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Economy remains the biggest obstacle

More than half the public believe now is a good time to buy, according to the latest Building Societies Association’s Property Tracker survey.

The survey found that 54% of people believe that to some extent now is a good time to buy property in the UK. This proportion has grown consistently since June last year when just 27% believed it was a good time to buy property, and is a further improvement on the 46% who thought so in the last Property Tracker in December.

With property prices having fallen by more than 17% over the past year according to the Nationwide, it is clear that would-be buyers are starting to recognise there are bargains to be found.

The decline in interest rates has also seen a decrease in mortgage costs, further encouraging people back to the market.

But on the flip side, respondents feel barriers to buying a home remain. Concerns about their job prospects is seen as the main barrier for many. Difficulties in securing a big enough mortgage and problems saving for a deposit are also major hurdles.

So although the survey shows increasing numbers of people are interested in buying a property, it is clear the declining economic situation and funding issues are viewed by potential buyers as the biggest hindrance.

Until economic confidence improves and the supply of mortgage funding increases, it is hard to see any change, and buyers will remain reluctant to purchase.

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Apple: a stellar technology story

By Ali Unwin, head of technology sector research

Apple recently announced the highest-ever recorded quarterly net profit ($18bn), with the sale of 74.4 million iPhones helping the company deliver $74.6bn of revenue for the quarter ending December 2014. These sales were largely driven by strong demand for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Highlights included Chinese iPhone sales doubling year-on-year and unit growth of 44% in the US — supposedly a well-penetrated market. Apple ended the quarter with $178bn in cash on its balance sheet, having generated a staggering $30bn in free cash flow during the quarter.

At Neptune, we have been long-term believers in the Apple story, and continue to hold the stock in a number of our portfolios based on the company’s long-term growth prospects. This is predicated on our belief that Apple has proved thus far that it can — unusually for a consumer electronics company — maintain high margins for a sustained period of time, even as adoption of new technology slows down and competitors produce similar-specification products.

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