The housing market has received its’ usual spring boost and confidence seems to be returning if the results of the latest Halifax survey are to be believed.
HMRC report rise in house sales
The property market has something of a spring bounce according to figures from HMRC.
The number of completed purchases in March rose to 74,000, from 63,000 in February.
Property experts put the rise partly down to the time of year, as the number of purchases usually rises in the spring, but also due to the fact that some first time buyers are thought to have bought forward their purchase to make sure they benefit from the Stamp Duty amnesty which has now ended.
Despite the rise in completed deals the figures are still only around half the number done at the height of the housing boom in 2007.
Mortgage lending rises
A rise in completed mortgage transactions in March also bought an increase in mortgage lending.
Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that gross lending rose 30% in March compared to February to £13.4 billion.
Confidence in the housing market returning?
The latest Halifax housing market confidence tracker survey has shown some interesting results.
The survey of 2,029 adults in Britain found that 39% of people surveyed thought house prices would generally rise over the next 12 months, double the number who thought they would fall.
The Halifax confirmed that this is the highest number of people who expressed a view that prices would rise over the coming year since the survey began 12 years ago.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “It is encouraging that the level of consumer confidence in the housing market continues to improve, albeit from a very low base. This is consistent with the broad stability that we have been seeing in house prices nationally in recent months.”
However, for the 39% of people to be correct there will need to be a turnaround in the trend of house price movements; the Halifax’s own figures have shown a fall in house prices of 0.1% for the first three months of the year.
Indeed, Mr Ellis said: “We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year, provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening.”
The survey also found that 55% of people thought now was a good time to buy a property, with just 24% of those surveyed believing now was a good time to sell.
Cost of a five year fixed rate mortgage falls
The interest rate on a five year fixed rate mortgage has fallen to its lowest level in two years.
According to Moneyfacts the average interest rate on a five year fixed mortgage is now 4.86%, compared to 5.59% two years ago.
Mortgage experts believe that the fall in long term fixed rates is due to the lower wholesale funding costs banks and building societies are experiencing. Other experts though have warned that ‘swap rates’ have risen over the past few weeks and the attractive deals might not last for much longer.
The news may well be welcomed by mortgage holders who have Standard Variable Rate mortgages, many of which will rise over the next few months due to changes to made by mortgage lenders such as the Halifax and Co-Operative Bank.
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