House Prices Surge – but what cost for borrowers? MARTIN WADE

A Brit’s home is castle as the saying goes. It is very fitting now. House prices are soaring and not just in London.

Almost the whole of the UK has seen lucrative price rises over the last year.

Northern Ireland and the North East are lagging behind for now – but watch this space. If current forecasts are right we could see another 9% rise this year and 7% next.

It is great news for home owners. For most of us our home is our biggest asset and many are now becoming asset rich thanks to the rising value of their property. With savings and pensions suffering due to low interest rates, this is a welcome boost.

However the cocktail of rising prices, low interest rates and low mortgage rates has encouraged many to over-indulge as far as borrowing is concerned.

The majority of current mortgages held are on the standard variable rate, leaving people vulnerable to a rate rise. It is worrying that we don’t really know how many people are precariously stretched.

Cheap borrowing isn’t going to last forever. Anyone making it through by the skin of their teeth thanks to low interest rates needs to do everything they can now to avoid a financial meltdown ahead.

Trim the fat, cut back on spending and do the sums. What impact would an interest rate have on outgoings? Planning ahead is crucial now as the era of low interest rates is coming to an end.

For those trying to get onto the property ladder the situation is unlikely to get any easier in the near future.

The government really needs to get a grip on the market by encouraging more new homes to be built. We need to see at least twice as many new builds go up each year.

People are living longer, the population is growing and there are more single buyers in the market. We simply do not have enough homes to feed the demand.

Of course this also impacts renters with eye watering increases in rates.

Saving for a deposit in these circumstances is painfully challenging.

We remain a nation of home owners and this trend is not disappearing despite the increasing number of renters.

We aspire to own and the increasing value shows why home ownership is still one of the most important investments that we can make.

All we need to do now is become a nation of financial planners to make sure we keep up the payments on that castle.

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