Consumer confidence in UK property price growth falling

Consumer confidence in the outlook for UK house prices has continued to fall from its peak in July 2014, according to the latest Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker.

While the overall picture for house prices over the next 12 months is still robust, it has dropped to its lowest level since June 2013.

With Halifax forecasting an easing of house price growth to 3% to 5% for 2015, the report shows there has been a reversal of recent momentum, with a higher proportion of consumers now believing the next 12 months will be a better time to buy than to sell and the proportion thinking the next year will be a good time to sell falling to its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2013.

Despite recent forecasts indicating economic growth is expected to reach 3% in 2015, the recent fall in house price expectations mirrors a relative fall in consumer confidence for the economic outlook in the next year having peaked in the second quarter of 2014.

Of those surveyed, a net balance of +25 now believe the next 12 months will be a good time to buy, an increase of 14 points since September 2014.

Sentiment towards buying is stronger among those who already own their own home, with 62% of owner occupiers stating 2015 will be a good time to buy, compared to 29% who think it will be a bad time, a net balance of +33.

In contrast, selling sentiment has fallen to a net balance of +14, a drop of five points since September 2014. And positive selling sentiment fell by six points among owner occupiers between September and November 2014 to +25.

‘The strengthening in the UK economy over the past couple of years has seen a steady convergence between the proportions of people who believe it is a good time to buy and a good time to sell,’ said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax.

‘The outlook for house prices in 2015 is for growth to moderate but continue to increase, which perhaps explains why the proportion thinking it will be a good time to buy is again greater than the proportion thinking it will be a good time to sell,’ he explained.

‘With an interest rate rise expected late 2015, possibly into early 2016 it will be interesting to see what impact the slight reduction in affordability has here,’ he added.

The survey also shows that people in Scotland are significantly more likely than those in other regions overall to say 2015 will be a good time to buy at 65% compared to 56%, respectively.

Conversely, almost half of those surveyed in the Midlands, 48%, think next year will be a good time to buy, significantly lower than the 56% who say this across Britain.

People in Scotland and North England are significantly less likely to say it will be a good time to sell at 38% and 42% compared to 51%, respectively. And people in the South of England, not including London, are significantly more likely than overall to say 2015 will be a good time to sell at 62% compared to 51%, respectively.

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