Agencies upbeat for future after Bank holds interest rates

"Demand for new homes has been improving since the start of the year but restricted lending has remained a barrier. However, as people sense the tide is turning for house prices and developers continue to do all they can to assist new home buyers, speculative interest is now translating into sales.

"UK housebuilders are finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, which is good news for the overall market. This week, Taylor Wimpey became the latest to announce increased orders and plans to press ahead with new schemes later in the year, following similar announcements from both Persimmon and Barratt Homes. While this does not herald a return to high-volume building, it goes some way to easing concerns over future supply and affordability."

Stuart Law, Chief Executive of Assetz, said: "The sustained low interest rates have already helped property investors and home buyers to secure some excellent deals. Now that house prices have stabilised we should start to see more overall improvements in mortgage lending, with modestly increased loan-to-value offers and lower payable rates on mortgages coming through as bank confidence increases.

"The Bank of England should keep interest rates low for some time, and it has the ability to do so thanks to current low inflation."

There was also support for the Bank’s bold move to further quantitative easing with another £50billion being injected into the system.

Michael O’Flynn, Director of said: "Despite initial scepticism and fears about ‘printing money’, quantitative easing is starting to feed through into the housing market. Mortgage availability is improving, lenders are lending, confidence is up and we’re seeing record levels of interest from prospective buyers visiting the site.

"The Bank’s decision to increase the size of the programme should be another tonic for the property market, and we hope to see steady growth in transaction levels as the year progresses. It is a gradual process, but the indicators are much more encouraging now than they were just three or six months ago."

However, there was some disquiet about the move too.

Nick Hopkinson, Director of Property Portfolio Rescue (PPR), said: "Unemployment is rising and we are still witnessing forecasts that suggest house prices will continue to fall in 2009 and 2010.

"Interest rates will not stay at their level indefinitely, and when borrowing costs increase again, as they undoubtedly will, those currently just able to survive, due to the historically low base rate, could find themselves trapped in a home that they can’t afford to keep but they can’t afford to sell.

"Homeowners must not be complacent – if you are struggling now, take action to address your finances, before it’s too late.”

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