Would-be second steppers stuck in first homes

Housing market sympathies are often reserved for first-time buyers. But making the second rung of the property ladder can be tougher still, according to Lloyds Bank.

What’s the latest?

Almost a quarter (23%) of first-time homeowners looking to take the next rung of the property ladder – so-called ‘second steppers’ – claim the move is more difficult than getting on the ladder in the first place, according to a survey from Lloyds Bank.

Over a third (35%) of respondents said they will delay having children because of their inability to move, while 12% intend having fewer children than they planned. A further 13% said they were forced to change their career to facilitate the purchase of their next home.

Second steppers are mostly couples and young families moving on from their first-time buyer flats, to houses offering more living space and a garden.


Second rung territory?: This four-bedroom family home with a driveway and garage in Crowthorne, Berkshire, is on the market for £585,000

Why is this happening?

More than half (56%) of respondents blamed low interest rates (which makes it difficult to save) for the delay in taking that second step.

And 39% claimed that, because of waning buyer demand, it was more difficult to selltheir current home compared to this time last year. However, only 9% said they would consider lowering the price to attract more interest from potential buyers.

Other culprits were the rise in general moving costs and the cost of stamp duty (which kicks in on homes priced over £125,000).

Collectively, these obstacles meant that 52% of first-time homeowners were being forced to stay put, despite having planned to upsize in the past 12 months.

What sort of home are second steppers looking for?

The dream property among second steppers would be a detached four-bedroom house with garage, driveway and kitchen/diner, according to Lloyds’ research.

But more than a quarter (28%) of respondents were unwilling to compromise on their personal list of ‘must-have’ features. Of those who were willing to make sacrifices, a conservatory would be the first to go, followed by a garage.


Second steppers’ dream: A four-bedroom property with large rear garden, double garage and driveway in Milton Keynes for £475,000When quizzed on the type of property they hoped to buy, second steppers typically said they wanted either a period home (35%) or a town-based new build (34%).

Once they’ve made the second rung, respondents plan to spend an average 10 years living in it.  About one-third (31%) envisage they won’t move again.

Top 3 takeaways

  • One-in-four second steppers say it was easier to buy their first home than to move up the property ladder
  • 35% will delay having children because of difficulties in upsizing
  • Second steppers say their dream home is a detached four-bedroom property


House prices gain 4.7% in the year to May

UK HPI: House prices gain 4.7% in the year to May

UK HPI: House prices gain 4.7% in the year to May

According to May’s UK House Price Index, average house prices in the UK have increased by 4.7% in the year to May 2017 – down from 5.3% in the year to April 2017.

The data also revealed that the annual growth rate has slowed since mid-2016 but has remained broadly around 5% during 2017.

Regionally, East of England showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 7.5% in the year to May 2017. This was followed by the East Midlands at 7.2%.

The North East experienced both the greatest monthly price growth with an increase of 1.8% and the lowest annual price growth with a movement of 1.6%. London and the South East saw the most significant monthly price falls of 0.3% each.

The UK Property Transaction statistics showed that in May 2017 the number of seasonally adjusted property transactions completed in the UK with a value of £40,000 or above increased by 13.4% compared to May 2016. The unusually low level of transactions in May 2016 was associated with the introduction of the higher tax rates on additional properties introduced from 1 April 2016.

Comparing May 2017 to April 2017, property transactions fell by 3.3%.

Russell Quirk, founder and CEO of eMoov.co.uk, commented: “The latest government figures show that where actual property sale completions are concerned, the market maintained a slight upward trend in May, up 0.5%, ahead of June’s election, whereas mortgage approval data from the likes of Nationwide and Halifax showed a slow in pace in the same time period.

Although this provides two contrasting views of the UK market, it makes sense that those in the middle of the sale would move quickly to push it through before any detrimental election impact on their property value occurs. Whilst those looking to buy a property would put their mortgage application on ice until the political storm clouds had passed.

The UK property market at present is as unpredictable as the economic and political landscapes that are influencing its buyer and seller demand. But whilst these top line figures paint a picture of a marginally declining market, it is important to note that annual growth is still up and there are still areas of the nation performing very well where property price growth is concerned.

In the current UK summer property raffle, homeowners in the Shetland Islands, Pendle and the Isle of Anglesey will be going home rather annoyed that their property has seen the largest monthly fall in value. However, those in Scarborough, East Ayrshire and Kensington and Chelsea will be delighted that their purchase has materialised into first place property price growth.”

John Goodall, CEO and co-founder of buy-to-let specialist lender Landbay comments: “Against a backdrop of increased political and economic uncertainty, house prices have slowed in their march upwards, suggesting that buyers are starting to feel the pressure of falling real wages and entering the market in fewer numbers. But demand is only half of the story, insufficient housebuilding continues to restrict the number of available homes for sale, which may not be creating house price pressure at the moment, but will when demand begins to pick up again.

While the pace of house price growth may have slowed, house prices still continue to rise, ultimately meaning that fewer people can afford to buy, which can only place greater pressure on the UK’s rental sector. For that reason it’s essential that new construction is planned across all tenures, so that rents don’t escalate to the point where they’re inhibiting aspiring homeowners’ ability to save for a deposit. Quite simply, we need to build more purpose built rental homes to support those hoping to take their first steps onto the property ladder.”

Nick Leeming, Chairman at Jackson-Stops & Staff, comments: “This month’s data covers a significant chunk of time between Theresa May’s snap general election announcement and the shock result in June. Despite this macro-political bombshell, nothing drastic happened in May to house prices, with annual price growth still around the 5% mark, which has been the trend throughout 2017, and a slight monthly increase on April 2017.

This is reinforced by our branches which reported after the general election announcement that buyers and sellers remained broadly resilient to economic and political factors and eager to progress in their lives by buying and/or selling their home. Buyers have been broadly supported by the availability of highly favourable mortgage deals and lack of new housing supply also continues to prop up house price growth.

Home owners in the East of England will no doubt be delighted that their region continues to accelerate ahead of the rest of the UK, exhibiting the highest annual growth rate of any region yet again.  All regional markets remain positive in terms of annual growth which just goes to show the resilience of the UK property market despite the various uncertainties generated by Brexit and politics at home.”

Jeff Knight, Director of Marketing for Foundation Home Loans, commented: “House price growth certainly isn’t storming ahead, and it can’t be denied that the cocktail of recent political and economic news has had a dulling effect. While buyers won’t be hugely deterred – with mortgage approvals rising in May – any creeping rise certainly won’t be welcome at a time when wages are lagging behind inflation.

Stock remains an issue, and lack of supply will continue to nudge prices up. It’s therefore important that there is a diverse mix of rental property available, so that tenants saving for a deposit can be confident in high standards. The buy to let sector is a growing part of the housing mix and, in the time home ownership remains out of reach for some, an increasingly crucial one.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “These figures are interesting because they show the market demonstrating resilience at a time of turmoil in the political and economic worlds and shrugging off concerns about possible falls in prices. Transaction numbers remain broadly in line with what we would expect after the impact of the stamp duty change 12 months ago.

On the ground, we are seeing once again buyers and sellers getting on with their moves albeit negotiating much harder. Looking forward, we don’t expect the situation to change and in fact some may be encouraged by the fall in inflation, easing the prospects for household finances and affordability.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: “The easing inflation figures may start to take a little pressure off the need to increase interest rates, of which there has been much speculation in the past couple of weeks. What we do know is that mortgage rates continue to remain competitive and there are some exceptional deals, particularly on two- and five-year fixes.

The markets are factoring in a rise in base rate later this year but we don’t expect anything more than a return to 0.5 per cent, effectively a rewinding of the cut last August, and medium to long-term rates are going nowhere.

There are great opportunities out there and no need to panic. They will be around for a good while yet.”

Alex Gosling, CEO, online estate agents HouseSimple.com, comments: “Post credit crunch it was the London property market that effectively stopped the entire UK housing market from collapsing.

Foreign investors pumped money into London property, seeing it as a safe investment during economically turbulent times. The London market has enjoyed a spectacular period of growth ever since. Fast forward to today, and the capital’s property market is no longer looking quite as safe an investment.

Price growth in London over the past year is languishing at 3.0%, the second worst performing region in the UK. And it’s one of only two regions where house prices fell in May. The London property boom feels like it’s well and truly over.”

Paul Smith, CEO of haart estate agents, comments: “This month’s house price data shows no evidence of a housing crash, or even prices that are losing momentum. First-time buyers, second steppers and families are all having to pull together an extra £10,000 to buy a home today compared to the same time last year. At a time when real incomes are under pressure as inflation overtakes wage growth, it is vital the government gets a grip on housebuilding to ensure there are enough properties available and that people have the ability to and take the next step in their life.

Today’s data also gives the first full picture of how the regional outlook has changed following the introduction of a Stamp Duty surcharge. This time last year London was leading the way with almost 14% annual growth. Today we see it trailing behind the rest of the country, bar the North East, with just 3% growth. Although this may come as welcome news to those looking to buy in the capital, it does show the extreme effect the Government’s move has had on London’s economy, and on the rental market. Our latest monitor shows the Landlord registrations are down 52% on the year in the capital. And there is no doubt that this is due to the Stamp Duty change.”

Get your home ready for Christmas

With presents to buy, holidays to organise and food to prepare, it’s easy to neglect your home in the run up to Christmas. As always, we’re on hand to help, so here’s a list of quick fixes to get your home sparkling in time for 25th December.

December 15, 2016

home ready for Christmas

Bring Hygge into your home

  • Embracing the Danish concept of hygge doesn’t have to involve great effort or expense – it’s a Danish term for feeling cosy, spending quality time with friends and finding pleasure in ordinary, everyday moments. So lay out some cosy throws, plump up your cushions and enjoy some time with your loved ones
  • Nothing says homely and cosy as much as a fire or wood burning stove, but mess and hassle is the last thing we want at Christmas. Save yourself time and energy with instant lighting and long-burning wrapped logs. They don’t spit, you won’t need firelighters and you’ll have a roaring fire in an instant.
  • Ensure your heating is working properly – no one wants to be sitting in a cold house with no hot water on Christmas Day

home ready for Christmas

Make room to make merry

  • Declutter surfaces to make room for guests drinks glasses and bowls of nibbles. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to touch the fruit bowl for the next few weeks. Downsize to a small bowl of festive satsumas and make space for the mulled wine and mince pies
  • Simple touches like a candle-lit mulled wine warmer will look lovely when guests come round and help spread the gorgeous smells of Christmas around your home
home ready for Christmas



It’s a mild illness that you’re probably still in the throes of; the obsessions to get that job done before Christmas. While it’s now unrealistic to say you could re-decorate the guest bedroom, you could at least replace those lightbulbs that went 6 months ago before visitors arrive…

  • A quick and easy trick to enhance lighting this time of year is the humble fairy light. Plus, they’re a much safer bet than candles if you’re hosting children or elderly relatives
  • Oil squeaky door hinges, wipe paintwork doors and bannisters and clean the windows, because while we’re wishing for a white Christmas, chances are the low winter sun will be glaring in on Christmas day and showing up how good your window cleaning skills are
  • If you’re still committed to getting that job done beforehand – no matter how big or small – then consider getting some extra help and find a home service professional with Plentific

home ready for Christmas

It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas…

  • Stock up on some festive scent diffusers
  • Water your Christmas tree! The last thing you want is to be hoovering up pine needles on Christmas morning. Tending to your tree should also ensure it continues to give off that lovely pine aroma
  • Get rid of any dodgy smells – clean pet beds and purge your fridge / cupboards of old food to make way for Christmas dinner!
  • Give your bathtub, sink and shower a good scrub in advance of planned – and the inevitable unexpected – visitors

home ready for Christmas

A welcoming first impression

  • Tidy up the front of your house so it looks just as good as the interior. While these tips are for home sellers, they’re good ideas that we could all use
  • Leave plenty of time to make up spare bedrooms with clean sheets and towels. It always takes longer than you think, so just set aside a block of time
  • Significantly more house fires happen at Christmas time, so make sure you test smoke and carbon dioxide detectors
  • Hang a festive wreath up on the front door

You’re all set, Merry Christmas!

Base rate to 0.25 per cent

Base rate to 0.25 per cent

The Bank of England has, as expected, cut its base rate to 0.25 per cent after a record seven years at its previous historic low of 0.5 per cent.

Today’s cut may be an important psychological boost to markets and manufacturers but it is uncertain what its impact will be on house sales.

Firstly, it is not clear whether high street mortgage lenders will follow suit and cut their interest rates for borrowers – most are under no compulsion to do so. Secondly, the number of buyers with tracker mortgages that to some extent mirror the movement of the BoE base rate is far smaller than before, as increasing volumes of people have arranged fixed-rate deals ahead of what many expected to be an interest rate rise, rather than a cut.

“Today’s rate reduction will have little impact on the mortgage market. Banks already have very tight margins and may want to focus on savers who are struggling to earn a decent return, rather than cutting rates further for borrowers” cautions Adrian Anderson, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris.

Even so, agents have welcomed today’s decision.