2020 is looming, and the property market experts are making their forecasts for the year ahead.
Much of the focus is on how much house prices might rise by. But other factors will help shape decisions on whether to buy or sell a home in the next 12 months.
We take a look at what might lie ahead in the property market.
Brexit’s will-we-won’t-we question settled
The uncertainty in UK politics has been removed with the Conservatives’ thumping general election victory.
But the spectre of Brexit – the UK’s departure from the European Union – has had the greatest effect on the property market.
Before the EU referendum in June 2016, house prices rose on average by 8 percent every year. By September 2019, however, the rate had dropped to 1.3 percent.
With a new government in place with a strong majority, the will-we-won’t-we nature of Brexit is over. The UK is likely to depart the EU on January 31.
Therefore, the certainty of our departure should give homeowners and home buyers more confidence in planning a move.
House price bounce?
Rightmove is among the estate agents predicting bigger house price gains in the property market in 2020.
The online property portal is forecasting a 2 percent rise in prices. It’s also forecasting more properties coming on to the market. One side effect of the Brexit uncertainty was a drop in supply as homeowners decided to sit tight.
That could all change in the coming weeks and months, making spring in particular a boom time for buyers and sellers.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said: “With much of the political uncertainty removed, we expect that the number of properties for sale will recover. More sellers will come to market, making up some of this year’s lost ground.
“However, property supply is still limited, and this will fuel modest gains in the national average asking price of property coming to market.
“The fundamentals remain sound with low interest rates, lenders competing to lend, high employment and average wage growth outstripping house price growth and helping buyer affordability.”
However, leading estate agents Savills sounded a note of caution on any bounce in house prices, suggesting a more modest 1 percent rise.
Lucien Cook, director of residential research at Savills, noted: “Some economic uncertainty will remain until a trade deal is agreed with the EU.
“This could mean a bounce in demand in the first part of 2020 proves difficult to sustain through the summer months and into autumn market.”
More help for first-time buyers?
The Conservatives made home ownership one of its key manifesto pledges. And, in office, the party has backed first-time buyers through the various Help to Buy initiatives.
However, Help to Buy is only funded until 2023 with no commitment to continuing the schemes beyond that point.
The Conservative manifesto promised to create a new market in long-term, fixed-rate mortgages. These mortgages would only require a 5 percent deposit, theoretically making home ownership more affordable for first-time buyers.
Of course, this market can only be created by the lenders themselves and is not a quick fix for FTBs.
Miles Shipside, of Rightmove, said: “First-time buyers are the drivers of the market. Too many are struggling to save the necessary deposits, and not all of them want to buy a new-build home through Help to Buy.
“More ways of getting more people on to the ladder would help to limit rising rents and make the dreams of their own roofs above their heads a reality for many more of the younger generation.”
Stamp duty reform
Prime Minister Boris Johnson had proposed reform of Stamp Duty Land Tax during his Conservative leadership campaign back in the summer.
One suggestion was to increase the threshold at which stamp duty is paid from £125,000 to £500,000 and cut the top rate from 12 percent to 7 percent.
However, the Conservative manifesto made no mention of stamp duty reform. Instead the only mention of stamp duty was a pledge to impose a 3 percent stamp duty surcharge on overseas buyers.
Lucien Cook, of Savills, said: “There is a possibility that some buyers and sellers hold out for a stamp duty cut. However, this was noticeable by its absence in the Conservative Party manifesto.”
The new Government’s first Budget in February will be the first opportunity for buyers and sellers to find out if stamp duty changes are on the way.
A new year resolution to buy – or sell
The new year is only days away. In the excitement of the festive season, you might not be putting too much thought into moving home.
But a new year is also a time to make resolutions and to plan ahead. So, it’s the ideal opportunity to plan a fresh start and get energised for a move.
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