House Price Sentiment Index for January

Household sentiment about the value of properties in the UK slipped in January compared to December, a new survey has revealed. The Knight Frank/Markit January House Price Sentiment Index (HPSI) found that around 19 per cent of those questioned believed their home was worth less in January in comparison with the previous month. This led the HPSI figure to drop to 43.2 from 43.3 in this period. Knight Frank explained any reading under 50 indicates that, overall, the value of residential real estate in the UK is falling.

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Looking at the year ahead, the study found homeowners in three out of the 11 regions surveyed anticipate a price rise by the end of 2012. Those with a property investment in London, the south-east and Scotland are confident the value of their homes will increase. Meanwhile, homeowners living in Wales and the north-east are expecting the biggest declines in real estate prices. Tim Moore, senior economist at Markit, commented: “Forecasts of roughly stagnant house prices are symptomatic of the caution prevailing about local job market conditions and the gloomy economic news spreading from the euro area.”

Head of UK residential research at Knight Frank Grainne Gilmore highlighted the north-south divide that has emerged in the HPSI figures. She noted, with the exception of Scotland, only homeowners in London and the south-east are positive about the value of their properties rising during 2012. Data released recently by Knight Frank looking at the state of the country house market revealed prime central London and the surrounding areas are benefiting from the influx of foreign investors, while many domestic buyers are now looking elsewhere due to record-high prices in and around the capital.

Rupert Sweeting, head of the country department at the firm, explained one of the biggest problems over the past year has been the withdrawal rate of buyers ahead of the exchange of contracts. “Issues securing mortgage finance and increasing nervousness about the economic outlook have been the main reasons that buyers have walked away from deals at the final stages,” he asserted.