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Homeowner confidence at four year high

89% of UK homeowners expect house prices to rise over the next six months, up from 80% last quarter and representing a record four-year high, according to the latest Zoopla Housing Market Sentiment Survey.

Signalling surging confidence in the housing market, the survey of 9,140 UK homeowners by Zoopla found that only 4% of homeowners now predict house prices will fall over the next six months, down from 7% in Q2 and 17% in Q3 last year.

In another indication of growing optimism in the British property market, for the first time in three years owners are expecting property prices to rise by over 5% in the next six months. Homeowners are predicting an average 5.7% increase in home values in their area between now and March next year, up from 4.8% last quarter and 3.4% in Q3 last year.

Despite the continued rise in homeowner confidence, there has been a slight decline in those planning to buy or sell a property over the next six months – falling under one-fifth for the first time in 2013 (19% and 17% respectively). But interestingly, 66% of homeowners accredit evidence of property sales in their local area as the reason why they perceive the property market to be on the up.

With the next phase of Help to Buy taking effect and lending to first-time buyers at its highest since 2007, confidence in mortgage availability has also risen to a four-year high. In comparison to this time last year, the proportion of homeowners who believe it is easier to get a mortgage compared to three months previously has more than tripled – up from 11% in Q3 2012 to 37% today.

Londoners continue to be the most optimistic about the British property market, with 97% expecting a rise in house values in their area over the next six months. Owners in the capital predict average growth of 8.3% over this period – some way above the nationwide UK average of 5.7%.

Homeowner confidence in the property market is significantly higher in the South. Despite relatively high levels of confidence Yorkshire and the Humber, the North East, North West and Wales are the regions with the lowest percentage of homeowners predicting rising home values by March next year (all at 84%).  But across the UK, all eleven regions have seen an increase in the percentage of homeowners who think house values will rise over the next six months.

The most significant increase in homeowner confidence has been in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber, where the proportion of owners who believe property prices will increase over the next six months has risen from 78% to 90% (West Midlands) and 72% to 84% (Yorkshire and the Humber) in the last quarter.

Lawrence Hall of Zoopla.co.uk commented: “While London remains the forerunner in homeowner optimism, confidence in the property market is surging across the whole UK. Confidence is the bedrock for healthy property transactions but it can’t work in isolation. Fortunately, mortgage lending is on the rise, first-time buyers are returning to the market, and the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme should help boost confidence further across the country and not just in London. All of this bodes well for a healthier market and could lead to more and more transactions, which in turn will create a more sustainable market.”

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