Despite speculation about the demise of the housing market in 2023, one of the region’s leading residential conveyancing firms is reporting a solid start to the year and positive numbers of new instructions.
LCF Residential, which is the conveyancing arm of Yorkshire law firm LCF Law, works with homebuyers, sellers, and estate agents right across Yorkshire, as well as nearly every UK mortgage lender.
Figures from LCF Residential show that after sales plummeted towards the end of last year, following the mini-budget on 23 September, which caused a rise in the long-term borrowing costs that underpin mortgage deals, the market has levelled out again. At the start of 2023, fall-through rates currently stand at less than 5% according to LCF Residential, after hitting more than 15% in September and October, following the mini-budget.
In March, house prices rose for the third month in a row as easing mortgage rates drew buyers back to the market. According to Halifax average house prices rose last month by 0.8% – prices are now 1.6% higher than at the same time last year.
The sudden rise in borrowing costs that occurred in late 2022 has now been largely reversed. Latest Bank of England data shows mortgage approvals rose in February for the first time since August 2022.
Julie Davis, a director at LCF Residential, which employs a 23-strong team, said: “At the end of 2022, the housing market was full of uncertainty, due to rising interest rates, inflation, and the increasing cost of living. However, following the usual seasonal dip over Christmas and New Year, transaction levels are steadily rising as we head through spring.
“As a result, we started 2023 positively, albeit not as spectacularly as during the recent mini-booms we’ve experienced over the past couple of years.
“After the disruption caused by the mini-budget, mortgage lenders are now significantly increasing the number of mortgage products available to borrowers, people continue to move house and there’s still plenty of appetite from potential buyers. Activity in the first quarter of 2023 has been solid.”
LCF Residential director, Lynn Wilkinson, who mainly works with buyers across the firm’s Harrogate and Ilkley offices, added: “The housing market in Yorkshire’s most sought-after and prime areas, including Harrogate and Ilkley, remains optimistically robust, and we haven’t experienced any major drop in new instructions in these areas.
“The auction fever felt last year by buyers over-bidding on a severe shortage of housing stock, which would regularly go to best and final offers, has dissipated and a sense of calmness has been restored. However, there’s still no shortage of people that want to get moving in 2023.”
LCF Residential has continued to expand its operations across West, North and South Yorkshire from its four offices in Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate, and Ilkley and has doubled the size of its team in Leeds in recent months.