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North-East showing first signs of economic recovery
THE region’s housing market is starting to turn a corner with buyer numbers growing at the fastest rate since 1999, showing that the North-East could be seeing the first shoots of economic recovery.
Business leaders and surveyors said the figures indicated increased confidence and job security across the region – meaning job losses and austerity could be behind us.
Figures released today in the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) Residential Market Survey show that the amount of potential buyers looking to enter the market grew at their fastest rate since August 1999 as 78 per cent more surveyors in the region reported increases in demand.
Since the start of the year, the RICS said, buyers had been returning to test the market, yet the amount of would-be buyers saw a sizeable peak in July.
The number of homes sold in the region also increased last month, with 47 per cent more surveyors reporting a rise rather than a fall in newly-agreed sales, compared with 32 per cent in June.
Keith Johnson, chair of Durham-based estate agents JW Wood, who has 40 years’ experience in the industry, said: “I think, generally speaking, people are beginning to feel more secure in their jobs.
"Job cuts that have happened have happened now and hopefully that is the end of them. No-one thinks about moving house if they are concerned about their job or their future.
“There are signs of improving manufacturing orders, and other signs of improving confidence – and that is what drives the housing market.”
He said that investors were moving back to the market as banks were beginning to allow more buy-to-let mortgages, and the rental market remained strong which was tempting investors.
The middle market, between £150,000 and £300,000, was seeing the strongest growth, but he said there was a shortage of good family homes on the market.
James Ramsbotham, chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the figures and said they were backed up by the chamber’s economic survey, which showed more firms were reporting rising sales and orders.
“The housing market itself is a good economic barometer,” he said. “Growth, however small, will help bolster business positivity.”
Simon Wright, managing partner at Robinsons estate agents in Darlington, said: “We are seeing better sales figures in the last three or four months then in the last five years.
“Having said that there are still first time buyers who are finding it difficult to borrow money. We are hoping the Government’s Help to Buy scheme in 2014 should help, although the detail is thin on the ground.”
Prices were at realistic levels which was helping to drive growth, and the Bank of England’s intention to keep interest rates low was also improving confidence, he said.
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