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Is 2014 The Year to Buy Off-plan?

Peter Hemple looks at the changes taking place in UK residential construction

The turnaround in construction last year was down to a revival in house-building, driven by the government Help to Buy scheme to aid buyers of new homes and a rebound in UK house prices, which increased by 7.5% in 2013 according to Halifax data. The lender is predicting a similar increase in property prices this year (8%), which would push the average house price up by more than £1,000 a month to £188,903. This would still be some way from the £199,612 peak recorded in August 2007, some seven and a half years earlier.

Halifax's chief economist, Martin Ellis, said: "Despite the recent gains, house prices remain 12% below their August 2007 peak, and transactions in 2013 were still around a third below the average for 2006 and 2007.

"House prices are also lower in relation to earnings, with the average price currently 4.8 times average annual earnings compared with a multiple of 5.8 in 2007. There is little sign of the excessive behaviour associated with a house price bubble at present."

Ellis did however point out that income multiples in London are already at an all-time high, but outside of London few would call the rest of the UK property market a bubble and Ellis added: "Schemes such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy also appear to have boosted demand."

With pent up demand, prices below their peak and aid from governmental schemes, it is no surprise that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that the number of new homes built increased by an annual 18.6% in October 2013, the biggest rise since January 2011.

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