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Housing land buyers look north

National and regional housebuilders are expanding and diversifying their operations, with some moving into new regions to take advantage of house price growth in the midlands and north of the country, as house price growth slows in London and the south east. 

As a result, residential land values are rising in the UK regional markets, but continuing to soften in central London, according to the latest Savills residential land index.

UK urban land values outside London continued to rise steadily (+0.7%) over the third quarter of 2017, taking annual growth to 4.7 per cent, ahead of house price growth, which the Savills repeat sales index puts at 3.9 per cent. 

“Manchester and Birmingham continue to outperform the UK average and are now joined by smaller locations such as Luton, Coventry and Chelmsford in seeing double digit annual price growth for urban land,” says Lucy Greenwood, Savills research analyst.  “This quarter’s indices are further evidence of growing demand for land in London’s outer commuter belt and beyond, with increased caution in the capital.”

Growing housebuilder confidence and appetite for larger sites is reflected in the rate at which greenfield land values have begun to rise.  In the third quarter of this year, they rose by 1.1 per cent in the third quarter, as much as in the first six months of the year, taking annual growth to 2.2 per cent. 

National housebuilders including Barratt, Persimmon, Crest Nicholson and Miller, plus regional housebuilders such as Wain Homes in the Bristol area and Story Homes in the Manchester area, have either opened or are planning to open offices in new regions.  For some, this means reopening offices in areas where they closed operations post global financial crisis, while others are branching into new territory to diversify and mitigate against regional fluctuations in house prices and demand.

This expansion has been facilitated by rising numbers of new homes completions. There was a 56 per cent increase in the delivery of market homes for sale by developers in the three years to the end of 2016 and the 2016/17 new homes total for England is expected to hit 210,000.  Planning consents are also up by 11% per cent in the year to June 2017 (321,982 consents). 

Additionally, the Government’s recent announcement that a further £10 billion will be invested into the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, is expected to translate into greater confidence in buying land for building out to 2021.

In its paper, On track to solving the housing crisis?, published earlier this month, Savills calls for much more land to be brought forward to reduce competition for land in high demand areas.  This would impact land values but allow developers to build in volume, at prices the mass market can afford, thus enabling large sites to be built out quickly.  However, this would also limit the capacity for sales proceeds to fund infrastructure and affordable housing via section 106 and CIL contributions, so would require policy flexibility.

The central London story:

While land values have risen at a UK level, they have continued to fall across central London, following the pattern of house price growth in the capital’s prime central housing market.  The value of land for housing fell by 2.0 per cent in the past six months,  in line with -2.1 per cent falls in prime London house prices in the same period.   

A succession of stamp duty and other tax increases have left house prices in these high value markets down by a total of 15 per cent from their 2014 peak, albeit they now appear to be finding a level.  Residential land values have fallen by around 12 per cent over the same period. 

In August 2017, the London Mayor’s Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Guidance (SPG) was adopted.  “So far this is does not appear to be affecting land values for consented sites in the capital, though it will add to buyer caution,” says Greenwood.  “The rate of absorption of new build stock and the availability and cost of labour will be key determinants of future land values.”

Office land values in central London fell by 1.6 per cent in the last six months, taking annual falls to 3.3 per cent.  The three key factors impacting values are rising build costs, Brexit related occupational risk, and the fact that debt finance for development is increasingly difficult.

However, developments where at least half of the floorspace is pre-let are going ahead, and there is more confidence in areas without a strong focus on finance of EU related occupiers.

[our thanks to Savills]

The chronic housing shortage is being made worse by the reluctance of banks to lend to small housebuilders, the Federation of Master Builders has claimed.

Britain’s largest trade association for the construction industry said that nearly half of all small housebuilders had reported that sites in which they were interested had stalled amid a lack of lending.

Small builders are seen as vital part to addressing the housing shortage as they are more likely to buy plots of land that larger developers ignore.

“Banks are doing the bare minimum in trying to help. Things haven’t improved since the financial crisis,” Brian Berry, chief executive of the federation, said. “They tightened up their lending criteria and have adopted a blanket approach where they treat all small and medium-sized housebuilders as high-risk.”

Banks reined in lending to housebuilders after the crisis, implementing strict lending criteria requiring developers to have a high level of capital, which is difficult for smaller builders that cannot rely on a large land bank and which tend to have tight cashflow.

Small housebuilders reported that access to finance has worsened over the past year, with 54 per cent of companies saying that lack of finance was one of the biggest constraints on their ability to build more houses. This compared with 50 per cent in 2016.

When asked to rate lending conditions for residential development from zero to five, the average score fell to 1.63, from 1.85 last year, the first drop since the question was first asked in 2013.

About 23 per cent of all new homes are built by housebuilders that complete fewer than 500 properties a year, compared with 44 per cent in 2008.

The economic downturn forced hundreds of small housebuilders out of business. However, unlike in previous cycles, the number scarcely recovered as the economy improved. This has led to a dominance of big housebuilders such as Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon and Barratt Developments, which have delivered record profits and margins of more than 20 per cent since 2012.

The housing shortfall remains significant, with 153,000 homes completed in the year to June, nearly 100,000 fewer than the government’s target of 250,000. This has pushed up prices, causing home ownership to fall to a 30-year low.

Local authorities have to show the government that they have a five-year plan for housing in their area, which usually leads to the allocation of large sites that go to the big housebuilders. Sixty-two per cent of housebuilders said that the availability of small parcels of land was their biggest constraint.

Mr Barry said: “If you were to use the smaller plots, you would be using local housebuilders, there would be less local opposition and you are keeping money in the regions rather than with the larger housebuilders who bring in their own labour force and then leave again.”

[our thanks to The Times]

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More than a third of homes for sale in the capital have been reduced in price since they were first put on the market, according to new research.

Analysis of homes listed on Zoopla has found 35.3 per cent of all homes listed for sale in the capital have had their prices cut since they were first listed, up from 29.7 per cent in February.

The study, by online estate agent, found Richmond is the borough with the highest percentage of price cuts: almost 46 per cent of homes on sale in the borough have been reduced in price.

That's followed by Kingston Upon Thames, where just over 45 per cent of homes have had their prices cut.

At the other end of the scale is the borough of Newham, home to London's Olympic Park, where just under 26 per cent of homes have been reduced in price.

In both Kingston and Havering, the number of homes reduced in price rose more than 10 percentage points between February and June. Hammersmith and Fulham was the only borough where the number of price reductions fell.

“What’s unusual about the level of discounted properties is that it would suggest there are too many sellers and not enough buyers," pointed out Alex Gosling, chief executive of HouseSimple.

"But strangely this market is still suffering from a lack of new supply. There are actually plenty of buyers looking, but they’re a different buyer from 12 months ago. They are more cautious and viewing multiple properties before making a decision. Long gone are the days when buyers were diving in to avoid missing out as the market accelerated away from them."

The news came a day after analysis by Savills showed the number of people leaving the capital has shot up by 80 per cent in the past five years, as high house prices drive buyers further afield.

The figures showed people in their 30s are leading the charge, with the number of those between 30 and 39 leaving London rising 68 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

[Our thanks to City Am]

Growth has returned to the UK housing market this month, but house prices have edged up just £300, new figures published today have shown.


Rightmove's house price index showed prices have risen 0.1 per cent so far this month, or 2.8 per cent since last July. That's a rise from June, when prices fell 0.4 per cent month-on-month, and rose a modest 1.8 per cent on the year before.


The average asking price hit £316,421 this month, up from £316,109 in June, although for first-time buyers, the figure fell 1.7 per cent month-on-month, from £196,943 in June to £196,450 this month.


Meanwhile, although house prices in London rose 1.1 per cent between June and July, and 0.9 per cent in the year to July, price growth in outer London stalled, with average asking prices sliding 0.4 per cent.


Rightmove suggested that although supply of new properties coming onto the market is low while demand is relatively strong, the amount buyers can afford is acting as a "price brake".


"Sellers should note the market remains very price-sensitive as some properties are hitting their price ceiling," said Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove.


"Buyers, many of whom are sellers too, will struggle to afford to pay much more. Wage growth is muted, there are signs that consumer credit is tightening, and at some point there will be the first rise in mortgage interest rates for a decade or more, which will come as a shock to buyers who have either forgotten or have never experienced interest rates going up as well as down.


He added: "We can see now that price rises are muted despite high housing demand, indicating we have left the stage of the cycle where prices rise."


Official data published last week showed wage growth is currently at 1.8 per cent, well below the UK's inflation figure of 2.9 per cent.

Rightmove's house price index showed prices have risen 0.1 per cent so far this month, or 2.8 per cent since last July. That's a rise from June, when prices fell 0.4 per cent month-on-month, and rose a modest 1.8 per cent on the year before.

The average asking price hit £316,421 this month, up from £316,109 in June, although for first-time buyers, the figure fell 1.7 per cent month-on-month, from £196,943 in June to £196,450 this month.

Meanwhile, although house prices in London rose 1.1 per cent between June and July, and 0.9 per cent in the year to July, price growth in outer London stalled, with average asking prices sliding 0.4 per cent.

Rightmove suggested that although supply of new properties coming onto the market is low while demand is relatively strong, the amount buyers can afford is acting as a "price brake".

"Sellers should note the market remains very price-sensitive as some properties are hitting their price ceiling," said Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove.

"Buyers, many of whom are sellers too, will struggle to afford to pay much more. Wage growth is muted, there are signs that consumer credit is tightening, and at some point there will be the first rise in mortgage interest rates for a decade or more, which will come as a shock to buyers who have either forgotten or have never experienced interest rates going up as well as down.

He added: "We can see now that price rises are muted despite high housing demand, indicating we have left the stage of the cycle where prices rise."

Official data published last week showed wage growth is currently at 1.8 per cent, well below the UK's inflation figure of 2.9 per cent.

[Our thanks to City AM]

It's not just Dick Whittington who came to London to try his luck, it seems: last year the capital attracted almost 200,000 new people, according to official figures.

But analysis of the Office for National Statistics' internal migration figures suggests that, with London house prices a touch higher than they were in Whittington's day, the largest proportion of those moving to the capital from the rest of the UK are heading south of the river.

In fact, the borough with the most internal migrants last year was Wandsworth, where just over 13,100 people from the rest of the UK moved last year.

That was followed by Lambeth, where 12,300-odd people headed, while 10,000 people went to Southwark.

Meanwhile, earlier this month analysis of the same data showed when Londoners move out of the capital, the largest group head to Birmingham: in 2016, more than 6,500 headed north(ish).

That was followed by Brighton, where just under 5,600 Londoners moved in 2016, and Thurrock in Essex, where almost 4,900 went.

The City was the least popular place to move, with just 289 non-Londers moving into the financial district last year - almost a 10th of the next-lowest, Barking, where 2,662 people headed.

[Our thanks to City AM]

After a sweltering few days in London, holidaying in the UK may not seem like such a bad idea. And as the pound has weakened and apps like Airbnb make it easier to let out a house, the country's holiday let market has boomed.

Average income per booking was up 6.4 per cent year-on year in the first four months of 2017, according to holiday property agents Second Estates. This means holiday lets are now generating double the annual income of residential buy-to-let properties.

“The weak pound is persuading millions of Britons to remain in the UK this summer and attracting more overseas visitors to the UK. The strength of the UK tourist industry is paying dividends for holiday property owners,” said Second Estates chief executive Alistair Malins.

Booking income is growing fastest in the south of England, at 17.3 per cent, while the Lake District, the Yorkshire Dales and the “heart of England” also featured in the top 10 regions with the fastest growing holiday let income.

Top 10 areas by highest holiday let income growth, according to Second Estates

For those thinking of capitalising on this home-holidaying trend, Second Estates has also revealed the features which will give a house the most significant income uplift.

A hot tub will boost annual income by almost £7,000 according to the report, while a house name (as opposed to a number) will add an extra £1,619 and a wood fire turns up the heat by £1,119.

Dog lovers are also willing to fork out for bringing along their furry friend – dog-friendly properties make a further £397 on average.

Second Estates' report recorded 165,000 holiday let properties in the UK last year, with the average house generating £22,281 over the 12 months.

Demand was driven by both domestic and international visitors, as overseas holidaymakers totted up 37.6m trips to the UK and contributed £22.5bn to the economy.

[Our thanks to City AM]

The UK housing market remained steady in April despite the news of a snap election in June and "ongoing uncertainty around Brexit", according to data from the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

During the month the average selling prices increased by two per cent while the typical purchase loan size was up by the same amount.

There was a minimal change in average size of remortgage month-on-month (0.6 per cent increase) while the average purchase price for first-time buyers remained broadly unchanged on the previous month (1.23 per cent increase).

Given that the timescales for the 2017 General Election are so short, the impact of this in most areas of the UK in terms of affecting the decision or not to purchase are negligible; for those who are already in the buying or selling cycle, it’s unlikely to affect their decision, and discretionary buyers – who are normally the most affected by economic or political events – make up a smaller than usual element of the current market, therefore while there will be some who decide to hold off until after 8 June to proceed, the majority of consumers are carrying on as normal.

Meanwhile, April marked the fourth successive month the proportion of small deposit buyers has risen, according to the latest mortgage monitor from residential chartered surveyors Esurv.

The overall mortgage market has grown for first time since November 2016, the data showed.

Last month small deposit buyers, which includes most first-time buyers, grabbed a 21.4 per cent share of the market. Their market share stood at 16.1 per cent in Decmeber last year and rose to 18.7 per cent in January and again to 20.5 per cent in February.

A total of 67,035 loans (seasonally adjusted) were approved in April, up compared to both last month and the same stage last year. This is the first monthly rise since November 2016.

Richard Sexton, director of Esurv, said: “April was a positive month for the UK mortgage industry with the overall size of the market growing on a monthly basis for the first time since November 2016.  There was even better news for first-time buyers and others with small deposits. Their share of the market has risen yet again in April. That is not to say there aren’t significant challenges ahead, but data from the market this month is overwhelmingly positive.”

[Our thanks to CityAM]

The Elizabeth Line, nee Crossrail, launches this month (Source: Getty)

After a decade in the making, the first trains run on the Elizabeth Line, nee Crossrail, this month.

But the line won't just benefit commuters: homeowners along the route will also celebrate, with prices of homes around many stops having more than doubled since it was first approved by planners.

Research by Emoov showed prices have risen the most in Whitechapel, where the average asking price was £290,000 in 2007, when it was first started. Now it's £750,000, 159 per cent higher.

Paddington came second, with a 129 per cent rise in prices, from £769,000 in 2007 to £1.76m now. That was followed by Liverpool Street, where prices have risen 118 per cent, from £655,000 when it began to £1.43m now.

But the good news, for aspiring commuters, is that there are still pockets of affordability along the line.

In Abbey Wood, house prices have risen 91 per cent since Crossrail began - but the average price is still £385,000. Likewise, the average price in Harold Wood, in north east London, is £376,000, 71 per cent higher than this time last year.

West Drayton is about the same, at £379,000, 67 per cent higher than the average £228,000 asking price back in 2007.

And Heathrow might be noisy - but with an average house prices of £314,000, at least it's affordable.

Across the whole of the line, Emoov said the average house price has risen 80 per cent, compared with 77 per cent across the rest of the capital.

The first stage of the £14.8bn project will begin running later this month, connecting Liverpool Street with Shenfield via Stratford and Forest Gate.

[Our thanks to City AM]

UK house prices: First quarterly fall since 2012 with annual growth at a standstill, Halifax house price index says (Source: Getty)

Annual house price growth in the UK last month remained at 3.8 per cent, the same level reported in March, according to the Halifax house price index - but the lender also reported the first quarterly decline in over four years.

House price in the three months to April were 0.2 per cent lower than in the previous quarter, the first time prices have dipped on a quarterly basis since November 2012.

Meanwhile, house prices fell by 0.1 per cent on a monthly basis, with the average cost of a property now standing at £219,649.

Halifax also noted housing supply remains very low. The number of properties coming on to the market fell for the 13th month in a row in March, which Halifax said "contributed to a decline in the average stock levels on estate agents’ books, taking them to a new historic low".

"House prices have stagnated over the past three months," said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist.

"Housing demand appears to have been curbed in recent months due to a deterioration in housing affordability driven by the sustained period of rapid house price growth during 2014-16.

"Signs of a decline in the pace of job creation, and the beginnings of a squeeze on households' finances as a result of increasing inflation, may also be constraining the demand for homes."

However, Ellis added: "A continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing acute shortage of properties for sale, should nonetheless help continue to underpin house prices over the coming months."

"Today’s reduction in momentum for house price inflation is not necessary a bad sign for our housing market," said ​Jeremy Duncombe, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club.

"It is all too easy to become preoccupied with these monthly fluctuations but what remains unchanged is the staggering gap between house price inflation and wage inflation.

"With the General Election on the horizon, it is important that the progress our current government has made with the housing white paper does not fall down the priority list. Whatever the outcome, tackling our nation’s housing shortage needs to be at the top of the agenda for all political parties. The General Election provides the perfect opportunity for the successful party to truly make their mark and restructure of housing market once and for all."

[our thanks to City AM]

The bank's house price optimism survey, which tracks consumer sentiment on whether house prices will be higher or lower in a year’s time, has improved two points to hit 44 from a net score of 42 in October 2016. The improvement comes after a record fall in October 2016 following the EU referendum result.

Optimism stood at 68 points in May 2015 around the time of the General Election, while the lowest level ever recorded was minus two in October 2011 after a period of declining house prices, the only time it has ever been in negative territory.

According to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, house price growth in the UK was 5.8% in the year to February, up from 5.3 per cent in the year to January. However, the rise was still below the average growth seen in 2016 of 7.3 per cent.

The average UK house price in February was £218,000, up £12,000 from the previous year and £2,000 higher than last month.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: “House price optimism is little changed since the October 2016 measure, which is significant because it was the first post-Brexit survey and recorded the steepest fall since the tracker began. The latest results suggest that consumer confidence in the housing market is potentially settling into a new lower ‘normal’.

“This sentiment echoes the slowdown in the annual rate of house price growth, which has more than halved over the past 12 months.”

[Our thanks to City AM]

The number of homes bought in the UK fell to its lowest since 2013 last year, new figures have shown.

Some 1.15m homes were bought between April last year and March this year, compared with 1.32m the year before, and 2m in 2014-15.

The figures also showed the number of homes bought fell 40 per cent between March this year and March last year, from 173,860 to 102,810. That was thanks to new stamp duty rules introduced at the beginning of last April, which hiked stamp duty on second homes and led to a buying frenzy just before the rules were introduced.

However, the figures provided some hope the market was beginning to pick up: the number of transactions picked up 0.5 per cent between February and March.

The figures came on the same day mortgage rates hit an all-time low after Yorkshire Building Society unveiled a 0.89% mortgage. 

Ishaan Malhi, chief executive of online mortgage broker Trussle, said the figures were encouraging.

“The market has picked up again, despite weakened demand from buy-to-let investors facing new tax and stamp duty rules. This is likely due to the increase in first-time buyer activity that we’ve seen in recent months.

"With a general election now on the horizon however, I expect activity may dip again as buyers and homeowners adopt the ‘wait and see’ attitude that we've seen in previous elections. This usually then leads to a bounce back in activity once the result is known."

Commercial property investment in London’s West End has hit a record high of £1.93bn in the first quarter of 2017, driven by buyers from Hong Kong.
According to Cushman & Wakefield (C&W), the figure is up by 22% on the five-year first quarter average, surpassing the West End’s previous record of £1.8bn in 2013.
Across the whole of central London, the total volume invested in hit £4.18bn – up from £3.7bn in the same period last year and approaching the 2015 level of £4.6bn.
Far Eastern buyers accounted for 72% of acquisition volumes in the City, a large part of which was attributable to CC Land’s purchase of the Leadenhall Building, more commonly known as the Cheesegrater.

House prices are growing faster in cities such as Manchester, Portsmouth and Bristol than they are in London as sales of high-end homes in the capital have stagnated.

London house price growth has more than halved in the past 12 months, down from annual growth of 12.8 per cent in February 2016, to 5.6 per cent this year.

The average house price in the capital hit £488,000 last month, according to figures from Hometrack.

But that figure does not reveal the substantial variation in prices throughout the city. Falling prices on high-end homes in the centre of London has been dragging on overall house price growth, but double-digit inflation is still being recorded in the outer boroughs.

Meanwhile, house prices are rocketing in Manchester and Portsmouth, where prices grew by 8.8 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively. These are the cities in the UK where house prices are shooting up:


Average price

Annual growth, Feb 2017

Annual growth, Feb 2016










































Former chancellor George Osborne predicted there would be a housing market crash if the UK voted for Brexit, but a property crisis has not materialised yet.

Many are still worried about how a spending squeeze may impact UK property, however this is not yet reflected in the stats.

Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack, said: "Buyers are fully aware of the government's plans and timescales for Brexit but there remains huge uncertainty over what this means for the economy over the next two to three years and beyond.

"In cities where affordability remains attractive we expect demand to hold up in the short term albeit with slower growth in sales volumes."

[Our thanks to City AM]


This time last year buy-to-let investors were rushing through deals to avoid a tax hike (Source: Getty)


Helen CahillAnnual house price growth was slashed in March, failing to keep pace with the inflation seen when buy to let landlords were rushing to close property deals before the stamp duty tax hike. Asking prices were up 1.3 per cent (£3,877) in March as compared to the month before, according to Rightmove.

Year-on-year, growth plunged to 2.3 per cent from 7.6 per cent in March 2016. This was because this time last year, buy to let investors were snapping-up properties before the deadline for the three per cent rise in stamp duty land tax.

In London, the average asking price grew 1.4 per cent month-on-month in March, equivalent to £8,656. The outer London boroughs have been driving house price growth in the capital:


March 2017

February 2017

London average asking prices        Greater London



London average asking prices        Inner London



London average asking prices        Outer London






Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: "While six consecutive years of price rises have been a gravy train for many home-owners, some of them are running into the buffers of affordability when they come to trade up.

"Meanwhile many would-be first-time buyers are being left waiting on the platform struggling to even get on board. Modest average wage rises and tighter lending criteria have limited buyers' ability to pay more."

With interest rates at rock-bottom, servicing mortgage debt has become incredibly cheap. However, banks have become very cautious with their lending, making it more difficult for buyers to access this cheap credit.

[Our thanks to CityAM]





World house prices have grown faster than household incomes in recent decades as more cash and less mortgage lending is used. The number of years' wages needed to acquire a home is becoming less relevant as a result so it is unhelpful to call housing market ‘bubbles’ on this basis alone.

Housing capital is available through generational home ownership, historic price growth, inheritance, sale of businesses, bonuses, stock flotation, wealth creation, other investments, and so on. We therefore need to know how much housing capital people have to spend and how costly or difficult it is to obtain in order to talk about ‘affordability’.

What is 'affordable' in cash-rich cities?

A lot of housing capital has been concentrated at the top end of the housing markets in dominant world cities. These ‘prime’ markets provide good evidence of how mainstream markets outside world cities are behaving.

Prime markets in six major world cities grew by 80 per cent between 2005 and 2013 but prime income multiples in most of these are little changed in the last 11 years, at around 10 times local household incomes.

In markets like these, there is no direct relationship between incomes, borrowing, interest rates and values. So how do we tell what is fair value and whether the market is at risk of adjustment?

Prime markets are asset markets

The key to understanding prime market affordability and potential overheating is understanding the opportunity cost of capital. Put simply, you are paying too much for a house when the same money would buy you more of something else. Prime market affordability can therefore be assessed by comparing the cost of homes with the price of other assets.

We have looked at how many kilograms of gold you need in order to buy a prime (current value around US$3 million) home in the six top world cities. By comparing these numbers with how much gold you would have needed in the past, we can see whether any markets may be overheated and which may be in danger of a downward correction.

Our analysis shows that most prime housing values seem to be justified if only in relation to the price of alternative assets, in historic terms. While London, New York and Hong Kong cost more in gold now than the eleven-year average, only prime residential real estate in Hong Kong is currently priced near its 2007 peak. All the other world cities are still well below their peak gold pricing.

This suggests that global house markets are not headed for a crash (unless there were to be a broader asset price crash, including gold). London and New York might be described as fully valued rather than overvalued while, by historic standards, Paris, Singapore and Tokyo look fairly priced. Hong Kong is both more expensive and nearer its former pre-crash peak than the other cities.

[Our thanks to Savills]

Official data published this morning suggested UK house price growth has got its mojo back – but things are looking less encouraging in London, where growth fell to a weak (relatively speaking) 7.5 per cent in December.

But analysis of the data by online estate agent Emoov suggests the story is not the same across the whole of the capital: in fact, some parts of London experienced growth of more than 14 per cent.

The figures show growth in Barking and Dagenham, one of the few parts of London with average prices of below £300,000, topped 14 per cent in December.

Growth in Waltham Forest and Bexley was also in the teens, at 13.6 per cent and 13.2 per cent respectively, while prices in Havering rose 12.4 per cent.

Hammersmith and Fulham was the only borough in London where prices fell, dropping 2.1 per cent (albeit to a hefty £772,000).

Meanwhile, growth in Richmond upon Thames managed a measly 0.38 per cent, rising to £641,000.

In two London boroughs, average house prices topped £1m – in the City of Westminster, prices rose 1.15 per cent to £1.01m while in Kensington and Chelsea, prices rose 4.15 per cent to £1.25m.

If you're looking planning to buy a house in the capital, it's best to head for outer London, where prices rose 7.87 per cent to £392,000 in the year to December – compared with a six per cent rise to £554,000 in inner London.

Read more: Bonus bonanza! The London hotspots you need to invest in

London house price growth: the official ranking;



December '15

December '16

Change (£)

Change (%)


Barking & Dagenham






Waltham Forest




















































































City of London






Tower Hamlets
























Kingston upon Thames






























Kensington And Chelsea






























City of Westminster






Richmond upon Thames






Hammersmith and Fulham






[Our thanks to CityAM]

The Housing White Paper, sets out how the government intends to boost housing supply and create a more efficient housing market. Sajid Javid, secretary of state for communities and local government, said the measures are aimed at ensuring the right homes are built in the right places, speeding up build-out rates and diversifying the housing market.

Meeting housing needs and five year supply

A standardised approach to calculating housing needs is proposed from April 2018. This will apply for assessments of 5 year housing land supply and housing delivery, in the absence of an up-to-date plan. Local authorities will have the opportunity to have their housing land supply agreed on an annual basis, and fixed for a one-year period with those doing so being required to have a 10% buffer on their 5 year land supply. Particular focus will be placed on the housing requirements of particular groups such as older and disabled people.

A new housing delivery test

A new housing delivery test will be introduced based on net annual housing additions and measured as an average over a three-year rolling period. The government proposes a tiered approach to implementation of the policy. If the rate of housing delivery in a local authority falls a specified percentage below the housing requirement the presumption in favour of sustainable development would automatically apply providing an opportunity to bring forward suitable sites for development. Consideration is to be given to changes to the timescales for commencement of development on consented schemes from 3 to 2 years.

Affordable housing

A revised wider definition of affordable housing is proposed to include social rented housing; social rented housing; starter homes, discounted market sales housing (housing that is sold at a discount of at least 20 per cent below local market value); affordable private rent housing; and intermediate housing. It is stated that local authorities should seek to ensure that a minimum of 10% of all homes on individual sites are affordable home ownership products.

Using land more efficiently and development density

Amendments to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) are proposed to ensure proposals make efficient use of land and avoid building at low densities; address the scope for higher-density housing in urban locations; ensure that the density and form of development reflect the character, accessibility and infrastructure capacity of an area; and take a flexible approach in adopting and applying policy and guidance. The paper make particular reference to flexibility in matters such as open space provision in areas with good access to facilities nearby.

Green Belt

Amendments to national policy are proposed to make clear that authorities should amend Green Belt boundaries only when they can demonstrate that they have examined fully all

“The definition of affordable housing will include starter homes and discounted market sales housing sold at a discount of at least 20% below local market value.

other reasonable options for meeting their identified development requirements. This will include making effective use of suitable brownfield sites and the opportunities offered by estate regeneration; the potential of underused land including surplus public sector land; optimising density of development; and exploring whether other authorities can help to meet identified needs. Where land is removed from the Green Belt, policy will require impacts to be offset by compensatory improvements to the environmental quality or accessibility of remaining Green Belt land. When carrying out a Green Belt review, authorities will be required to first at using any Green Belt land which has been previously developed and/or which surrounds transport hubs.

Presumption in favour of sustainable development

A new version of the presumption in favour of sustainable development is proposed including a requirement that plans provide a clear strategy to maximise the use of suitable land. The NPPF will also be amended to indicate that great weight should be attached to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes.

Small sites

Policy will indicate that great weight should be given to using small undeveloped sites capable of accommodating fewer than 10 units and less than 0.5ha within settlements for homes, where they are suitable for residential development. At least 10% of the sites allocated for residential development in local plans should be sites of half a hectare or less.

A new framework for plan making

The white paper sets out new requirements for plan making and changes to the ‘tests of soundness’ used at local plan examinations. The requirement will be to set out ‘an’ appropriate strategy for an area rather than necessary the ‘most’ appropriate strategy. Whilst aimed at avoiding delays to examination this may reduce the scope for challenge to plans at examinations.

The right sites in the right places

The white paper sets out that policy will require local planning authorities to maximise the use of suitable land in their area. The government will clarify which national policies it regards as providing a strong reason to restrict development when preparing plans. £25m of new funding will be made available to help authorities in areas of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure. A new £45m Land Release Fund will be provided for public sector land and greater flexibility is proposed for local authorities to dispose of land.

Other changes

Additional proposals include changes to climate change and flood risk policy, amendments to planning application forms, application procedures, consideration of fees for planning appeals, and the ability for local authorities to increase planning application fees by 20% from July 2017. Also published are the results and government response to the rural call for evidence including potential for further agricultural to residential permitted development rights; the results of technical consultation on planning changes, and the government response to the independent review of CIL and planning obligations.

“At least 10% of sites allocated in local plans should be small sites of 0.5ha or less.” 

The pound has risen to a one-month high against the dollar as traders failed to be reassured by US President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech.

The pound traded as high as $1.2472 against the dollar, its highest since mid-December, before paring some gains.

The Mexican peso, which has suffered a heavy devaluation since Trump was elected, gained from the dollar weakness. The dollar fell by over one per cent at points on Monday against the peso.

Meanwhile yields on the US 10-year Treasury fell as low as 2.4245 per cent on Monday as some investors failed to be convinced by the resurgence in the stock market following Trump’s election.

Trump began his tenure as President with a speech that continued the rancorous tone of his election campaign and painted an apocalyptic picture of the US economy.

Protectionism was prominent in the speech, with Trump vowing to “protect our borders from the ravages of other countries”, which will “lead to great prosperity and strength.”

While he vowed to build infrastructure, there was little extra detail on his plans for the economy. The dollar’s strength has been underpinned by investor expectations of a fiscal stimulus, with a big increase in spending allied with tax cuts.

Expectations of an inflationary fiscal stimulus (and a consequent tightening of monetary policy by the US Federal Reserve) were behind a massive bond sell-off in November, but since then some investors have backed off the so-called “Trumpflation” trade.

David Morrison, senior market strategist at Spread Co, said: “Finally investors can see where Trump’s priorities lie. No doubt he’s going to find it easier to make a noise on international trade relations and push what he sees as US interests than in persuading Congress to agree to fiscal measures which will add to the national debt.”
[Our thanks to City AM]

Rents in the capital hit a record high in November (Source: Getty)

The government may have spent the last few years doing everything in its power to reduce the number of people buying second homes - but that hasn't hurt the capital's rental prices, after new research suggested rents in London reached a record high in November.

The Your Move rental index showed average rents in the capital hit £1,295 a month, up 1.9 per cent on the year before - although it was relatively flat on the month before.

Across the UK, average rents hit £830 a month, up 3.9 per cent on a year ago.

The South East was the region with the strongest rises - prices jumped 13.6 per cent, to £875 a month. That was followed by the North East, where rents rose 4.2 per cent to £542.

But while rents increased in nine out of 10 regions, the South West experienced a decline in rents, with prices dropping more than one per cent to £656 in November.

New landlord rules

Landlords have been hit by a series of tax rises in recent months, including a hike to stamp duty and new rules limiting the amount of mortgage interest rate relief landlords can claim.

In November's Autumn Statement, Philip Hammond abolished estate agents' fees for tenants, saying landlords should shoulder the burden instead.

Today's research found rental yields had stayed strong despite the new rules, with the typical return edging down from five per cent last November to 4.7 per cent this year.

Yields in the capital were the lowest, at 3.3 per cent.

“The rental market is still holding strong, despite ongoing pressures elsewhere in the British economy," said Adrian Gill, director of lettings at Your Move.

“Landlords are continuing to see strong yield levels and rents are increasing, even if growth is slower than it was previously.”

“There is now a great deal of stability in the rental market and this means there is a solid platform for growth in future months.”


[Our thanks to City AM]

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