Housing market confidence remains strong in the UK, latest sentiment index shows

Confidence in the UK housing market remains strong and the majority believe that property prices will be higher rather than lower in 12 months’ time.

There has also been a small rise in positive selling sentiment in the final quarter of 2015 and a fall in the number who expect it to be a bad time to sell, according to the latest quarterly Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker index report.

Despite declining steadily since last May, house price optimism in the final quarter of 2015 continued to show that a majority, +61 compared to +68 in May, think prices will keep rising with 13% believing they will be at least 10% higher.

‘Solid economic growth, rising real earnings and falls in already very low mortgage rates are all stimulating housing. At the same time, there is an increasingly acute imbalance between supply and demand, which is causing property prices to rise at a robust pace,’ said Craig McKinlay, Halifax mortgages director.

‘This situation, which is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, is reflected in the public’s continuing high levels of optimism regarding house price growth over the coming 12 months,’ he added.

There has been a small rise in positive selling sentiment since last quarter, with 55% (+3) of people thinking the next 12 months will be a good time to sell. By contrast, there has been a drop in the proportion who expect it to be a bad time to sell, down three points in the same period, to 29% now.

Positive buying sentiment has increased marginally, at 54% (+1), with negativity down two points to 31% while the proportion who think it would be a good time to buy and to sell property has risen to 39%, up three points on the previous quarter, while 15% of people think the next 12 months would be a bad time to do both.

The proportion identifying rising property prices as a barrier to buying a property has risen to 37%, up six points on the previous quarter and the highest this figure has been since the survey’s inception, with average UK house prices now standing at £208,286 following a 10% increase during 2015.

However, raising a deposit is still believed to be the main barrier to buying property, with 58% of people choosing this as a reason, up one point from last quarter). Job security is the number two reason, at 42%.

Concerns about interest rate rises as a barrier have fallen, with only 11% of respondents mentioning this, down five points from last quarter.

‘Difficulties in raising a deposit, concerns about job security and high property prices remain the main barriers to people buying a home. The proportion identifying rising prices has risen to the highest in the survey’s history. The decline in affordability that this highlights is expected to dampen housing demand and property price growth over the medium term,’ said McKinlay.

Half think mortgage interest rates will be higher in 12 months’ time, a drop from 58% in September and expectations of a rise in savings interest have also fallen, to 28% having been 35% in September.