According the latest research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the UK housing market saw a stable trend in new instructions in May, with the headline indicator turning positive for the first time in more than two years (27 months). However, although the numbers of houses coming on to the market has increased marginally, average stock levels on estate agent’s books across the UK was steady at 42.5, which is still close to an all-time low
Looking at demand from buyers, while the number of new enquiries fell overall, the decline was modest in comparison to the beginning of the year. Demand from new buyers was reported to have increased in London, the South West, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In terms of agreed sales RICS suggest although sales held steady for the second successive month at the headline level (with the least negative reading for fourteen months), the regional breakdown suggests that activity is rising firmly in just four regions; the West and East Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
No change was seen for house prices in May (net balance -3%) following a marginal decline in April. However, as with the other indicators, there are large regional dimensions to this headline figure. London continues to show the most negative trends, with downwards movement also seen across the wider South East. Notably, after nearly three years of solid price growth, momentum also appears to have slipped across the South West, as the price balance remained in negative territory for the second month in a row. By way of contrast, house prices continue to rise in the Midlands, North West, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
RICS expect near term price expectations to decline marginally on a UK-wide basis, with the net balance coming in at -9%. That said, this is mainly driven by a negative outlook for prices across the south of England. For the lettings market, demand for rented properties remained unchanged (on a non-seasonally adjusted basis) extending a run of five consecutive reports where respondents have reported flat tenant demand. Alongside this, landlord instructions remain in decline. Given the lack of supply, rents are envisaged to increase further at the national level over the year ahead.
New research from Lloyds Bank has found that living near a local supermarket can push up your property’s value by £21,500 compared to homes in nearby areas without a supermarket chain. The report also reveals that having a premium brand on your doorstep means buyers typically need to pay top prices. Homes in areas with a Waitrose, Marks & Spencer or Sainsbury’s are most likely to command a higher house price premium when compared to the wider town average. The “Waitrose effect” commands the biggest cash premium – costing £43,571 (12%) more than average house prices in the wider town (£420,112 v. £376,540), followed by properties close to a Marks & Spencer with a premium of £40,135 and Sainsbury’s (£32,707). Homes within easy reach of all three supermarket chains are trading at an average premium of 12%.
In the past year the premium attached to living within walking distance to a Marks & Spencer has grown by £10,143 (from £29,992 to £40,135) the largest rise amongst the supermarkets chains. By comparison, the price premium near a Waitrose has grown by a relatively modest £7,000 in the past year. Homes close to a Tesco, the UK’s largest supermarket, are also worth over £21,000 (£21,369) more than other properties in the nearby area (£278,647 v. £257,278); closely followed by Co-Op (£21,020) and Iceland (£17,445) stores.
Interestingly, smaller local stores like a Little Waitrose, Sainsbury’s Local or Tesco Extra attract a higher average premium of £58,109 compared with a larger superstore (11%, or £30,580). But it’s homes near to budget supermarkets which were found to have seen the biggest house price rise: properties near to Lidl, Aldi, Morrisons and Asda have increased 15% (£29,316) over the past four years. This is a faster increase than for all supermarkets (10%). Showing houses near discount stores can also be popular and the cheaper supermarkets are catching up fast. Over the past four years average house prices in localities with an Aldi grew by a fifth (20%, from £178,809 to £213,765) a much faster increase then then the rest of the town (16%, from £182,395 to £211,463). Other areas with a supermarket chain to record the fastest price growth in the past four years include those with a Co-Op (up 16% from £224,679 to £259,969) and Morrisons (up 14% from £203,756 to £233,261).
In addition, in 2014 property prices close to an Aldi traded at a discount of -£3,586 than the wider town. In 2018 house prices in areas with this “discount” retailer now fetch a higher price premium, compared to the rest of the town, at an average of £2,301. Homes near a Lidl are also worth £5,411 more than other properties in the nearby area.
Times they are a’changin
As the traditional 9-5 working day becomes less and less common, the times at which people want to go to the pub, grab a meal or work out at the gym are changing. A new report from Barclays shows that although over a quarter of hospitality and leisure businesses recognise this growing demand, opening hours are not keeping up with changes to modern working lives.
Since our leisure time has shifted, a quarter of workers would now like to go to a museum in the evening (between 6pm-11pm), over one in ten (13%) film fans would choose to go to the cinema in the small hours (11pm-5am), and almost one in five (19%) late-night diners would choose to get a takeaway after closing time (11pm-5am). The new Barclays Corporate Banking Hospitality and Leisure report, Open All Hours? finds that only a third (37%) of British workers now work traditional 9-5 hours, with over a fifth of British workers (22%) saying they need different opening hours. The report also finds that a similar number (19%) expect 24-hour hospitality services. By responding to this demand, restaurants (£2.2bn per annum), takeaways (£2.1bn), and pubs, bars and clubs (£1.2bn) could benefit the most.
As Britain becomes more health conscious, gyms and sports clubs have been quick to adapt, with almost one in five (18%) hospitality and leisure business leaders surveyed already changing their opening hours.
Takeaway services, on the other hand, have left nearly a third (32%) of workers hungry for more, having been unable to order a takeaway as the business was closed. While digital food delivery services have provided customers and restaurants with an easy to use platform for home delivery, almost a third (32%) have been unable to get a takeaway. This desire to order a takeaway at unusual hours is even higher among young workers (18-24 year olds), with (37%) keen for delivery between 11pm and 5am.
Unhappy Father’s Day?
As the nation celebrates Father’s Day this Sunday, peace of mind may not be the obvious gift choice, but it’s clear that financial protection is something which millions of fathers in the UK, and their families, could benefit from. Research from Scottish Widows reveals that more than half (58%) of men in the UK with dependent children have no life insurance, meaning that just over 4.5 million dads are leaving their families in a precarious situation if the unforeseen were to happen. Worryingly, this has increased by five percentage points compared with 2017, a year-on-year increase of around 542,000 individuals.
And despite a fifth (20%) of dads admitting their household wouldn’t survive financially if they lost their income due to long-term illness, only 18% have a critical illness policy, leaving many more millions at risk of financial hardship if they were to become seriously ill. If they were unable to work due to serious illness, 16% of fathers say they could only pay their household bills for a minimum of three months. More than two-fifths (45%) say they’d have to dip into their savings to manage financially, but 17% admit that their savings would last for a maximum of just three months and 12% say they have no savings at all.
On top of this, many fathers are leaving themselves and their families unprepared for other aspects of illness or bereavement. Sixteen per cent of them aren’t sure who would take care of them if they fell ill, and more than two fifths (42%) don’t have the protection of a will, power of attorney, guardianship or trust arrangement in place for their families. This is an especially risky position for the two thirds (66%) of UK fathers who are the main breadwinner in the family, and it’s clear that many are in lack of a ‘Plan B’.