First-time buyers play Brexit wait-and-see

Many potential first-time buyers (FTBs) are waiting to see how Brexit plays out before committing themselves to the property ladder and expect to see house prices drop, according to a new survey.

Financial services provider OneFamily’s study says that 55% of FTBs who have a deposit ready to use are waiting until after 29 March because they expect prices to fall. They say that equates to around 136,000 potential homeowners, which could ensure that the market remains quiet for the first few months of 2019.

Varying forecasts

Recent house price data has offered different information on the current outlook. The Nationwide said that prices fell by 0.7% in December, while in 2018 as whole they rose by just 0.5% However the Halifax reported that prices rose by 1.3% in the three months to December, an improvement from November’s disappointing mark of 0.3%.

That was the lowest growth rate recorded by the building society since 2012, but one that would encourage FTBs looking to get started. But OneFamily report that three-quarters of FTBs are still playing wait-and-see until after Brexit, feeling that the climate is still too uncertain.

But despite the outlook, with Parliament’s discussions of Theresa May’s Brexit deal yet to clarify the picture, 22% of those surveyed say they will still buy before 29 March. Nearly a third – 29% – are unconcerned at the prospect of losing money, and 22% feel they have waited for long enough. Only 15% say that Brexit will not affect property prices at all.

Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, Managing Director of Lifetime ISAs at OneFamily, says:

“At times of uncertainty it’s always hard to know what to do – do you wait and see, or carry on regardless? For many, market fluctuations as a result of Brexit could give them a golden opportunity to get on the housing ladder.”

Low mortgage rates and stamp duty offer FTB hope

There is encouragement out in the market for those wiling to take the plunge at the moment. Mortgage rates for FTBs are at their lowest levels since 1995, and the HMRC recently published figures stating that most FTBs were reaping benefits from changes to stamp duty thresholds.

Numbers of FTBs have returned to pre-financial crash levels according to the Yorkshire Building Society.  They say that the 367,000 FTBs who secured a mortgage in 2018 was up by 4,000 on the previous year.

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