UK house prices sale

UK house prices: forecasts show growing optimism for 2024

The property market has held steadier than many had predicted during the turbulence of the past year, and the outlook for UK house prices has improved for the next 12 months.

Sentiment among homeowners and buyers in the property market has improved, with a third of people (33%) now saying they think UK house prices will rise over the next year. This compares with just 20% who had the same prediction in the previous quarter.

The survey, which was carried out by the Building Societies Association (BSA) for its Property Tracker report, also found that the number of people who predict a drop in prices has decreased. Now, less than a quarter (24%) of people expect a decline, while in September this figure was 39%.

A number of factors are contributing to this boost in market optimism, including improving inflation rates lowering cost pressures for many buyers, as well as recent and ongoing falls in the cost of borrowing which has opened up more options to buyers and investors.

Alongside this, a number of recent house price indices have revealed that UK house prices have begun to climb once more, so a greater number of people expect this trend to continue; albeit at a slower pace than we experienced during the frenetic 2020-2021 period.

Mortgage market ups and downs

As BSA points out, the latest survey reveals the most positive outlook since more than a year ago, in September 2022, and the hope is that this will continue to improve as we see more economic stability in the year ahead.

Most analysts predict that the Bank of England will hold its base rate steady at 5.25% for a number of months, in a bid to continue to bring inflation down to its 2% target. While it is unlikely to then drop down to its previous historically low rate, the expectation is that it will ultimately fall, bringing mortgage rates down further.

The mortgage market can have a direct impact on UK house prices, as it determines the affordability of property for many buyers. Over recent months, though, cash buyers have remained active, with many taking advantage of the current market to invest in property without the risk of higher borrowing rates.

According to BSA’s survey, mortgage affordability is the biggest barrier to homeownership, although the number of people concerned by this has fallen to 68% in the latest report; down from 71% three months ago.

The number of people who find that raising a mortgage deposit is the biggest obstacle has also fallen, from 60% to 58%, although this still remains a major issue for many buyers. At the same time, lack of job security has become a bigger problem for 22% of buyers, up from 19% in the last survey.

UK house prices rising

UK house prices continued to recover in the latest Nationwide index, with a 0.2% month-on-month rise in the latest November report. This was slightly lower than the 0.9% annual rise seen in October, but continues to indicate that stability is resuming in the market.

Similarly, Halifax has also recorded two months of consecutive growth in house prices in its latest index, with a 0.5% rise in November. According to its report, the fact that demand in the market continues to outstrip supply is one of the main factors that will buoy UK house prices.

Both the Nationwide and Halifax house price indices are based on actual transactions (involving mortgages) in the UK, while Zoopla and Rightmove base theirs on asking prices, which is an important differentiator.

Commenting on these findings, Guy Gittins, Foxtons CEO, said: “A second consecutive monthly increase demonstrates further signs of property market positivity today.

“Although the market is yet to return to full health when viewing house price performance on an annual basis, it appears as though a freeze in interest rates is helping to boost homebuyer sentiment and bring a greater degree of stability.

“This puts us in very good stead looking ahead to the new year.”

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