Weekly Summary: 5th April 2024

DATA: Nationwide reported house prices rose 1.6% in the year to Mar 2024

They report the annual rate increased from 1.2% last month despite the -0.2% monthly fall.

DATA: Halifax reported house prices rose 0.3% in the year to Mar 2024

They report the annual rate decreased from 1.6% last month thanks to a 1.0% monthly fall.

DATA(PDF): Zoopla reported house prices fell 0.3% in the year to Feb 2024

They report that “Market activity improves across all key measures led by sales, which are 9% higher than a year ago” and “More sellers coming to market and stock of homes for sale up 20%”. They also report “The percentage of the asking price achieved has narrowed from 95.5% in November 2023 to 96.1% in March 2024”.

DATA: BoE reported a rise in mortgage approvals for purchase in Feb 2024

They report the number of mortgage approvals for house purchase increased to 60,400 in February, a 7.7% seasonally adjusted increase on the previous month and just 9% below the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: HMRC reported 82,900 residential transactions in Feb 2024

This seasonally adjusted data was 1.2% higher than the previous month but still 16% lower than the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: BoE reported a fall in effective mortgage rates in Feb 2024

They report the average rate on new lending (purchase and remortgage) fell again in February and is now down to 4.91% from its peak of 5.37% in November last year. Meanwhile the average rate on outstanding balances increased to 3.49%, slightly higher than the 3.42% reported for the previous month.

DATA: DLUHC reported building control based housebuilding data

The data for Q4 2023 reports a 10% fall in starts compared to the previous quarter with a 51% fall compared to Q4 2022, though this may still reflect the rush to start construction in Q2 due to changes in regulation. Meanwhile, the number of completions increased 0.2% compared to the previous quarter and was 15% lower than the previous year. However, leading indicators for supply are starting to pick up a fall in activity – see Chart of the Week.

DATA: Scottish Government published housebuilding data for Q4 2023

They report “There were 20,992 all-sector new build home completions and 16,017 starts in Scotland during 2023 (calendar year). There were fewer homes completed (2,701 fewer; 11% decrease) and started (5,009 fewer, 24% decrease) in 2023 than in 2022”.

DATA: HMRC published Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED)

The release shows “total ATED receipts in the 2022 to 2023 financial year were £124 million, increasing by 4% (£5 million) compared to the previous year” but “the number of liable ATED declarations in the 2022 to 2023 financial year was 4,800, marginally decreasing (less than 1%) compared to the previous year”.

DATA: VOA published local reference rents and LHA list of rents

The releases include the list of rents used to calculate Local Housing Allowance and reference rents by BRMA and property size.

DATA: ONS published UK population estimates for 2022

They report “The UK population at mid-year 2022 was estimated to be 67.6 million, an increase of 6.8% since 2011”.

DATA: ONS published Housing affordability in England & Wales, 2023

The release compares average full-time earnings to house prices. It found the average price to earnings ratio was 8.3 in England and 6.1 in Wales. This was similar to 2022 levels as the prices used are not mix adjusted.

DATA: FCA published updated Mortgage Charter uptake data

They report “around 760,000 accounts benefited from one or more of the options set out in the Charter” and “Around 90,543 mortgage accounts have temporarily reduced monthly payments via the new FCA rules”.

DATA: UK Finance published new quarterly insight into Buy-to-Let lending

The release is welcome given the lack of publicly available data on BTL though we are still limited to the latest quarter’s data in PDF format. They report “The value of new buy-to-let lending for the UK in Q4 2023 was £6.3 billion, down 55.4 per cent compared with the same quarter in the previous year” and “The average gross buy-to-let rental yield for the UK in Q4 2023 was 6.74 per cent, compared with 5.85 per cent in the same quarter in 2022”.

POLICY: Scottish Government published Housing Bill

It will “introduce an ‘ask and act’ duty on social landlords and bodies, such as health boards and the police, to ask about a person’s housing situation and act to avoid them becoming homeless wherever possible” and includes proposals for “long term rent controls for private tenancies, new rights to keep pets, decorate rented homes and stronger protection against eviction”. The Scottish Government also introduced legislation to “simplify the planning process for zero and low carbon technologies”.

REPORT(PDF): BoE published Financial Policy Summary & Record

They report “While household finances remained under pressure from increased living costs and higher interest rates, the outlook for UK households had continued to improve somewhat since Q4”. They also note “For 40% of new mortgages in 2023 Q4, borrowers would be past the current state pension age at the end of their mortgage term”.

REPORT: LUHC Committee reported on shared ownership

They report “Shared ownership schemes are drastically failing to deliver an affordable route to homeownership for too many people and subject buyers to rising rents, uncapped service charges, and a disproportionate exposure to repair and maintenance costs”.

REPORT: Resolution Foundations published Housing Outlook Q1 2024

They report “Overall, UK homes are more cramped, and less conveniently located for jobs, than in many comparable countries. Adding insult to injury, the UK’s housing stock is also the oldest in Europe (four-in-ten homes were built before 1946), and one of the most poorly insulated as a result”.

REPORT: County Councils Network reported on rural renters

Their analysis shows “the number of households in private and social rent has increased by over half a million in county and rural areas over the last decade, outpacing the increase in renting in London and the country’s other major cities”.

REPORT: SMF reported on rental regulations, subsidies and tenants’ rights

They report “Regulations like rent controls can help renters, but are tricky to calibrate to avoid unintended consequences” and “Stronger renter protections do not seem to have a negative effect on supply”.

REPORT: HBF reported on the twentieth anniversary of the Barker Review

They report “England would have 2 million more homes today if the Barker Review’s most ambitious scenario for increasing housing supply had been achieved” and “looking at Barker’s central housing supply scenario (requiring 240,000 homes to be built a year), England has still fallen 900,000 homes short”.

REPORT: Savills reported on the benefits of residential development

They report “A strong residential pipeline is important not just for delivering new homes for sale, but also for providing social infrastructure, and providing homes for those in need of sub-market housing.” and “a continued slowdown in residential development will have significant further consequences for the provision of public services”.

REPORT: YMCA reported on unlocking affordable homes

They highlight challenges in providing affordable homes and “the inadequacies of funding models, particularly in regard to the accessibility and flexibility of grants provided by Homes England. These inadequacies tend to affect smaller organisations, such as local YMCAs, more significantly”.

REPORT: Propertymark published Housing Insight Report for Feb 2024

They report an increase in new properties coming to the market along with rising stock levels, and a fall in the number of registered potential buyers compared to last year.

BLOG: VOA blogged on how they value new homes for Council Tax

They explain how they value properties built after 1991 in England and 2003 in Wales.

CORPORATE: Bellway published interim results

They report “The private reservation rate in the first half of financial year 2024 increased by 15.4% to 105 per week (2023 – 91), representing a private reservation rate per outlet per week of 0.43 (2023 – 0.38)” and “the underlying operating margin was 11.0% (2023 – 17.6%), with the reduction reflecting the effect of lower volume output, cost inflation and the use of sales incentives, together with extended site durations”. They also report “In the six weeks since 1 February, the private reservation rate increased by 20.7% to 163 per week (1 February to 12 March 2023 – 135), representing a private reservation rate per outlet per week of 0.67 (1 February to 12 March 2023 – 0.56)”.

Chart of the Week

We have been tracking reports of lower housebuilder sales rates for a while now and there’s been a clear drop in planning applications/permissions and housebuilder starts. But there’s been limited signs of any impact on completions or other measures of actual delivery – until recently. As the chart below shows, the number of weekly new build EPCs (a leading indicator for net additions) had continued to track previous years in the first two months of 2024. However, since the beginning of March, the number of new build EPCs has fallen away and is currently around 22% lower than normal. The timing of Easter may be a factor but it appears the continued resilience of delivery in the Midlands and North of England hasn’t been enough to offset the falls in delivery in London and the South East.

Weekly Summary: 22nd March 2024

DATA: Rightmove reported asking prices rose 0.8% in year to 9th Mar 2024

They also reported “The number of sales being agreed is now 13% higher than at this time last year” and “Buyer demand is now 8% above last year, led by the less mortgage-rate-sensitive larger homes sector and London”. However: “The average time to find a buyer is 71 days, the longest at this time of year since 2019”.

DATA: ONS reported UK house prices fell 0.6% in year to Jan 2024

As part of the launch of the new combined house price and rental index release, they have revised the historic data – see Chart of the Week. ONS also published a “Housing prices in your area tool”.

DATA: ONS reported private rents rose 9.0% in year to Feb 2024

This provisional estimate was higher than the 8.5% for the previous month and marks the release of the ONS “Price Index of Private Rents (PIPR)” which measures both new and existing tenancies.

DATA: ONS reported Stamp Duty Land Tax receipts fell slightly in Feb 2024

The data covers both commercial and residential property and shows receipts were 6.8% lower in February when compared to the same month last year.

DATA: DWP published Households Below Average Incomes stats

They report “there was a decrease in real terms median household income between FYE 2022 and FYE 2023. The decrease was 0.5% before housing costs (BHC) and 1.5% after housing costs (AHC)” and “Compared to the overall population, children are more likely to live in low-income households”.

DATA: DLUHC published Council Tax levels in England, 2024/25

They report “The average Band D council tax set by local authorities in England for 2024-25 will be £2,171, which is an increase of £106 or 5.1% on the 2023-24 figure of £2,065”.

DATA: DLUHC published EWS1 data on mortgage valuations for flats

The latest release shows “46% of mortgage valuations for flats in buildings 7 storeys and above required an EWS1 form or equivalent during the October 2023 to December 2023 quarter, a decrease from 48% in the July 2023 to September 2023 quarter”.

POLICY: BoE MPC voted 8-1 to maintain Bank Rate at 5.25%

REPORT: BoE published Agents’ summary of business conditions

The report for Q1 2024 notes that “The sentiment of our estate agency contacts continues to improve, as there’s a growing sense that house prices have bottomed out and are now expected to stay flat or grow modestly over the next few months. Contacts report that the reduction in mortgage rates is supporting demand” and “In the rental market, demand remains strong and stock limited, pushing rental prices up although some contacts tell us that the rate of increase is moderating. A few landlords and housing associations are reporting moderate increases in arrears”.

REPORT: CIH published UK Housing Review 2024

The full report is only available to members or to buy, but the executive summary covers a number of topics including housing need, ethnic inequalities in housing, migration and housing, and the long view on housing benefits, policy, and social security.

REPORT: JRF reported on bringing private homes into social ownership

They report the acquisition of private homes can “reduce the cost of providing TA by replacing expensive nightly landlords who have emerged in response to the higher returns they can get” and “challenge an extractive model of landlordism in lower-cost rental markets in which poor conditions and poor management are rife, and where rental payments are not benefiting local communities, by growing a community rental sector”.

REPORT: SMF reported on financial policies to increase homeownership

They suggest “Allow insurers to provide mortgage insurance for high loan-to-value mortgages as an alternative path to homeownership”, “Allow lenders to offer fixed rates for entire 30 year terms as well as 15 and 10 year terms by altering affordability requirements”, and reform of property taxes to make them more equitable. Last week they reported on housing crises in the English-speaking world (we missed it at the time).

REPORT(PDF): Hometrack reported on the UK rental market in Q1 2024

They report “UK rental inflation slows to +7.8%, a 2-year low” and “Rental demand down 20% year-on-year as one-off pandemic factors ease and the labour market cools”.

REPORT: Centre for Cities reported on London’s population since Covid

They report “London’s population fell during Covid by 75,000, the equivalent of the population of Tunbridge Wells” but the “population bounced back quickly after pandemic restrictions ended and is now almost certainly higher than it has ever been”.

REPORT: Lichfields reported on the delivery of large-scale housing sites

The third edition of the report on the speed of delivery finds “Tough market conditions mean a likely slowing in build-out rates and house building overall” and “Demand is a key driver of build-out rates” while “Variety (of housing type and tenure) is the spice of life”.

REPORT: NAO reported on progress to decarbonise home heating

They report “it has become increasingly clear since the 2021 Heat and Buildings Strategy that the government’s approach will centre on heat pumps as the main technology. But DESNZ’s progress with encouraging households to install heat pumps has been slower than planned because costs remain high and public awareness remains low”.

REPORT: BoE published staff working paper on prudential regulation

They report on the impact of prudential regulations on the housing market using an agent-based model. Their conclusions include “when the LTI cap is in place, house prices decrease sharply relative to income, with a small increase in mortgage approvals to owner-occupiers and a significant increase in mortgage approvals to BTL investors”.

REPORT: Knight Frank reported on housing for seniors

The report “analyses and grades local plans for all local authorities in England based on their approach to housing for seniors”. They find “only 23% of local planning authorities (75) have clear policies in place indicating details of their required number of seniors housing dwellings and care home beds” and there has been no progress in the last two years.

REPORT: Savills reported on what LHA claimants can afford

Their “analysis of over one million Zoopla asking rents in 2023 demonstrates that across Britain only 8.5% of new listings would have been affordable using the new LHA rates”.

CORPORATE: Crest Nicholson published Trading Update

They report they “achieved reservations in line with expectations and delivered a year-to-date open market SPOW rate of 0.44, based on 46 outlets, with reduced activity before Christmas and a stronger performance from mid-January.  The SPOW rate for the last eight weeks to 15 March 2024 improved to 0.52”.

CORPORATE: PRS REIT published Interim Results

They report “occupancy at 97% (or 98% including homes reserved for applicants who had passed referencing and paid deposits)”, “rent collection at 99%”, and “like-for-like rental growth for the year to 31 December 2023 was 11.1% (31 December 2022: 5.7%) – with renewals up by c.9% and re-lets to new tenants up by c.16%”.

Chart of the Week

This week ONS launched their new joint “Private rent and house prices” release covering the new rental index. They also took the opportunity to revise the historic house price data. Normally the house price index is only revised within a 12-month window but the problems with the Land Reg Lag since the pandemic means that sales have been taking longer to be registered. Therefore, they have taken the welcome step of revising the data since January 2021. The index had already been subject to larger than usual revisions in recent years, with the tendency to revise downwards in subsequent months (blue lines in chart below). However, this longer term revision has led to an even larger downwards revision of the UK index since January 2021.

The revision is welcome, but it appears there have been some unfortunate side effects. While preparing our latest local market reports, we noticed that there is now an issue with the cash and mortgage sales counts since January 2021. We have notified HMLR and they are looking into it but we have held back on updating our reports until the issue is fixed.

Weekly Summary: 15th March 2024

DATA: ONS estimated monthly GDP fell 0.3% in year to Jan 2024

While lots of commentary on the release focussed on the 0.2% monthly growth, the overall picture is one of stagnation – though these figures are likely to be revised in the future.

DATA: ONS published Labour market overview for Mar 2024

They report a quarterly fall in job vacancies, a fall in nominal earnings growth to 5.6% including bonuses, and no change in the unemployment rate – though this last metric should be treated with caution given issues with the Labour Force Survey.

DATA: FCA/BoE published Mortgage lenders & administrators statistics

The FCA and BoE release covers a wide range of mortgage data for Q4 2023, including gross advances (33.8% lower than Q4 2022), new commitments (21.2% lower than Q4 2022), and a 50.3% increase in the value of outstanding mortgage balances with arrears.

DATA: DLUHC published modelling on housing stock condition by LA

The local authority level data provides “sub-regional estimates of housing stock condition” by dwelling type and tenure. The model results appear – at least from viewing the maps – to be much more driven by the region when compared to the previous release.

DATA: BoE published Inflation Attitudes Survey for Feb 2024

The survey shows inflation expectations are easing though “When asked what would be ‘best for you personally’, 23% of respondents said it would be better for them if interest rates were to ‘go up’”.

DATA: BSA published Property Tracker survey for Q1 2024

They report a net 28% of respondents expect house prices to rise over the next twelve months (41% expecting a rise less 14% expecting a fall), compared to -16% in Q1 last year. Despite this, more respondents think now is not a good time to buy than those who do.

DATA: HBF published Housing Pipeline Report for Q4 2023

As already reported in the DLUHC planning release, the number of homes granted planning approval was 231,215 in 2023, a 21% fall compared to the previous year.

POLICY: Scottish Government introduced Land Reform Bill

It “includes measures that will apply to large landholdings of over 1,000 hectares, prohibiting sales in certain cases until Ministers can consider the impact on the local community” and “will also help to empower communities with more opportunities to own land through introducing advance notice of certain sales from large landholdings”.

REPORT(PDF): RICS published February residential market survey

They report “Buyer demand continues to recover modestly alongside a rise in new instructions to sell”. They also report “Sales expected to rise modestly in the near-term and gain further momentum over the year ahead” and “House prices continue to stabilise with twelve-month projections signalling a return to growth”.

REPORT: CMA takes further action on leasehold and responds to DLUHC

 They report “further progress in relation to leases with less than 20-year doubling clauses” and in response to the DLUHC consultation: “welcomes the consideration of further ground rent reforms by the government and continues to consider that statutory intervention may be necessary to protect consumers from ongoing problems associated with expensive ground rents”.

REPORT: HoC Library published briefing on calculating housing need

It “explains how the government expects local authorities to assess and meet housing need. It also sets out recent changes made in December 2023”.

REPORT(PDF): HoC Public Accounts Committee reported on levelling up

It reports local authorities have been able to spend just over 10% of the promised Levelling Up funds and there is a lack of clarity on the status of the projects involved.

REPORT: NEF reported on social housing acquisitions in London

They report on the GLA’s Right to Buy Back scheme and Council Homes Acquisition Programme, and suggest “a national housing conversion fund, backed by significant grant funding, to enable councils across the country to deliver more acquisition”.

REPORT: CaCHE reported on student homelessness in Glasgow

The report covers the experience of students in Glasgow in 2022 when “Reports emerged of students with no accommodation, sofa-surfing, forced and unaffordable short-term solutions, as well as a litany of related and knock-on problems”.

REPORT(PDF): Create Streets reported on changing transport modelling

The have “redesigned the infrastructure, transport interventions and masterplan using the £75m Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) road budget, via a range of ‘Big Moves’ using a vision-led transport planning approach” to investigate the impact on housing development in Chippenham – though you have to scroll through a few pages of testimonials first.

CORPORATE: CMA launched Barratt/Redrow merger inquiry

They have issued a “preliminary ‘invitation to comment’ to allow interested parties to submit to the CMA any initial views on the impact that the transaction could have on competition in the UK”,

CORPORATE: Persimmon published Full Year Results

They report “Trading in the southern and eastern counties remains more challenging with weaker pricing, offset by a more robust trading performance in the northern regions. We continue to selectively use incentives, including part exchange, to drive reservations and overall, our net private sales rate per outlet per week was ahead in the first ten weeks of 2024 at 0.59 against 0.54 in the comparable period in 2023. Excluding bulk sales, the net private sales rate was 0.53 per outlet per week, broadly in line with the prior year”.

CORPORATE: Savills published Final Results

On UK residential, they report “Second-hand sales revenue declined by 23% with a reduction in the number of exchanges of 23%” while “Revenue from the sale of new homes reduced 24% year-on-year, reflecting a decrease of 27% in the number of exchanges”.

CORPORATE: Empiric Student Properties published preliminary results

They report “Like for like rental growth of 10.5% for academic year 2023/24, supported by dynamic pricing” and “99% revenue occupancy achieved for academic year 2023/24”. For they 2024/25 year, they have a “Strong bookings launch, with revenue occupancy in excess of 60% currently secured” and “Like for like rental growth in excess of 6% anticipated”.

CORPORATE: Vistry Group published Full Year results

They report “The resilience of the Group’s unique Partnerships model was clearly demonstrated in the year, delivering a total of 16,118 new homes in 2023, down only 5.4% on proforma prior year” and “In the year, 67% of total completions were from Registered Provider, Local Authority and Private Rented Sector (referred to together as Partner Funded) sales and 33% from Open Market sales”.

CORPORATE: Berkeley published Trading Statement

They report “Sales rates during the period have been consistent with the first half of Berkeley’s financial year, remaining around a third lower than the comparative year”.

Chart of the Week

This week features two charts, both based on FOI data (PDF) from Homes England on Help-to-Buy (H2B) equity loan repayments split by whether they were repaid on the sale of a property or not (via staircasing the full loan amount). Inevitably, the data shows a higher proportion of older loans have been repaid but the first chart shows a much higher percentage of pre-pandemic loans were paid off through staircasing rather than the sale of the property. This is probably to be expected given those older loans will have been approaching or past the point when interest was due. However, the second chart suggests that the underlying price growth of the property may also play a part. The chart shows the percentage return on the repaid loans (repaid value/original value). There’s a clear divergence in recent loan repayments, with those repaid via staircasing reporting much lower growth than those repaid via the sale of the property. Unfortunately, we don’t have any further detail that could explain why this is the case.

Weekly Summary: 8th March 2024

DATA: Halifax reported UK house prices rose 1.7% in year to Feb 2024

They report(PDF) this was the fifth consecutive monthly rise though the annual rate fell slightly from 2.3% last month.

DATA: BoE reported a mixed picture for quoted mortgage rates in Feb 2024

The data shows average rates for lower loan-to-value mortgages (up to 75% LTV) were unchanged or rose slightly while average rates on higher LTVs continued to fall.

DATA: DLUHC published English planning application data for Q4 2023

The release shows a 9% fall in received planning applications, a 12% fall in decisions, and a 13% fall in granted decisions compared to Q4 2022. Data from Glenigan shows the number of homes granted permission in 2023 was 233,000, a 20% fall from the previous year.

DATA: DLUHC published age data on children in temporary accommodation

The data for 30th June 2023 shows there were 86,945 children under the age of 10 living in temporary accommodation. 23.3% of those were under the age of one, accounting for one-in-thirteen of all people of any age living in temporary accommodation at the time.

DATA: ONS published analysis of short-term lets via online platforms

The analysis of bookings via Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia provides information on the number of stays, number of nights, and number of “guest nights” by local authority and whether the guest is from the UK or abroad.

POLICY: Chancellor presented Spring Budget 2024

Along with announcements of funding for housing in Barking Riverside, Canary Wharf, Leeds, Euston and Cambridge, the chancellor announced a cut in the higher rate of Capital Gains Tax for residential property disposals from 28% to 24%, the abolition of the Furnished Holiday Lettings tax regime from April 2025, and the abolition of SDLT Multiple Dwellings Relief from June 2024. He also stopped the policy of letting local authorities keep 100% of the revenues from Right to Buy sales. Legislation will also be updated so that registered providers are not liable for SDLT when buying with public subsidy. He also announced the abolition of the current tax regime for non-UK domiciled individuals. There were plenty of responses to the budget including Resolution Foundation and IFS.

REPORT: OBR published Economic and fiscal outlook – March 2024

See Chart of the Week for more detail on the housing market and mortgage rate forecasts.

REPORT: UK Finance published Q4 2023 Household Finance Review

They report “Mortgage borrowing was very weak in Q4, as it had been throughout 2023”with London and the South East hardest hit. They note “Forward indicators suggest an uptick in lending in Q1, although from a very low base”. They also report “The rapid increase seen in borrowing over longer terms levelled off overall but, within this, the proportion at the longest terms is still increasing. Even with stretching to the maximum terms, however, affordability looks to be still out of reach for many who would previously have been able to borrow”.

REPORT: JRF reported on the economic outlook for households

They report the situation is bleak and “by the beginning of 2029 the average family will have seen their housing costs rise by nearly £1700 a year in real terms compared with the beginning of 2021”. Their polling finds “The cost of housing ranked as the No.3 concern for the whole population, and was No.2 concern (second to essentials but above the NHS) for everyone excluding those who owned their home outright”.

REPORT: CSJ reported on “Living Rent That Works”

Among other recommendations, they suggest “Government should look to implement a new intermediate housing tenure, Living Rent, to replace Affordable Rent”.

REPORT: London Assembly reported on Young Londoners’ Access to Home Ownership

They recommend lobbying to increase the house price threshold for the Lifetime ISA, commission and publish analysis on the London housing crisis, and commission an evaluation of the London Living Rent tenure.

REPORT: ASI and Priced Out reported on using full expensing for brownfield land development

They suggest extending the full expensing for companies investing in plant and machinery could increase housing deliver, help SME housebuilders, and deliver a positive return for Treasury. Unfortunately, the link to model and data behind this paper was not working.

REPORT(PDF): HFI published a budget for housing

We couldn’t find this report online last week but here it is. It provides a “12 point plan for solving Britain’s Housing Crisis”. It includes recommendations on helping first-time buyers with their deposits, a “lighter touch” planning regime for SMEs, a “national mission” to build 100,000 affordable homes”, and doubling the New Homes Bonus.

CORPORATE: Foxtons published Final Results

They report “Trading in January and February in line with expectations” while “Lettings is expected to remain resilient with the business continuing to display strong recurring and non‐cyclical characteristics. Lettings market supply and demand dynamics have normalised, with increased levels of available rental stock and fewer tenants registering for each available rental property compared to 2023. As expected, year‐on-year rental growth has moderated with rental prices remaining at elevated levels” and “In Sales, continued market outperformance, alongside some recovery in buyer demand levels as mortgage rates have begun to reduce, has resulted in a 31% year‐on‐year increase in the value of the under offer pipeline at the end of February”.

CORPORATE: LSL published Trading Update

They report “Mortgage completions were in line with our expectations, reflecting the opening pipeline at 1 January 2024. Consistent with the surveying valuation instructions, LSL mortgage applications over the first two months of the year are significantly ahead of expectations with February mortgage applications per day 23% higher than 2023 and 5% above the strong performance in 2022”.

Chart of the Week

Alongside the Spring Budget, this week also saw the publication of the latest OBR Economic and fiscal outlook. On mortgage rates, they now forecast “Average interest rates on the stock of mortgages are expected to rise to a peak of 4.2 per cent in 2027” which is 0.8 percentage points lower than their November forecast. For house prices, they report that in their central forecast “we expect house prices to fall around 2 per cent in 2024, slightly under half of the 5 per cent we expected in November. This is mainly due to our lower mortgage rate forecast”. In total, they predict the ONS house price index to fall by 4.5% from its peak in Q4 2022 to hit a low in Q4 2024. Looking further ahead and their forecasts are relatively positive: “we then expect house prices to grow around 2 per cent in 2026, and around 3½ per cent in 2027 and 2028. That would see nominal house prices surpass their historical peak in the first quarter of 2027”. On residential transactions, they forecast them “to be broadly flat 2024, compared to a fall of 7 per cent in our November forecast. Transactions then recover in our forecast, reaching pre-pandemic levels in early 2025, two years before we expected in November”.

Weekly Summary: 1st March 2024

DATA: Nationwide reported UK house prices rose 1.2% in year to Feb 2024

They report a 0.7% monthly rise and the “Annual rate of change returned to positive territory for first time since January 2023”.

DATA(PDF): Zoopla reported UK house prices fell 0.5% in year to Jan 2024

They report “All measures of activity higher with sales agreed up 15%” compared to last year and “A fifth more homes for sale than last year as sellers return”. They also report there is a “3-tier housing market split between southern England, London and the rest of the UK defined by affordability”.

DATA: BoE published mortgage approval data for Jan 2024

The data shows the number of seasonally-adjusted mortgage approvals for house purchase were 7.2% higher than the previous month and 40% higher than January 2023. However, they were still 17% below the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: HMRC estimated there were 82,000 transactions in Jan 2024

This figure for residential transactions in the UK was 2% higher than the previous month but 12% lower than January 2023 and 17% below the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: BoE published effective mortgage rate data for Jan 2024

The data is based on all new mortgages – both purchase and remortgage. It shows the average rate on new advances was 5.21%, down from the peak of 5.37% in November. The rate on outstanding balances continued to rise, hitting 3.42% – the highest since July 2011.

DATA: DLUHC published statutory homelessness in England data

The data covers the 3rd quarter of 2023 and reports a 10.3% increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation with a 12.8% rise for those with children.

DATA: Scottish Government published homelessness statistics

They report an 8% annual increase in both the number of households and the number of children in temporary accommodation on the 30th September 2023.

DATA: Scottish Government published House Condition Survey 2022

The survey covers “fuel poverty rates, energy efficiency ratings, the condition of housing and the Scottish Housing Quality Standard”.

DATA: DLUHC published rough sleeping snapshot in England, autumn 2023

They report the second annual rise in number of people estimated to be sleeping rough.

POLICY: Regulator of Social Housing set out new approach to regulation

The new regulatory approach will begin in April with including the new consumer standards and the removal of the existing ‘serious detriment’ test.

REPORT: CMA published final housebuilding market study report

The report had a bit of something for everyone. The further investigation on information sharing suggests housebuilders are up to no good while housebuilders can blame their landbanks and profits on the system they operate in. There was plenty for those that wholly blame the planning system while there are clear indications the CMA think the whole system needs fundamental reform with less dependence on the speculative building model.

REPORT: JRF & BuiltPlace reported on the housebuilding market

The analysis is an update on last year’s Reboot report and looks at the current state of the housebuilding market with recommendations. The full slide deck is available on BuiltPlace.

REPORT: Resolution Foundation reported on consumer debt

They report “average outstanding debts among those using consumer credit have fallen – particularly for poorer households” in recent years as “lenders have made it harder to access credit”. They suggest “Faced with restricted access to consumer debt, many families have fallen behind on priority bills like gas and electricity to make ends meet”.

REPORT: Shelter & NHF on the economic impact of building social housing

The report by Cebr “demonstrates that building 90,000 social homes provides both immediate and long-term value for money for the government and the economy. It would directly support nearly 140,000 jobs in the first year alone. Within three years, the wider economic benefits of building the homes would break even and return an impressive £37.8bn back to the economy, largely by boosting the construction industry”.

REPORT: CaCHE reported on overheating in homes

They report “Overheating in homes is a relatively new but rapidly expanding problem. Many homes in England face an alarming risk of overheating, impacting people’s comfort, health and productivity. This briefing addresses the complex issue of overheating in homes”.

REPORT: IPPR reported on cuts to Scottish affordable homes programme

They report “the Scottish government has planned to reduce approximately £200 million in investment in social housebuilding. This could be disastrous and drive more people to homelessness”.

REPORT: Propertymark published Jan 2024 Housing Insight Report

The report is not the easiest to read and some of the headline stats reflect seasonal trends.

CORPORATE: Unite Group published year-end results

They report “99.8% occupancy and 7.4% rental growth for the 2023/24 academic year (2022/23: 99.3% and 3.5%)” with “Strong reservations for 2024/25 80% (2023/24: 83%)”. They also report an increase in UK students as a proportion of their customers and this “reflects our success in retaining second and third year students who might have historically moved into the HMO sector”.

CORPORATE: Taylor Wimpey published full year results

They report “The year-to-date net private sales rate (w/e 25 February 2024) is 0.67 per outlet per week (2023 equivalent period: 0.62). The cancellation rate is 12% (2023 equivalent period: 17%) and the level of down valuations remains low”. They also report “conversions from enquiry to reservation continue to take longer when compared to pre Q2 2023”.

CORPORATE: Rightmove published annual financial report

They report “Total membership reduced 1% at 18,785 (2022: 19,014), with Agency branches down 93/1% and New Homes Developments down 136/4% since the start of the year”. They predict “Customer numbers are likely to drop slightly, given the ongoing uncertainty in the macro environment”.

Chart of the Week

As part of Taylor Wimpey’s results, they updated the data on their customer mix. The results and how they have changed over time are shown below. While longer-term comparisons are made tricky by the shift from reservations to completions, the trend in the last couple of years is interesting. The data shows there has been a decline in the share of first time buyers since 2021, reflecting the end of Help to Buy equity loan. This has been offset by an increase in the proportion of both second time buyers and affordable completions. Meanwhile, the share of investors remains very low at just 4% of completions.

Weekly Summary: 23rd February 2024

DATA: Rightmove reported asking prices rose 0.1% in year to 10th Feb 2024

They also report “Agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 are 16% higher than over the same period last year, and 3% higher than in the more normal market of 2019” but the average time to sell is “at its slowest since 2015, excluding the initial pandemic lockdown months of April & May 2020”.

DATA: ONS reported UK house prices fell 1.4% in year to Dec 2023

They report the largest falls were in London (-4.8%), the South East (-4.6%), and the East of England (-3.8%). They also continue to warn that low transaction numbers mean future revisions may be larger than usual.

DATA: ONS reported monthly GDP was unchanged in year to Dec 2023

The estimates show the monthly GDP index was the same in December 2023 as December 2022, though this data will get revised in the future.

DATA: ONS published UK labour market statistics

This was the first release with the updated Labour Force Survey data and reports “The UK unemployment rate (3.8%) for those aged 16 years and over decreased in the latest quarter, returning to the rate a year ago” while “Annual growth in total earnings (including bonuses) in Great Britain was 5.8% in October to December 2023, and annual growth in employees’ average regular earnings (excluding bonuses) was 6.2%”.

DATA: ONS reported UK private rents rose by 6.2% in year to Jan 2024

The index is based on all rents paid and this release is the last one before the introduction of the improved methodology.

DATA: ONS published private rental market data for London

The data covers 2023 and includes rents by number of bedrooms for postcode districts.

DATA: ONS published data on divorces in England & Wales for 2022

They report the lowest number and rate of divorces since 1971 when the divorce reform act came into effect.

POLICY: DLUHC expanded affordable home loan fund

They have increased the size of the Affordable Homes Guarantee Scheme by £3billion, taking it up to £6billion in total. The scheme helps housing providers access low cost loans funded “by a capital markets bond programme that has the benefit of a guarantee from the Department for Levelling up, Housing and Communities”.

POLICY: DLUHC prioritised brownfield development (again)

They report “every council in England will be told that they will need to prioritise brownfield developments and instructed to be less bureaucratic and more flexible in applying policies that halt housebuilding on brownfield land” and, following the speedy review of the London Plan, they will introduce a “brownfield presumption” with “The bar for refusing brownfield plans will also be made much higher for those big city councils who are failing to hit their locally agreed housebuilding targets”. They have launched a consultation on the brownfield proposals and another on changes to permitted development rights.

The model for developing high density brownfield sites is very different from the volume housebuilding model on greenfield land and much more reliant on debt and off-plan sales.

POLICY: DLUHC introduced new rules on short-term lets

The rules include planning permission for future short-term lets and a mandatory national register though “Homeowners can continue to let out their own main or sole home for up to 90 nights a year”.

REPORT: UK Finance reported on the Later Life mortgage market

They report a 37.1% fall in the number of new loans to older borrowers in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022. They also report a 40.1% fall in new lifetime mortgage and a 43.3% fall in retirement interest only mortgages over the same period.

REPORT: Centre for Cities reported on council tax reform in Wales

In response to the Welsh government’s consultation, they suggest “Ending the anchoring of tax rates around Band D”, “Revaluing properties annually”, and “Giving local councils responsibility for setting proportional tax rates for each council tax band in line with annual revaluations”.

REPORT: Lichfields reported on Welsh holiday lets and article 4 directions

They “explore a number of assumptions regarding the impacts of second homes and short-term holiday lets in Wales” and “review the potential consequences of the introduction of Article 4 Directions for the housing market, the tourism industry and for local authorities”.

REPORT: Savills reported on housing supply and need in cities

They report “Policy pitfalls preventing cities from delivering against a boosted housing need” and on the need for cooperation between cities and their surrounding authorities.

REPORT: Knight Frank reported on £1,000,000 property markets

Despite falling national house prices, they report “there were 11 areas in England and Wales that crossed that particular threshold in 2023” and they are “further from central London than 18 months ago”.

CORPORATE: Vistry reported Build-to-Rent framework with Sigma

The agreement with Sigma Capital Group builds on their existing partnership and will deliver 5,000 single family homes over five years for their Simple Life Homes brand.

CORPORATE: MJ Gleeson published half year results

They report “we experienced margin pressures arising from increased sales incentives, extended site durations and multi-unit sales. This has been exacerbated by additional costs on a number of older sites, which were brought to light by new management teams put in place following the organisational restructuring implemented last year”. They also report “Net reservation rates were 0.50 in the 5 weeks to 9 February 2024 (5 weeks to 10 February 2023: 0.46)”.

CORPORATE: Springfield published interim results

They report they are “carefully managing working capital and curtailing speculative private housing development by only commencing building homes when they are reserved” and “actively pursuing land sales to accelerate cash realisation from the Group’s large land bank”. They also report “the average weekly reservation rate since mid-January 2024 being 62% higher than for the Group’s financial year to that point”.

Chart of the Week

Last week ONS published updated data on monthly direct debit values and failure rates. The release shows the average mortgage direct debit value increased to £908 in January 2024, 11% higher than January last year and 25% higher than two years ago. Meanwhile, as usual following the Christmas period, the failure rate on mortgage direct debits spiked in January 2024, hitting 0.61%. This was compared to 0.50% in January last year. However, the failure rate on mortgage direct debits is relatively low compared to other bills. The failure rate in January 2024 was highest for Fitness Facilities at 4.74%, though this was well below the peak of 17.79% in January 2021, with loans in second place at 2.35%. The largest percentage point rise in failure rates has been for Electricity and Gas bills, rising from 0.24% in January 2021 to 1.50% in January 2024.

Weekly Summary: 9th February 2024

DATA: Halifax reported UK house prices rose 2.5% in year to Jan 2024

They report house prices rose 1.3% in the month and this was “the fourth monthly rise in a row”. However, they also report that prices in the South East fell 2.3% in the month.

DATA: BoE reported further falls in fixed rate mortgages in Jan 2024

The average quoted fixed-rate at 75% loan-to-value fell compared to the previous month while the variable rate and revert-to-rate was unchanged.

DATA: UK Finance reported rises in mortgage arrears in Q4 2023

The latest release shows the number of owner-occupier mortgages in arrears of over 2.5% of their balance increased to 93,680 in Q4 2023, a 24.6% increase compared to Q4 2022. The number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears increased by 123.9% over the same period. Despite the large increases, the proportions of total mortgages in arrears are still relatively low at 1.07% for owner-occupiers and 0.69% for buy-to-let mortgages.

DATA: MoJ published mortgage & landlord possessions for Q4 2023

The release shows an increase in claims issued and total orders for mortgage possession compared to the same period in 2022, but the number of repossessions by county court bailiffs fell over the period. All landlord possession actions increased when compared to Q4 2022. They also report the rate of mortgage possession claims per 100,000 mortgaged home-owning households was highest in Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea. However, this result may be affected by the large number of mortgaged second homes and mortgaged private rented homes in those markets.

DATA: DLUHC published social housing sales and demolitions, 2022-23

The data for England includes Official Statistics in Development on net supply that show “For 2022-23, the figures show that local authority affordable housing stock for rent decreased by over 5,700 while the rental stock owned by private registered providers increased by over 20,300, an estimated net increase of nearly 14,600 affordable homes for rent for these providers combined”.

DATA: DLUHC published H2B equity loans for parliamentary constituencies

The data shows the number and value of Help-to-Buy equity loans for all buyers and for first time buyers by parliamentary constituency.

DATA: HM Treasury published Mortgage Guarantee data for Q3 2023

They report “There were 41,052 mortgage completions from scheme launch on 19 April 2021 to the end of September 2023, which represents 1.6% of all residential mortgage completions in the UK from the beginning of April 2021 to the end of September 2023” though the success of the scheme cannot be measured directly.

DATA: HM Treasury published Help-to-Buy ISA data for Q3 2023

While the scheme is closed to new accounts, existing holders can continue saving into their account until November 2029 and must claim by December 2030.

DATA: ONS reported on the reweighting of the Labour Force Survey

They report the “New weighting methodology revises down the employment rate, revises up the rate of economic inactivity, while the unemployment rate is revised up slightly”.

DATA: ONS published user requested Census data on household size

The two tables include one for all usual residents in households by age and household size and one for household reference persons by age and household size. Both cover LSOAs.

DATA: NHBC published housing supply data for Q4 2023

They report “Total new home completions down 12%, with a 20% drop in private sector” and “New home registrations drop by 44% in 2023, compared to 2022”. Unfortunately, these figures are affected by a declining market share over time.

REPORT(PDF): RICS published residential market survey for Jan 2024

They report “Metrics on buyer demand, agreed sales and new instructions all move out of negative territory”, and “Sales expectations improve further at the three and twelve-month time horizons”. They also report “House price declines continue to ease, with London seeing a largely stable trend emerge”.

REPORT: BoE reported on lender screening using a menu of contracts

The staff working paper suggests “When lenders screen borrowers using a menu of contracts, they generate a contractual externality by making the composition of their competitors’ borrowers worse”. Their analysis suggests “Counterfactual simulations show that, because of the externality, there is too much screening along the loan to value dimension”.

REPORT: BoE reported on mortgage affordability for re-fixing in 2023

They find “the ‘stress’ assessment carried out by lenders at origination will generally have subjected borrowers coming to the end of their fixed-rate terms in 2023 to higher stress rates than the prevailing mortgage rates when re-fixing”.

REPORT(PDF): IMLA published Intermediary Mortgage Market Tracker

The report covers Q4 2023 and provides useful data on the mortgage lending pipeline.

REPORT(PDF): BPF reported on the build-to-rent market in Q4 2023

The report is prepared by Savills and shows “The number of BtR homes complete, under construction, or in planning stands at just under 267,000” with 100,300 completed.

REPORT: ASI reported on “the costs of housing restrictions”

They estimate removing restrictions to allow the typical two-storey house to be replaced by an eight-storey development “would boost the welfare of every person by 6.5% if limited to London, and 11.7% if extended to all cities”.

COPORATE: Barratt published half year results

They report “The net private reservation rate per active outlet per average week from 1 January 2024 through to 28 January 2024 was 0.60 (2023: 0.49), including a contribution of 0.04 (2023: 0.01) from sales into the private rental sector and to registered providers of social housing”. They also announced they have “agreed the terms of a recommended all-share offer for the combination of Barratt and Redrow”.

CORPORATE: Redrow published half year results

They report “Our net private reservation rate per outlet per week over the first 5 weeks of calendar year 2024 was 0.52 (2023: 0.51)”.

CORPORATE: Grainger published trading update

They report “Like-for-like PRS rental growth 8.4% YTD” and “Occupancy 97.2% (PRS)”.

CORPORATE: Bellway published trading update

They report “an improvement in the private reservation rate during January to 0.59 per outlet per week (January 2023 – 0.45)”.

Chart of the Week

The latest ONS release of real-time indicators for economic activity and social change included the latest Dataloft data on average rents as a percentage of gross income for new tenancies. Based on the actual rental affordability of individual borrowers, the chart shows rental affordability has become increasingly stretched over the last twelve months, with the average rent as a percent of income hitting a high of 27.6% of gross income in January 2024 compared to 26.4% in January 2023 (though do note the y-axis doesn’t start at zero).

Weekly Summary: 2nd February 2024

DATA: Nationwide reported house prices fell 0.2% in year to Jan 2024

See Chart of the Week for more detail.

DATA: HMRC reported 80,420 residential transactions in Dec 2023

This provisional seasonally adjusted estimate was 0.8% lower than the previous month, 18% lower than December 2022, and 19% lower than the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: BoE published mortgage approval data for Dec 2023

The latest release shows there were 50,459 mortgage approvals for house purchase. This was 2.3% higher than the previous month and 26% higher than December 2022. However, it was still 24% lower than the pre-pandemic average.

DATA: BoE published effective mortgage rate data for Dec 2023

The release shows the average rate on new advances – both purchase and remortgage – was 5.29%. This was lower than the 5.37% recorded the previous month and the first monthly fall since November 2021. The rate on outstanding balances increased to 3.37%.

DATA: ONS published national population projections: 2021-based interim

They project the UK population will grow by 6.6 million people from 2021 to 2036. This is due to a natural change (births less deaths) of 541,000 and net international migration of 6.1 million people. The projections mark a significant shift upwards in terms of population growth, leaving them close to the 2014 based projections. Lichfields published a useful blog looking at what they might tell us about housing need.

DATA: DLUHC published Social housing lettings in England: 2022/23

The release provides information on new social housing lettings and reports there was a 6% decrease in lettings from the previous financial year.

DATA: HMRC published quarterly SDLT statistics for Q4 2023

The latest stamp duty land tax statistics provides information on the number of transactions by liability and price band, along with data on First Time Buyers’ Relief, Higher Rates for Additional Dwellings, and the non-UK resident surcharge.

DATA: VOA published Local Housing Allowance rates for 2024/25

The table includes existing LHA rates, 30th percentile rents, maximum LHA rates for 2024/25, and LHA rates for 2024/25.

DATA: DLUHC reported on changes to the EPC open data service

They have made welcome improvements to the bulk download and API.

POLICY: DLUHC proposed an overhaul of social housing allocation

They have launched a consultation that proposes prioritising “those who have a strong connection to the UK, their local area and those that do not disrupt communities through anti-social behaviour or terrorism offences”.

REPORT: DLUHC published research on the flow of rough sleeping

The report’s aim is “to gain a more detailed understanding of individuals’ journeys before sleeping rough”. DLUHC also published two feasibility studies on the “Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Systems-wide evaluation and Test & Learn programme”.

REPORT: BoE published Monetary Policy Report

The Bank of England’s MPC voted 6-3 to maintain Bank Rate at 5.25%. They also reported “Most of the impact of tighter monetary policy on housing investment seems to have come through, while there are now clearer signs of higher interest rates affecting business investment”.

REPORT(PDF): Zoopla reported house prices fell 0.8% in year to Dec 2023

They report a “Strong seasonal rebound in sales activity in first weeks of January on back of pent-up demand and sub-5% mortgage rates” with “Sales agreed up 13% year on year” and “Available homes for sale over 20% higher than a year ago”.

REPORT: Money & Mental Health reported on support with mortgage costs

The report from last week “looks at the impact of rising mortgage costs, especially for people with mental health problems” and finds that “people with mental health problems are more likely to have cut back on food, energy and other essentials to keep up with mortgage payments. This group is also at greater risk of falling behind on mortgage bills compared to other homeowners”.

REPORT: Savills reported on Build-to-Rent in Q4 2023

They report “2023 marked the second highest year of investment” with £4.5 billion invested, just 2% less than in 2022. They also report single family housing accounted for 42% of investment, up from 8% in 2022.

REPORT: Savills reported on development land in Q4 2023

They report “When compared against the previous peak in the land market in Q3 2022, UK greenfield and urban land values have fallen by -8.7% and -9.9%, respectively”. They also report “We have already started to see a slight uptick in land buyer sentiment, with a net balance of 21% of Savills development agents reporting positive market sentiment for greenfield sites in Q4 2023, up from 7% in Q3 2023”.

REPORT: Knight Frank reported on development land in Q4 2023

They report “Land prices in England were flat in the final quarter of the year, with housebuilders predicting values will stay stable in early 2024”. They also report “urban brownfield values had fallen by 20% since the most recent peak of the market in the first quarter of 2022 up to Q3 last year, with greenfield down 17% during this period”.

REPORT: Knight Frank reported on “grey belt” housing capacity

They have investigated the green belt in England and “identified over 11,000 previously developed sites that comprise less than 1% of the green belt” and “All of those sites combined could only produce 100,000-200,000 new family homes”. They therefore warn that “the ‘grey belt’ will only ever be part of the solution”.

CORPORATE: LSL published Full Year Trading Update

They report “As expected, subdued activity levels across the valuations market continued to impact our Surveying Division. However, there were some signs of improvement in the final months of the year”.

CORPORATE: Rightmove purchased HomeViews

While there’s no information about the state of the market, it is interesting to note this purchase of a company that provides reviews of new build development and Rightmove’s interest in the Build-to-Rent sector.

Chart of the Week

This week Nationwide reported that the annual change in house prices was just -0.2% thanks in part to a 0.7% seasonally adjusted monthly rise. This was reported as a “more upbeat note” but in reality just reflects the stagnation of nominal prices following the 6% fall in prices in the final quarter of 2022. Since then, and as the below chart of non-seasonally adjusted prices shows, house prices have been relatively static other than usual seasonal trends. It’s quite possible than the annual percentage change will turn positive in the next couple of months but, looking ahead, the key test for where house prices will end this year will be in the spring as most growth tends to be recorded from March to June.

Weekly Summary: 26th January 2024

DATA: ONS reported SDLT receipts of £13 billion in 2023

This figure covers both residential and commercial property and was 26% lower than the £17.5 billion collected in 2022. However, it was still 3% higher than the 2019 receipts.

DATA: ONS published quarterly housebuilding statistics for Q3 2023

The headline figures undercount actual housebuilding activity but are still a useful lead indicator. The seasonally adjusted index showed a sharp fall in housebuilding starts (-68%) but this followed a spike in activity the previous quarter as housebuilders rushed to avoid the costs of complying with new building regulatory standards. A more accurate assessment shows that total starts in both Q2 and Q3 2023 were 7% lower than the same period in 2022. Meanwhile housebuilding completions were 5.5% lower in Q3 2023 than the same quarter in 2022.

DATA: DLUHC published Energy Performance Certificates for Q4 2023

See Chart of the Week for more detail.

POLICY: DLUHC published Statement of Levelling Up Missions

It summarises “the government’s objectives to reduce geographical disparities” and includes information on “how the government proposes to measure progress against these objectives”. The number of first time buyers is proposed as a measure but they note that there is no public data on first time buyers by region and are in discussion with a potential source. There actually is public data on regional first time buyers numbers in the FCA’s Product Sales Data but it is less timely than the data available to members of UK Finance. Increasing the timeliness and frequency of the FCA’s PSD data would be welcome.

POLICY: DLUHC launched consultation on public database of land controls

Increased transparency on “contractual controls” such as options agreements would be a welcome step towards improving the efficiency of the residential development land market by ensuring that everyone involved is better informed. Any database that is published should also ensure that associated spatial data is also freely available.

POLICY: DLUHC launched consultation on the Building Safety Levy

This second consultation “seeks views on the design and implementation of the Building Safety Levy”.

POLICY: Scottish Government announced transitional rent protection

With the rent cap due to end from the first of April, the Scottish government have announced a temporary modification to the process for rent adjudication.

REPORT: JRF published UK Poverty 2024 report

They report “The UK is entering this election year with unacceptably high levels of poverty, appallingly high for some groups. We need a coherent plan with creative policies to end poverty in the UK”.

REPORT: Centre for Cities published Cities Outlook 2024 report

They report on housing affordability: “Already an issue in 2010, housing costs have significantly worsened. This is true across almost every UK city, with cities in the Greater South East where the crisis is most acute seeing the steepest rises”.

REPORT: Housing Ombudsman called for Royal Commission for housing

In their spotlight report, they are “calling for a Royal Commission to create a long-term plan for social housing after finding that current approaches for the sector are not working for residents with a vulnerability”.

REPORT: Rightmove published Q4 2023 Rental Price Tracker

They report “Average advertised rents outside of London rise to a new record of £1,280 per calendar month” with annual growth of 9.2% – the lowest rate since 2021 but still too high for many. They also report “The average number of enquiries agents are receiving for every available rental property is currently 11, which whilst still much higher than the four at this time of year in 2019, is down from 14 last year”.

REPORT: HBF published SME State of Play report

They report “For the fourth consecutive year, the top two major barriers to growth for SME developers are chronic delays in the planning system and under-resourced Local Authority planning departments” while “Almost three-quarters (72%) claim interest rate rises have been a major obstacle in the past year” – the third highest barrier in the survey.

NEWS: Widespread reports of falling mortgage rates

There have been widespread reports in recent weeks about falling mortgage rates – though few articles report the actual interest rates and only the change which isn’t particularly helpful. Rates have clearly fallen sharply as interest rate expectations have eased and swap rates have fallen but there are signs swap rates have bottomed out for the time being so this might mark the end of big falls in mortgage rates for now.

CORPORATE: Henry Boot published Trading Update

They report “While the housebuilding sector has seen slowing sales rates, our land business is experiencing continued demand for strategic sites with planning in premium locations”. They also report the “reservations rate improved to 0.46 homes per site per week in Q4 2023, up from 0.36 in Q4 2022” for their Stonebridge Homes brand.

CORPORATE: Crest Nicholson published Final Results

They report “Home completions at 2,020 (FY22: 2,734), comprising open market completions (including bulk deals) of 1,495 (FY22: 2,212) and affordable completions of 525 (FY22: 522)” and “Sales per outlet week (SPOW) of 0.52 (FY22: 0.60)”.

CORPORATE: Watkins Jones published Full Year Results

They report a 99.6% fall in operating profit to £0.2million with this “reflecting low levels of forward sale market activity” along with lower margins and higher site-specific costs, a “£4.6 million book loss on the sale of three PRS assets” and “impairment charge of £5.5 million on our non-core land bank and certain pipeline assets which are no longer economically viable”.

CORPORATE: Foxtons published Year End Trading Update

They report “Lettings is expected to remain resilient in 2024 with the business continuing to display strong recurring and non-cyclical characteristics. As lettings supply and demand dynamics have largely normalised, rents are expected to stabilise and remain at historically elevated levels, whilst improvement in the supply of available rental properties provides a good opportunity to deliver further market share growth”.

Chart of the Week

This week DLUHC published Q4 2023 data on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). The number of new build EPCs has proven a useful lead indicator for net additions across England since I first noticed the relationship back in 2016. The latest data shows the total number of new build EPCs across England during 2023 was 231,000, down 8% from the 2022 total. However, analysis of the data split by simple property type is more interesting. The number of new build EPCs for flats in 2023 was 96,700 – down 4.5% on the figure for 2022. Meanwhile, the number of new build EPCs for houses was higher at 134,400 but was 11.2% lower than the total for 2022. This pattern of bigger falls for houses is not surprising given the different development models: it is much easier to stop and start the construction of houses while you are normally committed to the finish with flats – especially when they are in high rise developments – irrespective of the state of the market.

Weekly Summary: 19th January 2024

DATA: Rightmove reported asking prices fell -0.7% in the year to Jan 2024

This was slightly lower than the previous month’s figure of -1.1%. They also report “Buyer demand in the first week of 2024 is also 5% higher than in the same period last year. However, competitive pricing from sellers is still vital, with the number of new properties coming to market outpacing the rise in demand”.

DATA: ONS reported UK house prices fell 2.1% in the year to Nov 2023

This was a bigger fall than the -1.3% reported last month. They also report London house prices fell 6% in the year to November. However, they also warn about low transaction volumes and it’s likely that these figures (especially the London one) will be revised.

DATA: ONS reported on the UK labour market

They report “Vacancies fell on the quarter for the 18th consecutive period” but are still above pre-pandemic levels and a 6.6% annual increase in regular earnings (excluding bonuses) that was a 1.3% rise when adjusted for inflation. There are still issues with the estimates of statistics based on the Labour Force Survey such as unemployment and they report “the reintroduction of a fuller LFS-based dataset in the February 2024 publication”.

DATA: ONS reported UK private rents rose 6.2% in the year to Dec 2023

This was the same rate as reported last month and it appears the rate of growth (though not level) of rents has peaked. This data measures all private rents paid rather than new tenancies and an updated rental index is expected in coming months.

DATA: BoE published Credit Conditions Survey – 2023 Q4

See Chart of the Week for more detail.

DATA: ONS published “Built-up area functional greenspace area”

The user requested data provides a summary of the total area and functional greenspace area for built-up areas across the country.

DATA: DWP launched consultation on “Below Average Resources” measure

They are developing a new poverty measure and seeking user feedback.

POLICY: DLUHC announced funding to help rough sleepers

They also published an interim evaluation report of the Housing First Pilots and a report on “Monetising the social benefits of reducing rough sleeping”.

REPORT: NAO published guide to DLUHC’s spending and performance

The report “summarises the key information and insights that can be gained from our examinations of DLUHC and related bodies in the sector in England and DLUHC’s Annual Report and Accounts”.

REPORT(PDF): RICS published December Residential Market Survey

They report “Three and twelve-month sales expectations pick-up for a second consecutive month” while “Buyer enquiries indicator records the least downbeat reading since April 2022” and “House price declines continue to moderate at the national level, with respondents now anticipating a flat trend over the year ahead”.

REPORT: Crisis published The Homelessness Monitor: Scotland 2024

They report “Most local authority homeless services are reporting increased footfall from service users in the past year, with more than half saying this has increased significantly” and “The most severe and immediate forms of homelessness (“core” homelessness e.g., rough sleeping, sofa surfing, staying in hostels, refuges or unsuitable forms of temporary accommodation) have risen by 11% since 2020 to an estimated 18,400 households”.

REPORT: TCPA published A White Paper for Homes and Communities

The report “details the practical measures that are needed to deliver sustainable, affordable, and net zero communities. The report reveals how more comprehensive, strategic, and democratic planning is the solution to the nation’s urgent housing and climate challenges”.

REPORT: Lichfields reported on keeping local plans up to date

They investigate “how five-year reviews have been played out in different local authorities across England” and find “The current requirement to review local plans within five years is ineffective at ensuring local plans are kept up to date” and “The roll-out of the plan-making reforms is inadvertently delaying plan updates and undermining the review process”.

REPORT(PDF): Savills reported on Build-to-Rent Houses

The report investigates what is also called the Single Family Housing (SFH) or Single Family Rental (SFR) market. It looks at the current state of the market and asks what role the sector can play in “meeting current and future rental demand and Government’s homebuilding targets”.

REPORT: TwentyCi published Property & Homemover Report for 2023

They report “In 2023, we saw 1,064k Sales Agreed, a fall of 12% compared to 2022” while the time to sell rose to 23 days and the time to complete was 123 days. They also report “On average, sellers across the UK achieved 96.6% of their original asking price, a decrease from the 99.4% achieved in 2022” and “2023 saw a significant increase in the volume of branch closures”.

NEWS: Knight Frank upgraded their house price forecasts

They “now expect UK mainstream prices to rise by 3% in 2024, which compares to a decline of 4% predicted in October” and “expect a double-digit percentage increase in sales volumes this year compared to 2023”.

CORPORATE: Crest Nicholson published Trading Update

Alongside reports of higher costs on “completing certain legacy sites”, they also report “The recent reduction in mortgage rates has provided a more constructive backdrop for house buyers and the wider housing market. Although it is too early to gauge customer behaviour, we have been encouraged by an increase in customer interest levels and inquiries this calendar year”.

CORPORATE: The PRS REIT published Q2 update

They report “Rental demand for the Company’s homes remains very high, reflected in very strong rental growth and occupancy rates” with occupancy of 98% and “Like-for-like rental growth for the 12 months to 31 December 2023 was 11%”. They also report low arrears and “the Company’s homes have an affordability ratio of c.22% of gross household income”.

CORPORATE: Travis Perkins published Trading Update

They report “Given that market conditions are anticipated to remain subdued into FY24, management has accelerated plans to continue the transformation of the business. This work commenced in Q4 with a reduction in central and regional headcount alongside efficiencies realised within the Group’s supply chain”.

Chart of the Week

The latest Bank of England Credit Conditions survey shows “Lenders reported that the availability of secured credit to households increased in the three months to end-November 2023 (Q4)” and was expected to be unchanged (dotted blue line) over the next three months. Meanwhile, the demand for secured lending for house purchase decreased last quarter but was expected to increase in Q1 (dotted red line). The survey also found “Lenders reported that default rates on secured loans to households increased, and losses given default increased in Q4. Both were expected to increase in Q1”.

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