Countrywide reports marginal improvements in the housing market
Property viewings - one of the leading indicators of buyer appetite - increased by 40 percent in February across Countrywide's network of 1,300 estate agency and lettings offices. The number of sales agreed also rose 47 percent in February; however, overall sales volumes were 4 percent lower than the same period last year.
Countrywide operates the UK's largest mortgage broker and the activities of its 650 mortgage consultants have revealed a 40 percent increase in mortgage applications during February. Fixed rate mortgages dominated Countrywide's Top 10 Most Popular Mortgages with 9 out of 10 products being fixed rates. Overall, fixed rate mortgage applications reached their highest level since July 2009, making up 88 percent of all mortgage applications in February, a 4 percent increase on the previous month.
Grenville Turner, Chief Executive of Countrywide, the UK's largest property services Group, said;
"We are beginning to see some early signs of improvement in the property market, whether this can be sustained against a backcloth of challenging economic conditions is difficult to determine.
"The reintroduction of competitive mortgage products is the key to turn the increase in buyer activity we've seen into house sales. Gathering a deposit remains a big hurdle for many would-be buyers. With four of the most popular mortgages applied for in February requiring a 10 percent deposit, this shows that the level of demand for these types of mortgages and highlights the issue of affordability. With more mortgages available requiring only a 10 percent deposit there are positive signs of increased lender appetite.
"Ongoing economic pressures and the upward trajectory of inflation will increase pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates at some stage, which is why we're seeing an ever-increasing number of people applying for fixed rate products to give themselves the certainty of mortgage payments for between 2 and 5 years."
Market Insight – February 2011
NB: As the UK's largest property services Group, Countrywide compares its monthly and year on year performance figures to provide a unique UK property market insight
Mortgages: (based on the activities of the UK's largest mortgage broker with approximately 650 mortgage consultants)
o Applications: The overall number of mortgage applications rose 40 percent in February compared to January 2011, a decrease of 9 percent compared to February 2010.
o Interest rates: The average interest rate of the Top 10 Most Popular Mortgages applied for by Countrywide customers increased by 0.94 percent to 5.18 percent, compared to January 2011. A 0.66 increase on February 2010
o Deposits: The average deposit required for the Top 10 Most Popular Mortgages was 14 percent, a decrease of 8 percent compared to January 2011. In comparison, the average deposit in February 2010 was 22 percent.
o Early indications: Please view Countrywide's Most Sourced Products to see daily highlights of the most popular mortgage products being sourced by Countrywide's 650 mortgage consultants.
Estate agency: (based on the activities of the UK's largest estate agency & lettings network, operating 1,300 offices)
o Property instructions: The number of homeowners putting their properties on the market increased by 37 percent in February compared to January 2011. However, the number of instructions fell by 7 percent compared to February 2010.
o Viewings conducted: The number of viewings conducted rose for the second consecutive month. The total number of viewings rose by 40 percent in February compared to January 2011, a decrease of 1.6 percent on February 2010.
o Sales agreed: The number of sales agreed increased by 47 percent in February compared to January 2011, a decrease 4 percent on February 2010.
o Buyer enquires: The number of new buyer applications rose 23 percent in February compared to January 2010, which was 10 percent lower than the level of applications in February 2010.
Residential Lettings: (based on the activities of the UK's largest estate agency & lettings network, operating 1,300 offices)
o Tenant applications: New tenant applications dipped 3 percent in February compared to January 2011. However, new tenant applications increased by 11 percent compared to February 2010.
o Available properties: The number of properties available to rent rose by 1 percent in February compared to the previous month - a 3 percent fall compared to February 2010.
 Countrywide: Number of viewings conducted – February 2011 vs January 2011
 Countrywide: Percentage increase in the number of sales agreed - February 2011 compared to January 2011
 Countywide: Percentage increase in the number of sales agreed – February 2011 vs February 2010
 Countrywide: New tenant registrations – February 2011 vs January 2011
 Countrywide: The Top 10 Most Popular Mortgages applied for in February
 Countrywide: Number of fixed mortgage applications – February 2011 vs January 2011
Countrywide is the UK's leading provider of integrated property services, employing around 8,000 personnel nationwide. Its UK network of local brands provides both corporate clients and home movers with a comprehensive range of property related solutions, delivered with valuable local expertise.
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