Not only is demand for property continuing to fall, landlords are now losing confidence in the market due to the lack of available finance.Both these stories caught my eye in the Mortgage Introducer. A bit like a turkey reporting on the state of Christmas dinner (not that MI is a turkey, far from it, it's just in the same position).
According to the latest RICS UK housing market survey, October saw the fifth monthly fall on the trot of new buyer enquiries. It appears that a lack of mortgage finance coupled with a generally cautious attitude by buyers has seen enquiries continue their slide. There are also more surveyors reporting house price falls rather than rises, up from 36% in September to 49% in October.
New instructions by sellers though have fallen from +22% in September to -4% in October with average stock falling from 69.1 to 67.2. A real turnaround and maybe a little unexpected as many believed that new instructions would gradually outnumber buyers so accelerating house price falls. But then again, with Christmas barely a month away maybe many are putting off the inevitable until after the festive season. So any lack of supply holding prices up now may be more than compensated for after Christmas.
But measure this with the level of completed sales falling to the lowest level since July 2009. Lower sales and power stock means that sellers must surely be pulling property off of the market. Or maybe they are going it alone to shed some estate agent fees.
There were recent worries reported in the general press that the first time buyers would be beaten to the market place by those 'greedy buy-to-letters'. That poor hard pressed families would fall victim to a life of tenancy. But the other news item in MI puts that in perspective.
The Upad Landlord Confidence Index has seen a drop from 57% to 54% of those who are more confident in the rental sector than last month.
The question “Are you more or less confident in the rental market than last month?” was put to 348 private residential landlords and those that responded negatively put finance at the forefront of their worries. One landlord put it very bluntly and honestly “All 55 houses are on standard variable rate. I can’t remortgage because I’ve only got about 15% equity across the portfolio, now banks want 25%. If interest rates go up 1% I will find it hard. A 2% base rate will bankrupt me, forcing me to default on a Â£6 million portfolio. I wonder how many landlords are in this situation.”
There are many, many more in that position.
On the positive side for some of them though is that those with initiative and access to finance could do well with tenant demand on the rise.
But on balance I wonder how many of them will actually take the plunge and grab at that falling knife and how many will get away uncut?
Without large numbers of the BTL brigade ready to take up the slack left by a dearth of committed and well financed FTBs there is only one way house prices can continue to go.