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Jackie Uhi: Advice crucial as market steams ahead in Q1

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If one can believe the data, house prices are accelerating more quickly than expected, making advice as crucial as ever

Where do we start when it comes to house prices and the raft of data surrounding them?

The volume and variety of these indices can be baffling at the best of times. The data on which they are based is often generated from different sources over different time intervals. They can be established on anything from asking price or sold price to valuation. Then there are regional breakdowns and bubbles within them. One could go on and on.

With this in mind, it was interesting to see a recent forecast from estate agents Reeds Rain and Your Move suggesting that the average value of a home in Britain could reach £300,000 this year. Just over two years ago, PwC reported that the average cost of a home in Britain would hit £300,000 in 2020. This suggests house prices are accelerating more quickly than expected.

And it seems demand is at the root of this trend, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors reporting that a “rocketing interest” from aspiring homebuyers is “dwarfing” the number of properties coming onto the market.

But what do we know for sure? Well, house price confidence is on the up – in most regions anyway. The availability of mortgage finance is also heading in the right direction, with increasing numbers of deals available at the higher loan-to-value bands.

Meanwhile, competition remains strong. Affordability issues do linger for some borrowers but the positives far outweigh the negatives in the current market.

The first quarter is already proving to be a busy period and one in which the reliance upon the intermediary market continues to grow. The need for advice remains evident, especially for those looking to take advantage of favourable lending conditions.

Jackie Uhi is managing director, mortgage distribution, at Barclays

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