Property prices in the north-west of England are expected to outperform the overall national picture in 2019, according to a leading industry expert.

Lucian Cook, Head of Research at Savills, told BBC Breakfast that prices in the region are forecast to rise by 3% this year, whereas in the UK as a whole they will only go up by an estimated 1.5%. And he also predicted that the recent contraction of the London market can be expected to continue.

“I suspect there will be a continuation of existing patterns,” Mr Cook told BBC Breakfast. “The lead indicators from places like the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors suggest new buyer enquiries will continue to fall. They suggest the first quarter will see real uncertainty over whether or not we get a deal on Brexit. Things are going to be very price sensitive with a needs-based market, with fewer people out there to buy.

“After that, we could see a bit of a bounce assuming we get a deal on Brexit but it is not going to be significant with total house price growth of 1.5%. It will be weakest in London, where we think it might fall by about 2% – not dramatic, but the continuation of the sort of performance we have seen.

“In the north-west, where we have a bit more capacity and  more ability to borrow relative to income to take advantage of existing low interest rates, prices to rise by 3% this year. But forecasting is not easy in the current circumstances.”

NW to keep up good work from last year?

Savills’ forecast for the NW in 2019 follow on from other indicators showing a strong performance by the region in 2018. Home’s recent Asking Price survey showed prices rising by 4.8% in the year to December, while both Manchester and Liverpool continue to attract investment and people willing to relocate in or near the cities.

The north-west’s success is not limited to these two big hitters, with Preston recently named as ‘Britain’s most improved city’ by Pricewaterhouse Coopers. The city is within commuting reach of Manchester and Liverpool, but has a strong economy thanks to its University and big local employers like BAE Systems.

First-time buyer numbers are up

Elsewhere in the property market, Savills predict it will remain difficult – but far from impossible – for first-time buyers to get on to the ladder in 2019.

“It won’t change substantially, your deposit requirements will stay high,” added Mr Cook. “In London, that is close £100k, across the country it’s about £27k so it is quite difficult to get on the ladder.

“But the numbers are up because of Help to Buy, which will last till 2023, and the Bank of Mum and Dad has come to the rescue to slightly fill that gap in terms of the deposit needed.”