Property News

Annual house price inflation dipped below 10% in March amid tentative signs of a cooling market, new figures indicated this week.

Annual house price inflation dipped below 10% in March amid tentative signs of a cooling market, new figures indicated this week.

Nationwide Building Society said the value of a typical home in the UK increased by 0.4% during the month, down from the 0.6% recorded in the previous month.

The average cost of a house in the UK now stands at £177,083, £15,000 higher than the same time a year ago. This represents a rise of £41 for every day of the year, the society said. Annual inflation slipped back into single figures - recorded at 9.3% in March - after breaking through the 10% mark in February. Despite showing a degree of buoyancy over the past few months, Nationwide said the underlying trend indicated a softening property market in the face of recent interest rate rises.

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Property consultant Chris Morgan has raised more than £500 for charity after organising a sponsored swim.

Chris, 49, who works in Foster Maddison's Hexham office completed the swim to raise money for Marie Curie. Chris, who lives in Stocksfield, said: "Marie Curie is a good charity which allows terminally ill people to die in the comfort of their own home. Everyone has been so supportive I feel because cancer affects so many people."

Foster Maddison, which also has an office in Newcastle, was her main sponsor. The Hexham branch can be contacted on (01434) 605441.

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Estate agents Rook Matthews Sayer are holding a charity concert at the Sage Gateshead in aid of the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle.

Tickets are still on sale for the event on Wednesday, April 18, when an array of artists will be performing including harpist to Prince Charles, Katrin Finch; principle flute for the Northern Sinfonia, Juliette Bausor; and Andrew McCormack, BBC Rising Star of the Year. This is the second time RMS has held an event of this type. The first, in 2005, raised £35,250.

Tickets are £16 and are available from all RMS branches and The Sage Gateshead ticket office on (0191) 443-4661 or online at www.thesagegateshead.org

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A Northumberland property business has strengthened its team in Alnwick by appointing Tony Hook as head of property sales and business development.

George F White, which also has offices in Wolsingham, County Durham, has created the new role to grow the company over the next four years. Sunderland-born Tony has more than 30 years experience of managing sales and marketing teams for international organisations. He said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to be able to devote my energies to working in an area I love."

The Alnwick office can be contacted on (01665) 603581.

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Belief that interest rates were likely to increase and stay high over the long term prompted an unusually high percentage of borrowers to opt for fixed rate mortgages of five plus years in February.

The level of borrowers opting for longer term fixed rates, of five year plus, increased by 11% in February to a record 32% of all mortgages, according to Spicerhaart Financial Services' monthly survey. It said three-year fixed rate deals accounted for 14% of mortgages in February.

February also saw an increase in interest only mortgages as the January rate rise took effect and borrowers faced increasing affordability constraints.

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Homeowners were this week spared a further rise in the cost of borrowing after the Bank of England held interest rates at 5.25%.

The reprieve is expected to be short-lived as the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee is widely predicted to raise rates by another 0.25% next month. It has increased rates three times since August.

Investec economist David Page said the MPC's no-change decision was a "close call" and it was only holding fire until the Bank's quarterly inflation forecasts next month.

Richard Bottomley, vice-president of the North-East Chamber of Commerce, said: "We are concerned in the North-East that recent rate rises may soon bite and so we are glad the Bank has not heaped more pressure on businesses in this area."

The Bank recently indicated that rates would need to rise one more time to keep inflation near its long-term target of 2%.

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The baby boomer generation born in the post-war years enjoy dream living standards and control much of the UK's wealth, a report said this week.

It claims that the over-50s control 80% of the UK's wealth, built on the back of soaring house prices.

Meanwhile younger people in their 30s and 40s face a less certain future, with many struggling to cope with huge mortgages and high levels of personal debt, the BBC reports.

The report, sponsored by insurer Friends Provident, concluded younger people needed to boost their savings.

Friends Provident spokesman Jeremy Ward told the broadcaster: "The baby boomers find themselves in a unique position - they've worked through periods of relative economic prosperity and have experienced rocketing house prices which means many now have money to spare. But it is a different story for younger people."

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The gulf in the price of new homes in Scotland and England has been almost closed by soaring prices north of the border, claims a new survey on the housing market.

Figures for February from the National HouseBuilding Council, which provides warranties on more than 80% of new homes, put the average new home price in Scotland at £185,360 - up 16% on the £160,000 recorded in February 2006.

With the average price of a new home in England of £187,000, buyers in either country can face a similar financial challenge - partly because builders have dramatically improved design and specification in Scotland which enables them to achieve higher prices.

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As many as 9.4m homeowners will be caught by inheritance tax despite a rise in the level at which it kicks in, it was claimed this week.

Research by Scottish Widows found that almost one in four households in the UK have an total estate valued at more than the new £300,000 threshold for death duty.

The financial services firm said raising the level from the 2006/07 figure of £285,000 will see the number of people liable to pay the tax drop from 41% to 37%, but it still meant that more households were being hit than in the 2005/06 tax year. Almost five million homeowners in Britain are valued above the new inheritance tax threshold based solely on the value of their house, Scottish Widows said.

In March's Budget statement, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that the IHT threshold will increase in stages from £285,000 to £350,000 in 2010, starting with the increase to £300,000 in the new tax year.

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