The latest UK property news reveals mixed fortunes for house hunters.
While the recent headlong rush of rising house prices has now stalled somewhat – in the face of rising inflation – first-time buyers are still finding prices so high that they have to continue to rent.
Energy efficiency is encouraged, yet too stringent “eco rules” could be leaving too many rental homes unoccupied.
Let’s take a look behind the headlines.
Renting set to prosper as FTBs face “frightening” price rise
It might be good news for landlords but first-time buyers face the depressing prospect of having to delay buying a home and instead continuing to rent, according to a story by Landlord Today on the 20th of May.
Recent research has shown that today’s first-time buyers have to save £43,623 more than they did just six years ago in order to buy their first home.
While the necessary savings represent an increase of some 24%, the average 30-something first-time buyer – when most individuals will buy their first property – will be earning a salary that has increased by only 10% or so. It also means that the average home bought by first-time buyers now costs around seven times their annual salary – compared with six years ago when it represented six times the average salary.
Free money to make your home more energy efficient
With the soaring cost of gas and electricity prices, the annual energy bill for the average family in the UK is set to rise by £800 a year, reported the Guardian newspaper on the 24th of May. This follows two increases already this year in the regulator’s cap on domestic energy bills – an increase of £693 to take the cap to £1,971 in April and the latest increase which will take the cap to £2,800 by October.
A little light appears on the horizon thanks to some money-saving tips from listings website Zoopla on the 19th of May:
- if you are in receipt of certain benefits – showing you to be a fuel poor, low income or vulnerable household – the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme makes energy companies pay for double-glazing, insulation and even new boilers;
- you can get grants of up to £5,000 towards the cost of purchasing and installing a biomass boiler or an air source heat pump under the Boiler Upgrade Scheme; and
- further energy efficiency grants provide an average of £10,000 to some households under the Green Homes Grant Local Authority Delivery Scheme.
UK house price growth slows as cost of living climbs
What has been an almost relentless rise in the average price of homes in the UK seems finally to be waning in the face of inflation and the escalating cost of living that follows in its wake.
A story in the Financial Times on the 18th of May reported that house prices rose by 9.8% in the 12 months to the end of March – somewhat lower than the 11.3% increase that was recorded in the year to the end of February. Nevertheless, the average price of a house in the UK now stands at £278,000 or £24,000 more than at the same time last year.
Nevertheless, there is already a gap between rising house prices and the growth in average earnings – a gap that looks set to increase as inflation and the cost of living continue to make their presence felt. This has led some commentators to predict that the housing market could cool even as far as a fall in average house prices.
Property shortage fears as buy to let homes in the UK are left unoccupied because of energy efficiency rules
Is the government pressing too hard in the imposition of “eco rules”? A story in the Express newspaper on the 20th of May certainly makes that suggestion.
It argues that the range of energy efficiency upgrades that buy to let landlords are being forced to make is resulting in many of those homes standing empty – and that such vacancies will “exacerbate the housing crisis”.
The story takes particular issue with the requirement – introduced in April 2020 – for any buy to let property to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) higher than an E rating. The minimum acceptable EPC will rise to a C rating in 2025 for new tenancies and by 2028 for all lettings. These upgrades could come at a cost of up to £10,000 per dwelling, according to the story.
The newspaper also referred to the government’s plans to ban the sale of gas central heating boilers by 2035 – necessitating additional expense in the installation of heat pumps.
York fraudster jailed for £600k property investment scam
A fraudster from York was jailed for six years by Bradford Crown Court when he was found guilty of the offence that involved taking money from individuals in a rental property scam.
The report by the BBC on the 20th of May explained that the accused promised the would-be investors that empty homes in the area would be refurbished and an income stream generated from the rents when the properties were subsequently let to tenants.
The fraudster never owned or refurbished the homes in question.