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Record high prices, holiday home clampdown, moving home in 2022, peak number of first-time buyers, and ID checks for Right to Rent

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UK property news this week focuses on a wide range of subjects including rising average house prices, what to expect if moving house in the year ahead, a rise in the number of first-time buyers and, new checks in support of Right to Rent legislation.

Let’s take a closer look …

Average UK property price hits a new record high of £276,091

The latest Halifax House Price Index reveals that average property prices in 2021 rose by 9.8% - taking the average price to a record high of £276,091.

Indeed, despite the series of lockdowns throughout the first half of the year, average house prices achieved record levels on at least eight occasions during 2021 and quarterly growth in December reached 3.5% - the biggest since November 2006.

Compared with those in December 2020, average house prices are now £24,500 higher than before.

The Halifax suggests that the “race for space”, the fewer spending opportunities during lockdowns, and the boost given by the Stamp Duty holiday that was introduced in July 2020, have all contributed to the surge in the housing market. The coming year is likely to see a slowing down and stabilisation of that activity.

Government set to clamp down on holiday rentals?

Concern has been expressed in Parliament at the adverse effects of holiday home rentals on the general housing market in some parts of the country, explains an article in Landlord Today on the 10th of January.

Among the proposals suggested – some of which gained cross-party support – were suggestions that holiday lets should require separate planning permission and that such properties should attract increased levels of council tax compared with those in owner-occupation or those granted conventional, long-term tenancies.

In response to concerns such as these about short-term and Airbnb lets in parts of the country popular with tourists, the government is expected to launch a consultation process about the need for a formal register of holiday rentals.

Moving home: what can we expect in 2022?

What can you expect if you are planning to move house in 2022, asks online listings website Rightmove in a posting dated the 6th of January:

  • the overwhelming and most noticeable trend in the year ahead will be the sheer number of homes from which buyers can choose;
  • according to Rightmove, the volume of advertised homes for sale was up by 21% compared with Boxing Day in 2020 – the 30th of December was the busiest day for estate agents since May 2021;
  • the year ahead is predicted to remain “competitive”;
  • nationally, average house prices are expected to continue to rise – but probably not as much as the past year;
  • Rightmove predicts an overall price average increase of around 5% - equivalent to an increase of £17,000 in the average house price;
  • already recording somewhat lower prices in the rest of the country, London is expected to continue to lag behind, with average prices increasing by only about 3%.

Number of first-time buyers hits 20-year high

The number of first-time buyers hit a 20-year high in 2021, reports the online listings website Zoopla on the 6th of January.

Estimates indicate that some 408,379 first-time buyers got that first step on the housing ladder in the past 12 months – an impressive 35% increase compared with 2020.

As a result, first-time buyers accounted for half of all those buying a home with the help of a mortgage during 2021 – this represents a significant increase from the 36% of buyers in 2007 as the global economic crisis was brewing.

Service providers to carry out digital ID checks for Right to Rent on British and Irish citizens

The Home Office has invited applications from private sector service providers for the approval of Identification Document Validation Technology (IDVT), revealed Propertymark on the 7th of January.

At the moment, it is possible for prospective landlords to make real-time checks on the Home Office online systems about the eligibility of foreign nationals according to their immigration status.

With effect from the proposed date of 6th of April this year, the facility for checking identity and status digitally will be extended to everyone, including British and Irish citizens (who do not have UK identity cards).

The extension of digital verification is expected to help lettings agents and landlords fulfil their obligations under the Right to Rent legislation by enabling tenants and applicants to upload images of their personal identification documents using the IDVT system rather than having to present hard copies of those documents.