Online House Hunter: Searching for good news
EACH time a house price index is published I pore over it in the hopes of finding stability in these variable times. The April Halifax House price index for April has at least suggested one trend – but it’s probably not the news most were hoping for.
Their housing economist, Martin Ellis, reports that the underlying trend is one of ‘modest decline’. His use of the gentle word ‘modest’ almost makes it sound like good news.
He goes on: “Prices in the three months to April were 1.2% lower than in the previous three months. There was a 1.4 per cent fall in prices in April following no change in March.”
Of course for those waiting to buy a house this may be good news. For the homeowner looking at his house as an investment it’s all rather familiar and depressing.
A couple of other key points worth highlighting:
- The average UK house price in April was 1.5 per cent lower than in December 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The current average house price of £160,395 is 4 per cent above its April 2009 low, but remains 20 per cent below its August 2007 peak.
- Prices in April were 3.7 per cent lower than a year ago as measured by the average for the three months to March against the same period a year earlier. This is the biggest annual decline since October 2009 (-4.7 per cent).
For those looking for brighter news in the housing market, then the world of mortgages is one place to cast an eye. Mr Ellis points out that the number of mortgages approved increased by two per cent between February and March on a seasonally-adjusted basis. And approvals for the first quarter of 2011 were two per cent higher than in the last quarter of 2010.
The reluctance by the Bank of England to increase the base lending rate has also been credited with a flurry of good deals coming through from mortgage lenders. For those looking for a mortgage it’s well worth keeping an eye on the new deals by the likes of Nationwide, Woolwich and Northern Rock. The return of 90 and 95 per cent mortgages has also led to a flurry of optimistic headlines in recent weeks.
The mortgage maze is always rather frightening and confusing – the main dilemma being between fixed-rate or variable mortgages. And it doesn’t help knowing this may be the biggest financial decision of your life! The links below will hopefully give you an overview of the mortgage scene and give you the confidence to ask the right questions of your mortgage lender.
- Our online property search engine
- Mortgage Advice Bureau
- BBC Mortgage Calculator
- DirectGov: Mortgage advice
- Independent Mortgages section
- Independent Property section
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