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Two pieces of promising news for the UK property market

The UK property market continues to pick up its pace as we head through spring, and there are some new positive indicators for the sector.

House price trends and the wider economic landscape are both something to keep an eye on when dealing with the housing market, whether you’re a prospective first-time buyer, an existing homeowner or a property investor. Steady or climbing prices indicate a strong market, while the economic situation influences market activity.

Yesterday, a new house price index from the Office for National Statistics was released, which revealed a boost in the UK property market with an average house price rise of 0.4% between January and February this year. On an annual basis, it shows a very slight fall of -0.2%, but this is up from a decrease of 1.3% in the 12 months to January, and shows that the market is once again levelling off.

The other piece of positive news to come yesterday was the inflation announcement from the ONS, revealing that the Consumer Price Index had fallen to 3.2% in March. This takes the UK economy closer to the government’s 2% target, and every fall in inflation is expected to take us a step closer to lower interest rates – which can have a big impact on the UK property market due to its influence on mortgage rates.


“Prosperous green shoots” for UK property market

An additional sign of a strong UK property market is in the latest figures from the Bank of England, which revealed that the number of mortgage approvals made to home buyers increased from 56,100 in January to 60,400 in February. This growing momentum should further boost confidence in the sector.

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark, said: “A month on month growth in house prices is a sign of prosperous green shoots on the run up to spring, which is historic for its higher demand from buyers and sellers. This is showing strength within the market and signs of a stabilising economy.”

He also pointed out that Propertymark’s own Housing Insight Report showed there was an 18% increase in new homes coming to the market, which should in turn lead to an acceleration in the number of transactions going through thanks to a stronger supply in the UK property market.


When will interest rates fall?

The Bank of England base rate remains held at 5.25%, despite inflation falling from its peak of 11% since 2022. However, most analysts are predicting that the rate will be reduced multiple times over the course of this year, with many speculating that June could be the most likely month of the first cut.

In the mortgage market, rates had been falling fairly consistently since the start of the year, with a slight uptick over recent week, but again they remain lower than their peak levels.

For borrowers, though, it is important to note that even if you lock onto a rate now, most lenders will allow you to switch to a new, lower rate before your mortgage application completes. This means that buyers can press ahead with purchases now, and still take advantage of lower rates if they materialise in the coming months.


A brightening economic horizon

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, said: “The over-riding sense is that the base rate will be cut in June, although all eyes are on the US Fed, with the Bank of England unlikely to act until cuts are made ‘across the pond’.

“Nevertheless, we are seeing that buyers, investors, brokers, and lenders within the UK property market are all gearing up for a more accommodative monetary policy environment.”

He adds that banks and building societies continue to adapt their products in line with the economic outlook, and also points to the fact that mortgage approvals in the UK property market have increased alongside an “upward trajectory in wages”.

“In combination, these factors mean that prices are expected to continue to rise at the steady rate we have seen so far in 2024, and analysts predict that a stabilisation or slight uptick in prices by year-end as the market begins to benefit buyers to a greater extent than sellers.

“This outlook is positive, but the economic environment remains challenging. Today’s inflation data will continue to imbue the property market with a growing sense of confidence as the economic horizon brightens.”

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