Some welcome upbeat news from Property expert, Charlotte Bland at Caxtons Chartered Surveyors.


Green shoots in property market good news for investors

There are signs that the commercial and residential property markets are strengthening, which is good news for investors.

Those who sat tight during the financial crisis can now start to consider expanding their portfolio, by taking advantage of the upswing in the market. 

However, it is still wise to remain cautious. Much of the upturn is localised, but by carefully assessing stock quality and returns, and spreading and minimising risk by maintaining a diverse portfolio, investors can make some shrewd acquisitions.


Housing market picking up

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show house prices rose 0.4 per cent in March, from February, while they have climbed by 2.7pc year-on-year. The average home is now worth £235,000, up from £229,000. The increases were driven by big rises in London and the south east, where prices rose 7.6pc and 3.3pc respectively.

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders support the ONS findings with estimates that lending has increased by 4pc in April to the highest level in more than four years.

However, in other regions, growth has not been quite so dramatic, with prices rising by only 0.6pc in a year, with Northern Ireland and Scotland actually experiencing a decline.

Despite the improvement in some regions, it seems that we're still some way off a strong upturn but, the figures are suggesting confidence is gradually returning to the residential property market.

Help to Buy won't solve supply issue

RICS chief economist Simon Robinson has argued that the Government's Help to Buy scheme won't solve the housing supply crisis, which is the critical issue.

In a column for the RICS magazine, Robinson says the initiative should be underpinned by lifting the borrowing cap on local authorities, which would enable them to boost their own development programmes, for social and affordable housing, where the real shortages exist.

Robinson believes it is unrealistic to expect new home starts to rise this year as the lag in development is too great.

Instead he believes Help to Buy will initially be used in place of existing products and by those who would have purchased a property with a mortgage anyway.

Advocates of the initiative believe it will stimulate the market by assisting those previously unable to buy to now purchase a property. Conversely, critics claim the scheme is just a prop for an overvalued market and that increased demand could push prices even higher, preventing further buyers from getting on the ladder.

It seems that the jury is still out on whether Help to Buy will really deliver.


Stronger retailers should look to expand

The weak economy, which has sent some struggling retailers into administration, has brought prime retail properties back onto the market, claims a report from Colliers International.

In their National Retail Barometer, they report that financially strong retailers, who are looking to expand, consolidate or relocate to better positions, should now take advantage of a wider selection of properties.

While the outlook for the high street remains cautious, meaning retailers are unlikely to roll out large-scale expansion programmes, the quality of prime retail units on offer could encourage movement in the sector, with companies looking to optimise their store network, which may in turn release further stock and help to keep the leasing market fluid.

Charlotte Bland and Neil Chatterton will be delivering a free seminar entitled 'Finding the Right Investment Property' on Thursday 6th June at The Business Show, ExCel London.

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