On the Housing Ladder, the Only Way Is Up; Pg 3 of 4 of Supplement

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), January 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

On the Housing Ladder, the Only Way Is Up; Pg 3 of 4 of Supplement


Byline: JOHN WRIGLESWORTH

Last year turned out to be a boring one for the housing market. And, if the experts are right again, 2006 won't be much different.

Or will it?

You might expect most of us to be glad that, for once, all the major house price indices are saying much the same thing.

Hometrack, the independent property research company, forecasts price rises of about one per cent this year and 2.2 per cent in 2007. And its figures are largely backed by other serious market watchers.

So will it be boring? Well, not necessarily. We've had years of rocketing growth driven at least partly by low interest rates.

But the affordability created by lower monthly mortgage payments has been more or less eroded by rising prices.

Nevertheless, mortgage rates look set to stay at their current levels for the foreseeable future.

While first-time buyers will be stretched by trying to borrow enough to get a foot on the ladder, affordability will remain stable in terms of how much take-home pay is spent on mortgages.

The Government has taken a bigger role in influencing price trends. Several factors would have had an impact, but one has already been scrapped.

The most important, allowing people to buy residential property through self-invested personal pension schemes (Sipps), was shelved by Gordon Brown in his pre-Budget report last month.

Had it remained, it would have fuelled a wave of buy-to-let investments and a surge in prices. Brown seems likely to go ahead with his second carrot, allowing money to be poured into residential property through a taxefficient vehicle rather like the American-style Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits). …

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