Property markets in Dubai and Abu Dhabi set for a stable 2015

Property prices in Abu Dhabi are expected to see a gradual increase in 2015 but not on the scale that was seen in 2104, it is claimed.

Leading property firm Cluttons believes there is still some great investor appetite in Abu Dhabi and predicts that new residential schemes will still be popular.

It also expects that there will be more off-plan housing launches this year, from the leading firms such as Aldar and TDIC as well as some private developers.

But William Neil, head of Cluttons in Abu Dhabi warned that there is a danger that residential rents could continue to go up. ‘With no rental cap in place in Abu Dhabi, if there is a lack of supply then the market could face some of the same issues it faced back in 2007 when rents were so expensive that many people were forced to commute here each day from Dubai,’ he explained.

He added that the commercial market is waiting with anticipation to find out what the new rules will be regarding the proposed financial free zone on Al Maryah Island. ‘With Yas Mall now open, we are predicting growth for retail rents in the city. However, with more shopping centres being built on Al Maryah Island and Saadiyat Island, there is a danger over the next three years for oversupply,’ he said.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Dubai the New Year is expected to see a mixed outlook with some sectors of residential property selling well but prices and sales varying depending on location.

According to Matthew Green, the head of research and consultancy for the United Arab Emirates at CBRE Middle East the residential market has shown signs of stabilisation over the past six months across both sales and leasing markets.

‘We expect this to be a similar outlook for this year, with the …read more  

Valuations activity up 9% in UK despite price growth slowing

Valuations activity in the UK housing market grew 9% year on year in 2014 despite a cooling in property price growth, according to the latest research from Connells Survey and Valuation.

On a monthly basis, total valuations dropped 17%, however, this is slightly lower than the average decrease of 18% typically recorded from November to December for every year since 2010.

‘This latest increase in valuations activity does contrast with more rapid expansion recorded earlier in 2014. But a more balanced and sustainable pick up bodes well for 2015,’ said John Bagshaw, corporate services director of Connells Survey and Valuation.

The firm’s data also shows that remortgaging is the strongest performing sector of the market. On a monthly basis, remortgaging valuations had one of the smallest falls of 7% and saw a robust 25% surge year on year to December 2014.

According to Bagshaw thousands of households are taking advantage of the record low rates and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future. He pointed out that just this week Barclays launched a new 10 year fixed rate at less than 3%.

‘At the same time, the relative strength in remortgaging activity in December can be partly explained by the fact it isn’t as heavily influenced by seasonal factors. While home movers and first time buyers may typically avoid a busy upheaval during the festive period, for remortgagers this period is not as disruptive,’ he said.

‘However, remortgaging has wind in its sales as we enter 2015. With the Bank rate set to remain at its historic low for some time, lenders will probably be able to offer even more competitive rates very soon,’ he added.

First time buyer activity also saw significant annual growth. On an annual basis the number …read more  

Latest RICS market survey shows construction work up in the UK

Construction workloads in the UK rose in the final quarter of 2014, but the shortage of bricklayers reached a record high, according to the latest market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Some 52% of respondents reported that workloads in the commercial sector had grown in the fourth quarter of 2014, which is the fourth consecutive quarter where the reading for workloads has been above 50%.

Private housing followed at a net balance of 45% and industrial at 40%, while overall UK construction workloads reached a 39% net balance.

Looking at growth restraints, around 60% of respondents reported that either material shortages, skill shortages or financial constraints were impeding further sector growth, while the proportion of respondents reporting labour shortages across all of the main trades climbed to an all-time high of 48%.

Despite these factors and anecdotal evidence that the upcoming election in May is creating industry uncertainty, confidence remains firm with 75% more respondents expecting workloads to increase and 55% more expecting employment to increase.

Members’ anticipate growth in workloads of 3.4% in 2015 with jobs in the sector expected to rise by a further 3%.

Elsewhere, the infrastructure sector continued to see what has been a much steadier pace of growth over the last 12 months and in the final quarter of 2014 some 23% more respondents reported a rise in workload activity. In Northern Ireland, the picture remains a little more downbeat compared to the rest of the UK.

The survey report says that labour shortages have become increasingly onerous in every area of the sector since the industry began to recover in the middle of 2013, with bricklayers and quantity surveyors in particularly short supply.

Now that workloads are rising and optimism is growing, the practical challenges are in providing the skilled labour the industry needs …read more  

Rent caps and protests: the housing issues to watch out for in 2015

By Hannah Fearn

With unaffordable homes, unrest among young people and a general election, here are the four issues that will dominate the housing headlines this year

For some reason, David Cameron chose the Christmas period – a time when most of us take a break from the real world in favour of lazy afternoons on the sofa – to relaunch his general election campaign. In case you missed it (and who could blame you) Cameron warned that May’s ballot would be “the most important election for a generation”. He also unveiled his party’s campaign poster, which features the slogan “Let’s stay on the road to a stronger economy” in front of an image of a tarmac road running through rolling green countryside.

It took less than five minutes for followers on Twitter to point out that the image featured no housing: a core issue in this year’s battle for the keys to Downing Street. So as we enter the general election year, here are the top things to look out for in the race to win on housing.

Continue reading… …read more  

Annual house price growth in England and Wales down to single digits

Annual house price growth in England and Wales fell back into single figures, as house prices paused in December, the latest index shows.

Values in London and the South East are cooling but price growth across other regions remains steady, according to the LSL Property Services/Acadata index.

Overall prices are up 9.6% year on year to an average of £278,997 but there was no change month on month. However, when London and the South East is excluded from the figures then the monthly rise was 0.4%.

The index data also shows that growth accelerated at top end of the market in 2014, but price rises slowed at the bottom of this sector.

But total home sales across 2014 were up 18% year on year as stamp duty reforms boosted activity in December.

‘There was a brief interlude in the tempo of house price growth in December, with values pausing for breath after a chorus of uninterrupted monthly climbs since May 2013. On a monthly basis, property price inflation peaked last January, and has gently petered out over the course of the past year,’ said Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move estate agents.

‘This has pruned annual house price growth back to single digit territory again, recording a steadier 9.6% rise in average property values in England and Wales in the year ending December, down from 10.6% recorded in November,’ he added.

He pointed out that there has been an about turn in the South East of the country, and London in particular. ‘Property values in the capital and surrounding areas are beginning to concede ground after significant advancement over the last year. Average house prices dropped in a third of all London boroughs in the month to November, with Southwark experiencing the sharpest fall in average values of 3.1%,’ said Gill.

He also pointed …read more  

Landlords get most stressed about late rent payments, survey shows

Late rent payments cause the most stress for buy to let landlords in the UK followed by badly behaved tenants, new research has found.

A quarter of landlords emerged as the top cause of concern with ‘tenants from hell’ cited by 20%, property damage at 18%, deposit disputes 13% and dealing with evictions 7%.

The research by online letting agent PropertyLetByUs also found that despite the recent HMRC crackdown on landlords’ undeclared income, only a tiny percentage, 1%, are stressed by tax issues.

It also appears that the sharp rise in the number of tenants looking for rented property in 2014 is making life a lot easier for landlords who are looking for new tenants as only 1% say this is stressful. However, void periods are still bothering some landlords, with 4% citing this as a major cause of stress.

‘On the whole, 2014 was a good year for landlords, with increased tenant demand, rising rental income and asset value growth but late payment of rent is still a big issue for landlords,’ said Jane Morris, managing director of PropertyLetByUs.

Indeed, the latest research from the National Landlords Association (NLA) showed that 32% experiencing rent arrears in 2014. Landlords could see a spike in the problem this month as households struggle to keep up with payments after the expense of Christmas.

‘But all the signs are showing that 2015 could be another bumper year for landlords, with the rental market set to continue its growth, from the current nine million tenants renting in the UK. The good news is that the stress of void periods and finding new tenants will further diminish, as demand starts to outstrip supply,’ added Morris.

…read more