It has been a good year for the housing market, though there has been concern over stock levels, Brexit and Stamp Duty. However, house prices have continued to rise in nearly all areas and many people have moved into their dream homes this year.
But what does the future hold? Following the announcement of cuts in Stamp Duty for first-time buyers, we look at what the top forecasters predict for 2018.
The building society expects to see growth in the UK economy of 1% to 1.5% in 2018 and 2019, and predict that this will be reflected in the housing market.
“Housing market activity is expected to slow only modestly, since unemployment and mortgage interest rates are expected to remain low by historic standards (even if the Bank Rate is increased modestly),” said Nationwide. “Similarly, the subdued pace of building activity evident in recent years and the shortage of properties on the market are likely to provide ongoing support for house prices.
They expect house prices to remain stable in 2018, with growth of around 1%.
“Over the longer term, we would expect house prices to rise broadly in line with earnings (around 3%-4% per annum), though if the rate of house building fails to keep up with population growth, prices may outpace earnings once again, as they have in recent years,” said Nationwide.
2. RICS - Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors
RICS is expecting to see low house price growth nationally in 2018, though this will mean price growth in some regions offsetting declines in regions including London and the South East.
A key issue, they say, will be a lack of stock. “The likely theme impacting the behaviour of the housing market over the course of 2018 is again expected to be demand pressures resulting from stock supply on estate agent’s books close to all-time lows.”
There is good news for some buyers. “There is some upside for activity stemming from changes in Stamp Duty,” said RICS. “Following the November Autumn Budget, relative to other buyers, first-time buyer affordability may improve.”
Property portal Rightmove also expects to see a small growth in house prices in 2018. They say there will be a gap in different areas; the shortage of supply will drive up prices in some areas, while asking prices may need to be cut in less buoyant parts of the market.
They predict an “overall increase of 1% in 2018. This marginal annual growth rate would represent a slightly slower pace of price rises than the 1.2% recorded in 2017.”
Rightmove estimates that first-time buyer properties (two bedrooms or fewer) will grow in value by 3%, while second-stepper properties (three-bedroom homes and four-bedroom non-detached properties) will rise by 2%, so it is good news for landlords.
What do Fine & Country agents predict for 2018?
1. Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Jonathan Handford said: “In the area that Fine & Country Leamington Spa covers, including Leamington Spa, Warwick and Kenilworth, we have seen significant house price growth year-on-year for the last seven years. In total, we have seen an average price rise of 36.25% during this period.
“Contrary to popular belief, Brexit has had very little impact on the local marketplace. The appetite for homes is as strong as ever. An astonishing 35% of our buyers in 2017 have been from the south; they are moving north as they either lose confidence or patience with the London market. Our 2017 indicators demonstrate that we should be expecting more of the same in 2018.”
2. St Neots, Cambridgeshire
Richard Carpenter said: “Overall, 2017 has been a good year for the upper quartile in my area. Prices are continuing to rise, and I believe this is due to a shortage of homes coming to the market.
“Demand remains high from local buyers, out of area buyers, and those needing access to Cambridge and London. Although prices have continued to rise, the market remains price sensitive and correct pricing combined with far-reaching marketing is essential. Regardless of market conditions, my team and I continue to work with motivated buyers and sellers who have a desire or need to move.”
3. Finsbury Park, London
Adam Tahir said: “The new change in Stamp Duty for first-time buyers should hopefully relieve any concerns about whether it is a good time to buy or not. The average of £5,000 that a first-time buyer in London will save on their Stamp Duty now means they have this to add towards their deposit. This will give them cheaper rates or allow them to pick a property that may need some work as they will have the funds to conduct that work and create the home of their dreams.
“Our location offers two complete ends of the spectrum, with low-end ex-local authority housing and high-end terraced homes. Either way, the sellers in our area are looking to capitalise on the value of north London and proceed to moving into country locations just outside of the M25 as the transport links into London are great.”
4. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
“The market remains buoyant here, with demand that’s driven by new businesses, expanding businesses and large blue-chip companies relocating to the Cambridge area. It is also an area that is highly desirable to London commuters and for those looking for an excellent education for their children.
“Although housing development is high in the area, demand still outstrips the supply and there is a lack of more affordable homes. We do not anticipate house prices increasing by a significant amount in 2018, but the demand and desirability of the area will see house prices remaining steady. We expect that Stamp Duty being abolished for first-time buyers purchasing properties up to £300,000 will help to keep a steady momentum in 2018 whilst we wait for the market reaction of Brexit in early 2019. We do anticipate market prices to increase in 2019, whatever the result is with Brexit negotiations, as there will be more certainty over the future economic picture.
“Cambridge and the surrounding area is, and will always remain, an area protected by market falls and will exceed national averages when prices increase. We would advise that it is a good time to buy in 2018 before prices do increase more significantly in future years.”
5. Pembrokeshire, Wales
James Skudder said: "Coming into the new year, when you look at previous years and how the market has improved, I think the high market (homes worth over £1,000,000) will still remain slow in our area. However, the introduction of the new Stamp Duty cuts for first-time buyers will certainly allow buyers to move up the ladder a little easier, and this should see the middle market start (over £500,000) to move and so on. I think it will be a slow burner but unless anything untoward happens economically, we can remain positive.
"Pembrokeshire is a very seasonal marketplace, quiet in the winter but then gets busy when spring hits. Next year, I think will be the same. This year we saw a huge slow down in the number of properties coming to the market; usually, we see the slow in mid-to-late November, this year it was evident in mid-September.
"In 2017, we sold more properties than 2016 and we certainly saw an increase in property values selling. We are actively encouraging people to sell as we have a large number of buyers looking."
Throughout England and Wales, there is clear consensus with Fine & Country agents that 2018 will be a good year to move as the market is steady, first-time buyers will get the market moving at the low-end which will impact all parts of the market, and there is a chance to buy a property for a good price before values rise again after 2019.