Buyers struggle to spot the best deals

The housing market is showing signs of recovery
The housing market is showing signs of recovery

THE housing market in the North West continued to show signs of recovery during June, with rising sales expectations and increased demand, says the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

Chartered surveyors across the North West expect home sales will rise over the coming three months, with a net balance of 65 per cent more respondents (up from 43 per cent in May) predicting sales will increase. This is the most positive reading since June 1999.

This rise in sales expectations has mainly been fuelled by increasing numbers of prospective buyers returning to the market. Last month, a net balance of 37 per cent more North West chartered surveyors reported a rise in new buyer enquiries.

In a clear sign that market confidence is gradually being restored, and that funding schemes are making a difference, demand from prospective buyers has been positive since December 2012.

Recent government efforts to unblock the housing market mean mortgages are now much easier for many people to come by - but evidence indicates these consumers still have trouble spotting the best deals.

The housing market has been on the up in 2013, even if it isn’t yet firing on all cylinders.

Banks and building societies recently reported that May was the best month for mortgage lending they have seen since 2008. This tentative recovery has been helped by people who struggled to get access to a mortgage in recent years now finding it easier to get a foot on - or to climb up - the property ladder.

Government schemes such as Funding for Lending are to thank for much of this improved access, which has prompted an increase in the number of mortgages available.

Access to cheap finance has also helped to prompt a mortgage price war, with lenders slashing their rates to some of their lowest ever levels. However, many of these low-rate deals also come with a sting in the tail, in the form of a high fee. This means that the lowest rate on offer is not always the cheapest deal, when taking fees and charges into account.

You may well be better off going for a higher rate with a lower fee, depending on how much money you want to borrow and how long the mortgage will run for. New research from consumer group Which? has found that only five people out of 1,001 home owners it surveyed could correctly rank five two-year fixed-rate mortgage deals in order of the most expensive to the cheapest. Only one quarter of home owners were able to spot the most expensive and the cheapest deals.

Despite so many people getting the test wrong, half of those who took part thought it had been “easy”. Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, says the research shows that “even people who already have a mortgage struggle to recognise the cheapest deal”.