With rents rising, Britons across the country could rake in a small fortune renting out their spare room. London is known as the priciest region in the UK, but elsewhere in the country room rents are increasing much quicker than they are in the capital, SpareRoom.co.uk exclusively revealed to This is Money. Excluding London, room rents across the UK have risen by 5.01 per cent in a year, compared to 1.63 per cent in the capital.
A majority of people working in the property industry – nearly two-thirds – believe that leaving the EU would have a positive impact on the UK housing market.
Some 65% of agents and mortgage brokers are for Brexit.
The finding – by conveyancing giant My Home Move – is in stark contrast to warnings that the housing market will collapse if Britain votes to leave.
Ratings agency Fitch yesterday warned that house prices could crash by 25%.
The International Monetary Fund has also warned that property prices would go into reverse.
However, the My Home Move survey strongly suggests that agents will vote to leave the European Union.
The same survey does however say that the home moving public is much less decided with 53% unsure as to which way to vote.
These are among the findings ahead of My Home Move’s annual conference tomorrow.
The survey also found that most people working in the property industry (90%) believe that a lack of stock and high prices have become the new normal.
Interestingly, the 250 people polled preferred support for downsizers over help for first-time buyers.
A total of 61% wanted greater government help for downsizers, while just 21% wanted support for first-time buyers.
My Home Move chief executive Doug Crawford said: “The market has been suffering from a lack of stock and high house prices for several years, so we’re not surprised that those at the sharp end of the sector are frustrated by what has become the ‘new norm’.
“Recent Government changes to Stamp Duty, alongside schemes like Help to Buy, have kept the market going since the recession, but the findings from our survey would suggest that those closest to the market are seeking even more intervention to shake things up.
“Nearly two-thirds of the estate agents and brokers surveyed believe leaving the EU would be positive for the housing market; and 85% of home movers are seeking greater Government assistance for those trying to move up and down the housing ladder.
“However, despite the recent policy move to tax additional home buyers, as a way of encouraging more first-time buyers on to the market, there remains a level of scepticism that home ownership levels will rise above the current level by 2025, suggesting that without intervention market conditions would worsen and Generation Rent would become an even greater reality for many more people.”
Ministers are reportedly considering a crackdown on buyers and sellers who pull out of a deal at the last minute, or who try to gazump or gazunder each other.
They are considering making house purchases legally binding much earlier in the process – for example, at the stage where an offer is accepted.
If either the buyer or seller pulled out afterwards, they would have to pay the other party’s costs.
In the March Budget the Government said: “We will publish a call for evidence on how to make the process better value for money and more consumer friendly.”
It now appears that the Government is gearing up to call for that evidence, through a consultation on speeding up and improving the home buying process.
A spokesperson has ruled out simply importing the Scottish system wholesale south of the border.
In Scotland, deals are binding once missives are exchanged, which rules out gazumping and gazundering.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, told BBC Radio 5 Live that other alternatives could be having a pre-contract agreement or charging the buyer a deposit, but warned these were unlikely to be popular solutions.
He also warned that the Scottish system, where gazumping is banned, is by no means perfect.
He said: “The Scottish system is sometimes referred to as the ideal system, but if you speak to people in Scotland they may disagree. The onus is on the purchaser who has to have carried out all the checks before making an offer on the off-chance that it would get accepted.
“We perhaps need a hybrid system. In France you have a ten-day cooling-off period after an offer is accepted.”
Hayward added that the whole ‘100-year-old’ legal process of buying a property needed an overhaul.
Agent Chris Wood, of PDQ Property, agreed with this stance. He told EYE: “Gazumping is a problem but it is not the main problem
“The problem doesn’t happen as often as people think.
“What is needed is a review of the process so there are minimum statutory time periods that parties like solicitors and mortgage lenders have to respond in.
“Banning gazumping won’t solve the problem of delayed or failed property sales. Some would say that is just how the price is tested.”
He said it would also help if all councils were online so searches could be done more easily.
A huge surge in residential property sales in England during March has been measured as 80% higher than the same month a year ago. Altogether, there were 141,310 transactions.
Meanwhile, average house prices are growing across every single reason, says the latest Homes and Communities Agency housing market bulletin.
The bulletin says that there was a total of 1,135,830 transactions in the year to the end of March, up 9.9% on the previous 12 months.
However, the total stock of property for sale remains historically low.
The number of homes in England as at last year is 704,000. This was up 3.1% on 2010, and takes account of an 8% drop in the number of council-owned homes in the same period.
In a late amendment to the Housing and Planning Bill, Home Information Packs are set to be brought back.
The amendment, one of no fewer than 2,572 to the Bill, has not only been tabled by a Tory – the party that got rid of them in 2010 – but by the housing minister himself, Brandon Lewis.
The move is understood to have the strong support of George Osborne, who believes the VAT receipts from HIPS – which will be given a different name – could be substantial.
The amendment has been drawn up ahead of a government inquiry looking at abortive house sales.
The amendment would be implemented, by a commencement order, if the review found evidence that HIPs had in fact cut fall-through rates.
Astonishingly, there has never been any study as to whether this was the case or not.
It has also emerged that the Association of Home Information Pack Providers has never been formally disbanded.
Secretary General Mike Ockenden said: “We have spent the past six years persistently lobbying behind the scenes and are ready to spring fully back into action at a moment’s notice.”
AHIPP – and Westminster – have been impressed by the success of the Scottish version of HIPs, Home Reports.
Home Reports contain a survey, a valuation, an EPC, plus a questionnaire that the seller has to complete.
The new HIPs would have all these documents, but also have to contain:
- A professionally produced health and safety assessment of the property, together with a rating of, for example, stairs, gardens and cookers. Homes must score a minimum of five out of ten or be banned from the market. The score would have to be “prominently” shown in all advertising, including listings on all the portals.
- A ‘child safety’ assessment – three and four-bedroom homes on roads, close to rivers or within half a mile of any beach, for example, could not be advertised as family homes and could only be sold to adult-only households.
- A ‘pet suitability’ assessment, similar to the child safety one. A property which failed its pet suitability assessment could not be sold to anyone with a cat, dog or even a hamster. Tortoises would be exempt.
- A sustainability rating, based on the local wildlife population such as Dartford warblers and whether residents can walk or cycle to work and shops. Homes with low sustainability ratings, such as properties in the countryside not on a bus route, would be banned from the market.
- Checks on the immigration status of all potential buyers and those in their households.
- HIPS would be extended to extensions.
The amendment proposes civil sanctions for householders who breach requirements, and automatic criminal sanctions for agents, including up to ten years in jail.
No sanctions will be applied to online agents, which will be exempt from having to produce HIPs as the Government is making it clear that it wishes to encourage competition.
Online agent Russell Flairpool said: “This means we will be able to save sellers at least £20,000 on average. It’s great news. The days of high street agents and their rip-off fees are numbered.”
Solicitor Jeremy Jarndyce, of Parchment Street, Winchester, said: “We welcome any move that will help the legal profession speed up our work on transactions.”
There is likely to be a substantial body of opposition, although not SPLINTA which previously led the battle.
Although it has yet to trade, SPLINTA last month become a proptech company, currently involved in a round of crowdfunding to raise £10m against a valuation of £450m.
The commencement order for the re-introduction of HIPs is pencilled in for next April 1.
Labour has said it will fight it tooth and nail.