According to Nationwide and Zoopla, property prices are down 5.3% on the same period in 2022. So, if you’re in the market for a new home, now could be the best time of the year to get on to the property ladder.
For the first time since 2012, UK house prices have fallen -0.5% over the last 12 months with house price growth at -1.5% in the East and Southeast of England and +1.6% in Scotland.
Consumer confidence has improved, along with market sentiment, as buyer demand continues to increase.
Figures show that buyers are trying to avoid compromising on their move as they wait for lower mortgage rates and price falls to kick into action.
Zoopla is expecting buyers to return to the market once mortgage rates fall below 4.5% and are anticipating house prices to fall gradually over the next few months.
However, asking prices are at their highest level since 2019, sitting at 4.2% on average at the time of writing this article. Overall, UK house prices are on track to have fallen by 2% - 3% this year.
The UK house price average has fallen by around £14,500 (5.3%) due to low market activity and continued inflation pressures which, compared to 2019, has resulted in 30% fewer monthly mortgage approvals.
However, Nationwide also reported that they are starting to see an ease in inflation, stating that long-term interest rates on fixed mortgages are decreasing in line with this.
Elsewhere in Zoopla’s latest report, enquiries to estate agents are up 12% since the August bank holiday weekend with buyer demand back at 2019 levels – yet they are still 33% lower than this time in 2022.
Household buying power has reduced 20% compared to 2022 as mortgage rates remain over 5%. Despite this, buyers are unwilling to compromise on their property preferences.
Whilst Zoopla is predicting property sales for the year 2023 to be 20% lower than 2022’s levels, and 28% lower for mortgaged sales, they’re also predicting a further drop in house prices at the start of 2024.
When it comes to availability, there’s 80% more properties for sale than in September 2021, with the biggest average discount since March 2019, at around £12,125 (4.2%), knocked from the asking price.
The impact on buyer power has been significant in comparison to house prices this year, with 2023 on track for one million house sale completions - down by a fifth since last year.
Mortgage rates have more than doubled since 2021, and with the ongoing cost of living crisis, home buyers and the rest of the housing market will need to adjust to higher borrowing costs.
House prices are still yet to fall in areas considered more unaffordable than others and when this happens, this will open up the rest of the market and boost buyer power further.
Even though mortgage rates are lower than what they have been, this doesn’t mean that house prices will start to rise again but rather, it supports market liquidity and sales volumes.
These trends indicate that buyers will return to the market once mortgage rates have dropped down to 4.5% or lower (for a five year, 75% LTV fixed rate).
So, with the horizon looking quite positive for home buyers for the first time in a while, now could be the best opportunity to start up the property search once again.
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