Take a look at any estate agent's website and you'll no doubt see how high house prices are at the moment. They seem to be on a continual upward spiral, something that's been confirmed today by new figures from LSL, which show that the average house price has hit a new record high of £291,650, and there's no sign of them slowing down anytime soon…
The figures, from the latest LSL/Acadata House Price Index, show that average house prices rose by 6.9% year-on-year in March, up from the typical price of £272,906 recorded in March 2015 to the new record of today. Not only does this mark a notable upturn from the annual growth rate of 6.5% recorded in February, but it's also the highest growth rate see since February 2015, and shows that the market is clearly still going strong.
This can be further seen in terms of house sales: the volume of sales rose by an impressive 30% on a monthly basis with 80,000 properties sold during the month, marking the strongest performance for the month of March since 2007. This "flurry of activity" shows that the "housing market has come to life", said Adrian Gill of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, which he puts down to the rush to complete sales ahead of April's tax changes.
"As a result of the impending stamp duty hike, this has been the strongest March for home sales in nine years," he said. "The surge was widespread across England and Wales [which] goes beyond any normal seasonality, with second-home and buy-to-let investors rushing to beat a bigger tax bill."
He added that the price rises will be particularly beneficial for current homeowners, "who now have a fantastic opportunity in the current sellers' market". It's the overriding shortage of homes that is serving to continue pushing up prices, leading buyers to heavily compete for every available property, and as a result, sellers can often secure impressive prices.
However, it won't come as such welcome news to first-time buyers, many of whom could find it even harder to build a suitable deposit in the wake of ever-rising property prices. "If they are going to make it easier to get a foot on the property ladder, the Government will have to double-down on its help to first-time buyers, or let up on landlords," added Gill.
So what can you do if you want to stand a chance of getting your foot on the ladder? The key is to start saving as much as possible to build up as big a deposit as you can, but remember that this figure may not be too prohibitive – the increased availability of 95% LTV mortgages mean you need only save 5% of the property's value, and although 5% of £291,650 may seem like a lot, this is only an average, and typical properties bought by first-time buyers are far lower down the expense list. Hopefully, with a bit of dedication, taking that first step could be closer than you think…
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