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House prices continue to rise across county

In Telford & Wrekin house prices rose by 2.5 per cent in August, 2.3 per cent in Shropshire, but dropped by 0.4 per cent in Powys.

The increases mean prices have risen by 6.5 per cent over the last 12 months in Telford & Wrekin, 6.8 per cent in Shropshire, and 4.3 per cent in Powys.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the average property in Telford & Wrekin sold for £168,562 – significantly lower than the UK average of £232,797.

In Shropshire the average sold for £217,598, and in Powys £182,258.

Across the West Midlands, property prices have risen by 5.1% in the last year, to £199,000. The region outperformed the UK as whole, which saw the average property value increase by 3.2 per cent.

The data comes from the House Price Index, which the ONS compiles using house sale information from the Land Registry, and the equivalent bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The average homeowner in Telford and Wrekin will have seen their property jump in value by around £29,000 in the last five years. In Shropshire the increase has been £38,000, and Powys £22,000.

The figures also showed that buyers who made their first step onto the property ladder in Telford and Wrekin in August spent an average of £138,257 – around £24,000 more than it would have cost them five years ago.

In Shropshire it was £175,906, and in Powys it was £160,390.

Lawrence Bowles, associate director of the research team at estate agents Savills, said the uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit negotiations was fuelling a “tougher lending environment”.

He said: “House price growth in real terms is slowing, and inflation is growing at the rate we’ve been used to over the last few months. Buyers, sellers and lenders are all thinking maybe they should wait until they see the outcome of negotiations.

“Longer term, the issue we expect to see is affordability, as we expect the Bank of England base rate to be back above two per cent by 2021 – closer to historical levels, rather than the ultra-low rates we have seen in recent years.

“That, combined with stricter affordability stress tests, will make it more difficult for households to demonstrate that they are able to afford mortgages.

“But we would expect to see a bounce at some point, between finding out the Brexit outcome and the start of higher interest rates.”

Between July last year and June this year, the most recent 12 months for which sales volume data is available, 2,722 homes were sold in Telford and Wrekin, eight per cent fewer than in the previous year.

The highest house prices in the country in July were found in Kensington and Chelsea, London, where properties sold for an average of £1.35 million – 16 times the cost of a home in Burnley, where the average property cost just £85,900.

Source: Shropshire Star

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Shropshire is no rural idyll for young house buyers

High house prices and low wages are making life very difficult for young people trying to get on the housing ladder in Shropshire.

Young people in Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin are finding it impossible to get on the housing ladder or even find rented accommodation, according to an expert speaking today.

With average house prices 8.5 times the average salary and the average rent more than £570 a month, the county is not the rural idyll is it perceived to be for those looking for somewhere to live, a director of one of the biggest housing providers in the county says.

Sue Adams, from Star Housing, the arms-length management team for Shropshire Council housing says the squeeze on council funding means that local authority capacity to directly support rural housing and related services is limited.

That is bad news for young people with limited resources who are looking for housing.

Last week Star Housing reopened the New Century Court complex in Oswestry, which provides accommodation for 16-25 year olds, having taken over the building from a private housing association.

Ms Adams said that the answer should be to look to local social housing providers to help fill the gap. She says it is time that councils are given the resources they need to step in when private landlords move away.

She said: “Housing associations are reviewing the areas and properties that they manage and some properties have been sold into the private market. In rural areas costs of building are higher and properties are more expensive to manage due to a lack of economies of scale.

“In Shropshire some organisations have exited the county. Uncertainty over long-term service funding for supported housing and related services has also affected this type of provision and more than one housing association has ended its involvement in supported housing schemes for young people. The council decided that strategically the last few schemes in the county must be supported and Star Housing worked with an exiting provider and acquired the building in Oswestry.

“However, the squeeze on council funding means that its capacity to directly support rural housing and related services is limited.”

She said it was not all gloom and doom though, with recent increases in grant rates hopefully helping associations to consider provision in rural areas.

She added: “There are a few housing associations that are extremely dedicated to rural Shropshire and can now consider developing again for social rent in areas where local incomes are low.

“The Much Wenlock Neighbourhood Plan led to more community led affordable housing development but communities need more support to develop plans and landowners to release land for affordable housing. To ensure more progress we need continued funding for neighbourhood plans and revisions to inheritance tax and capital gains to incentivise landowners to release land specifically for affordable housing.

“We should give flexibility to councils to control some matters impacting on the provision of rural housing. They should have flexibility over empty homes premiums to finance temporary accommodation and homelessness services and be free to exempt properties in most demand from the Right-to-Buy.”

Telford-based Wrekin Housing Trust is one of the largest social housing providers in the West Midlands, with almost 12,000 homes for rent and low cost home ownership across Shropshire and Staffordshire.

It says it wants a new approach to the sale of land in order to provide more opportunities.

A spokesman for the Trust said: “We are committed to delivering 500 new build properties per year over the next five years. Part of this includes helping young people get on to the property ladder, such as our shared ownership scheme, which mainly helps younger people buy their first property.

“We are also building a greater number of smaller properties, such as one and two-bedroom homes, to match the increased demand. These types of properties tend to suit younger people.

“Unfortunately, many people in Shropshire are being forced out of home ownership due to high prices, the lack of available housing, wage stagnation and not enough homes being built annually.”

Source: Shropshire Star