Average Residential Sales Times Longer
Recent research from property portal, Rightmove, indicates that across the UK, the average time taken from when a property is first listed, until it is marked as under offer, has increased from 72 days in January 2018 to 77 days currently.
The data also shows that Runcorn, in Cheshire, has the fastest moving housing market outside of London. Runcorn has an average asking price of £132,653 and has seen a reduction in selling time from 69 days in 2018 to just 48 days currently, 29 days quicker than the national average. This appears to have largely been driven by the opening of the Mersey Gateway Bridge, alleviating major traffic problems, to allow a journey time of 20 minutes by car, from Runcorn to Liverpool City Centre.
In Scotland, homes are selling quickest in Livingston, where on average it takes just 35 days for properties to get snapped up. Redditch in the West Midlands takes top spot as the fastest selling market in England, with properties in the Worcestershire town selling in 45 days, on average.
Targets May Not Be Met Despite More Homes Being Built
A recent survey of more than 400 housebuilding companies in England, by property and construction consultancy McBains, reveals that 57% of respondents reported increasing the rate at which they built new homes during 2018 and are also predicting a further rise over the next 12 months. However, less than half of those surveyed (48%) think that the Government target of building 300,000 homes a year, on average, by the mid-2020s is achievable, with worries over land availability, slow planning permission and skills shortages being cited as barriers to prevent them building more homes.
Of the homes to be built over the next 12 months, house builders expect 22% of these new homes to be classed as affordable homes for rent or sale. Clive Docwra, Managing Director of McBains, commented: “For those people struggling to get a foot on the property ladder, the finding that only around one in five of new homes to be built over the next year will fall into the affordable category will be disappointing.”
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) February 2019 UK Residential Survey, indicated that the residential property market continues to struggle for momentum. The survey posed an additional question this time, aimed at identifying the most significant factor holding back activity, and in response to this, 77% of respondents cited Brexit uncertainty as the biggest challenge facing the housing market at present. The survey also indicated that 71% felt it was impacting both buyers and sellers, while only 8% were of the view that Brexit was not having an effect on either.
The Chancellor delivered his Spring Statement on 13 March and although little was expected in terms of new policy measures affecting the built environment, many policies remain dependent on the outcome of the Brexit debate, which a RICS press release expressed as ‘frustrating given how much parliamentary time has been diverted to it at the expense of pressing domestic issues such as the housing crisis, construction skills shortage and infrastructure deficit.’
The International Monetary Fund Offers a Warning
The world’s financial watchdog, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), based in Washington and headed by the previous Finance Minister of France, and now Managing Director and Chairwoman, Christine Largarde, has fired a warning over the danger of overseas buyers disrupting domestic property markets.
The IMF has stated that house price booms are a consistent cause of recessions and countries, including the UK should take note and make pre-emptive steps to ensure that this process does not repeat itself. To prevent a housing bubble destabilising the economy, the IMF suggests that Britain should contemplate imposing stricter mortgage limits and deterrents against overseas buyers of UK property.
They warned the UK is a market: “where foreign buyers have played a role.” The IMF stated that: “The most recent data seem to point to an increase in downside risks to house prices over the next one to three years in some countries.”
Lifestyle Aspirations Drive New Home Development Design
In addition to adapting to trends in the property world, new housing developments are increasingly having to adapt to changes in wider society. These changes are having an impact on the communal amenities provided and outdoor space.
New home developments are now frequently design-driven by the demands of buyers looking for a ‘lifestyle’ that includes innovative amenities such as gyms and fitness centres, communal landscaped green spaces and community facilities, such as meeting rooms.
Given that many more people have flexible working patterns and may work from home, much more time is now spent by working families in the residential home, and their desires are now being reflected in the initial overall design of mid and high-end new-build developments.
Some new developments are offering innovative ‘extras’ such as individual indoor secure bicycle storage facilities, allowing the homeowners to easily jump on their bike to commute to the station or office, or to spend their leisure time cycling around the area.
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