News for sellers: Virtual Reality, stable price growth and a million new homes by 2020?

News for sellers: Virtual Reality, stable price growth and a million new homes by 2020?

Summer is now officially upon us – well, supposedly – and activity in the buyers and sellers’ market is expected to ramp up in the coming months, whatever the weather.

The end is also nigh for the EU referendum, with the UK set to go to the polls on Thursday June 23 to decide whether we Brexit or Bremain.

Both the Leave and Remain sides are pulling out the stops to win over voters, with the result potentially having a major impact on what the property landscape will look like in the future.

When selling a home, it is of course vital to keep up with the latest property news – whether it’s mortgages, interest rates, first-time buyer initiatives or major referendums.

With this in mind, we have put together our latest round-up of the major property new stories that sellers need to know about.

The EU referendum

Yes, we can’t get away from it. It’s rumbled on for months and months, but we are now in the final straight and neither side is showing any signs of letting up when it comes to hype, conjecture and scaremongering.

House prices up, house prices down, house prices the same; easier for first-time buyers to buy, harder for first-time buyers to buy; less pressure on the Private Rented Sector (PRS), an exodus of landlords from the PRS, and so on and so forth.

Blunt truth is, no-one knows for sure what will happen if we vote to leave. Most agree that the economy will suffer in the short-term, but what effect this will have on house prices, the PRS, mortgages, overseas investment or supply and demand is much less clear-cut. Speculation and guesswork can only take you so far.

It does seem to the be the case, though, that buyers and sellers are holding fire until the uncertainty is swept away, whatever the result might be.

This means there is a temporary lull in activity, but these delayed house moves may then be pushed through to completion after June 23.  

Expect plenty more tit for tat until polling day. You can bet your bottom dollar on that, at least.

Rightmove trials VR

The UK’s biggest portal has become the latest company to test the waters of Virtual Reality, by trialling a virtual reality viewing platform which enables would-be buyers to view properties without leaving the comfort of their own living rooms.

The trial tours, which are being coordinated by a high street estate agent, can be viewed on a smartphone through a Google Cardboard headset.

The tours, which are currently available on Rightmove’s YouTube channel, show footage of a new development in Finchley and a £2.5 million mansion.

This move comes hot on the heels of an upsurge in agents using virtual reality technology as part of the services they offer.

House price growth remains stable

According to the figures from Nationwide’s latest House Price Index, average house prices rose by 0.2% between April and May. Annual growth, meanwhile, slowed slightly from 4.9% to 4.7%.

The average UK house price in May, the research found, was £204,368. The report also suggested that house price activity is expected to fall in the next few months, partly thanks to the ongoing uncertainty over the EU referendum and partly because so many people brought forward housing transactions to avoid being hit by the additional stamp duty surcharge in early April.

Separately, it’s been suggested by some industry experts that UK house price rises have now reached their peak and that more needs to be done to cool them.

A million new homes

It’s one of the government’s main pledges – to build one million new homes by 2020. But recent figures have cast doubt on that target being achieved.

Now, though, a leading land agent has insisted that reaching the proposed target is “perfectly possible”. He said that by 2019 big companies will be building double the amount of homes they were six years ago.

He also added that the “UK’s planning pessimists” were in danger of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy in regards to the housebuilding targets.

Local councils, he argues, will be the key – allowing houses to be built more quickly by streamlining their planning and communication processes.

Last week official figures revealed that builders finished work on 139,690 new homes in England in 2015/16 – the highest number of finished new properties since 2008/09, but still some way off the 250,000 target needed.

That's it for now, we'll be back in a few weeks with another round-up of news for property sellers.