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Property Ombudsman’s findings, house price index suspended, remortgages, and more

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Along with those in practically every other walk of life, you are probably finding it more of a challenge than ever in running your buy to let business – or simply owning property.

To help ward off still further unknowns and to keep you abreast of some of the latest news, here are some snippets of information likely to interest any landlord or property owner.

The Property Ombudsman supports two-thirds of lettings complaints

This week, Landlord Today reveals that the Property Ombudsman found in favour of around two-thirds of all complainants during the course of 2019.

A little over 2,500 complaints came from the lettings sector of the property market – and the sources of complaint were evenly divided between landlords and tenants. The subject of complaints spanned a broad spectrum, involving everything from management and communication to record-keeping, complaints handling, tenancy agreements, inventories, and deposits.

The resolution of complaints resulted in the award of various sums in compensation – ranging from a maximum £17,644 to an average of £635 per successful claim.

Overall, the Property Ombudsman dealt with 20% more complaints in 2019 than in the immediately preceding year.

Official house price index suspended but Bank warns of 16% drop

In response to the coronavirus crisis and the effective stalling of the housing market, the government has temporarily suspended publication of the official house price index, reports Estate Agent Today.

With the number of completed housing transactions severely restricted – because of the current lockdown and social distancing requirements – the Office for National Statistics has said that meaningful figures are hard to come by. Release of the statistics will be suspended once those for March have been published.

For all the difficulty in obtaining meaningful movements in average house prices at the moment, the Bank of England nevertheless predicts that they may fall by up to 16%, pending a steady recovery once normal economic activity resumes and unemployment figures fall.

The end of April sees an improvement in remortgage activity

A notable rise and fall in the remortgage market marked the whole of the month of April, says Property Wire.

A slump in remortgaging activity at the beginning of the month was followed by an increase of some 11% between the 20th and 27th of April. Despite that recovery, remortgage instructions were still down by 23% when comparing April with the previous month.

Activity at the end of April has continued into the first weeks of May, with analysts describing the month as having got off to a flying start.

The quite wide fluctuations in activity have also been reflected in the number of cancelled remortgages. April saw a cancellation rate of 7.11% (1.72% higher than in March), with the overall cancellation of mortgages reaching 31% when April is compared to March.

Buyers’ and sellers’ priorities post-Covid crisis

Despite the current suspension of housing market transactions, Estate Agent Today on the 6th of May predicts how priorities for both buyers and seller are likely to have changed once activity resumes.

Included among the findings were the following priorities and preferences:

  • 44% of all buyers and 61% of those aged under 40 – will be looking for workspace in any new home so that they can continue to work from home even when restrictions have been lifted;
  • 42% of the under-40s expressed a preference for upsizing – with a renewed emphasis on access to a garden or outside space (sought by 71% of this age-group);
  • wealthier, older homeowners continue to place a priority on downsizing – with many of them looking to use the equity released to help their children own their own home;
  • 40% of buyers now place a greater emphasis on countryside or out of town living – with that proportion rising to 54% for parents of school-age children.

If the housing market does indeed start to recover in the final half of the year, some 27% of respondents said they were more likely to want to move than during the time before the coronavirus crisis.