On the 3rd of March 2021, Rishi Sunak addressed the Nation on the UK’s economic recovery plan and announced several measures to continue stimulating the various sectors. The UK economy is anticipated to rebound 4% this year, after contracting in 2020, and is forecast to reach pre-crisis levels by as early as mid-2022. A return to normal, post-vaccinations, and continued government fiscal support largely underpin a positive trajectory for the UK housing market.

Read our latest one-pager on The UK Budget Speech 2021 | What does this meaning for the UK Housing Market? to learn more.

If you would like to find out more about the UK Housing Market from our property experts, please complete the below contact form.

Average UK rents outside of London increased by 2.3% in 2020, up from 1.6% annual growth in Q3 2020. This rental growth was underpinned by the continued rise in demand, up 21% year on year in January in UK rental market excluding London. In contrast, average annual rents are down -8.3% in London, with rental declines concentrated in inner London amid rising supply and weaker demand.

Some larger cities including Manchester and Birmingham are also registering rental declines of -0.9% and -0.8% respectively, although the ‘search for space’ ethos is driving demand in the wider commuter-zones surrounding these cities, creating an upwards pressure on rents.

Rental values in 2021 set to be underpinned by constrained supply in many markets. The outlook for city centre markets is dependent on effective rollout of COVID-19 vaccine allowing return to ‘business as usual’ and kick start a return to more mobility across the country, and internationally.

This content was taken from Zoopla’s, UK Rental Market Report Q4 2020

Activity in the UK housing market during the first few weeks of January often sets the tone for the whole year, though the 2021 outlook is somewhat muddied by the challenges of the pandemic and by the 31st March stamp duty holiday deadline. However, two main things stand out.

Firstly, sellers who have come to the market are continuing to price very competitively, with some perhaps still hoping to find a buyer and complete before the tax-saving cut-off, though the odds are now against them. Newly marketed property asking prices are down by an average of 0.9% (-£2,887) on the month.

Secondly, buyer activity has continued to exceed the same period a year ago, being buoyed by the post-election ‘Boris bounce’. That ‘Boris bounce’ ended abruptly with the first lockdown in March and the temporary closure of the housing market but was followed by a far stronger resurgence as people reassessed their housing needs and priorities following their experience of lockdown. With another long lockdown upon us, there are early signs that we are surpassing 2020’s new-year surge in activity, with the number of prospective buyers contacting agents between 2nd and 12th January up by 12% and sales agreed numbers up by 9% on the comparable period last year.

The latest Rightmove analysis shows that it is now taking 126 days from the time an offer is accepted until legal completion, just over four months. This means that new buyers in the market should not be factoring in any stamp duty savings, unless they are first-time buyers, who will still be mainly exempt after the March deadline has passed.

Of those already in the sales agreed pipeline, now at 613,000 in our latest count, Rightmove’s analysis projects that around 100,000 will miss out on their stamp duty saving. Seller flexibility to re-negotiate will be key to preventing some sales from falling through for this group.

However, it should also be remembered that the surge in buyer demand after the first lockdown in 2020 was initially driven by movers’ changed housing needs, and thus started a couple of months before the July introduction of the stamp duty holidays. The combination of the two resulted in an amazing recovery in 2020 activity despite the pandemic, with the number of sales agreed up by 10% compared to the whole of 2019.

House Price Index

North West:

Average House Price: £210,365

Monthly Change: -2.1%

Annual Change: 7.0%

Yorkshire and Humberside:

Average House Price: £202,608

Monthly Change: -2.2%

Annual Change 6.3%

West Midlands:

Average House Price: £244,233

Monthly Change: 0.6%

Annual Change: 6.1%

London:

Average House Price: £604,055

Monthly Change: -2.7%

Annual Change: -1.4%

 

Original Content take from Rightmove House Price Index – January 2021.

Annual UK house price inflation +3.9%

The annual rate of UK house price growth has moved higher to +3.9% in November up from +1.3% a year ago. The 3-month growth rate peaked at 2% in September and has slowed, suggesting annual growth will start to plateau at c.5% in 2021 Q1.

The impetus for house price growth is coming from northern England and Wales where affordability remains less of a barrier to price growth. Average prices in the North West are increasing at 5% and at a city level, Manchester is registering growth of 5.7% followed by Leeds, Nottingham and Liverpool all recording growth over 5% per annum.

Demand for housing 40% higher over 2020 than 2019

Market conditions remained strong as we approached the festive period; although demand has slowed since the summer yet remains 33% higher than a year ago when the General Election impacted levels of activity.

Over the whole of 2020 the demand for housing increased by 40% compared to 2019. The flow of new supply onto the market has been 4% higher than 2019 and this supply/demand mismatch explains why house price growth is increasing.

South of England leads the recovery in new sales

New sales agreed continue to run ahead of last year by over 40%, in line with above average demand. During 2020 9% more new sales agreed in 2020 compared to 2019. These sales will convert into completions after circa 3-4 months so a proportion of these new sales will not complete until 2021. The rebound in sales has been strongest in the South East and Eastern regions where they are more than 20% higher than 2019.

Value of sales agreed in 2020 is 26% higher than 2019

A combination of more sales at higher prices means the total value of residential property that has changed hands in 2020 is 26% higher than last year. This equates to an additional £62bn of sales which takes the annual total value to over £300bn.

This will significantly boost estate agency revenues and explains why the value of mortgage approvals for home purchase in October is 68% higher than a year ago (reflecting sales agreed 2-3 months prior, in the peak of the rebound).

Strong start to 2021 Q1

As households look to the future, and with no immediate end in sight to restrictions, a proportion will continue to re-assess their housing priorities.

Stamp duty is a factor supporting demand, but we have questioned the scale of the importance. A recent consumer survey by Zoopla found that 44% of movers’ plans were not influenced by the stamp duty holiday -they remain focused on the need to relocate and find more space and a better location.

We expect a seasonally strong start to 2021 with older, equity rich, long-time owning households continuing to take a growing share of sales. Improved availability of higher loan to value mortgages for those with deposits of 10% or more are already increasing which will support first time buyers in 2021.

House Price Index – Country, region and city summary

The latest House Price Index from November indicates that Manchester witness the highest annual house price growth at 5.7%, followed by Leeds at 5.6%, and Nottingham at 5.4% to round up the top three highest performing UK Cities. House prices in capital only increase by 2.8% YoY, with the average price of a house in London costing £485,100.

At a regional level, house prices in the North West have increased by 5% YoY, similar YoY growth was also witnessed in Yorkshire and Humber where house prices increase by 4.9%. The West Midlands including Birmingham had a YoY house price growth of 4.0% and the Greater London region house prices increased by 3.0% YoY.

Original content taken from Zoopla’s UK cities house price index report, November 2020

New regulations being implemented on 25 November 2020 will allow non-UK nationals in England to evidence their status for Right to Rent through a digital Home Office check and reduce letting agent workloads. Going forwards, the new system will mean that these digital checks specifically, can be conducted permanently via video call, with no need for letting agents to review documents.

New Process

The system will clearly display whether follow up checks are required and provide a record of the check for the agent to store. Some additional checks will still require documents from letting agents, as not everyone will currently have an immigration status that can be checked online. Therefore, agents must be prepared to continue conducting traditional checks involving the original documents.

Digital Checks Required

Groups that may present you with a share code for a digital check are:

  • Non-EEA nationals with a current biometric resident permit or card;
  • EEA nationals and their family members with status granted under the EU Settlement Scheme;
  • Those with status under the points-based immigration system;

 

The Home Office has updated the existing Code of Practice, and these include reference to the status of visitor nationals – known as B5JSSK nationals – from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA, which were introduced in July 2019.

A new Short Guide to Right to Rent has also been published, within which, the existing visual reference tool designed to provide examples of relevant identity documents has also been updated.

Where can a tenant/applicant obtain a ‘share code’?

The share code for these new digital checks for tenants/applicants to use can be created via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/prove-right-to-rent

Where can I view a tenant’s/applicant’s right to rent? 

You will be able to view a tenant’s/applicant’s right to rent via the following link: https://www.gov.uk/view-right-to-rent

What about Brexit?

Brexit is another external force which may yet have an impact on how these checks take place and the criteria which applicants should meet. Before the UK’s transition period comes to an end, we will continue the right to rent checks with nationals of the European Union as per the current requirements. EU, EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK by 31 December 2020 will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme.

Until this deadline, landlords can accept passports and national identity cards of citizens from these areas as evidence of their right to rent during this period. After this period, the government has announced a new points-based immigration system to come into force on 1 January 2021, which will require proof of a job offer at the required skill level from an approved sponsor, and that they speak English. However, the right to rent checks have still not been explicitly defined after the deadline for the EU Settlement Scheme passes.

If you would like to find out more information regarding these changes, please complete the below contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.