House prices are expected to fall across the board as mortgage rates skyrocketed this summer, but not all properties will feel the crunch in the same way, says Hina Bhudia.
The partner at Knight Frank Finance says there are areas, particularly in the capital, that will experience a softer blow and could stabilise as early as 2024.
In a Q&A with FTAdviser In Focus she explains what's in store for the property market as the country weathers the economic storm, and why interest from overseas buyers is likely to persist.
FTA: Have you noticed buyers holding off since the summer?
HB: Buyers have become more cautious in recent weeks, particularly since two-year fixed rate mortgages moved above 6 per cent.
The market is still busy, but buyers are particularly eager to save money on their mortgage wherever they can.
Most bills are rising and the mortgage is one of the only places where you can potentially knock hundreds of pounds a month off your outgoings by shopping around and seeking good advice.
FTA: Are house prices actually dropping, or are they still holding up? Will we see that 20 per cent drop?
HB: On a monthly basis, UK house prices have just started to soften, but each market and property type is going to fare differently. Our forecasts suggest UK house prices will fall 5 per cent in 2023 and again in 2024 before returning to growth.
Various factors will keep a floor under pricing, from the shortage of homes to regulations introduced since the global financial crisis that have kept higher loan-to-value lending at sensible levels. Plus, the unemployment rate is likely to remain low relative to previous crises, which will keep forced sellers at a minimum.
Some markets will outperform. We expect prices in prime central London to fall 3 per cent before flattening out in 2024, for example. Homes in prime central London will be more insulated from rising rates due to higher levels of affluence and housing equity as well as a broader base of returning international buyers.
FTA: Is it a buyers' or a sellers' market right now? Or nobody's?
HB: The market is finely balanced. There is a recognition among sellers that prices are softening and it makes sense to ensure any home is priced correctly – pragmatism from sellers makes sense when the buying power of borrowers is being eroded by rising interest rates.
Having said that, there is a real urgency among those that want to buy. Most mortgage offers are valid for six months and in the majority of cases not getting a deal done within that time frame means renegotiating a new deal at a higher interest rate.
FTA: Who is doing most of the moving right now? Remortgagers, home movers or first-time buyers?
HB: We were seeing huge numbers of requests for product transfers, so clients were trying to secure a new rate with their existing bank.