who are considering securing a new mortgage may feel motivated to explore their options now, before rates potentially increase further.

“This improvement in options for mortgage borrowers has occurred at a time when high levels of borrower demand have been fuelled by those hoping to benefit from the stamp duty holiday and by those who re-evaluated what they want from a home and were part of the unleashed demand that arose after the first lockdown in 2020. As we navigate our way through another period of restrictions, this time the property market is expected to remain open for business. However, with timescales for processing mortgages potentially subject to delays, and with the average shelf life for mortgages remaining at just 28 days, it has possibly never been more vital to call upon the knowledge and help of a qualified adviser to progress any applications and explore what may be the best option for their circumstances.”

Original Article from Financial Reporter 11/01/2021

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Capital gains tax could ‘be brought into line with income tax rates’

CGT

Capital gains tax (CGT) increases could be around the corner as the chancellor Rishi Sunak looks to find the money needed to cover the government’s unprecedented spending and borrowing during the pandemic.

Given that the prime minister Boris Johnson has already ruled out a return to “austerity” in public spending, this money will have to come from somewhere.

There has been speculation for some time that CGT rates would increase.

Anthony Codling, CEO, twindig, commented: “As we enter 2021 chancellor Rishi Sunak is reviewing the structure of UK taxes. The pandemic has been costly in both emotional and economic terms, UK government debt is at an all-time high and eventually, these debts will need to be repaid. Taxes are therefore likely to rise.”

CGT is currently charged at 20%, but there are growing calls that it should be increased to 28% across the board or possibly aligned to income tax rates – at up to 45%.

The government’s tax adviser recently recommended that CGT be overhauled with proposals that could see the number of people hit by the duty increase sharply.

Rishi Sunak, who commissioned the review, is considering proposals by the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS), a Treasury-based body, to reform capital gains tax in the light of the economic and fiscal impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

The move has the potential to bring in an extra £14bn by reducing exemptions and doubling rates, according to the review.

Codling said: “Our working assumption is that capital gains tax rates will be brought into line with income tax rates, higher rate taxpayers will therefore pay higher rates of capital gains tax.”

Currently, a taxpayer’s primary residence is exempt from capital gains tax, but this could soon change for some homeowners.

He added: “We do not expect this exemption to be taken away completely, but we would not be surprised if the amount of exempt gain was subject to either an annual cap, a lifetime cap or a combination of both. This would be similar to pension relief where the amount of tax benefit in any one year is capped as well as the taxpayers lifetime tax benefit.

“Second-home and buy-to-let property gains are already subject to capital gains tax at a higher rate [28%] than the capital gains on other assets [20%]. We forecast that these rates will be equalised and reflect the taxpayer’s income tax rates.

“This will mean a tax rate increase for higher rate taxpayers and a lower tax rate for those with earnings below the higher rate tax threshold. However, it is likely that a capital gain on a property will move a lower rate income taxpayer into the higher rate tax bands.”

Original Article from Property Industry Eye 04/01/2021