March is notorious for being a changeable month in terms of the weather, with the phrase ‘in like a lion, out like a lamb’ describing the stormy start of the month we often see, and the subsequent calming as we enter April.
And then we have a year like 2018 that bucks the trend – with snow forecast for many areas this Easter, we can only wonder what the rest of the year will bring.
So, what of the housing market this year – ‘on trend’ or unpredictable?
The year before…
Back in January, an article by Relocate Global reviewing statistics, key trends and factors influencing the UK property market in 2017 indicated that the previous 12 months saw house growth prices slow – however, building activity, completed sales and mortgage approvals for house purchase all remained flat.
At roughly the same time, the Independent also reported on the UK housing market’s weakness continuing into 2018, according to the latest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
It all seemed a bit bleak – was there any positive news?
First-time buyer statistics
Well, actually yes!
Taking a closer look at the figures for first time buyers specifically, we see a slightly different picture.
In November 2017, Chancellor Philip Hammond abolished stamp duty on homes costing less than £300,000 in a move intended to assist first-time buyers.
Then, in February this year, The Telegraph reported on figures released from UK Finance (the major lenders trade body) showing that the number of first-time buyers is now at its highest in a decade.
And just this month, The Guardian reported on research by the Halifax showing mortgages are now the most affordable since the mid-1990s.
These figures certainly add a rosier glow to the picture, but what about the next 12 months?
The year ahead…
Where’s a crystal ball when you need it?!
Wishful thinking aside, although experts are predicting the housing market to cool and interest rates to rise, and it may still be too early to determine the long-term effects of the stamp duty cuts, we know that during her speech to the National Planning Conference at the beginning of March, Prime Minister Theresa May said that the “young are 'right to be angry' about lack of homes” .
And following this, in his Spring statement , the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Phillip Hammond, confirmed:
- work with 44 authorities who’ve bid into the £4.1billion House Infrastructure Fund in order to unlock homes in areas of high demand;
- housing deals with certain authorities to deliver above their Local Housing Need;
- the Housing Growth Partnership - which provides financial support for small housebuilders - will be more than doubled to £220m
- a deal with the West Midlands to deliver 215,000 homes by 2030-31, and London receiving an additional £1.7billion to deliver a further 26,000 affordable homes(taking the total to 116,000 by 2021-2022).
Planning to get your foot on the ladder?
If you are a first-time buyer this year and thinking about purchasing your first home, you might want to read up on the most affordable cities for first time buyers and check out our Fact Sheet on Buying A House to familiarise yourself with the process and be in a position to act quickly.
For more specific advice on purchasing your first home, please contact John Spittle on 01606 48777.