UK house prices: nothing new but could 2022 see a change?


House prices have continued to climb across the UK, and the latest monthly index from Halifax shows no exception. But some experts believe the hot market could begin to cool soon.

It has never been more important to secure a property at a competitive price, if the latest predictions are anything to go by. The most recent index, released by Halifax, has shown yet another price increase, bringing the average UK property to a value of a record-high £276,759.

This is a hefty rise of £24,500 in the space of a year, which signifies a 9.7% annual increase. Region-by-region, in England, the north-west led the way with average house prices growing by 12%. At the other end of the scale, London saw just a 4.5% rise between January 2021 and 2022.

Yet Halifax believes this fast pace of growth could finally be stemmed this year, as the cost of living crisis as well as rising interest rates begin to have an effect. From a property investment perspective, while the UK housing market remains one of the strongest assets in which to invest, securing a good price now could be even more vital.

Will house prices hold steady?

As the past two years have shown, predicting how external events will impact the housing market can be difficult. There were murmurs of a house price crash at the start of the pandemic, but the sector has shown its remarkable resilience throughout and appetite remains high.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “While the limited supply of new housing stock to the market will continue to provide some support to house prices, it remains likely that the rate of house price growth will slow considerably over the next year.”

On the flip side, James Forrester, managing director of estate agents Barrows and Forrester, thinks the continuing strong appetite from buyers will continue to support the sector.

“We’re now starting to see transactions return to pre-Covid levels but while the outlooks for the year ahead may be less manic, we’re unlikely to see any significant decline in house prices,” commented Forrester.

“This may seem surprising against a backdrop of increased living costs, interest rate increases and the ongoing issue of affordability, but there remains a huge level of motivated buyers fighting it out for what is essentially a limited level of stock.”

Turning to the rental market

With high house prices presenting a barrier for many would-be buyers, the number of tenants relying on the private rented sector remains high. The rental sector is a crucial part of the housing market for the accommodation it provides, and property investors and landlords who invest in the right areas – and at the right price – are seeing strong returns.

Certain constraints are holding back first-time buyers in particular, including the growing disparity between wage growth and house price growth making raising a deposit more difficult. The rising cost of living, too, could see some prospective homeowners remain in the rental market for longer.

Encompassed in this are things like the high cost of petrol and diesel, pricier food and drink, and sky-high energy costs.

With regards to energy bills, the housing sector, of course, plays a significant role. The government is backing a drive to increase the energy efficiency of the country’s housing stock, particularly in the rental market. Minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) are already in place and rules are set to be tightened in the coming years.

This means landlords who provide homes with the highest EPC ratings will not only be compliant when the new regulations come in, but will also be able to offer their tenants lower bills, as higher energy efficiency means less money being spent on powering and heating the home.

As the cost of living continues to leave poorer households in particular in a difficult position, offering a property that boasts cheaper energy bills could be a saving grace.

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UK house prices: nothing new but could 2022 see a change?


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