Housing market

'Low' deposit mortgages returning to market

Kevin Peachey

Personal finance reporter

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The proportion of all mortgages which require a deposit of 10% of less has reached its highest level since 2008, Bank of England figures show.

The share of mortgages in this category increased to 5.9% in the third quarter of the year, the Bank said.

The proportion is still much smaller than before the financial crisis, when mortgages were handed out to some people without the need for a deposit at all.

Since then regulation of the sector has been tightened up, with applicants having to pass stricter affordability requirements.

'If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages'

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Russ Mould of AJ Bell thinks that the housebuilder Berkeley has become "a victim of its own success".

He says: “Chairman and founder Tony Pidgley has a reputation as an industry sage and the company delivered exceptional returns having acquired land cheaply in the wake of the financial crisis, largely in London and the South East, and then building high-end properties which generated exceptional margins."

Mr Mould says, however, that Berkeley's latest results are "a return to normality".

He mulls that perhaps Berkeley's predicament is similar to the one Arsenal once faced, when, following a poor performance, the football club's former manager Arsene Wenger said: "If you eat caviar every day, it’s difficult to return to sausages."

However, shareholders shouldn't be too worried as Berkeley has a strong cash flow and "robust balance sheet".

“Like the rest of its peer group, [Berkeley] will be watching the election closely next week to see if the result can inject a bit more confidence into the housing market," he says.

Berkeley profits drop due to Brexit uncertainty

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UK housebuilder Berkeley Group has reported a 31% fall in pre-tax profits to £276.7m for the six months to 31 October.

Berkeley delivered fewer homes during the period - 1,389 properties compared with 2,027 in the same period in the previous year, and the average selling price dropped 13% to £644,000.

The housebuilder said its profits were hit by lower prices due to Brexit. It added that uncertainty surrounding the upcoming general election and delay to Brexit was damaging the economy.

However, mortgage lenders Nationwide and Halifax have both found in their surveys that house prices rose by more than expected in November.

Berkeley's shares are now up 0.3% to £45.61.

'Surprising' rise in property prices...

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Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, says it is surprising UK house prices rose in November, according to data from Halifax, especially given the current climate.

"Given that we are still in a period of great uncertainty, with an impending general election and unknown consequences regarding the outcome and impact that will have on Brexit, the uplift in property prices is hugely positive," he said.

"Surprisingly, there is clearly still confidence in the housing market, perhaps boosted by mortgage affordability and job security.

"This suggests people want to buy, although there is an underlying nervousness as to what lies ahead with Brexit or a potential hung parliament."

House prices 'rebounded' in November

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House price growth picked up last month, according to the latest survey from the Halifax.

The lender said prices rose 1% between October to November, the biggest monthly rise since February.

That helped to push the annual rate of increase up to 2.1%, and the Halifax says the average property now costs £234,625,

"Average house prices rebounded somewhat in November," said Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax.

"While a degree of uncertainty remains evident, it’s also clear that buyers and sellers are responding to factors such as improved mortgage affordability and the limited supply of available properties.

“It is these issues which we believe will continue to underpin the resilience evident in the market for most of 2019. Over the medium term we expect the emerging trend of modest gains to continue into next year.”

General Election 2019: How can London's housing crisis be solved?

The lack of affordable housing and the cost of renting are among the biggest issues which Londoners face.

All the main political parties have promised to tackle the issue in their election manifestos.

But charities and housing trusts say they could be doing more, such as building affordable homes with prices linked to average wages and providing more help for people to be able to rent and buy.

Solving London's housing crisis