Five questions answered on the rise in UK home sales

Is this trend set to continue?

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has revealed that the amount of houses sold per surveyor has more than doubled since 2009. We answer five questions on the survey's findings.

How many more house sales are there now compared to 2009?

In January 2009, 9.8 houses were sold per estate agency branch. In the last three months of 2013 this rose to just over 21 sales per estate agency branch – a rise of just over 11 houses per surveyor. This is the highest number since March 2008.

What can this rise in UK house sales be attributed to?

According to Rics, the rise has come from an increasing availability of affordable mortgages and "pent-up" demand from a market that has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market in recent years.

Is this trend set to continue?

According to the surveyors interviewed in the survey, prices and sales are going to keep rising.

What else has Rics said?

The institute added that unless more properties are built, prices could continue to rise.

Peter Bolton King, global residential director at Rics, said: "Unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up for sale we could well be looking at a price rises becoming unsustainable in some areas."

What has the building industry said about this?

According to Bovis Homes, which released a statement today, the number of new homes being built is rising and they are also seeing an increase in forward sales.

David Ritchie, Chief Executive of Bovis Homes, said: "2013 was another successful year for Bovis Homes. Our forward order book is in its best position for many years."

The company’s average sale price was up 14 per cent to £195,100.

What have the experts said?

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at property adviser, Savills, told the Telegraph: "The positive sentiment in the housing market is likely to result in further increases in transactions in 2014. But with the mortgage market review looming, they could remain well below the pre-crunch norm and heavily weighted to those with equity."

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight, also told the publication: "There is a real danger that house prices could really take off over the coming months."

Construction work at Elvetham Heath, Hampshire. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

Photo: Getty Images
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The Fire Brigades Union reaffiliates to Labour - what does it mean?

Any union rejoining Labour will be welcomed by most in the party - but the impact on the party's internal politics will be smaller than you think.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has voted to reaffiliate to the Labour party, in what is seen as a boost to Jeremy Corbyn. What does it mean for Labour’s internal politics?

Firstly, technically, the FBU has never affliated before as they are notionally part of the civil service - however, following the firefighters' strike in 2004, they decisively broke with Labour.

The main impact will be felt on the floor of Labour party conference. Although the FBU’s membership – at around 38,000 – is too small to have a material effect on the outcome of votes themselves, it will change the tenor of the motions put before party conference.

The FBU’s leadership is not only to the left of most unions in the Trades Union Congress (TUC), it is more inclined to bring motions relating to foreign affairs than other unions with similar politics (it is more internationalist in focus than, say, the PCS, another union that may affiliate due to Corbyn’s leadership). Motions on Israel/Palestine, the nuclear deterrent, and other issues, will find more support from FBU delegates than it has from other affiliated trade unions.

In terms of the balance of power between the affiliated unions themselves, the FBU’s re-entry into Labour politics is unlikely to be much of a gamechanger. Trade union positions, elected by trade union delegates at conference, are unlikely to be moved leftwards by the reaffiliation of the FBU. Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all large enough to all-but-guarantee themselves a seat around the NEC. Community, a small centrist union, has already lost its place on the NEC in favour of the bakers’ union, which is more aligned to Tom Watson than Jeremy Corbyn.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s General Secretary, will be a genuine ally to Corbyn and John McDonnell. Len McCluskey and Dave Prentis were both bounced into endorsing Corbyn by their executives and did so less than wholeheartedly. Tim Roache, the newly-elected General Secretary of the GMB, has publicly supported Corbyn but is seen as a more moderate voice at the TUC. Only Dave Ward of the Communication Workers’ Union, who lent staff and resources to both Corbyn’s campaign team and to the parliamentary staff of Corbyn and McDonnell, is truly on side.

The impact of reaffiliation may be felt more keenly in local parties. The FBU’s membership looks small in real terms compared Unite and Unison have memberships of over a million, while the GMB and Usdaw are around the half-a-million mark, but is much more impressive when you consider that there are just 48,000 firefighters in Britain. This may make them more likely to participate in internal elections than other affiliated trade unionists, just 60,000 of whom voted in the Labour leadership election in 2015. However, it is worth noting that it is statistically unlikely most firefighters are Corbynites - those that are will mostly have already joined themselves. The affiliation, while a morale boost for many in the Labour party, is unlikely to prove as significant to the direction of the party as the outcome of Unison’s general secretary election or the struggle for power at the top of Unite in 2018. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.