More news to make investors ponder

by Rachel Crook

Those keen to buy property may have recently been buoyed by much of what they have heard about the market.

If the aim of the game is to buy soon in the belief that it is around the bottom and then enjoy a long period of rising values, now could indeed be the time.

Recent surveys have shown a range of encouraging signs, such as a growing number of buyer enquiries, more actual sales, increased mortgage lending and - at least in the case of Nationwide - a hint of rising prices.

Elsewhere, the most recent quarterly statistics from the Financial Times and Halifax indexes revealed a slowdown in the rate at which the cost of homes is falling.

This week brought more positive signs of this kind as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) revealed the result of its March survey of members.

For the fifth month in a row there were more surveyors reporting a rise in buyer numbers than a fall, this gap being 31 per cent compared to 21 per cent in February. In London the month-on-month jump was greater still, from 46 per cent to 63 per cent.

Sales were also up, albeit marginally from 9.6 per agent to 9.7, while the continued house price decline showed more signs of slowing. In this case the balance of surveyors seeing prices falling was still negative at 73.1 per cent, but this was five per cent down on February.

So there are facts that may be regarded - even if only tentatively - as evidence that the market is starting to pick up. Commenting on the findings, Rics spokesman Ian Perry said that this new growth may, however, bypass those such as first-time buyers.

Hr stated: "Surveyors are optimistic that transaction levels will increase, especially for those with the finance to purchase family homes. However, accessibility for first-time buyers is likely to remain difficult while loan-to-value ratios generally remain at current levels. The market is still in a fragile state but with demand continuing to pick up, there may be more signs of stabilisation in the coming months."

But if first-time buyers may not benefit so much yet, those looking to make more purchases and aim at more expensive property may be in luck. Those doing do, of course, can always look to avoid the use of lawyers by picking up a DIY Kit on selling their own house.

The reason fortune could be smiling on such buyers is that there has been a growing propensity for homeowners with dwellings worth £500,000 or more to sell up and downsize, according to property debt help service the Homeowners Advice Centre.

Co-owner of the organisation Chris Jenkins noted that this group are more likely to sell for two reasons, the first being that the option many frustrated sellers have resorted to of renting their home is less likely to succeed with a big house, as these are harder to let even in good times. The second, he noted, is a matter of equity and risk.

Mr Jenkins stated: "Despite the fall in property values, this group do tend to have a large amount of equity that allows them to offer the kind of discounts that quick sale companies are looking for when they are buying."

So for those looking to invest in property higher up the scale, the general good news about the market may be supplemented by this segment of it, with numerous discounting meaning property bargains to be had.

Published on: April 16, 2009

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