2014 'good time to sell property'


House prices

More than half of people believe that 2014 would be a good time to sell a property as housing market confidence continues to blossom, a survey has found.

For the first time since Halifax's regular housing market confidence tracker began in April 2011, the proportion of consumers who predict the next 12 months will be a good time to put a home on the market outweighed those who believe it will be a bad time.

Experts said signs that people are becoming more willing to sell a property could ease some of the upward pressure on house prices in the coming months by boosting the supply of homes on the market for buyers to choose from.

Some 51% of nearly 2,000 people surveyed said that this year will be a good time to sell, compared with 39% thinking it will be a bad time, according to the research carried out between late November and early December 2013.

Sentiment towards buying also improved, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of those surveyed expecting 2014 will be a good time to buy, compared with 28% thinking it will be a bad time to buy.

Researchers found that people living in the North East were the most optimistic about 2014 being a good time to buy. A net balance of 50% of people living in the North East believe it will be a good time to buy rather than a bad time. Meanwhile, those living in London were the least optimistic, with a balance of 18% of people thinking this year is a good time to buy rather than a bad time.

Land Registry figures released this week showed that house prices in London have surged by more than 10% year-on-year, while in the North East they have edged down by 1.6% annually.

At £396,646 on average, a property in London now costs more than four times one in the North East, according to the Land Registry's figures for the month of November.

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of British adults surveyed by Halifax predict the average UK house price will rise over the next year, up from 70% in September. Only 6% expect prices to fall, which is unchanged from September.

One third (34%) of people expect house prices to rise by up to 5% over the next 12 months with a quarter (27%) expecting an increase of between 5% and 10%.

The number of people expecting prices to rise outweighed those expecting a fall in every region across Britain.

The strongest sentiment that house prices are set to increase was found in the South East, where a net balance of 80% of people expect to see house prices rise rather than fall, followed closely by London where the balance was 79%.

The weakest sentiment that prices are set to rise rather than fall was found in the West Midlands, which had a balance of 43% of people expecting increases rather than decreases.

A lack of homes for sale is seen as one of the main factors pushing up house prices in recent months as demand from would-be buyers has surged due to the launch of Government schemes such as Help to Buy to give people a helping hand onto or up the property ladder.

The ability to raise a big enough deposit and concerns about job security continue to be considered by people as the main barriers to being able to buy a property, Halifax found. Concerns about rises in interest rates also increased slightly from September.

Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax, said: "The recovery in the housing market during 2013 has resulted in a significant improvement in sentiment towards selling a property in recent months.

"This shift could provide a much-needed increase in the supply of properties available for sale on the market during 2014, which would help to constrain upwards pressure on house prices."

Here is the net balance of the percentage of people who expect the average UK house price to rise over the next 12 months compared to those that expect house prices to fall in each region. For example, across Britain, the 72% of adults expecting an increase in house prices minus the 6% expecting a fall results in an overall balance of 66:

East Midlands, 56

East, 68

London, 79

North East, 52

North West, 67

Scotland, 58

South East, 80

South West, 71

Wales, 64

West Midlands, 43

Yorkshire and the Humber, 57

Britain, 66