GUILD Property Market Spring Report

Posted on Friday, March 15, 2024

Signs of green shoots are appearing in the property market. More buyers are returning to the market, supported by falling mortgage rates, wage growth outstripping inflation, and a strong labour market.

Economic backdrop
With the Bank of England holding the interest rate at 5.25%, the consensus is that we are at the top of the rate rise cycle. Interest rate expectations in the monthly consensus forecasts have been improving over recent months as the economic outlook brightens (HM Treasury Average of Independent Forecasts). Rates are predicted to start falling in the second half of the year, reaching 4.4% by the end of 2024. With inflation under control and forecast to fall to 2.2% by the end of the year (HM Treasury Average of Independent Forecasts), confidence in the housing market is improving.
First-time buyers
The average value of a first-time buyer purchase is 8% below the market
average (Zoopla). Biding their time during 2023, more first-time buyers are expected to enter the market through the year, encouraged by the
dual drivers of earnings growth and reduced mortgage rates improving affordability. The average two-year and five-year fixed-rate deals have now been falling for six consecutive months.The availability of deals at the 95% loan-to-value tier has increased to 274 deals, its highest level since 2022, demonstrating that lenders are still keen to support borrowers with smaller deposits (Moneyfacts).
Growing activity
The start of 2024 has seen an upswing of new buyers, with agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 16% higher than the same period last year and 3% higher than in 2019 (Rightmove). Average asking prices rose 0.1% year-on-year in February, the fi rst annual increase since August 2023, an indication of growing market momentum. The number of mortgage approvals rose for the fourth consecutive month to 55,227 in January, the highest level since October 2022 (Bank of England). The Chancellor announced in the Spring Budget that property gains tax is to be reduced to 24%, which may encourage landlords to sell, boosting transactions.