UK housing market still moving despite Brexit uncertainty

House sold property let signs outside buildingPropertymark was launched in February 2017 to promote industry standards and greater consumer awareness by the property industry bodies ARLA, NAEA, NAVA, ICBA, APIP and NFoPP. A recent report by NAEA Propertymark (the National Association for Estate Agents), suggests the UK housing market is not suffering as a result of Brexit uncertainty. 

The demand for houses increased during December 2018, when an average 304 house hunters registered at estate agents, taking registrations to the highest level for four years. Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA, said the findings “prove that despite the current political climate, people still want to move. There is movement in the market with demand from house hunters up by 13% year on year, with the supply of available properties also rising.”

The number of houses available to buy at estate agents increased on average by a fifth in November 2018 (from 35 to 42) bringing available properties in December to the highest level since 2014. So what does this mean for ‘would be’ investors and is now actually a good time to buy? This is, of course, speculative and relative to the various regions of the UK.

Some London estate agents predict more changes in the property market due to a ‘Brexit’ bubble. London estate agent, Peter Wetherell, specialises in luxury homes and believes the Leave vote could result in rich overseas buyers taking advantage of the plummeting pound. Indeed, some sellers have already seen a decline in house prices in the last year.

Statistically, December is a slow month with many opting to put off a house move until after the New Year. Year on year the number of house sales to first time buyers fell (from 32% to 24%) thought largely down to difficulties in accumulating a deposit, although the number of first time buyers increased by 1% across November and December. 

The NAEA said: “While many are adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ strategy, until there’s further clarity over what Brexit might mean for the market, there is choice for those who want to buy now, and there are people on the market looking for new homes.”

In September 2018, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, gave a sharp warning that house prices could fall 35% if there is a ‘no deal Brexit’. Opinion differs greatly across the board but some see a decline in house prices as an opportunity rather than a deterrent. 

The uncertain property market can be an opportunity for savvy purchasers to strike a real property bargain, depending on where you are in the country. Take Manchester and Liverpool, for example, where property growth is strong at the moment – in contrast to Aberdeen and certain areas of London, where Brexit has done some harm. According to property portal, Zoopla, ten major UK cities have seen property prices increase by up to 16% since the 2016 referendum, including Edinburgh and Manchester.

The cities of Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol have seen a 50% rise in house pricing terms over the last decade, while Glasgow and Newcastle have remained at approximately 2008 levels.

What is currently on a lot of investors’ minds is whether a good Brexit deal will actually cause prices to rise – or will everything plummet if we leave without a deal in place? It’s a gamble that’s up to the braver investor but one thing for certain is that there is still movement in the property market, albeit at a slower rate in some areas.

If you are thinking of purchasing a property ‘bargain’, always ask an independent Chartered Surveyor to assess the structure and condition of the property before you buy.

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