Confidence in UK housing market stable despite economic gloom

The 14th quarterly Property Tracker survey from the Building Societies Association shows that consumer confidence in the housing market remains remarkably stable, if far from booming, despite the gloomy outlook for the economy.

Consumer sentiment is a key indicator of future activity in the property market and provides an early snapshot of potential activity in 2012. A cross section of 2,069 adults across England, Wales and Scotland were asked for their views and intentions about home purchase in early December by YouGov plc.

Q: Is now the right time to buy a home? : 44% felt that now was a good time to buy compared to 25% who did not.  This is a slight improvement on March 2011 when 41% were positive about buying in the current market and 29% were negative.

Q: Do you intend to buy a property in 2012? : Overall, 12% of respondents intend to buy next year whereas 63% said that they had no need or desire to move in 2012 and 17% said that they would not be in a position to move.  Only 8% were put off moving for some reason such as the outlook for jobs or the size of deposit required.

Q: What are the barriers to buying a home? : Challenges remain in realising intentions to buy. The most common barriers cited by respondents are: raising the deposit to buy a property (64%), obtaining a large enough mortgage (57%), and unsurprisingly in the current environment, fears over job security (54%).  Far fewer see the potential for future house price falls as a barrier (21%).

Q: What do you think will happen to house prices in the next year? : Views are mixed with 33% overall expecting prices to rise compared to 28% who believe that they will fall and 20% who see them staying the same.

Commenting on the results, BSA Head of Mortgage Policy, Paul Broadhead said: “Although there has been a stream of gloomy economic news recently, and the uncertainty about the Eurozone has increased dramatically, consumers’ views on the housing market remain remarkably solid. Many people believe that it is currently a good time to buy, and about one in eight (12%) will be looking to enter the market or move in 2012, especially in London where 21% intend to buy.

“Government policy announcements such as the new build indemnity scheme indicate how important the housing market is to the UK economy, so the fact that confidence is not weakening is reassuring. More is in the pipeline to help break down the barriers to home ownership, although this must always be tempered with a responsible approach to lending as home ownership is not always the most appropriate choice for everyone.

“So far this year building societies and other mutual lenders have supported those who have wanted to buy property, with gross lending by mutuals up 15% year on year, while across the rest of the market mortgage lending is slightly down.”

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