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Average rents, high prices for first-time buyers, London flats demanded, and other UK property news

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Developments in the private rented sector, the trials of first-time buyers – especially those scouring London for their first home - and a warning that the nation’s stock of housing is close to running out are all UK property news stories to hit recent headlines.

Here we take a closer look at some of those stories.

Average UK rents approach £1000pcm

Average private sector rents in the UK are now £62 a month higher than they were before the pandemic and are fast approaching the psychological barrier of more than £1,000 a calendar month.

That is the conclusion reached by the online listings website Zoopla on the 9th of February, warning that it applied yet more pressure on challenging cost of living increases.

In the final quarter of 2021, the growth in rents reached a 13-year high as they increased some 8.3% to finish the year on an average of £969. Average rents have risen by almost 12% in the past 5 years, says Zoopla.

This takes the proportion of gross income spent on rent by the average single earner to 37%. That remains roughly in line with what has been the average of 36% of income throughout the past 10 years – although it dipped to 34% during the lockdowns of the pandemic.

Majority of English local authorities failed to record PRS complaints

Although hundreds of complaints about renting in the private sector continue to be made to local councils, the latter fail to record or inaccurately record them.

That is the finding of a recent survey by the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) last week when it disclosed that 56% of local authorities had not accurately recorded the number of complaints they had received about private sector tenancies. Where those councils also operated selective licensing schemes for rented dwellings, the figure rose to 61%.

Where councils have accurately recorded such complaints, they received on average 274 complaints a year.

The NRLA calculated that approximately one in 45 properties in the private rented sector are inspected by councils in England in accordance with the Housing, Health and Safety Rating System (HHRS) – specifically, 98,858 inspections.

The UK locations where FTBs have to borrow more than 7x salary

It has long been known that first-time buyers face an enormous challenge in getting that critical first step on the housing ladder.

A story in Property Wire recently revealed that the challenge now required by those buying in the most desirable and expensive locations having to save the equivalent of up to 7 and a half times their salary.

The example is given of the sought-after city of Bath where homes cost more than £528,500 – almost twice the national average of £287,830.

Yet the average resident of Bath earns just under £30,000 a year so that a couple who had managed to save a 15% deposit – more than £79,000 on that £528,500 house – would still need to borrow 7 and a half times their salary.

After Bath, the next most expensive cities for first-time buyers are Oxford and London, says Property Wire.

Demand for London flats soars as more seek to buy first property

Where many first-time buyers delayed taking the plunge during the successive lockdowns of the pandemic they are now keener than ever to get a foot on the housing ladder by buying a flat, suggested the London Evening Standard on the 12th of February.

The surge in demand for flats in the London area has grown by 27% this January alone, compared with the same month last year, and is greater than for any other type of home, according to the Standard.

Housing stock “perilously close” to running out

The UK’s housing market is perilously close to running out of its stock of housing according to commentary that appeared in Today’s Conveyancer on the 10th of February.

There has been a 6% reduction in the number of properties coming onto the market, explains the article, in a reaction to the final removal of the Stamp Duty holiday in September and the gradual closing down of many of the options for potential buyers.

Now, much of the pent-up demand that built up during 2020 and 2021 has been satisfied, the race to beat the removal of Stamp Duty relief has been run, and many buyers have now crossed the finishing line in the race for space.

The result, according to Today’s Conveyancer is that across most parts of the UK there remains only around two to three months’ worth of housing stock left.