December 13 2013 Latest news:
Emma Knights and Dan Grimmer
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
The region’s housing market appears to have turned a corner, with the highest numbers of would-be buyers in four years as well as prices in Norfolk up by 2pc and prices in Suffolk up by 4pc, experts have said.
A bumper time for estate agents has seen the average house price in Norfolk leap up by 2pc in just June, estate agents say – an increase of more than £2,000 to £162,663.
In Suffolk, average house prices have risen by 4pc in July to £170,124, an increase of more than £7,000.
The news comes as July saw the number of potential buyers looking to enter the market in the East of England grow at the fastest rate since July 2009, according to an industry survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The government’s introduction of finance initiatives for first-time buyers, such as the Help To Buy scheme, and banks being more open to lending, has been praised by the industry for giving the market a shot in the arm.
The Help to Buy scheme, which 10,000 people have signed up to, allows buyers of new-build homes to put down a 5pc deposit and take out a government loan for up to 20pc of the house’s value.
Giles Hart, area director at William H Brown, which carried out the Norfolk and Suffolk surveys, said: “The rate of activity in Norfolk is hotting up, with a 26pc increase in the number of sales transactions from June 2012, outpacing activity levels in the UK and London.
“This transactional flurry has not been quelled by rising property prices – which leapt 2pc in just one month.
“Buyers are taking advantage of renewed access to mortgage finance, with new buyer registrations increasing 9pc annually across Norfolk.”
He said that in Norwich, buyer registrations have increased by 8pc over the last quarter. He said: “As a result of this renewed interest there has been a 22pc annual rise in property transactions as buyers continue to be drawn to the region’s capital city.”
And he said Downham Market was proving a particular Norfolk property hotspot. Prices in the town had risen at an average rate of 4pc per month over the last quarter, with a 28pc rise in new buyer registrations.
And in Great Yarmouth average prices were also up 2pc on month.
With regards to Suffolk, Ian Fry, area director at William H Brown, said the property market was also doing well, with average property prices above £170,000 for the first time in almost two and a half years.
He added: “Activity is also rising, with the number of property sales transactions up by a quarter annually, highlighting just how much confidence is returning to the market. Government initiatives, such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy, have fuelled demand in the region, with the number of new buyer registrations up 7pc annually, and this, in turn, is impacting on house price growth. As a result of this growth, which has been consistent since the start of the year, homeowners are once again building up equity in their homes and are therefore ready to put them on the market, with new instructions rising by 12pc annually.”
The average property price in Lowestoft has risen 2pc to £178,413, an increase of £3,403.
Jan Hÿtch, a partner at Norwich-based Arnolds Keys and RICS East of England spokesman said: “During the doldrums and depths of the recession, first-time buyers faced real difficulty in accessing affordable mortgage finance and being able to save for a deposit. This in turn undermined the entire sales chain and left the housing market stuttering along. Help to Buy has begun to galvanise first-time buyers into buying new homes, and encouraged developers to begin building again.
“Though it is too soon to speak of a full recovery, I have high hopes that the housing market is beginning to turn a corner.”
Tony Abel, managing director of Watton-based home builder Abel Homes, said: “We have seen an amazing turnaround in a very short space of time. The government initiative of Help To Buy has coincided with a generally more positive feeling among housebuyers about their comfort in buying a new home. Help To Buy has had a domino effect through the market – those buying the smaller units in Help To Buy have triggered a reaction up the ladder.”
He said, while there was an increase in house prices, he thought it was unlikely to develop into a “runaway price boom” as people were still cautious about job security and the cost of living.
Meanwhile Ivan Johnson, executive frontline director for affordable housing provider Broadland Housing, said while house prices rising was a positive sign for the economy, it would make things more difficult for first-time buyers.
“It is a sign the economy is on the mend which is good but unless salaries keep pace then the gap between house prices and salaries will get wider and wider,” he said. “Obviously any increase in house prices is bad news for first-time buyers because they are already struggling to get on to the housing ladder.”
He said in parts of Norfolk property values were up to about 10 or 11 times the average salary.