Page last updated at 23:24 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 00:24 UK

The property market home truths

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance reporter, BBC News

For sale signs
Many lenders are predicting further falls in house prices

Attempting to move home in a stalling housing market has left Kate Straine with two homes and a hefty mortgage bill instead of just the one.

She is one of a series of BBC website readers who have shared their experiences of trying to buy and sell property in the current climate.

Others have been forced to slash their asking price and some buyers have moved back in with their parents.

Lenders expect the mortgage squeeze to continue during the next three months.

Moving out

Ms Straine wanted to sell her detached home in a suburban area of Edinburgh and move to a more central property in the city close to a good school.

She started looking in January, made an offer which was accepted the following month and was confident of selling her own home.

People who just want somewhere to live are losing out every time
Seller Greg Crosby

Owing to the anti-gazumping laws in Scotland, she signed for the new home but despite dropping the price three times has not been able to sell her own.

Eventually she had to take it off the market to raise the finance for a mortgage on both properties.

She has yet to spend a single night at her new place and has decided to try to resell it instead.

"It has been extremely stressful on top of a full-time job and two children," she says.

"Now it is likely that I will have to take a financial hit."

She said the difference was striking from the start of the year when potential buyers were queuing to view properties.

Forced move

Surveys have reported that the Scottish property market has been far more robust than the rest of the UK.

House price graph

Annual house price growth was at 6.9% in Scotland, compared with 3.8% in England and 1.5% in Wales, according to the latest survey from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Prices fell by 7.8% in Northern Ireland in the year to May.

Research by the Bank of England also showed that first-time buyers face having to find bigger deposits when getting on the property ladder.

There are now 80 different mortgages available for those offering a 5% deposit, including just 56 fixed-rate deals, down from 1,079 in July last year.

The availability of mortgages has been shrinking during the credit crunch - a situation made clear to Greg Crosby, of Basingstoke in Hampshire.

He bought an three bedroom, end of terrace former council house for £110,000 six years ago.

Now the IT worker needs to move for his job, but is currently suffering a two-hour each way commute as he tries to sell his first home.

His is a "typical first-time buyers property", he says, but sales have fallen through twice owing to buyers struggling to get mortgage deals.

"People who just want somewhere to live are losing out every time," he says.

He has dropped his asking price by almost £40,000, to £141,000 and is hoping to complete shortly. This is still a profit for Mr Crosby, who is single, but he says he will rent rather than buy another home himself.

Interest on a fixed-rate mortgage would be 2% higher than his current deal, he says.

He believes that the boom in the property market was unsustainable, but the situation for first-time buyers was preventable.

Living at 'home'

Even for those who can offer a significant deposit, the cost of mortgages is going up.

House keys
The cost of mortgages has been rising, figures show

The Bank of England says that interest rates on a two-year fixed rate home loan, with a 25% deposit, rose by 0.37% during June to 6.63% - the highest level since February 2000.

Rising mortgage costs and falling house prices have caused some sellers to decide to return to live with their parents.

Sarah Green and her husband, both 31, decided to sell their city centre apartment in Canterbury in Kent after the birth of their daughter Georgina.

They managed to sell in May.

Now, 10 years after moving away, Mrs Green is taking her husband to live with her parents because they could "see which way the market was going".

"We are very fortunate, but we want our own space," she says.

"With a young family, we do not want to make any rush decisions. Prices could get considerably cheaper.

"When we sold the property we thought it would be straightforward, but it has been very stressful."


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