What will happen to the UK property market in 2013?

Tuesday, 8 January 2013 5:04 PM

Now the New Year is upon us, it's about time for a rundown of some of the most poignant predictions for the 2013 housing market.

Just what will happen to the UK property market in 2013?

Is it a brave new world? Will house prices go up? Will they go down? Are landlords going to slash rents in half?

Well actually, there's a bit of disagreement on all of those (except the last one).

In fact one of the few things it seems everyone can agree on is that the economy isn't going to get a whole lot better anytime soon.

We'll look at rents, buy-to-let, housebuilding, mortgages and first-time buyers. We'll even pop in what we at AboutProperty think is going to happen to the property market in 2013... but first over to the some of our esteemed contributors.

Rightmove

Prices will rise two per cent say Rightmove, as lenders begin to compete for a slice of the pie. However with inflation above two per cent that means a real terms drop in house prices.

Listings are not expected to go up, with the 1.2m average from the last three years likely to be maintained. This scarcity should continue to help fuel the market.

Halifax

Halifax expect little change in house prices, somewhere between two per cent down or two per cent up.

The subdued economic situation is likely to keep house prices constrained, but this is counter balanced by attractive mortgage rates which are providing long term support.

That is not much good for first-time buyers though, who still can't access enough finance to get themselves a foot on the ladder.

Halifax don't anticipate any change there, although that is obviously good news for the buy-to-let sector.

London will remain the country's top performer, followed by the South East, as overseas investment continues to flood into the capital.

National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)

The NAEA also predict no surge in prices, with UK house prices slowly stabilising instead.

The government has a challenge on its hands to build enough new homes to satisfy demand and also encourage lenders to offer products suitable for first-time buyers; the NAEA believes that this process will not happen until buyer confidence rises.

Assetz (property investment company)

In contrary to the NAEA and Halifax, Assetz predict a rise in house prices during 2013, up five per cent.

The main source of this confidence is in the government's Funding for Lending Scheme, which they expect will increase mortgage rates and availability.

Interestingly the second source of this growth is UK's regional cities, as foreign investment moves away from London and out into the currently less fashionable areas.

The suggestion from Assetz is that the property market is something of a floodgate, with many buyers waiting for an opportunity to move. There is some evidence for this as transactions have been depressed for a considerable time, suggesting there may be a backlog.

Assetz do agree with the general consensus that 2013 will be a good time for landlords, with rents forecast to rise four per cent.

Belvoir Lettings

Lettings specialists Belvoir offer a similar perspective on rents, but break the figures down further between regions.

London, the South East, South West and East Anglia could all see as much as a five per cent rise, although in reality it is likely to be something of a pyramid with London's increase far outweighing that of East Anglia.

Wales, the North West, and East Midlands will all see a static to two per cent rise.

Rents in the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland are expected to remain static, while the West Midlands appears to have slightly flummoxed forecasters and rents there could either rise by two per cent or fall by as much.

Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA)

Demand for rental properties will continue to outstrip supply in London and the South East say ARLA.

A lack of affordable mortgage finance, coupled with reluctance to commit to an expensive mortgage is likely to leave more renting than buying in the next twelve months.

One of the benefits of this is that consumers are beginning to ask for much higher standards in the private rented sector, which will put unscrupulous landlords and agents under far more pressure.

Townends Lettings & Management

Accidental landlords were a theme of 2012 but Townends do not foresee another such flurry, although they don't expect many to sell up either.

They also believe that rents may have peaked in many areas and the canniest landlords will adjust over 2013 to avoid forcing tenants away.

However, the exception of course is the top performing regions, such as London, which is not likely to see any rent slowdown.

Beaney Pearce (London prime property estate agents)

Sixty per cent of Beany Pearce customers buying in prime central London came from overseas last year and there is concern about whether the government's new rate of stamp duty at the highest echelons  could cool the market.

The number of loft conversions and basements being dug out is likely to go up as people attempt to avoid the prohibitive cost of moving house.

Bank lending might be the answer to greasing the wheels of the market, with the mortgage application process sped up and a relaxation in bank's willingness to lend.

A cold winter could have a natural freezing effect on the market, meaning it takes a little longer to thaw in the New Year than normal.

Move with Us

First-time buyers are becoming increasingly reluctant to compromise on purchasing their first property as they see increasing numbers of second steppers stuck in their current homes as their house has either decreased in value or stayed broadly stagnant.
Instead they are waiting longer – and there is no evidence this will turn around in 2013.

The move cycle just becomes longer and the lack of available funding is kicking off a trend where people only move once every 20 years or so.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML)

Funding for Lending appears to have had a positive impact on the UK's mortgage lenders and the CML predict that this will continue in 2013.

They describe the situation as cautiously optimistic, although warn that borrower appetite for the extra finance will be a key factor.

Repossessions have come in way below the CML's forecasts for 2012 and with a positive employment picture they foresee no large rise during 2013.

AboutProperty

And our predictions? Well we don't see any huge rise in house prices, rather a bumping along situation. For many that probably means a drop in real terms, with inflation taken into account.

London is almost certain to continue to move out of sync with the rest of the country and we think that the champagne tower effect which drives investment out of London to the surrounding areas is not going to be in full flow for some time yet. After all, as we're regularly told, it's 'safe haven' London the foreign investors are interested in.

One consideration is what the government will do over empty homes. With celebrity backing from the likes of George Clarke, Kevin McCloud and Phil Spencer, expect this to be an opportunity for the government to look as if it is doing something to address the housing crisis.

The number of people joining housing waiting lists is going up and estimates are that by 2020 one in ten of us will be on a waiting list.

With 350,000 long term empties, George Clarke's innovative solution seems workable as a means of helping with a pretty big problem.

However the vital question is whether the UK is building enough new homes – the Home Builders Federation (HBF) approximate that England is falling short by 130,000 per year.

Whilst the relaxation in planning law has seen an increase in the number of home approvals, there is not a huge amount of evidence that house builders will be able to hit the levels that the HBF wants.

To do this they would require more support from the banks and an increase in lending, which looks incredibly unlikely with the current economic malaise and an attitude of caution throughout the banking sector.

Funding for Lending appears to be greasing the wheels a little, but mainly in terms of safe lending –such as mortgages for those with high incomes and deposits.

Whether this filters down during 2013 will be a big test of the government's policies, as there is a risk that the only benefit is to those least in need of assistance.

By the same token buy-to-let is likely to continue its boom, with favourable mortgage rates available to landlords.

There's a suggestion that rent increases are reaching a saturation point, but as more and more people become stuck, unable to get on the housing ladder, there is no particular reason to assume rents won't continue to rise in 2013.

Those rises will be most pronounced in London, where the gap between renting and owning is likely to continue to grow.

As ever all of these predictions are somewhat subject to the economic situation. Were the US to fall off its 'fiscal cliff', or if there were to be an escalation of the turmoil in the Eurozone (we're looking at you Spain), then anything could happen.

But anyway, enough doom and gloom. Here's hoping 2013 is a happy and successful year for everyone!

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