The property market’s been in the doldrums for a while, but reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Figures out this week have shown that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase rose to an eight-month high during March, and there’s evidence of these green shoots in Wales, too.
According to the British Bankers’ Association, activity in the property market showed signs of picking up, with a total of 31,660 loans approved for people buying a new home, 5% more than during the previous month and the highest level since July last year.
Tristan Lewis of Howells Solicitors says that business from their offices in Cardiff, Swansea and Newport corroborates the latest findings. “We have seen a substantial increase in instructions over the last eight weeks which is a trend which appears to be continuing as we progress further into the spring.
“The number of instructions we received for sales and purchases in March was 30% higher than our usual monthly figures. We believe from speaking to clients and agents that people are at last becoming more realistic about selling prices in order to get the market moving,” he reveals.
As a mortgage lender, Principality have also seen an upsurge in activity, as explained by Principality’s Product Manager, Paul Straiton. “The pattern is similar at Principality, with both house purchase completions and total mortgage completions increasing slightly during March,” he says. But he does warn that the market’s not out of the woods. “The overall position remains down on levels reported this time last year, pointing to the fact that activity in the housing market remains at levels that are subdued relative to previous periods,” he says.
Buyer confidence is still being cited as a possible impediment in the improvement of the market, Paul believes. “The market still has a long way to go and with increased pressures on banks and building societies to hold more capital, the availability of mortgage finance will remain restricted.
“Concerns about the economic outlook and the ability to raise a deposit may deter potential buyers. Remortgage activity on the other hand is likely to continue to increase this year as borrowers look for fixed rate deals to combat any potential rate rise,” he adds.