We know that local knowledge, a competitive fee, and the highest valuation are often the main criteria when choosing an estate agent to sell your home.
From today that decision will become more complicated and the outcome potentially more costly for you, the vendor.
Last week was a big one in the housing market with the Chancellor’s announcement that by midnight that night, the rates of Stamp Duty would change. For every property selling for less than £925,000 –most properties in this area- there was a reduction. The "slab structure" that has been replaced had long been criticised. It has also come under fire for disproportionately affecting buyers and sellers in the South-east. There have been repeated calls to change the duty so that it is fairer. George Osborne said: "We are going to change fundamentally this antiaspirational homes tax that has distorted our market for decades."
A mortgage is usually the biggest debt that people face during their lives. Now the rules governing who can secure a home loan have tightened. The new system, which came into force fully on 26 April 2014, ensures that lenders conduct a full affordability check on mortgage applicants.
This will have practical implications for the amount people can borrow and the length of time that an application might take.
The aim is to prevent any return of the pre-crisis mortgage lending that many described as "reckless".
Stamp duty has long been an unwelcome extra faced by first-time buyers trying to get onto the housing ladder, yet one that they have grudgingly had to pay.
Despite this, new findings show a quarter of aspiring homeowners are unprepared for the cost, which is incurred when buying properties worth more than £125,000.
Lender TSB found that 22 per cent of first-timers are not considering this expense before making an offer on their potential new home.
However, it is not only buyers new to the market who are unprepared. The research also found that one in seven of those looking to buy their second or third homes had not considered stamp duty either. Worryingly, the findings also reveal that one in 10 first-timers turn to credit cards to pay it.
House prices roared to their highest February rise on record last month, fuelling concerns that the UK's booming property market could undermine the stability of the recovery.
Halifax reported that prices rose by 2.4% in the usually quiet month, to take the annual rate of increase to 7.9% – its highest since 2007.
The Lloyds bank subsidiary said the housing market was improving following a sharp rise in transactions over the last year based on improving consumer confidence and cheap mortgage deals. The price jump sparked calls for the government to cancel its Help to Buy scheme, which critics argue has artificially inflated prices and encouraged speculation in London and the south-east.
Rob Wood, chief UK economist at Berenberg bank, said: "I think the housing market is doing fine without Help to Buy. It is already recovering rapidly, helped by very low interest rates and the better economic situation, and simply does need any extra stimulus, if it ever did."
The Halifax's latest monthly index, which is based on mortgages approved by the bank, put the average price of a UK home at £175,546 – almost £2,000 higher than at the end of 2013.
The figures will come as bad news to aspiring first-time buyers who, according to separate research from HSBC, are facing a growing struggle to get on to the housing ladder.
Halifax said the annual rate of inflation, which it calculates by comparing the average over three months with the average over the same period of the previous year, fell to 7.3% from a recent peak of 7.7% in November.
However, the impact of rising prices on would-be buyers is underlined by the bank's figures for the price/earnings ratio, which reached 4.74 in January, up from 4.44 in January 2013 and its highest level since October 2008 when the housing market was cooling down.
With an increasingly limited supply of properties and on-going demand, it could prove a popular year for making a change. With mortgages still historically cheap and interest rates set to remain stable, if you’ve been putting off a good reason to up sticks, it could be opportune to make 2014 the year to move.
After years in the doldrums since 2008, 2013 saw the UK property market bounce back to life. According to Halifax, prices rose by 7.7% across the country as a whole. In London, the figure was more than 10%. Elsewhere, growth was not so strong – parts of the North and the West Country, in particular, might ask when this economic recovery is going to arrive. But in general, 2013 was a success story for British property. What will 2014 bring?
Bank of England Warn of Overheating Housing Market
The housing market could over heat in seconds like a “microwave”, the Bank of England warned last night.
Chief economist Spencer Dale warned the market could go from “lukewarm to scalding hot in a few economic seconds”. The remarks underline the worry that a surge in property prices could lead to an unsustainable property bubble.