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Summer interest rate cut possible, says Bank deputy

Summer interest rate cut possible, says Bank deputy

The Bank of England has given its strongest hint yet that interest rates could be cut this summer.

Bank deputy governor Ben Broadbent said in a speech that a rate cut at “some time” over the summer was “possible”.

His comments come ahead of figures on Wednesday that are expected to show a sharp drop in inflation, which measures the rate at which prices are increasing.

Earlier this month, the Bank indicated that rate cuts were likely to be actively considered in June and August, depending on how the economy performed.

Mr Broadbent has one vote on the Bank’s nine-member Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) that decides interest rates.

Earlier this month, two members of the panel voted for a cut, though rates were maintained at 5.25%. Mr Broadbent voted with the majority to keep borrowing costs at the current 16-year high.

Next month’s meeting is Mr Broadbent’s last before he leaves the Bank in July.

In a speech on Monday, he said that there was a range of views across the MPC about how much economic evidence was needed to reduce interest rates.

“The experience of the last two or three years has made people wary. Equally, the behaviour of the economy over the last six months… is reassuring,” he said.

He pointed to analysis that inflation may not be as persistent as originally feared.

While the rate has been falling over the past year, it has remained higher than some economists had forecast and this has pushed back expectations of when the Bank will cut rates.

The most recent inflation data showed that prices rose by 3.2% in the year to March, although the figure released this week is expected to see the rate drop close to the Bank’s target of 2%.

When the Bank of England held rates earlier this month, its governor, Andrew Bailey, said it needed to “see more evidence” that price rises have slowed further before cutting interest rates.

However, Mr Bailey added he was “optimistic that things are moving in the right direction”.

Fixed mortgage rates fell sharply at the beginning of the year as financial markets forecast that the Bank could cut rates a number of times in 2024.

Since then, mortgage rates have increased and remained volatile, as financial markets follow developments in the US where inflation has also not fallen as quickly as expected.

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Want to know the best time of year to sell your home?

Want to know the best time of year to sell your home

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As the winter months draw to a close, the arrival of springtime and longer days can kick-start home-moving plans for many.

More people start their search for a new home in spring, and we start seeing more properties listed for sale.

Over the past five years*, our research shows that March has been the best time of the year to sell a home.

Why is March the best time to sell?

The number of buyers enquiring about homes for sale on Rightmove is usually highest at this time of year. We see more buyers looking to move in March than in any other month of the year. Competition between buyers for the homes available is traditionally at its peak.

And the good news is that buyers have more homes to choose from in March than at the start of the year, as the number of properties for sale tends to also be highest. There are more homes being listed for sale this year compared with last year.

And lots of home-hunters are keen to move into a new home before the start of summer, with things like gardens and outdoor space at the top of many home-movers’ wish-lists.

So, if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market this spring, it could mean you’ll have a better chance of selling, and sooner, because more buyers are looking to move, and there’s more competition for every available home.

Our property expert Tim Bannister says: “For any sellers who might be conscious of coming to market at a time when the number of new listings has traditionally been high, the data shows us that demand in March means sellers are most likely to be met with a potential buyer for their home.”

How to be in the best position to buy when you find the ‘one’

If you’re looking to buy, there are lots of things you can do to get yourself ready, including checking recent sold prices in the areas you’re home-hunting in, setting up property alerts, and getting a Mortgage in Principle in place. You can read our step-by-step guide to buying a home here.

If you’re thinking of selling your home, chances are you’ll be looking to buy a new property, too. Take a look at our guide to selling for help with making your sale go as smoothly as possible.

Another piece of guidance from estate agents is to make sure your home is on the market, or preferably sold subject to contract, before starting your property search. This is because many sellers will want to know their buyers have sales already agreed on their homes. If you have a home to sell, you can arrange a market valuation with an expert local agent here.

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Evergrande: Crisis-hit Chinese property giant ordered to liquidate

Crisis-hit Chinese property

A court in Hong Kong has ordered the liquidation of debt-laden Chinese property giant Evergrande.

Judge Linda Chan said “enough is enough”, after the troubled developer repeatedly failed to come up with a plan to restructure its debts.

The firm has been the poster child of China’s real estate crisis with more than $300bn (£236bn) of debt.

But it is unclear how far the Hong Kong ruling will hold sway in mainland China.

The property giant, which has been in hot water with its creditors for the last two years, filed a request for another three months’ leeway at 4pm on Friday.

But Judge Chan turned it down, describing the idea as “not even a restructuring proposal, much less a fully formulated proposal”. Instead she ordered the start of the process to unwind Evergrande, appointing liquidators at Alvarez & Marsal Asia to oversee it.

The liquidators said their intention was to “achieve a resolution that minimises further disruption for all stakeholders”.

“Our priority is to see as much of the business as possible retained, restructured, or remain operational,” said Wing Sze Tiffany Wong, one of the managing directors.

The slowburn crisis at Evergrande has sent shockwaves through the investment community, with its potential impact likened to the collapse of Lehman Brothers at the start of the financial crisis.

China’s property sector remains fragile as investors wait to see what approach Beijing will take to the court’s move.

The decision is likely to send further ripples through China’s financial markets at a time when authorities are trying to curb a stock market sell-off.

Evergrande shares fell by more than 20% in Hong Kong after the announcement, before trading was suspended.

The liquidators will look at Evergrande’s overall financial position and identify potential restructuring strategies. That could include seizing and selling off assets, so that the proceeds can be used to repay outstanding debts.

However, Beijing may be reluctant to see work halt on property developments in China, where many ordinary would-be homeowners are waiting for apartments they have already paid for.

Evergrande has come to symbolise the rollercoaster ride of China’s property boom and bust, borrowing heavily to finance the building of forests of tower blocks aimed at housing the millions of migrants moving from rural areas to cities. It ran into trouble, and defaulted on its debts in December 2021.

Evergrande’s chairman, Hui Ka Yan, hit the headlines for his lavish lifestyle, before it was announced last year that he was under investigation for suspected crimes.

Ordinary Chinese property buyers have limited options to demand compensation, but many have taken to social media to express their frustration about developers like Evergrande.

Big investors have turned to the courts, including in Hong Kong, where Evergrande’s shares are listed. The case that resulted in Monday’s ruling was brought in June 2022 by Hong Kong-based Top Shine Global, which said that Evergrande had not honoured an agreement to buy back shares.

Evergrande’s executive director, Shawn Siu, described the decision to appoint liquidators as “regrettable”, but told Chinese media the company would ensure home building projects would be delivered.

The unwinding is likely to take some time and construction is expected to continue in the meantime.

Most of Evergrande’s assets – 90% according to Judge Chan’s ruling – are in mainland China and despite the “one country, two systems” slogan, there are thorny jurisdictional issues.

Ahead of Monday’s ruling, China’s Supreme Court and Hong Kong’s Department of Justice signed an arrangement to mutually recognise and enforce civil and commercial judgements between mainland China and Hong Kong.

But experts are still unsure whether that agreement will have an impact on Evergrande’s liquidation order.

Derek Lai, the global insolvency leader at professional services firm Deloitte said the liquidator would need to “follow the laws of mainland China”, which could make it hard to take full control of Evergrande’s operations there.

Beijing may want to see mainland building projects completed to meet the expectations of Chinese buyers and investors.

Crisis-hit Chinese property

Foreign creditors are unlikely to get their money before mainland creditors.

However, even if Judge Chan’s orders are not carried out in China, the decision sends a strong message and gives a clue on what other developers and creditors may face.

She presides over not just Evergrande’s case, but also other defaulted developers such as Sunac China, Jiayuan and Kaisa.

Last May, she also ordered the liquidation of Jiayuan after its lawyers failed to explain why they needed more time to iron out their debt restructuring proposal.

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