Homeowners confident house prices will rise
Published by www.telegraph.co.uk
Public confidence that house prices will rise over the coming months is at its strongest in at least a year, a study has suggested.
Some 39pc of those questioned by the Halifax housing market confidence tracker believe prices will generally increase over the next year, almost double the 20pc of people who predict they will fall.
Researchers said this is the most positive view since the quarterly series began 12 months ago, with Londoners the most confident about rises and those living in the North East the least positive.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "It is encouraging that the level of consumer confidence in the housing market continues to improve, albeit from a very low base. This is consistent with the broad stability that we have been seeing in house prices nationally in recent months."
Some recent house price studies have noted a "spring bounce" this year, although much of this has been put down to a rush of first-time buyers completing deals before a two-year stamp duty concession ended last month.
Halifax's own house price index found that prices in the first quarter of this year were 0.1pc lower than during the final quarter of 2011.
Mr Ellis said: "We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year, provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening."
The increase in confidence comes despite expectations that the availability of mortgages will decrease in the coming months. Lenders have been tightening their credit criteria, leading to a drop in the proportion of mortgage approvals, while more than a million homeowners will see their mortgage rates rise from May 1, some 850,000 of them Halifax customers.
Lenders have blamed the rises on the weak economy and the increased cost of funding a mortgage.
The latest Halifax study also found that 55pc of those surveyed believe it is a good time to buy a property, more than double the proportion who said it is a good time to sell, at 24pc.
Nearly two-thirds of people said job security was the main hurdle to potential homebuyers, while raising a deposit was the second biggest constraint.
Seven out of 10 people predicted that private rents will also increase over the next 12 months, as would-be buyers remain "trapped" in the rental sector, keeping rental demand strong.
The survey questioned 2,029 adults across Britain.