Despite earlier predictions of more drastic fluctuations, current trends indicate the UK house prices will be fairly unchanged by the end of 2023.
UK house prices have been under the spotlight for many months, after a long period of record monthly rises gave way to a slowdown in the rate of acceleration. This led to many to speculate on some fairly dramatic falls across the country, but the latest predictions show this is unlikely to materialise.
Compared to this time last year, average UK house prices have increased by 1.9%, according to Zoopla’s latest house price index. This takes into account a 1.3% fall over the past six months – while prices have actually soared by 32% over the past seven years.
A recent recovery in activity levels has slowed the rate of the falls, according to Zoopla, with the flow of new housing supply increasing by 16% and the stock of homes for sale rising by 10% month-on-month.
The report also states that it expects house prices “to remain broadly static for the rest of the year”, with a mixture of supply constraints and potential mortgage rate rises working against each other to keep demand and house prices on an even keel.
Buyer confidence boosting house prices
One thing that has certainly had an impact on the majority of households has been the combination of rising inflation, mounting mortgage rates and the cost of living crisis. While this has put pressure on affordability, buyer confidence has recently improved, says the report.
This has been slowing the rate of decline in house prices, while sales have increased since mortgage rates began to come down again earlier this year – combined with “a strong labour market”.
Unfortunately, mortgage rates could begin to creep up again because there is now speculation that the Bank of England will raise interest rates once more. “This would reduce buying power and demand for homes in H2 and the impact depends on how much rates increase,” says Zoopla.
There’s also good news on the sales agreed front, with the number of sales agreed over the past month being 11% higher than the five-year average for the same period. There are plenty of home movers in the market, too, spurring on the flow of new homes for sale coming to the market.
Sellers are urged to be realistic when it comes to house prices, though, to make the most of buyer confidence.
“Some 18% of homes currently listed for sale on Zoopla have had the asking price cut by 5% or more, compared to 28% in February,” says the report. “Price reductions typically come 8 weeks after the first listing as sellers try to boost interest from buyers.”
No need for major price falls
While house prices may be stabilising and levelling off, with falls in some areas, it seems that the demand/supply imbalance is keeping the number of unsold homes on the market low, or at least in line with the average.
This is despite the fact that demand has fallen in the latest monthly index, by an average of 14%, while housing stock levels have improved.
The report notes: “The number of homes listed for more than 90 days in most areas is in line with the 5-year average. It suggests that while new sellers will need to set asking prices carefully, there is no need for larger price falls to clear stock at this stage.”
Another factor preventing any significant correction in UK house prices, Zoopla believes, is the fact that the mortgage market already had “stress tests” in place to ensure buyers could afford a 6.5-7% rate in the event of any major hikes. This means borrowers can already technically afford the rate rises (although each individual’s circumstances will vary).
However, it does point out that house prices are sensitive to mortgage rates tipping above the 5% mark, with most lenders currently testing affordability up to 8%.