Housing market recovery underway but message needs to reach sellers.

The CML has said the recovery may be easily overlooked with consumer sentiment having not yet caught up, something that Brendan Cox, Managing Director of Waterfords estate agents strongly agrees with and believes will make a difference to further activity.

"The CML has published ten reasons for the markets positive outlook, all of which directly relate to the mortgage market and its improved lending, a vital element of the housing market that has been restricting people that do want to make a move," he said.

Some of the reasons:

1. The availability of 90%-plus LTV mortgages has more than doubled in the past two years
2. There is ‘much more’ lending at higher LTV levels
3. More first-time buyers are entering the market without assistance
4. Lenders expect to offer more high LTV mortgages this year
5. NewBuy – the controversial taxpayer-backed scheme whereby purchasers of new-build properties only are able to get 95% mortgages – is being extended
6. Lenders are innovating responsibly – the CML cites Lloyds lend-a-hand mortgage, Nationwide’s save-to-buy scheme and Barclays’ new Family Springboard mortgage
7. There is ‘constructive’ forward planning going on within the mortgage industry
8. The outside world is beginning to notice the improvement in lending conditions. The CML says that people are beginning to notice that lenders are open for business.

"It is great news that these improvements are seemingly in place, but consumers need to become fully aware of these movements for the market to really pick up as although we have seen a lot of interest this year, sellers are holding off putting their property on the market until the outlook becomes clearer. It has also been publicised this year that the Bank of England are likely to hold the base rate at 0.5% until 2017, and this should encourage lenders further to offer more attractive, longer term mortgage rates. Once this message also reaches the consumers we will start to see an even more active market as we head into spring."

Looking at their own findings for January, Cox said: "Lack of supply has been a definite trend so far this year. We can report a record number of valuations during the first month of 2013 however some consumers are not following through and putting their property on the market. As a result, there remains to be a shortage of stock. We are certainly with the majority of agents (nearly eight in ten according to Hometrack) who are optimistic that volumes will grow in the next few months as households begin to act upon the news of lending conditions and an overall improved market."

Despite all this, there are still issues that Cox feels is important to highlight: "For some time now people have been faced with the fact that they have to come up with a 20-25% deposit, whereas I believe that 10% should be sufficient," he said.

"This has hindered first time buyers, who remain the life-blood of a truly buoyant market and for this category, lending continues to be tough. The CML has said that more first time buyers are entering the market without assistance and that there is much more lending at higher LTV levels, but support to them needs to go further in order for the affects to be really felt. I am not suggesting that we go back to 100% mortgages, but we certainly need a middle ground to be found."

By Emma Cinis

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