Regional divide in property market expectations

There has been a significant improvement in sentiment towards the UK housing market; however, whilst the gap between buying and selling expectations is narrowing the regional variations remain, according to the latest quarterly Halifax Housing Market Confidence tracker.

The net balance (i.e. the difference between the proportion thinking that it will be a good time to sell and those who think it will be a bad time) turned positive for the first time in September in several regions including the East (+8) and the South East (+13).

More people now think it will be a good time to sell than think it will be a bad time in the South East (+13), Eastern (+8), South West (+6), London (+4), North East (+4) and West Midlands (+2). In June, more respondents thought that it would be a bad time to sell in all regions. And, while those thinking that it will be a bad time to sell fell from 56% in June to 47%, people in Scotland, the North West, and the East Midlands were the least positive about the prospects of selling in the next 12 months (with a net score of -38, -31 and -19, respectively).

Whilst attitudes to selling have increased rapidly, sentiment towards buying remains stronger than that towards selling with 57% of respondents expecting it to be a good time to buy in the next 12 months compared with 41% thinking it will be a good time to sell. Respondents in Wales were the most bullish (where 71% think it will be a good time to buy), with their counterparts in the Eastern region much more cautious (where 40% think it will be a good time to buy).

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, commented:

“We know that the property market varies significantly between different areas of the county. The disparity in opinions towards buying and selling across the regions reflects this.

“The significant improvement in sentiment towards selling a home could help to boost the supply of properties available for sale on the market which will help ease any upwards pressure on house prices. It could also help to increase levels of housing market activity from their still historically low levels.”

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