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Moderate house price growth expected in 2012

….particularly London and upmarket commuter hotspots in the south east. I expect national house prices to end this year just into positive territory at around 2% versus our original 5% forecast, as a result of the faster than expected public sector job losses and the Eurozone crisis. We expect that this will be followed by an increase in values of around 3% in 2012, with many parts of the country seeing no growth or marginal price falls.

"The quantitative easing programme announced in October will introduce further liquidity to the markets as we head into next year and support real asset prices over the short to medium term. However, it is too soon to see the effect of the Eurozone crisis which will continue to impact the markets, limit the amount UK banks are able to lend and, perhaps most importantly, stifle consumer confidence.

"In popular residential areas where there is good infrastructure and a sound employment market, buyer demand will continue to outstrip supply. Areas which are reliant on manufacturing or the public sector, which are struggling with high levels of unemployment, will see very low transaction levels next year and a fall in values of as much as 5%.

"Interest rates are likely to remain low over the medium term, keeping tracker mortgages an attractive option for homeowners.

"We will hopefully see a continued modest improvement in the first time buyer market with a greater number of higher loan to value mortgage products and shared equity schemes becoming available. We are also likely to see a continuation of parents opting to help their children onto the property ladder instead of keeping money in the bank, where they are seeing little return on their savings.

"High levels of activity in the buy to let sector will continue to underpin the market next year, with landlords returning in considerable numbers as well as new investors seeking a safe home for their cash that will also generate a decent income. Our research shows that over three quarters of existing UK property investors are considering buying additional investment properties in 2012. Rents will continue to grow strongly, in the region of +5% next year, as restricted mortgage lending and poor employment prospects has left a whole generation of potential first time buyers with little prospect of buying a home. Consequently landlords are set to benefit from another year of strong yields, albeit alongside only modest capital growth."

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