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Sky-high Property Prices Pose Risks

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Brighton Evening Argus:

http://www.theargus.co.uk/display.var.1441879.0.0.php

Sky-high property prices pose risks

Many first-time buyers are now risking all by taking out mortgages worth more than five times their salary and in the future many home buyers could find themselves spiralling even deeper into debt.

Here independent financial adviser Michael Davies, head of mortgages at Skerritt Consultants Ltd in Church Road, Hove, talks about the current state of the property market and how it is affecting first-time buyers.

Five years ago the average mortgage for a one-bedroom flat was £70,000 to £80,000. Now the average mortgage is £175,000 to £180,000.

First-time buyers who want a studio flat are looking at a mortgage of £135,000.

It is difficult for a single person in this day and age to obtain a mortgage by themselves.

They would have to be earning about £30,000 a year and have little or no debt in order to borrow £160,000 to buy a one-bedroom property.

To try to keep costs down lenders have started giving borrowers 35-year mortgages.

But people who get on to the property ladder are now facing a different set of problems because, although they can keep up with the mortgage repayments, they are unable to save money to buy a car or to furnish the property, so they take out loans or a credit card to pay for the extras they need and it overwhelms them.

We have seen an increase of first-time buyers taking out personal loans after they take out a mortgage.

In the past couple of years council tax, electricity bills and leases have had an added effect on people who have bought properties for the first time.

Many people who bought properties several years ago took out three or five-year deals at a fixed rate of four per cent to keep payments down.

For most people looking at the property market in 2002 it was affordable but five years down the line the fixed rate has gone up by at least one percentage point and sometimes those coming out of competitive low rates will struggle to make repayments, especially if their salary does not reflect the cost of living.

Our prime market is people aged 25 to 40.

Many people in their 20s and 30s still have debts from university and loans to cope with which makes it much harder for them to get on the ladder and unless they have a guarantor, parents lending them a deposit or a joint income with a partner, it is not easy for them to do it alone.

A mortgage of £150,000 over 25 years would mean repayments of £750 a month but for someone living in Brighton and Hove with bills and living expenses on top it would not be easy.

On a positive note we are trying to encourage people to take out five-year fixed rates so there is one bill they know they can manage every month.

If first-time buyers do get into debt they should not let the envelopes pile up.

We always advise people to approach their debts and see how they can tackle them because the loan and credit card repayments will not just go away if they are ignored.

We do a lot of remortgages to get people out of debt.

It is a bit of a balancing act but property prices will keep increasing and people who do not get on to the property market risk being left behind.

People hoping to buy a property but still maintain the same lifestyle of going clubbing every weekend and buying new clothes need to think again because they are not going to be able to do it.

They need to be sensible and only buy what they need and can afford.

Property prices have gone up 25 per cent in the past three years but lenders are reacting by trying to lend more and lending for longer periods of time.

Sarah Nancollas, from Worthing insolvency firm Nancollas Greer, said paying the mortgage for first-time buyers is only the beginning of the story.

She said: "You have got the cost of physically moving, fees and furnishing your house.

"We get people coming to see us with huge credit card debts which can be anything from a few thousand pounds up to six figures because it is the only way people can afford to furnish their homes.

"When there is an interest rise there is a flurry of people who come to us about a month afterwards.

"The earlier people with mounting debts can speak to an insolvency practitioner the more options they have available to them."

Have your say below.

Posted by: SW, Brighton on 1:11pm today

Buying your first property has always been hard. I'm lucky that I did over ten years ago, but it meant working long hours, saving, no clubbing, no expensive clothes, etc to do so. If you want something you have to be prepared work hard to get it - this moaning "I want it for nothing right now" society really annoys.

Posted by: J.Ustice, Brighton on 10:27pm today

If you bought in 1996-97 as you say, you were indeed lucky, because you happened to buy at a historically low point, or 'trough' in the market. If you happen to need to buy now it is indeed extremely hard as earnings to price ratios are at historical highs with house prices at about 40-50% over where they should be, according to top economists. And all because of greedy buy to let investors, unusually low interest rates and lax lending practices. Well, markets are cyclical, and after the highs lows will inevitably follow.

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Posted by: SW, Brighton on 1:11pm today

Buying your first property has always been hard. I'm lucky that I did over ten years ago, but it meant working long hours, saving, no clubbing, no expensive clothes, etc to do so. If you want something you have to be prepared work hard to get it - this moaning "I want it for nothing right now" society really annoys.

Moral high horses and smugness spring to mind. A member of the "I did it when property was a third of the price it is today and I have no understanding of today's vastly different situation" brigade. It is insulting to those who have no hope in hell of buying anything right now at any price. I wonder if Mr SW, Brighton could afford to buy that same property at today's prices?

Edited by Bootstrap

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Moral high horses and smugness spring to mind. A member of the "I did it when property was a third of the price it is today and I have no understanding of today's vastly different situation" brigade. It is insulting to those who have no hope in hell of buying anything right now at any price. I wonder if Mr SW, Brighton could afford to buy that same property at today's prices?

I know, that's what prompted me to encourage other alternate views, as I see a couple more people have. This person is clueless as to how much more difficult it is today for ftb's.

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