Exploring the UK Housing Market
Buying a house is a milestone for some people and knowing when to take the plunge can be a difficult judgment call. Well, with UK property prices ramping up in the last ten years, this plunge has certainly become more expensive to take. The real estate market in the UK surpassed a historic high with average houses exceeding £350,000. However, the rising tide of inflation and higher interest rates is expected to have an impact on this property-high to some extent.
What’s happening in the market right now?
For starters, the pandemic and temporary stamp duty cuts led to a boom in the housing market in 2021. And currently, in the UK, house prices are up by 7.8% as of June 2022, down from 12.8% in May 2022. As per Land Registry data, the average price of a property in the UK increased to £286,397, that's a whopping £20,000 higher than previously recorded for this time of the year. This jump is driven by a shortage of supply of homes and an increase in its demand. Basically, there are fewer properties for sale and one too many buyers to buy!
What about mortgage rates?
In order to beat rising inflation, the Bank of England raised interest rates to 1.75%. This is the sixth consecutive rate increase since December 2021 and it has already raised the cost of home loans significantly. How are these climbing interest rates affecting mortgages? Homeowners who are on variable mortgage rates (base rate tracker deals), which account for approximately 2 million home loans, feel the immediate rise in their monthly payments. Also, if you are about to leave a fixed-rate deal and are looking for a new one, you will most likely find it difficult to find one as good as your current one, so expect your monthly payments to rise.
Is it the best time to buy a house right now?
Before making a decision, it’s worth considering your needs and financial constraints. However, the soaring cost of living is likely to have an impact on buyer affordability and market sentiment. As household budgets are tightening, fewer people can afford to stretch themselves to buy a home. Now on the flip side, if your family is growing or other similar considerations, you might be better off taking the plunge. Waiting for a dramatic drop in prices may be risky. Not to forget that property values generally rise over time, so a long-term investment could potentially yield a profit.
Are we expecting a crash?
A crash is promising too much, but prices could fall, as shown by recent data. While first-time buyers are hoping for a drop in house prices, there is plenty of uncertainty with that thought. There’s also the shortage of available houses which is making some homeowners delay their selling. In such a resilient property market, it is reasonable to expect that as borrowing costs rise, the number of buyers will fall. Similarly, if a recession occurs, the number of sellers may decrease as people become more risk-averse.
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