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Soaring house prices, landlords and evictions, the most searched-for villages and more property news

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Here’s this week’s highlights … the housing market is enjoying such a boom in demand that supply is proving inadequate. The equity release market is remerging as an important player. Landlords’ express concerns about the nitty-gritty of eviction procedures. And six villages feature in a list of the most highly-sought homes …

Value of sold UK homes doubles as pandemic-led search for space continues

The UK housing market has bounced back with a vengeance. Prices achieved in the first 15 weeks of 2021 have been double what they were during the same period the previous year, according to statistics released by Zoopla last week.

There has also been a corresponding tidal wave in the volume of transactions, with one in 50 homes changing hands during this period, compared with one in 100 this time last year.

The most active property markets, says Zoopla, are currently in Glasgow, Bristol, Glasgow, Middlesbrough, Nottingham, and Stoke-on-Trent.

The biggest price gains have been recorded in the north of the country – with Manchester and Liverpool leading the way – with southern England showing the slowest rates of growth.

Equity release market dips slightly but remains strong 

Also showing a strong performance is the equity release market, explained Property Wire earlier this week, although it has not been entirely immune from the dampening effect of lockdowns during the pandemic.

Analysts describe the equity release market as growing steadily more robust through successive periods of lockdown, with transactions totalling £1.14 billion during the period between the final quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of this year. This is considered a strong showing even though it is slightly down on the £1.16 billion recorded in the previous period.

The number of successful equity release applications was also slightly down – from 19,333 to 16,527 – but largely as the result of the usual seasonal variations which were this year made worse by the succession of lockdowns.

Last week we reported how 45% of homeowners underestimate the equity in their home by as much as £100,000 or more.

Landlords warned over eviction paperwork change

Landlords have been warned of the need to include documentation containing advice about the government’s so-called Breathing Space initiative if they are to succeed in upcoming applications for eviction.

An article in Landlord Today on the 4th of May reminded landlords that the Breathing Space Moratorium and Mental Health Crisis Moratorium (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 introduced a temporary ban on certain legal measures to recover debts from creditors – including landlords and their letting agents.

The effect of the freeze means that any action – including legal action – to recover rent arrears has to be delayed and that Section 8 notices to quit can no longer be justified on the grounds of rent arrears alone (but may continue on other grounds).

From this point on, any Section 8 notice served by a landlord on a tenant must be accompanied by written details about the Breathing Space scheme – and, if it is not, the notice will be regarded as not having been issued and must be re-served by the landlord before repossession can be granted.

Supply dries up in UK housing market as listings shrink by a quarter

The surge in house prices and the increase in completed property transactions during the first 15 weeks of this year has mopped up the available supply in some parts of the country and left severe shortages of homes for sale during March, according to an article posted by Yahoo Finance on the 2nd of May.

During the 12 months to March, across the country as a whole, the number of houses listed for sale by estate agents was 33% lower than the previous year (the availability of flats, on the other hand, had risen by 7%).

Naturally, some parts of the country are more severely hit by these supply shortages than others – in London, for example, supply dropped by only 3%, yet in the south west of England, the fall was 42%.

The surge in demand from buyers during March was accompanied by difficulties for those selling to find suitable new homes to move to. Sellers may also have delayed their decisions pending the Chancellor’s review of the Stamp Duty holiday (which was eventually extended in one shape or form until the end of September).

The result was a noticeable shortage in the supply of homes for sale.

Six of the most-searched-for villages online

Commentators have long remarked about the lure of the countryside for those town and city dwellers who have grown accustomed to working from home and now want more spacious living conditions – preferably in the countryside.

On the 28th of April, online listings site Rightmove identified six of those most sought-after countryside villages:

  1. Boston Spa, near Wetherby, West Yorkshire;
  2. Milford-on-sea, near Lymington, Hampshire;
  3. Caister-on-sea, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk;
  4. Ackworth, near Pontefract, West Yorkshire;
  5. Meopham, near Gravesend, Kent; and
  6. Kings Hill, near West Malling, Kent.

Prices range from the average £231,404 in Caister-on-sea to £588,520 in Milford-on-sea.