Help with HousingOff By Ed Hanna
House prices is always one of the hottest topics we cover in Civvy Street Magazine. For Service-leavers looking at resettlement options, it can be difficult to spot clear trends that might inform where or when to buy property.
The UK House Price Index (UK HPI) shows house price changes for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and according to its latest figures, published in June (for April 2018) house prices rose by 1.2% since March 2018 – and show an annual rise of 3.9% with the average property in the UK now valued at £226,906.
However, such is the changeability of the market that those figures might already be out of date, or at least, interpreted differently. The Office for National Statics (ONS) revealed in mid-August that UK house price growth slowed in June to the lowest annual rate in five years, driven by falling prices in London.
If that’s not confusing enough, throw into the mix that mortgage lending in Britain dropped in July before the Bank of England raised interest rates above the level set since the financial crisis.
Numbers of buyers
Of course, anything the Bank of England does has a wide-ranging ripple effect on the economy. By raising the cost of borrowing it made it more expensive for home buyers to secure a mortgage. Add to that more concerns from buyers about a no-deal Brexit and suddenly, because of a dip in numbers of buyers, house prices look vulnerable to backward slippage.
It’s difficult to find a solid message within the various figures but Service leavers do have an ace up their sleeve, at least for a short time, if their long-term ambition is to own property and put down proper roots for themselves and their family.
Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) was introduced in 2014 as a £200 million scheme to help Service personnel get on the property ladder. The latest figures show that since that time around £215 million has been spent and is a testament to its popularity. If you haven’t looked at how the scheme could help you and your family, it’s time you did since it is scheduled to close at the end of December 2018.
Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) has been an enormous success and may be extended again but there simply are no guarantees to that effect. Perhaps the only certainty you can expect in the housing market is more change and more change after that. As for FHTB; best advice has to be to act now to avoid disappointment.