Confidence in housing market is stable

Confidence in housing market is stable

Confidence in the housing market has now stabilised following a record decline after the European Union referendum, according to a survey by Halifax.

The lender revealed nearly six out of 10 (58 per cent) people expect the average property price to increase in the next 12 months, compared with just one out of 10 (14 per cent) who expect prices to fall.

The result, which is based on an Ipsos Mori survey of 1,958 British adults aged 16 plus between 23 March and 3 April, showed confidence was up slightly on October last year but well below the heady heights of optimism experienced around the 2015 General Election, when 72 per cent anticipated a price increase.

Among those who think the average price will increase, there has been a shift towards expectations of more modest increases, with those expecting rises of up to 5 per cent climbing from 26 per cent to 30 per cent since October.

Yet the more positive mood coincides with a rapid fall in confidence regarding the general state of the UK economy, with 28 per cent more people expecting conditions to worsen over the next 12 months.

Martin Ellis, housing economist of Halifax, said: “House price optimism is little changed since the October 2016 measure, which is significant because it was the first post-Brexit survey and recorded the steepest fall since the tracker began. 

“The latest results suggest that consumer confidence in the housing market is potentially settling into a new lower ‘normal’.

“This sentiment echoes the slowdown in the annual rate of house price growth, which has more than halved over the past 12 months.”

The results also showed an increase in the number of people who think the next 12 months will be a good time to sell, up from 47 per cent in October 2016 to 52 per cent in March.

Sentiment is most positive in Wales, where 43 per cent more people think the next year will be a good time to sell, while it is lowest in London (-9) and southern England (+6).

Daniel Hegarty, chief executive of online mortgage broker Habito, said: “The reverberations from the referendum results are still very much top of mind for our customers. We’re seeing consumers keen to take control of their finances and consolidate the gains in their property. 

“Beyond the election we may see some improvement in the outlook on house prices, but ensuring you are on the right mortgage is the bedrock of household financial stability regardless of the broader climate.”

Daniel Bailey, principal at Middleton Finance in Derbyshire, said: “I think confidence is good. I am doing a lot of mortgages for first-time buyers at the moment and they are struggling to get their offers accepted. 

“It all seems very positive at the moment. Rates have never been so good, so it is a great time to buy. What I would emphasise is localised markets – it depends where you are in the country. In Sheffield, property is going very quickly.”