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Too hot property?

AS THE summer finally brings warmer weather, the red-hot debate over Britain's soaring house prices shows no signs of cooling down either.

S THE summer finally brings warmer weather, the red-hot debate over Britain's soaring house prices shows no signs of cooling down either.

Nationwide Building Society has just reported that UK property values have reached a new all-time high in cash terms, at PS186,512 on average, leaping 11.1% in the space of only 12 months.

Nationwide Building Society has just reported that UK property values have reached a new all-time high in cash terms, at PS186,512 on average, leaping 11.1% in the space of only 12 months.

Similarly, another house price survey, run by Halifax, found that property values jumped by 3.9% month-on-month in May - the biggest monthly jump they've seen since 2002. Figures like these had already been stoking speculation that steps were needed to take some steam out of the housing market.

Similarly, another house price survey, run by Halifax, found that property values jumped by 3.9% month-on-month in May - the biggest monthly jump they've seen since 2002. Figures like these had already been stoking speculation that steps were needed to take some steam out of the housing market.

But now, the Government has revealed plans to beef up the Bank of England's powers to let them rein in risky mortgage lending, if it deems it necessary.

But now, the Government has revealed plans to beef up the Bank of England's powers to let them rein in risky mortgage lending, if it deems it necessary.

Chancellor George Osborne, who announced the measures, has emphasised that though the Chancellor George Osborne, who announced the measures, has emphasised that though the housing market doesn't pose an immediate threat to financial stability now, it's important to act to insure against any repeat of boom and bust.

housing market doesn't pose an immediate threat to financial stability now, it's important to act to insure against any repeat of boom and bust.

It is It is under the plans, the Bank will be handed powerful new tools to cap the size of mortgage loans as a share of the borrower's income or the value of the house - including mortgages offered under the Government's controversial Help to Buy scheme.

Under the plans, the Bank will be handed powerful new tools to cap the size of mortgage loans as a share of the borrower's income or the value of the house - including mortgages offered under the Government's controversial Help to Buy scheme.

to insure against repeat of and bust to insure against repeat of and bust Help to Buy has had its critics from the start, and recently, even the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged ministers to consider an early end to the scheme. But the Government insists it's "working as intended", by helping lower income families and first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

insists it's "working as intended", by helping lower income families and first-time buyers onto the housing ladder.

So who is right? What impact is So who is right? What impact is Help to Buy really having on the housing market? And would curbing it really help calm down prices in the most over-heated areas? Help to Buy really having on the housing market? And would curbing it really help calm down prices in the most over-heated areas? important act to important act to Well, those against the scheme argue it's pushing up prices by increasing the demand for homes at a time when supply is already fairly tight. But others argue that calls to overhaul Help to Buy are a red herring. They say curbing the scheme would have no impact on the volume of wealthy cash buyers and overseas investors who are fuelling demand by snapping up properties in London, where the market is at its most competitive.

Well, those against the scheme argue it's pushing up prices by increasing the demand for homes at a time when supply is already fairly tight. But others argue that calls to overhaul Help to Buy are a red herring. They say curbing the scheme would have no impact on the volume of wealthy cash buyers and overseas investors who are fuelling demand by snapping up properties in London, where the market is at its most competitive.

any boom any boom Restricting the scheme too tightly, they argue, could also potentially have a harmful effect on the people who need it the most.

Restricting the scheme too tightly, they argue, could also potentially have a harmful effect on the people who need it the most.

Others point out that the direct impact of Help to Buy is actually not that what matters most either, Others point out that the direct impact of Help to Buy is actually not that what matters most either, it's the impression it gives to consumers, fuelling expectations that house prices will continue to march upwards because low-deposit mortgages are widely available.

it's the impression it gives to consumers, fuelling expectations that house prices will continue to march upwards because low-deposit mortgages are widely available.

But is that impression about to be clouded? The Bank of England has just hinted that interest rates could rise sooner than expected, which will impact on home owners' costs and their borrowing ability - albeit gradually.

But is that impression about to be clouded? The Bank of England has just hinted that interest rates could rise sooner than expected, which will impact on home owners' costs and their borrowing ability - albeit gradually.

There is evidence, too, that some of the strongest heat is starting to come out of the housing market. Since April, tougher industry-wide mortgage lending rules have been in place, meaning people applying for a mortgage face more questions about their spending habits to demonstrate they can comfortably afford their home loan. Partly as a result of this, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reported seeing glimpses of the start of a slowdown in the pace of rising house prices.

in place, meaning people applying for a mortgage face more questions about their spending habits to demonstrate they can comfortably afford their home loan. Partly as a result of this, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) reported seeing glimpses of the start of a slowdown in the pace of rising house prices.

It is important to act to insure against any repeat of boom and bust
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 14, 2014
Words:1073
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