House prices up by 8.8% in 2013, Nationwide says



“What is really good news is that this is the first time we have seen first time buyers driving the market forwards and upwards, representing 44 per cent of lending activity in the last three months of 2013. This is critical to the wellbeing of the housing market, as it unlocks mobility, enabling subsequent buyers to move up the housing ladder and is not something we have seen for a while.


“We are also seeing a sensible mortgage market, with 20 per cent deposits for first time buyers and more mortgages being taken on a repayment basis as opposed to interest-only. While this is no doubt a reflection of the strict supply of interest-only mortgages, it also means that first time buyers are possibly getting help from the Bank of Mum and Dad and we are seeing some of the effects of Help to Buy filtering though into the numbers. The biggest threat comes from a lack of supply. Whilst the latest GDP figures show construction picking up, we are still faced with the long lead times to bring these properties to market.”

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Take plenty of time to choose a property that’s right for you



“Does the property have kerb appeal? Are there wheelie bins everywhere? Is the outside done to a high standard and in a good state of repair? Is the roof in good condition? Do the neighbours look after their homes?”

“If you smell air freshener, be on alert. They could be using it to mask a nasty odour, possibly damp. Is the ceiling water-stained? Are there cracks or evidence of subsidence?”

Similarly, excessive amounts of black mould on paint, plaster and window frames could indicate damp caused by condensation. A tide mark on a wall suggests rising damp. Check if the layout is practical and appealing. “If it is a weird warren of corridors, it might indicate that walls have been erected or knocked down, possibly without the freeholder’s approval or the right building permission.”

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