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Consumers shrug off prospect of interest rate rises – but confidence in housing market falls to five-year low


Confidence in the housing market has fallen to a five-year low – and although just over half of adults still believe house prices will rise over the next year, nearly the same proportion predicts a slowdown.

The most pessimistic are Londoners and the under-25 age group, Halifax claims.

Its report also shows that a rise in interest rates – widely expected this week – is not seen as a major barrier to buying, and nor is Stamp Duty.

The main barriers to house purchase are seen as ability to raise a deposit, followed by job security, high house prices and household finances. Shortage of property for sale and fees related to house purchase are seen as relatively minor barriers.

Existing mortgage borrowers who were asked whether a rise in interest rates could affect their ability to meet repayments were mainly unworried, with 36% showing concern. This proportion is down by 6% from the 42% measured in 2014.

The bank’s latest Housing Market Confidence Tracker found that house price optimism – a measure of whether house prices will be higher or lower in a year’s time – has dropped 14 points from April to 30 points now, matching the record fall seen following the EU referendum result.

Half of the 1,968 adults surveyed said they expect house prices to rise over the next year, the lowest level since April 2013 when the proportion was 45%, while one in five think house prices will fall, the highest proportion since October 2012.

When it comes to those who think the next 12 months would be a good time to buy, London is the only region with a negative outlook.

Those aged between 16 and 24 were the only age group with a negative buying outlook, while those over 65 are the most positive.

Across the country 52% said they think the next 12 months will be a good time to buy.

Selling sentiment has become more negative, down 11 points since April to 6%.

People aged 16-24 were least positive about selling, with 8% more negative than positive, while 35 to 54-year-olds had the highest level of optimism with 20% more positive than negative.

Despite expectations of an interest rate rise, an increase was only perceived as the main barrier for purchasing a home by 15%. Instead, 61% listed the ability to raise a deposit and 42% cited job security as the main barriers.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax Community Bank, said: “Housing market optimism has declined significantly over the past year, with almost half of people expecting a general slowdown in the market.

“Even with a potential base rate increase on the horizon, it’s significant that buyers’ concerns continue to be centred on raising deposits and job security, and, as such, we do not anticipate that an increase in base rate will have a significant effect on the demand for properties.”


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Source:: Consumers shrug off prospect of interest rate rises – but confidence in housing market falls to five-year low