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2019 ‘may be year of improving not moving’ for housing market

2019 could be the year of improving rather than moving for the housing market as various obstacles prompt home owners to stay put, experts predict.

With the fog of Brexit uncertainty still hanging over the market – and other issues such as affordability and a lack of choice for buyers – some experts believe house price growth will take a pause in 2019.

A North-South divide may also continue to open up, with house price growth in previously “booming” parts of the South proving weaker than growth further north where affordability is less stretched, according to forecasts.

Fionnuala Earley, head of market insight at SellMyHome.co.uk, expects to see a 1% dip in house prices across the UK in 2019 followed by a 1% increase in 2020 – with stronger growth of 2.5% in 2021 and 3.5% in 2022.

She said: “Looking ahead, we should expect only very modest house price growth on a national scale, but with weaker conditions in London, the East and the South.

“Housing market activity will remain broadly flat compared with recent years as uncertainty stymies decision-making and transactions costs continue to hinder movement.

“This combination has tilted the balance in favour of improving rather than moving as the choice of property to buy is limited.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) expects house prices to come to a standstill by mid-2019.

Rics economy Tarrant Parsons said: “Demand has tailed off over recent months, with Brexit uncertainty causing greater hesitancy as the withdrawal deadline draws closer.

“That said, the current political environment is far from the only obstacle hindering activity with a shortage of stock continuing to present buyers with limited choice, while stretched affordability is pricing many people out.”

Meanwhile, property website Rightmove predicts house-sellers’ asking prices will be unchanged at 0% across 2019.

Underlying the flat growth across the UK generally, Rightmove expects to see asking prices falling by around 2% around London’s commuter belt and decreasing by around 1% in Greater London itself.

Heading further north, where affordability is less stretched, asking prices could increase by around 2% to 4%, Rightmove predicts.

Director Miles Shipside said: “Since the property market’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, many parts of the northern half of the UK have seen marginal or relatively modest price increases.

“We predict that these areas will continue to see price rises, though tempered by affordability constraints.

“In contrast, regions in and around the influence of London saw prices go up in a five-year period by an average of around 40%.

“Consequently, we forecast that these previously booming areas will continue to see modest downward price re-adjustments in 2019.”

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA (National Association of Estate Agents) Propertymark, said: “As we look ahead to 2019, there’s a fog of uncertainty. Brexit is undoubtedly fuelling a sense of apprehension in the housing market, which in turn affects sentiment.

“However, this slowdown presents a window of opportunity for first-time buyers who will find more affordable properties, granting them greater bargaining power.

“We usually see demand spike in the first few months of the year, but the landscape will probably be very different in 2019 as buyers sit on the fence and adopt a ‘wait and see’ strategy until the Brexit deal is complete.”

According to property analysts Hometrack, London house prices still equate to around 13 times incomes typically, despite some recent price falls in the capital – meaning affordability there is still very stretched.

During 2019, Hometrack expects house prices across the UK’s major cities to rise by 2%.

However, it forecasts house prices to see falls of up to 2% next year, while in more affordable cities such as Liverpool and Glasgow prices could rise by another 5%.

Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack, said: “Brexit is the greatest driver of uncertainty in the near term and the prospects are for a slow start for the housing market in 2019.”

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, has stronger expectations for house prices than some other commentators – and believes the UK could see house price growth as high as 4% by the end of 2019.

He said that, despite current political upheaval: “We expect annual house price growth nationally to be in the range of 2% to 4% by the end of 2019.

“This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison.

“Longer term, the most important issue for the housing market remains addressing the affordability challenge for younger generations through more dynamic housebuilding.”

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Asking prices for UK homes show biggest two-month fall in six years: Rightmove

Asking prices for properties being put up for sale in Britain have suffered their biggest fall over a two-month period since 2012, property website Rightmove said, the latest sign of a slowdown in the housing market ahead of Brexit.

Average asking prices for new sellers were down by a monthly 1.5 percent in the four weeks to Dec. 8 after a fall of 1.7 percent in the previous month, Rightmove said on Monday.

On an annual basis, asking prices across the country rose by 0.7 percent but fell in London by 1.1 percent.

Before the Brexit referendum in June 2016, asking prices as measured by Rightmove were rising by around 7 percent a year.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said sellers typically priced properties lower before Christmas to get buyers’ attention.

“However, these falls have been larger than usual, making this the largest fall over two months for six years, showing that there are more than just seasonal forces at play,” he said.

The weakness in Britain’s housing market has appeared in other measures of house prices, something surveyors say reflects the uncertainty about the country’s exit from the European Union in March.

Rightmove said a relatively small fall in the number of sales suggested the lower prices were tempting some buyers into the market at a time of year which usually sees few transactions.

Source: City A.M.

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Subdued asking prices provide opportunity for first-time buyers

Average asking prices in the UK rose by just 1% in October, the lowest monthly rate of growth at this time of year since 2010.

The average asking price now stands at £307,245, up from £304,061 in September, according to Rightmove.

The slowest sector was properties with two bedrooms or fewer, with a 0.1% monthly price fall as a result of less buy-to-let investor activity, giving first-time buyers an opportunity this autumn.

Mortgage approvals for new buy-to-let purchases were down by 14% compared to a year ago and down by 53% compared to three years ago as the more punitive tax regime has taken effect.

First-time buyers helped to fill some of the gap left by lower buy-to-let activity with their year-on-year mortgage approvals up by 1%

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “With the government using the tax system to try and help first-time buyers while deterring out-of-favour landlords, prices in this sector have been subdued as intended. That gives aspiring first-time buyers an autumn opportunity to negotiate a favourable deal.”

Robert Lazarus, managing director of sales at Paramount Properties in North West London, said: “There’s a better opportunity for first-time buyers coming in to the market at the minute compared to a couple of years ago, especially if they’re looking for a one bed flat.

“Before the additional stamp duty on second homes came in we were selling 20% of these flats to landlords which was driving prices up, and now we’re selling less than 5% of them to landlords, giving first-time buyers the first pick of new stock that comes on.”

Source: Your Money

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Asking prices growing at slowest rate for over six years as investors sit on their hands

Asking prices are now growing at the slowest annual rate for over six years as buy-to-let investors become less active, Rightmove said today.

A second property website, Home, said that the market correction is “well underway”, while Hamptons International said landlords are buying fewer buy-to-let  properties and spending less when they do buy.

According to Hamptons, there were 64,260 buy-to-let purchases in the first half of this year, down 13% on the same period last year, and 31% down on the first half of 2015.

Landlords spent £12.1bn on buying rental properties, down 30% from the £17.3bn spent in 2015.

Separate Rightmove data out this morning shows new asking prices were up just 0.9% annually this month to £307,245, which is the lowest annual rate of growth since February 2012.

Price growth has also hit lows on a monthly basis, at 1%, the lowest rate for October since 2010.

The overall low rates of growth were attributed to asking price falls on smaller homes typically purchased by landlords and first-time buyers.

For two-bedroom or smaller properties, new asking prices fell 0.1% over the month to £190,587, with selling time rising  from 55 to 58 days.

Miles Shipside, housing market analyst for Rightmove, said: “Landlords are clearly buying far fewer properties and that leaves a gap in the market for first-time buyers.

“While landlords were hit with a 3% Stamp Duty surcharge on property purchases back in April 2016, in contrast most first-time buyers were effectively awarded Stamp Duty free status in November 2017.

“The fall in prices at the bottom of the market during what is a traditional busier time means that those keen to sell need to price accordingly, which gives an opportunity for those Stamp Duty free first-time buyers to negotiate harder.

“First-time buyer mortgage approvals are up, albeit by a marginal 1% year-on-year, showing that some first-time buyers are helping to fill the gap in the market left by less competition from investors.

“If the Chancellor’s Budget this month encourages more landlords to sell to long-term tenants via Capital Gains Tax relief, then landlords who are looking to sell and renters who aspire to become first-time buyers could work together for their mutual benefit.”

Meanwhile, Home has claimed price cutting is “the new normal”.

The property information website said 16% of properties currently for sale have had their prices reduced in the past 30 days, a percentage last seen in January 2009.

The total number of properties that had their asking prices reduced in September soared to levels last seen in September 2011 at 83,780 in the UK, Home said.

This put average asking prices at £309,366, up just 0.6% annually.

Overall supply of property for sale in the UK was up by 6% and the total stock for sale has increased by 10.7% year-on-year, while typical time on the market has increased by three days to 92 this month compared with October last year.

Doug Shephard, director of Home, said: “The market correction is now well underway. This month another key region, the east of England, joined the year-on-year negative club, and the south-west is applying for membership.

“Overall, annualised price growth for England and Wales looks set to hit zero by the end of the year and fall into the negative in early 2019.

“This is the hangover after one of the biggest property investment binges in UK history, fuelled, of course, by ultra-low interest rates. How long it will take to play out is unclear but we don’t expect the market to return to overall growth any time soon.”

Hamptons said that lack of new supply has led to rent rises in every region.

Source: Property Industry Eye