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Demand for detached homes, landlord’s cannabis shock, more rented homes wanted, the house price gap, and other property news

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Activity in the housing market continues unabated, with rising demand from homebuyers for detached houses and from tenants wanting homes to rent.

The news stories monitor house prices – and one unfortunate landlord reveals his shock at the extent of damage caused by an illegal cannabis farm.

Detached homes in demand

As homeowners gradually emerge from lockdown, they are in a position to appreciate more than ever the benefits of a house with plenty of space - and a detached home in particular.

Aided by the prospect of savings to be made through the Stamp Duty holiday buyers, therefore, engaged in something of a rush to buy a detached home, wrote the Daily Mail on the 17th of February.

Thanks to that scramble to complete transactions before the expected end of the tax holiday at the end of March, house prices at the end of 2020 ended up £20,000 higher than at the beginning of the year – taking the national average to £252,000.

In his recent Budget, the Chancellor announced that the up-to-£500,000 “nil-rate band” for stamp duty will finish at the end of June, rather than the end of March, as planned. It will then be tapered until September reported Property Industry Eye on the 3rd of March.

Landlord shocked at cannabis farm damage in his buy to let

They’re at it again! Unscrupulous tenants choose a rented property in which to grow their cannabis far, reported Landlord Today this week.

The farm was only discovered when a gas engineer had been called in to change the meter and, when police were called, cannabis plants were found in two rooms, the attic, and the garage of the let property.

The landlord was doubly shocked to discover that the tenants’ illegal growing activities had run up a stolen electricity bill of around £2,500 and further damage to the ceilings, floors, and carpets of the property to the tune of £3,455.

Our news roundup of the 6th of October 2020 suggested signs to look out for if you suspect your let property is being used as a cannabis farm. Some of the implications for landlords were also covered in a further piece in our Knowledge Base.

Tenant demand up while stock supply falls

There has been no let-up in the number of tenants looking for somewhere to rent. Indeed, reported the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) in its property report for January 2021, the number of prospective private sector tenants rose by 25% in that month alone.

There are currently 81 prospective tenants on the waiting lists of the branches of ARLA members compared with 88 tenants the year before and 73 in January 2019.

In January, 39% of all ARLA members reported that their landlords had increased rents compared with the 30% of members in December. Nevertheless, these figures are still lower than the more widespread increases during 2019 when 42% of landlords were increasing rents.

These figures for the beginning of the year are gathered against a background of falling supply in rented accommodation. Whereas the average ARLA member was managing 204 let properties in December, that average had fallen to just 196 by January.

UK property market diversity records £35.5m house price gap

Of course, you’ve always known that some houses cost more than others. But have you ever wondered what is the difference in price between the cheapest and the most expensive home in the UK?

If you have, then Yahoo Finance came up with the answer in a snippet of news on the 27th of February.

The piece explained that a trawl through the Land Registry records for 2020 revealed that the cheapest residential property sold that year was for one in Sunderland at a price of just £15,000. The most expensive, on the other hand, was the £35,500,000 splashed out on a home in London in 2020.

The difference between the cheapest and the most expensive, therefore, was a cool £35,495,000 – so, let’s call that £35.5 million!

Why house prices are rising

Even though the Stamp Duty tax break has just been extended by the Chancellor until June, tapering until the end of September, it seems that tax savings were probably not the main reason for the surge in interest from homebuyers, claimed onsite listing company Rightmove on the 15th of February.

Even when most buyers would have expected the tax holiday to end in March, interest in purchasing a home was up by 18% compared with the same month last year, while the number of visitors to Rightmove’s listings increased by 45%.

Indeed, the surge in demand means that supply is failing to keep up – with the result that prices, too, are beginning to rise.