UK property faces multi-speed recovery

"There is now a certain inevitability built into the market," Cook said.

"The schism between the best and the rest is expected to continue to grow as the recovery progresses. Ironically, it is the least affordable but most affluent areas that are leading, and will continue to lead the market both in terms of price growth and activity levels.

"But the leaders are now clearly outperforming the laggers again. The bottom end of the market does not appear to have the potential to bounce in line with the top end, now or in the foreseeable future. Its recovery may only be possible if and when mortgage lending frees up, or as investors start to see potential in the local private rental sector.

"For a long time we have known that certain areas of the country (typically located in London and the South East) lead the recovery before the laggers (often the northern metropolitan areas) catch up. From this we see that the recovery ripple usually takes between five and ten years to spread across the country as a whole,"

Since the bottom of the market and during the current bumpy recovery there has been significant divergence in performance between the leaders and the laggers. Values in the leading 10% of the country grew by 7.5% over the past year and are now just a fraction off peak levels, while the bottom 10% of areas saw prices fall by 3% and are almost 20% off peak.

This pattern is expected to translate into a significant outperformance by the top tiers in the short to mid term. The Savills forecasts anticipate that the top areas will see prices rise by a third over the next five years, while the bottom end of the market will struggle to see any price growth.

Cook believes that there has to be a question mark over whether the bottom end of the market has the capacity to outperform in the second part of the market cycle this time around, as in the previous recovery.

"During the period from 2000 to 2005 the bottom tiers of the market rebounded strongly and outperformed the traditional market leaders, with 123% price growth compared to just 43% for the top slice of the market," he said.

"However, they started from a low base and factors such as low levels of equity, mortgage scarcity and poor economic indicators mean that growth ultimately proved unsustainable.

"The key question is whether the traditional laggers can catch up to the same degree if we have an ongoing mortgage-constrained environment with greater regulation and different lending criteria applying to equity rich and equity poor borrowers."

Average prices in the top 10% exceed £410,000, more than 11 times the average household income, while average prices in the bottom 10% have slumped below the £100,000 mark, under five times the average household income.

"Even at this apparently affordable level the bottom tiers of the market do not have the potential to bounce in line with the top end," Cook said.

"Its recovery may only be possible if and when mortgage lending frees up, or as investors start to see potential in the local private rental sector."

Have your say on this story using the comment section below

One thought on “UK property faces multi-speed recovery

  1. G Smith

    The above analysis fails to take into account many factors – the expensive areas are doing well because wealthier purchasers tend to have more equity and the effects of the recession have not really effected them. They are much better off as a result of historic low interest rates. They are investing in property as savings rates and other forms of investment are not performing. As soon as the cuts, inflation, unemployment, higher mortgage rates and the end of self-cert mortgages take affect, prices will start to fall again in all areas until affordability is restored. Based on historic peaks and troughs and affordability indexes prices could fall in all areas in real terms by up to 33% over the next few years.

Comments are closed.