Property price predictions for 2013
So what do the experts believe will happen to the housing market – and specifically house prices – in 2013?
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%Before the credit crunch, all sorts of businesses, from mortgage lenders to large estate agents were happy to put their neck on the line and give their best guesstimate of future house price movements. After all, it was positive publicity, since prices had been rising for years, and no doubt it gave many buyers the confidence to step onto the property ladder, even if it was a stretch.
Slumping house prices and the prospect of further falls, or stagnation, mean that making a prediction has become a more risky business - in the last few years it hasn't exactly been positive PR!
But some plucky souls are still willing to take a punt, based on their knowledge of the market and their experience. Here's what the experts think will happen to the housing market – and house prices – next year:
Henry Pryor: 2% rise
Buying agent and property expert Pryor admits that he incorrectly predicted a 7% fall in 2012 and points out that it is extremely difficult to forecast movements in the housing market in the current climate. This is because of a raft of unknown factors, from potential new building and planning rules to the interest-only mortgage time bomb.
He predicts that the number of new homes being built is unlikely to change significantly, and he doesn't think mortgage availability will improve massively either, despite a few headline-grabbing rates.
He says: "In 12 months' time most people will still have to find 25% deposits to buy a home and it is this lack of access to mortgage finance that is the greatest break on both transaction volumes and prices.
"With 50%+ of the Government's austerity measures still to be implemented fewer people rather than more will be able to move even if they wanted to. This is the new norm.
"According to the Land Registry house prices currently across England & Wales are 11% below their peak reached in November 2007. Across Wales they are 15% lower and in the North West still 20% below. 2013 will still have huge regional and local differences – there is no one 'index' that works for all but whilst there will be falls for many and rises for a few we won't see a house price crash in 2013.
"House prices will rise by 2% across the country and rents on average will increase by 3.5%. Transaction volumes will remain below a million in the UK and new housing starts under 130,000."
Halifax: -2% to 2%
One of the country's biggest mortgage lenders has recently revealed its 2013 predictions – and it points to a pretty flat market.
Halifax says that house prices will change very little in 2013, and predicts house price inflation of -2% to 2%.
The lender forecasts broadly stable house prices nationally in 2013, but admits the outlook for both the wider economy and house prices remains more unclear than usual.
It believes that housing demand could be constrained next year because of subdued economic growth, sustained high unemployment and pressures on household finances.
The lender's housing economist, Martin Ellis, says: "Conditions in the housing market have been largely unchanged over the past 12 months with little overall movement in either house prices or sales for the second consecutive year.
"This stability is remarkable given the poor domestic economic climate and the considerable uncertainty regarding the prospects for both the UK and world economies."
One prediction from the lender may put a smile on the faces of current mortgage borrowers - Halifax reckons that the Bank of England Base Rate will remain at its all-time low of 0.5%.
Knight Frank: 2% fall
Property firm Knight Frank makes a gloomy prediction for house prices next year. It reckons there will be a fall in UK property prices, of 2% in 2013, after which things will pick up and prices will rise by 1%, 2%, 3.5% and 4.2% in the subsequent years to 2017.
In fact, it predicts that UK house prices will not reach their 2007 peak until 2019: the longest housing market recovery on record.
Gráinne Gilmore, head of UK residential research explains: "Some five years after the start of the financial crisis, the housing sector in the UK still does not bear the hallmarks of a fully functioning market. Transaction levels have roughly halved since the last market peak in 2007, and are 35% below the 20-year average, as first-time buyers and those further up the housing ladder struggle with tighter mortgage lending rules.
"House prices have been flat or modestly declining across the UK since 2010. This stasis is underpinned by unusual economic conditions, rather than a genuine equilibrium in the market.
"The fundamentals suggest that a further correction in prices is needed as the relationship between average earnings and average house prices is well above the long-term average."
Hatched.co.uk: up to a 2% rise
Adam Day, director of online estate agent, hatched.co.uk, reckons that 2013 will be uneventful compared to the previous two years, which have seen the housing market skewed by Stamp Duty holidays, the Royal Wedding, Jubilee celebrations and the Olympics.
Instead he thinks the housing market will settle and steadily improve in 2013, saying:
"Transactions will rise during the first six months, with house prices potentially climbing by as much as 2% across the year.
"However, a word of warning, if there is an unexpected rise in interest rates, house prices will fall quite aggressively and, in turn, damage the chances of a full housing market recovery.
Day also suggests that Government policy decisions such as FirstBuy, Stamp Duty changes and planning legislation forms have all hindered the recovery of the housing market, saying that "the Government needs to better understand the business of estate agents and the needs of buyers if property legislation is to actually help the market".
Office for Budget Responsibility: 2.7% (2013/14)
Finally some good news. The housing market is set to pick up next year, if not surge, says the Office for Budget Responsibility. It has predicted a massive 20% rise in transactions in 2013-14, and said that house prices will rise by above inflation levels next year (2.7%), reaching annual growth of 4.5% in 2015/16.
This is the wildest forecast of them all, with most expert forecasts hovering between a fall of 2% and a rise of 2%.
The reality is that house prices haven't done much one way or the other for the last few years, and that isn't likely to change while mortgage finance remains restricted.
Improving access to cheaper homeloans, particularly for first-time buyers, could well be the key to unlocking the housing market slump next year and beyond.
But what do you think? Will house prices rise next year, stay the same or perhaps even fall? Let us know.