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The latest UK property news: Boom time for renting, landlords’ economic value, energy bills and making savings

The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) branded the Spring Budget delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in March a “missed opportunity” for the housing sector. Let’s see whether the latest UK property news headlines paint a rosier picture.

Renting set to boom as buying is even less affordable

At an average of £290,000 last year, house prices in England have now reached more than eight times the average annual salary, revealed Landlord Today on the 26th of March.

Yet the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has calculated that a common measure of affordability of housing is just five times a buyer’s annual income.

The discrepancy leads the article to argue that the unaffordable high price of buying heralds a boom in renting.

In support of its argument, Landlord Today points out that:

  • unsurprisingly, the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the place where homes are least affordable – more than 34 times average incomes;
  • even in the more affordable region of Wales, buyers would need more than six times their annual income to buy a home – again, well above the ONS measure of affordability;
  • since 1997, average salaries have doubled – but house prices have shot up by more than four and half times; and
  • a first-time buyer in full-time employment would need to spend around 14 times their annual salary to buy their home – yet anyone spending more than a quarter of their take-home pay on the mortgage is judged to be at risk of arrears in repayments.

Huge contribution landlords make to UK economy revealed

In an article on the 25th of March, the Buy Association cited reports calculating that landlords comprising the private rented sector contribute some £45 billion to the UK economy.

In England and Wales, the biggest part (80%) of that contribution comes from medium and small property owners with fewer than 15 let properties. They account for some 3.8 million dwellings in the private rented sector which comprises a total of some 4.8 million properties.

It is not only a financial contribution since these owners of buy to let property sustain 390,000 jobs – either directly employed or those working in the industry’s supply chain.

Study says: “UK property offers the worst value for money in the developed world”

Citing studies by the Resolution Foundation, the US media channel Bloomberg on the 24th of March slammed housing in the UK as some of the worst value in the developed world.

It reported that homes in the UK are not only older than those in other parts of the world but are also smaller – even “more cramped” than the average apartment in New York, says the article.

The problem of housing the UK’s population is rising up the political agenda insists the Resolution Foundation because rocketing prices mean that many younger people continue to struggle to get a first foot on the housing ladder.

What’s the average UK energy bill and how can I save money?

In its latest study of domestic energy bills, on the 22nd of March, the online listings website Rightmove updated the current average costs.

Examples of the findings are as follows:

  • 2-bedroomed flat – annual average bills range from £845 for the most energy-efficient dwelling to £4,737 to the least efficient;
  • 3-bedroomed semi-detached house – from £1,187 to £6,279;
  • 3-bedroomed detached house – from £1,193 to £9,143; and
  • 4-bedroomed detached house – from £1,440 to £10,130.

If you are a householder looking to save money on those energy bills you might want to consider measures such as improving the insulation of your home, installing a smart thermostat, adjusting the flow temperature on any combi-boiler, requesting a smart meter from your energy supplier, and remembering to close the curtains or blinds at night.

Further reading: How to save even more money on your energy costs.

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