Several recent reports have confirmed that house price growth is slowing, but there are reasons to believe that the housing market will be more stable than last year.
According to Knight Frank, the third lockdown and the imminent end of the Stamp Duty holiday have played a major part in delaying a certain amount of activity until the spring, which could result in some short-term downward pressure on prices, as more sellers come to the market at the same time. Over the course of the year, Knight Frank expects prices to remain flat and for there to be steady, seasonal demand after the summer as the vaccination rollout nears completion.
In January’s ‘UK Residential Market Survey’, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) expects all UK regions will see prices rise to some degree over the next twelve months, with Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland expected to see the highest rises.
Nationwide’s Chief Economist Robert Gardner commented on the rate of growth, “The slowdown probably reflects a tapering of demand ahead of the end of the Stamp Duty holiday.”
Nearly 750,000 buyers benefit from Stamp Duty holiday
Almost three-quarters of a million homebuyers are in line to benefit from the Stamp Duty tax break, assuming they beat the 31 March completion deadline. This represents total savings of almost £5bn.
The analysis, from Zoopla, is broken down further; 600,000 buyers will not pay any Stamp Duty, which is an average saving of £4,660 each or £2.8bn in total. A further 140,500 people whose homes cost over £500,000 are set to benefit from a Stamp Duty reduction and will save £15,000 each or £2.1bn collectively. This latter group will still have to pay tax on the portion of the property value above £500,000.
Rightmove have reported rumours that the tax break may be extended in England and Northern Ireland by a further six weeks. If this were to be the case, Rightmove estimate that between 120,000 and 160,000 extra property transactions in England could benefit.
Property Data Expert at Rightmove, Tim Bannister commented “If there was a six week extension it should give the majority of the sales from last year the chance to complete in time.”
Regional variations in values of family homes
After three lockdowns and an increase in those working from home, many people have been reassessing their housing priorities.
Research by Zoopla has looked into which regions have seen the biggest jump in values of three to five-bedroom houses, finding that family homes in the Midlands have seen the biggest jump in value over the last four years. First place goes to East Midlands, with a sq ft price increase of 25.4%, or £43, to stand at £212. West Midlands takes second place, seeing a rise of 24.6% to reach £223.
Wales came third, with an increase of 23.6% per sq ft, followed by East of England (21.4%) and North West (21.3%). London came ninth, with a percentage rise of only 14.6%, but unsurprisingly, also seeing the biggest monetary increase, with a jump of £71per sq ft to stand at an average £558.
Our vulnerabilities have been laid bare over the last year, as the pandemic took hold of all our lives, and continues to present challenges on a variety of levels. Economic frailties have been exposed but, as we enter 2021, hope hangs in the air with the prospect of recovery in the New Year and beyond.
Slowly but surely
A fitting portrayal of the situation was coined in the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) final 2020 assessment of global economic prospects, entitled ‘A Long and Difficult Ascent’. The Fund predicts a moderate rebound this year with a continuing gradual recovery over the following few years, with the economic path ahead remaining challenging.
Reasons for optimism
Although the IMF forecast highlights ongoing uncertainties and risks, primarily centring on the future path of the pandemic, there are reasons for cautious optimism. Continuing progress in the rollout of vaccination programmes and the economic stimuli promised by Joe Biden, should both have a positive impact on market sentiment throughout the course of the year.
The linchpin to successful investing, whatever the future holds, inexorably remains embracing a long-term philosophy, based on sound financial planning principles. Maintaining a diversified investment portfolio which suits your attitude to risk and resisting any urge to panic trade, are essential elements. Looking forwards and focusing on future key trends and longer-term investment themes will stand us all in good stead too.
Advice reigns supreme
Given the heightened uncertainty and market turbulence, it has arguably never been more important to obtain professional financial advice. We can construct a tailored plan, setting out realistic and achievable financial goals, and help you navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as the New Year unfurls.