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October HPI, Autumn’s a time for home safety, “gazundering”, savings on Council Tax bills for landlords and tenants and other UK property news

Whether you’re a homeowner, prospective buyer, landlord, or tenant, it pays to stay abreast of what’s leading the UK property news.

There’s rarely a dull moment, so let’s take a brief peek behind some of the latest headlines.

House Price Index – October 2023

On the penultimate day of the month, the online listings website Zoopla published its House Price Index for October. The principal takeaways from the latest update of statistics on the housing market are:

  • there is a substantial reversal in the market in the space of just one year – a year ago, prices were rising at an annual rate of 9.6% but now they are falling at the rate of 1.1% a year;
  • protective regulation of mortgage rates has helped to protect the housing market while domestic spending power remains poor;
  • while house prices continue to fall by an estimated 2% in the year to come, that reduction plus an increase in average earnings should improve affordability;
  • currently, house prices are falling in four of the UK’s principal housing markets – only in Scotland and Northern Ireland are average prices bucking the trend and showing a positive rate of annual increase; and
  • the volume of transactions is forecast to reach more than 1 million in the coming year – and this milestone could be surpassed if mortgage rates trend closer to their earlier 4%.

Over three-quarters of Brits feel more conscious about home safety in Autumn

A recent survey conducted by Landlord News shows that more than three-quarters of British households become more conscious than ever of safety in the home once the nights begin to draw in.

Various concerns emerged. Chief among these were:

  • a desire for better lighting outside the home – mentioned by more than 62% of those surveyed;
  • the installation of a burglar alarm or security system – more than 40%;
  • improved locks on windows and doors – 30% plus; and
  • participation in a neighbourhood watch scheme – more than 23%.

Gazundering fears on the rise as buyers pressure sellers to accept less money

“Gazundering” is the process by which house buyers apply pressure on sellers to accept a lower price for their property – and it is on the rise, according to a story in the Daily Mail on the 20th of October.

Evidence for a significant rise in the practice comes from the newspaper’s revelation that there has been a 97% increase in internet searches for the term gazundering since the beginning of this year.

When there are fewer buyers in the market, the initiative passes to them in being able to exert pressure on sellers to sell at a lower price. Typically, buyers will wait until a relatively advanced stage of the proposed transaction when they will offer a reduced price simply to conclude the sale.

Landlords and Renters to save on council tax bills

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) in a press release on the 27th of October claimed credit for a change in the rules on the way Council Tax is assessed.

Thanks to pressure from the NRLA, it claims, the government has agreed that separate, individual rooms in shared houses will no longer receive their own band for Council Tax purposes. Instead, the tax will apply to the premises as a whole and landlords can once again include the appropriate share of Council Tax in individual rents.

In this way, tenants are also likely to benefit, says the NRLA – to the tune of up to £1,000 a month.

Weakening UK housing market: Mortgage approvals fall to lowest in eight months

Evidence of the weakening property market in the UK was illustrated by a story in Euronews on the 30th of October.

It came in the shape of figures showing a significant decline in the volume of mortgage applications currently approved. In September, just 43,328 mortgage loans were approved – well short of the 45,000 anticipated within the industry and the lowest number since January.

Further evidence of a weaker market was also shown by two further indicators: the fact that mortgage repayments in September surpassed the value of new lending; and a reduction in remortgages – to values last seen as long ago as January 1999.

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