UK property news currently reflects two apparently opposing economic strands.
On the one hand, inflation and cost of living increases see many households having to tighten their belts and restrict their spending on basics such as heating and eating; yet the underlying housing market remains unusually buoyant, fuelled by an unseasonal demand.
Landlords, meanwhile, continue to express equal measures of optimism and frustration.
57% of Brits turning off the heating and 50% eating out less to cope with cost of living increases
Telecommunications operator, Lebara, reveals the extent to which large swathes of the population are feeling the pinch of inflation and cost of living increases.
Its research shows the following ways in which households are tightening their belts:
- 57% have turned off their heating;
- 50% are eating out less frequently;
- 48% have investigated options for switching utility service providers;
- 60% reported increases of more than £100 a month in domestic bills; and
- 50% are already planning to switch mobile phone providers in search of cheaper deals.
Principal worries are about the rising costs of energy bills, followed by escalating petrol prices, and the expenditure on the weekly shop for food.
Further economies being made by families hit by these inflationary pressures are reduced spending on new clothes, cancelled holiday plans, a stop to streaming services (such as Netflix and Amazon Prime), cheaper supermarket shopping deals, cancelled gym memberships, and searches for new jobs or requests for pay rises.
Charge! Some landlords eligible for grants towards EV chargers
Landlords of property owned by limited liability companies and Right to Manage companies may qualify for generous grants towards the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging points at their properties, announced Landlord Today on the 31st of March.
The grants – which are managed and issued by the Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles – provide up to 75% towards the purchase and fitting of an EV socket – limited to a maximum of £350 per installation.
Let property owners can receive as many as 200 grants each year for residential properties – a group of dwellings or a single residence – and a further 100 grants for commercial properties.
Supply of homes for sale gathers momentum, despite unseasonably strong buyer demand
A report by online listings website Zoopla on the 29th of March described the steady improvement in the volume of homes for sale even given the persistence of the demand for family-sized homes that has risen to twice what is normal for the current time of year.
Estate agents across the country report an average 3.5% increase on the month in the number of homes offered for sale as vendors look to lock in the prices currently bid so that they can make their own move to a new house.
Even in London, agreed sales have now bounced back to levels higher than that seen in the first quarter of 2021 – when the attractions of the Stamp Duty holiday still tempted many buyers.
With demand still riding high, national average house prices are 8.1% higher than a year ago – and 4.2% higher than they were as recently as February. Homes in Wales have seen the highest consistent growth in house prices – at 11.8% for the year.
A well-kept lawn can make a 5% difference when selling your home
A story in the Daily Mail on the 27th of March offered tips for those hoping to sell their home.
Pay attention to the state of the lawn, urged the newspaper, because if it seems well-tended it could add to the home’s value – increasing the eventual sale price by as much as 5%.
Winters can be brutal on your lawn and, if it has been seriously damaged, consider re-turfing. Artificial grass might not have universal appeal, but it can look good and is popular with busy households that are pressed for time.
Spring statement welcome but not enough argue landlords
In its response on the 23rd of March to the Chancellor’s Spring Statement, the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) questioned whether enough had been promised.
While the landlords’ pressure group welcomed the Chancellor’s decision to abolish VAT on energy-saving materials (contrary to a recent ruling by the EU), it asked for greater clarity about energy efficiency measures for the private rented sector as a whole – what further energy efficiency measures will the sector be expected to take?
The NRLA also questioned the wisdom of the planned cut in the basic rate of income tax from 20% to 19% by 2024 at a time when renters – along with the rest of the working population – were facing a severe cost of living crisis.