Mortgage lending to home buyers has grown significantly in the past year, enabling a number of first time purchasers to step onto the property ladder.

The number of available mortgages has risen by a third since the launch of the Government’s multi-million pound Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), giving lenders access to cheap finance in order to help borrowers.

The scheme, initiated last August, has boosted the UK’s mortgage market that fell flat during the recession in 2008.

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), 38,300 loans were advanced for house purchase in January – an annual increase of 11%.

For the first time in five years, there has been a 24% increase in mortgage lending to first time buyers, with 15,900 loans worth £2 billion approved to this group at the beginning of the year.

The surge has been significant in Wales, with £240m worth of loans offered to first time buyers – a stark 14% increase since the latter end of 2011.

The CML reported that Welsh new buyers borrowed an average of 3.12 times their income in the fourth quarter of 2012. In total, 8,700 loans were advanced to this group in Wales.

Tony Jones, Managing Director of Penarth based estate agent ACJ properties, said that the boost is great news for buyers in a difficult economic time.

He commented: “Five years ago new buyers in Wales were really struggling to buy their first home in Cardiff or Penarth. With the introduction of the FLS and a better market, the significant increase in mortgage loans has given young people an opportunity to invest in bricks and mortar.

“Although there are still substantial problems in the economy, rates are lower and banks are willing to lend to people on lower incomes.

“We have a number of high-quality homes for sale in Cardiff and Penarth, which are now at affordable prices for new buyers.

“With low crime rate and good schools, South Wales is a fantastic place to buy a house, and this means that more people will be able to settle in the capital and the surrounding areas.”


House prices in Wales have seen a pleasing increase in value of 0.1% month on month, according to a survey published by property analyst, Hometrack.

Released in February, the results benchmark the first property price rise in nine months, with one in seven properties going up in value.

Aside from London and the South East, which had an overall increase of 0.4%, Wales was the only other area to record a monthly growth.

The survey reported that parts of England experienced an average price drop of 8%, with the North West of England, Yorkshire, Humberside and the North East of England worst affected.

Evaluating the results of the property surge in the South of England and Wales, Hometrack said that a 14% increase in new buyers registering with estate agents in areas such as Penarth and Barry led to an 8.7% increase of new homes listed for sale in February.

The survey showed that property in Wales sells for an average of £116,000, a stark comparison to properties in London which average at £373,207.

The company said that whilst activity in the housing market will continue to develop in the spring, prices in London and the South East may be held up due to a lack of sellers putting their homes on the market.

Properties for sale in Cardiff and, in particular Penarth, are highly sought after. The seaside town has experienced a sales increase of 45% between 2011 and 2012, according to Figures on show that once on the market, the majority of houses for sale in Penarth are bought within one month.

John Coggins, Sales Manager at Penarth estate agent ACJ Properties, has indicated that the recent figures highlight the value of investing in property. He said:

“The monthly increase of 0.1% in the average value of properties across Wales from December 2012 to January 2013 is encouraging but could easily be a result of the usual seasonal upswing in the market experienced post-Christmas.   “An encouraging statistic is that, aside from London, Wales has been the only place to encounter a house price rise. This increase clearly supports the belief shown by many purchasers that “bricks and mortar” still represent a safe investment even in trying economic times.

“This is certainly the case in highly desirable areas such as Penarth, which has seen significant buyer demand from both owner occupiers and investors looking to purchase, resulting in strong prices being achieved. This is illustrated by the fact that The Vale of Glamorgan has experienced an annual average price rise of 1.9%.”




Hidden charges imposed by letting agents are exacerbating the housing crisis, The Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.

According to a report issued by The Office of Fair Trading (OFT), nearly 4,000 tenants and landlords have raised concerns around poor service and costs levied by housing agencies. This includes non-refundable admin fees which are in excess of £500,000.

Representing more than 370 councils in England and Wales, the LGA want to highlight that unfair agent fees and rogue landlords are detrimental to the housing market.

Councils are warning that, as well as offering a poor service to existing tenants, letting agent fees are so high that they are preventing people from being able to rent properties in Penarth and Cardiff, particularly those on small incomes.

To combat the problem, authorities are suggesting that more effective powers need to protect tenants from high fees from Cardiff and Penarth based letting agents and dishonest landlords.

Ian Potter, Managing Director of the Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA), said that tenants need to research their rights fully before entering contracts.

He commented: “As the LGA’s research shows, many consumers today are falling prey to bad practice in the private rental sector.”

“For this reason, we have been calling for regulation of the sector; currently anyone can set up shop, regardless of their training or experience and without any need to adhere to a code of practice or standards. Some local authorities are introducing licensing measures, but these are by no means the norm and this approach risks creating a confusing system that varies across the country.”

“The challenge is, with the current undersupply of homes, tenants may feel pressure to pay high fees, or live in substandard properties. In the absence of statutory regulation, tenants should do as much research as possible, and consult organisations like Citizens Advice, ARLA, or the Property Ombudsman. They should also check the terms of their fees and charges against Consumer Protection Regulations, or Consumer Contracts Regulations, as some of the cases cited by the LGA may be in breach of these.”

The OFT have set out a number of recommendations for Government, industry and enforcers in order to improve the market for tenants.

These include:

• Initiatives which make it easier for landlords and tenants to access quality, such as recognised logos

• Better compliance with legislation and in particular better up front information

• Agreeing an enforcement strategy for traders who do not comply with the law.

In addition, the OFT is planning to renew its advice on work and education, including developing new guidance on consumer protection laws for letting agents and evaluating unfair terms in tenancy agreements.

Tony Jones, representative of ARLA in Wales and Managing Director of Penarth based estate agent ACJ Properties, said that ARLA licensing will improve landlord standards across Wales and ensure tenants are receiving optimum service.

He said “It is a worrying fact that anyone can become a lettings agent. There are approximately 158 letting agents in Cardiff, yet only 18 have gone through the rigorous assessment to become ARLA licensed.

“LGA’s report shows that people are needlessly spending hundreds of pounds so that agents can carry out credit checks and references. It is unrealistic to expect people on a low income to afford such costs. This means that people that want to rent houses and flats in areas such as Barry and Cardiff Bay are very limited in their options. It is ARLA’s duty to ensure that these fees are justified.

“An ARLA license indicates that a landlord is of a high standard and will uphold regulations. As more landlords join this programme, the private rental sector in Wales will vastly improve and tenants will feel secure in the knowledge that they are being protected. At ACJ Properties, we ensure that all fees are transparent and made clear up front before any transaction is conducted.”