Is the housing market really starting to cool, or is the heat moving to unexpected places? The number of mortgage approvals in May was down almost a fifth from a peak at the beginning of the year — reflecting tougher affordability tests and slower processing as a result of the Mortgage Market Review in April, as well as fears of interest rate rises. Bank of England restrictions on high-risk lending announced this week will add to the dampening.
Meanwhile, at the top end — the market for £10 million-plus London ‘super-prime’ properties — foreign buyers are reported by Knight Frank to be in retreat, deterred by the strength of sterling. As global recovery advances, the world’s rich are evidently less eager to sink fortunes into our bricks and mortar purely for safe-haven purposes.
But there’s still money coming in from the turbulent Middle East, an informed source tells me, and many new arrivals think family houses in central London have become too expensive by any global measure. So where are these sons of the desert now buying? My man taps his nose. ‘Keep your eye on Milton Keynes. They actually like the place, they get value for money, and they can shop at Bicester Village every weekend.’
This is an extract from Martin Vander Weyer’s column in this week’s Spectator.