VICTORIA BISCHOFF: How high can house prices go?


Just when you think the property market may finally be cooling down, an email like this stumbles across your desk.

‘The vendor has instructed us that they will run what we call a “race to survey” between yourself and another party.’

In other words, the estate agent will press ahead with the buyer who has their mortgage survey booked in first — and ditch the other.

Competition: In some areas, properties are selling so fast that homeowners are moving back into rented accommodation so they are not in a chain

I was aghast when I saw this screenshot posted on an online forum. As if buying a house wasn’t stressful enough! But this is the fiercely competitive world homebuyers live in today.

Sealed bids, secret off-market sales and now a ‘race to survey’.

In some areas, properties are selling so fast that homeowners are moving back into rented accommodation to avoid a chain.

Others are sending handwritten letters pleading for sellers to choose them from all the offers received.

So when experts predict a slowdown, it surely can’t come soon enough for desperate buyers. 

 As prices spiral further out of reach of first-time buyers, you have to wonder how much higher they can really go

Of course, the picture won’t be exactly the same in every part of the country. But with housing stock in short supply, it’s still very much a sellers’ market.

It’s true that prices are no longer marching up at the record-breaking pace of the past two years.

And as interest rates rise, piling pressure on already cash-strapped households, demand should ease.

Yet the property market has defied expectations before.

After all, few anticipated that it would bounce back as strongly as it did after the first lockdown.

But as prices spiral further out of reach of first-time buyers, you have to wonder how much higher they can really go.

It’s plane hell

I hate booking flights. I always fret I’ve selected the wrong date or airport. But, as I was reminded at the weekend, the worst part is trying to find the cheapest fare.

I typically use skyscanner.com to compare all the options. After choosing a flight, you are shown a list of the various fares available — most through third-party websites with terrible reviews.

But invariably, the price advertised is never the one you pay. (Why is it so expensive to take a suitcase?) 

And you are bombarded with invitations to fork out for premium service packages that promise flexibility — until you check the small print and realise you’ll still have to pay hefty fees to make changes. 

Yet if you book direct, prices can be even higher.

Then, after all this faff, the flight will probably be cancelled anyway.

Bag better rates

As high street banks stubbornly refuse to raise savings rates, Marcus by Goldman Sachs deserves a pat on the back.

I’ve received three emails this year to let me know my interest rate has been automatically increased.

So I was surprised to learn that the fourth, due today, requires customers to apply the increase themselves. This is easy enough to do — just be sure you don’t miss out on the top 1.3 per cent rate.

Lucky winners: NS&I publishes a list of those who have won 'high-value' prizes on its website

Lucky winners: NS&I publishes a list of those who have won ‘high-value’ prizes on its website

Jackpot dreaming

Thank you for all the cheering emails about your various premium bond victories. One Money Mail reader says he’s pocketed 385 prizes in 33 years — including a juicy £1,000 win.

Another says he picked up four £25 prizes in May — and then another four in June!

Since it’s clear I’m not the only one who regularly daydreams about scooping the jackpot, I’ll let you into a secret.

NS&I publishes a list of ‘high-value’ winners (those who have scooped prizes of between £1,000 and £1 million) on its website the day before the results of the draw are revealed on its prize-checker smartphone app.

It tells you which part of the country the lucky saver lives in, when they bought their bonds, how many they hold and, crucially, how much they have won.

After discovering this last week, I spent a glorious half an hour scrolling through more than 3,000 entries to find out if any match my description.

Sadly, it was not to be. But it’s only 23 days until the next draw…

v.bischoff@dailymail.co.uk

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