UK Housing market poised for spring revival

Property website Rightmove predicts a 2 per cent rise with stronger growth in the North of England

The UK housing market could get a much-needed boost this spring, with the north of England likely to show greater growth, according to predictions from Rightmove, the property website.

Rightmove forecasts a 2 per cent rise in the price of property coming to market in 2020 as the majority government gives home movers a window of certainty for an active spring moving season.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s property expert said: “With much of the political uncertainty removed, we expect that the number of properties for sale will recover as more new sellers come to market, making up some of this year’s lost ground.

“However, property supply is still limited, with estate agents having the lowest proportion of properties available for sale in two years, and this will fuel modest gains in the national average asking price of property coming to market.”

Rightmove measures the prices of 95 per cent of property coming to market. If its predictions are accurate, the 2 per cent price rise in 2020 will represent more than twice the current annual rate of 0.8 per cent. However, Rightmove said the UK housing market was still “price-sensitive”.

One year ago it forecast that there would on average be no upwards price movement, with 2019 seeing a zero price change given the uncertain outlook and stretched buyer affordability.

In fact, 2019 saw an annual rise of 0.8 per cent, thanks to a stronger than anticipated end to the year.

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December is traditionally a month when prices fall, as buyers and sellers put off making decisions until the New Year. However, Rightmove said that December 2019 had seen a price fall of just 0.9 per cent, the smallest at this time of year since December 2006. Prices were being under-pinned and pushed upwards by demand outstripping supply, it said.

Demand from buyers has remained almost level, with the number of sales agreed so far in 2019 down by just 3 per cent on the same period in 2018 despite the political uncertainty. In contrast, the number of properties coming to market is down by 8 per cent.

Mr Shipside said many first-time buyers were struggling to save the necessary deposits, and not all of them wanted to buy a new-build home through Help To Buy.

“More ways of getting more people onto the ladder would help to limit rising rents, increase liquidity and transaction numbers in the housing market, and make the dreams of their own roofs above their heads a reality for many more of the younger generation,” he said.

FURTHER READING: Prices of London homes plunge as UK housing market remains fragile

FURTHER READING: Brexit and election jitters put brakes on housing market

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