Consumer confidence in UK housing market outlook rebounds

24 Apr Consumer confidence in UK housing market outlook rebounds

While house price growth continued to slow in March in the UK, consumer confidence in the outlook for the housing market has rebounded to its highest level since July last year, new research shows.

Consumer confidence in the outlook for the housing market has bounced back to a net balance of +64 in March from +60 in February, according to the latest quarterly Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker as measured by Ipsos MORI.

Conversely, house prices increases have slowed over the same period and in the three months to March this year house prices were 8.1% higher than in the same three months a year earlier, compared to 8.5% in January 2015, and 10.2% in July 2014.

As to just how confident consumers are in the outlook for the housing market over the next 12 months some 33% are expecting the average property price to be higher by up to 5%, while 25% anticipate increases of between 5% and 10%.

‘We’ve seen a strong start to the year in terms of the net sentiment regarding the outlook for the housing market, and this has translated into an increase in transaction volumes. This increase in optimism is likely to be the result of a combination of factors, including the improving economic figures, greater numbers of higher loan to value mortgages, and extremely competitive mortgage rates,’ said Craig McKinlay, Halifax mortgages director.

There has been an increase in the net proportion of consumers who believe mortgage interest rates will be higher in 12 months’ time at +41 compared to +35 in February. Nevertheless, only 12% spontaneously cited concerns about interest rate rises as one of the main barriers to being able to buy a property, down from 15% in the first quarter of 2014.

The main perceived barriers to homeownership are the ability to raise enough deposit for 61% while 44% have concerns about job security). A year ago, 60% and 51% respectively identified these as among the main barriers.

‘The results highlight that an increasing number of consumers believe interest rates will begin to rise in the next 12 months, but at the same time it is falling as a perceived barrier to homeownership,’ McKinlay explained.

‘This is perhaps a result of rising incomes and the current low mortgages rates. The fact that consumers’ ability to raise a deposit remains the greatest perceived barrier to home ownership shows there is more work to be done in terms of letting people know what support is now available,’ he added.

Overall a net +33 of consumers think the next 12 months will be a good time to sell, compared to +24 at end of December 2014. This is the highest score on this measure since the survey’s inception in April 2011. At the same time the proportion who believes it is now a good time to buy has slumped from +26 at end of December 2014 to +21 as at end of March 2015.

Regionally, house price optimism is strongest in the South East of England, where a net balance of +79 think house prices will be higher in 12 months, compared with only 40% who say this in Wales. While +69 of those living in London expect the average UK house price to be higher in a year’s time, this is lower than the same time last year when it was +75.

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