Property prices in many regions of the UK proved resilient in 2017, despite ongoing Brexit uncertainty and slow economic growth, but where do experts think they will go this year?
Here’s our rundown of what economists think will happen to house prices in 2018.
Property prices forecast to remain “flat”
House prices rose by 2.6% in 2017, according to Nationwide Building Society’s December house price index, lower than the 4-6% rates of house price growth seen in 2016. Demand for property was supported by healthy employment figures and low mortgage rates, the building society said, although consumer confidence fell over the year due to growing pressure on household incomes. The average price of a property in the UK now stands at £211,156, up from £209,988 in November.
London, which has previously seen the highest rates of house price growth, was the weakest performing region, with house prices down 0.5% year-on-year.
Despite squeezed household budgets and subdued economic activity, however, economists at the building society believe that a shortage of properties is likely to provide ongoing support for house prices this year.
Nationwide anticipates that there may be a marginal gain of around 1%, although prices may remain “broadly flat” in 2018. Once the economy starts to pick up, house prices are predicted to start rising broadly in line with earnings, at around 3% to 4% a year. Brexit developments could have an impact on how the housing market performs, although the building society said these remain “hard to foresee”.
Strong demand will support property prices
Halifax also expects annual house price growth in the UK to remain low over the next 12 months, staying in the range of 0-3% by the end of 2018. Like Nationwide, the bank believes that house prices will continue to be supported by low levels of housebuilding and a shortage of properties for sale.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax said: “The imbalance between supply and demand continues. On the demand side, new buyer enquiries have been weakening for much of the year. At a regional level, this measure has deteriorated far more sharply in London, the South East and East Anglia compared to other parts of the UK.”
Mortgage rates to remain favourable
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyers (RICS) agreed that property prices are likely to remain flat in 2018, but stopped short of providing any figures. It did, however, say that despite November’s interest rate rise, mortgage rates are set to remain “very favourable”, with the prospect of further rises “minimal” over the next year.
Halifax agreed, saying that a further rate rise is unlikely to be imminent, and that there may not be one until the latter half of the year, if at all.
However, there are no guarantees that rates won’t change sooner. Homeowners who are concerned about potentially higher mortgage costs should therefore review their existing deals and consider locking into a fixed rate deal. This can provide valuable peace of mind that monthly mortgage payments won’t change even if rates do increase in 2018.
Deposits remain an issue
Despite low mortgage rates, affordability remains an issue for many first-time buyers, particularly saving for a deposit.
According to Nationwide, a 20% deposit in London is now more than £80,000, based on the average first-time buyer house price. A decade ago, a 20% deposit in the capital cost around £50,000. It would take around eight years for the typical first-time buyer to save for a deposit, the building society said, rising to nine years in the south east and nearly 10 years in London.
Use our interactive map to see how deposits have increased over the past two decades, and how they could rise over the next 10 years.
Here’s what economists think will happen to house prices in 2018