More Britons expect house prices to rise than fall over the coming 12 months, according to the latest Halifax Housing Market Confidence tracker.
Just over a third (35%) of respondents forecast that the average UK house price will rise over the next year, while a fifth of respondents (20%) predict a decline in prices over the same period.
This means that the headline House Price Outlook balance (i.e. the difference between the proportion of people that expect house prices to rise rather than fall) stood at +15 in October. Although the headline House Price Outlook balance is unchanged from the reading in June, confidence in house price prospects is significantly stronger than it was at the beginning of the year -the House Price Outlook is just over double the +7 recorded in January. It is also significantly stronger than the -2 of October 2011.
However, the outlook for the housing market remains subdued. The majority think that any house price change over the next 12 months will be relatively small with two-thirds (66%) expecting any movement to be between +5% and -5%. The average UK house price in September 2012 was 0.3% lower than in December 2011, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “Despite some regional differences, the general improvement in confidence in the outlook for house prices over the past year reflects the relative resilience of the UK housing market. Although the weak economic climate remains a significant constraint on housing demand, the low level of mortgage payments relative to income continues to provide support for house prices. We expect house prices to be broadly unchanged over the rest of this year and into 2013.”
More than half the respondents highlighted the challenges in raising a deposit (58%) and concerns about job security (51%) as the main barriers to buying a home. Respondents also picked out household finances (32%) and the general availability of mortgages (31%) as major hurdles to home buying.
The north-south divide regarding the outlook for national house prices over the next 12 months has widened. The average headline House Price Outlook balance (i.e. indicating whether more people expect house prices to rise rather than fall) across the regions in the south of the UK1 stood at +17 in October 2012, more than double (105%) the average headline House Price Outlook balance for the north of the Great Britain (+8). This is nearly five times the divide in January’s survey when the average headline House Price Outlook balance for the south of the country1 (+8) was just over a fifth (22%) higher than average headline House Price Outlook balance for Northern Great Britain (+6).
Those living in the South West are the most optimistic with an overall net balance of +19%, closely followed by those living in London (+17%) In contrast, those living in Scotland and the East Midland are the most pessimistic about the outlook for house prices (both +4%).
More than half (56%) of respondents in the north of Great Britain indicated worries over job security as a major barrier home buying, greater than the average proportion in the South (48%)
More than half the respondents (56%) think that it will be a good time to buy in the next 12 months. This is over five times the proportion of Britons that feel it will be a good time to sell (11%). Overall, less than a tenth of those questioned (9%) were positive about both buying and selling over the next year, suggesting that the level of housing market activity is likely to remain subdued.Source: Investor Today