Research shows first-time buyers are fuelling the property market
New buyer mortgages saw a 22% increase in June over May, up to 36,000 new loans; a 6% increase on the same month last year.
As average house prices fall in some regions, and the UK property market as a whole shows signs of slowing down, the data suggests that many first-time buyers are finally able to gain a foothold on the ladder.
John Bagshaw, director of Connells Survey & Valuation commented that "record high employment and competitive mortgage rates" supported the trend. Mr Bagshaw also acknowledged that "the increasing cost of living and house price inflation" made saving for a deposit challenging, adding that first-time buyers still "need help".
Buy-to-let crackdown has unintended consequences
The recent introduction of a buy-to-let surcharge on stamp duty has, along with other measures, dissuaded amateur landlords from entering the sector, but the recent data suggests that professional, large-scale landlords are continuing to acquire property.
Mr Bagshaw and others have raised concerns that the changes aimed at disincentivising buy-to-let, and thereby making more property available to buyers, is having the unintended consequence of reducing competition among landlords.
"As housing market policy is no longer entirely focused on increasing homeownership," Mr Bagshaw adds, "the Government... should think again about policies which hold [the rental sector] back."
OneSavings Bank, a specialist in property loans, has seen shares rise by 20pc as their client base of large-portfolio landlords and institutions invest.
Chief Executive of OneSavings Bank, Andy Golding, explained in an interview with The Guardian that "dinner party landlords" were exiting the buy-to-let market, increasing the market share of the bigger players.
Falling rents have also discouraged smaller landlords from sticking with the sector.
The Brexit effect
Enjoying the historically low base rate, many existing homeowners are opting to take advantage of intense competition among lenders and remortgage.
July saw a 36% increase in remortgages, with longer-term, fixed-rate mortgages increasingly popular in the face of an inevitable interest rate rise expected this Autumn. Anxiety over Brexit is also suspected to be having a cooling effect on the housing market, with many homeowners opting to stay put rather than take on additional risk during a period of increasing uncertainty.
Despite the UK economy expanding by only 0.3% in the past quarter, and the impact the weak pound has had on inflation and consumer spending, some commentators argue that the market slow down is still surprising, given strong employment figures.
Low stock driving a rise
Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist has argued that the property market would depend on "wider economic performance".
With the stock of property available to buy at a 30-year low, however, Mr Gardner adds that property prices as a whole are still expected to rise by 2%, over the course of 2017.
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