UK house sales are at their highest for six years, according to a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey. Seems barely a day goes by now without yet more evidence that the housing market is steaming ahead.
An average of 21.3 houses were sold in each estate agency branch in the last three months of 2013 (MT pities those who only landed up with 0.3 of a house), the highest since March 2008 and up from 9.8 in January 2009, the lowest point of the housing downturn.
The increasingly frenzied demand is driving up prices, and surveyors are expecting a shortage of houses up for sale to keep it that way. All areas of the UK saw price rises, with London and the South East (surprise surprise) seeing the biggest rises, according to RICS. Building society Nationwide found home values rose 8.4% across the UK in 2013.
‘Growing availability of affordable mortgages has released some pent-up demand,’ RICS Global Residential Director Peter Bolton King said.
‘On the face of it, this seems like good news but unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up for sale we could well be looking at a price rises becoming unsustainable in some areas.’
While home builders’ have been reporting bumper sales, everyone from Lib Dem government minister Vince Cable to Barclays have been worrying about another housing bubble. The Bank of England shifted its Funding for Lending Scheme away from mortgage lending to business loans at the end of last year, but with Help to Buy still fuelling demand it remains to be seen whether spiraling prices will put a stop to our appetite for houses.