UK house price confidence increases

As a consequence, the headline House Price Outlook balance has moved into positive territory with an overall balance score of +7 percentage points (29% minus 22%). This represents a marked improvement compared with the negative reading of -2 (28% expecting a rise minus 30% expecting a fall) recorded in October’s survey.

However, the outlook for the housing market remains subdued. The majority think that any house price movement over the next 12 months will be relatively small with around two-thirds (65%) expecting any movement to be between +5% and -5%.

Eight of the 11 UK regions tracked recorded a positive headline House Price Outlook balance (i.e. indicating that more people expect house prices to rise rather than fall). This contrasts sharply with October’s tracker when just three regions had a positive headline balance.

Londoners have the most optimistic outlook for the housing market with an overall net balance of +21, followed by the East Midlands (+18) and Yorkshire and Humber (+14). At the other end of the spectrum, the North East has the most negative outlook for house prices (-3).

More than half of those questioned identified difficulties in raising a deposit (57%) and concerns about job security (55%) as the main obstacles to buying a property. Respondents also picked out household finances (33%) and the general availability of mortgages (30%) as major barriers to buying a property.

Half (50%) of those questioned think that it is currently a good time to buy, five times the proportion thinking that it is a good time to sell (10%). Perceptions of the UK housing market as a better one for buyers than sellers partly reflects the dramatic improvement in home affordability over recent years. Recent research by Halifax revealed that mortgage payments for a new borrower in the second half of 2011 were at their lowest as a proportion of disposable earnings for 14 years.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: "The modest improvement in consumer confidence in the outlook for house prices reflects the resilience of the UK housing market over recent months in the face of a weak economic recovery and the deterioration in the outlook for both the UK and global economies.

"Looking forward, we currently expect broad stability in house prices in 2012, although there remains much ambiguity around this given the considerable uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy."

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