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    FT Weekend Festival live: What next for UK property prices?

    enSeptember 19, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Experts predict potential decrease in UK house pricesExperts predict a potential 5-7% decrease in UK house prices over the next year, but acknowledge the difficulty in making an accurate prediction due to varying housing markets and economic conditions.

      The UK property market is experiencing uncertainty regarding future house prices due to rising interest rates and economic factors. During a recent discussion at the Feet weekend festival, experts predicted a potential 5-7% decrease in house prices over the next year, but acknowledged the difficulty in making an accurate prediction due to the various housing markets and economic conditions. The UK property market has seen significant changes in the past few years, with prices increasing during the pandemic but then experiencing volatility after the Truss and Kwasikwahteng Mini budget. It's important to note that the housing market is complex and nuanced, with some areas still seeing price increases while others have suffered since the lockdown.

    • Impact of Mortgage Market on HousingCash buyers and renters now dominate housing market. Mortgage rates won't return to pre-crash levels. Sellers' expectations lag behind buyers', leading to a standoff. 370,000 households face higher mortgage rates soon.

      The mortgage market is no longer the primary driver of the housing market as only a quarter of households have mortgages. The focus has shifted to cash buyers and renters. Despite some lenders reducing mortgage rates, they are not expected to return to pre-crash levels of 1-3%. Instead, the norm will be around 4-5%. However, sellers' expectations have not adjusted as significantly as buyers', leading to a standoff. The upcoming expiration of fixed-rate mortgages for 370,000 households will force them to adjust their living standards as they face higher mortgage rates.

    • Cash buyers dominate housing market, disadvantaging those who need financingCash buyers currently hold significant power in the housing market, but new mortgage innovations and potential interest rate changes could shift the balance.

      The current housing market is heavily influenced by cash buyers who hold significant power due to their ability to make transactions without the need for mortgages or the sale of other assets. This puts those who must secure financing or sell properties to buy at a disadvantage. Additionally, the mortgage market has been in a state of stagnation with outdated products, but new innovations, such as long-term fixed rate mortgages, are emerging. Looking beyond the current market, we may be returning to more historically normal interest rates, which were around 4% before the 2008 financial crisis. This shift could bring significant changes to the property market, as our expectations and language about housing are still influenced by the unique conditions of the late 20th century, which saw average base rates of 4%.

    • The focus on housing as a ladder to upward mobility may be outdatedReal house prices have not significantly increased since 2010, and the focus should shift from borrowing costs to saving for a deposit.

      The notion of housing as a ladder to upward mobility is outdated, and housing prices may not continue to escalate as they have in the past. Instead, we may be entering a more stable, albeit lower, interest rate environment. Real house prices, when adjusted for inflation, have not increased significantly since 2010. While nominal house prices have doubled since then, their value in real terms has not kept pace with income growth. The average deposit for a first-time buyer in London is currently £150,000, a sum that is difficult for most people to save for in a reasonable timeframe. The focus should shift from borrowing costs to the challenge of saving for a deposit. The housing market may be less about ever-rising prices and more about affordability and accessibility for the average person.

    • Managing Inflation with Interest Rates: A Complex Role for the Bank of EnglandThe Bank of England's use of interest rates to manage inflation requires caution due to fewer people being affected by changes and the housing market's shift from a ladder to a platform.

      The role of the Bank of England in managing inflation through interest rates is more complex than it seems, especially given the current high inflation rate and the increasing number of people with fixed-rate mortgages. Historically, the Bank of England has used interest rates to curb consumer spending and inflation, but with fewer people affected by changes in interest rates due to the rise of fixed-rate mortgages, the Bank must be more cautious in setting rates to avoid dampening consumer spending too much. Additionally, the housing market is no longer seen as a ladder to climb up, but rather a platform, meaning that potential buyers must consider the possibility of rising rents or falling housing prices before deciding to purchase. The current supply and demand imbalance in the rental market suggests continued high rents, making it a challenging decision for those considering buying a property.

    • Using down valuations as a negotiation tool in real estateIn a volatile real estate market, buyers can use lower property valuations from mortgage lenders as leverage to renegotiate prices with sellers. However, success is low and challenging a valuation is an uncomfortable process.

      In a fluctuating real estate market, down valuations by mortgage lenders can be used as a negotiating tool by buyers. This occurs when a lender values a property lower than the agreed price, and the buyer can use this as an excuse to renegotiate the price with the seller. Valuations are becoming more common due to the market's instability and the valuer's professional responsibility to ensure accuracy. If a seller refuses to lower the price, the buyer can attempt to challenge the valuation by providing comparable evidence of similar properties selling for similar prices. However, the success rate for this approach is low, around 3%. The process can be uncomfortable, but the ability to blame a professional valuation for a lower offer can be a common British negotiation tactic.

    • Buyers seeking value in a seller's marketBuyers can explore 'fixer upper' market or focus on areas with increasing productivity and demand to find value, while ensuring sellers cover additional costs.

      Buyers have the power to decide what they're willing to pay for a house, but sellers hold the ultimate decision on whether to accept it. However, in a market with a significant shortage of supply and rising build costs, buyers may need to consider alternative strategies to find value. The "fixer upper" market, where buyers purchase properties in need of repair, is starting to regain popularity among professional landlords. Despite concerns about construction costs, these investors believe they can buy properties at lower prices now and potentially profit from future house price increases. Another strategy for buyers is to identify areas with increasing productivity and demand, where they can spot the qualities that new buyers are looking for, without necessarily having to physically fix up the properties themselves. Additionally, buyers should ensure sellers cover their additional costs, such as construction expenses, to help offset the financial burden.

    • Regional property market varies, with demand outside citiesDemand for property outside cities with heritage and regeneration drives price growth. City center flats, especially those without outdoor space, may struggle.

      The property market is experiencing significant regional variations, with areas outside of cities, particularly those with good heritage and regeneration, seeing the greatest demand and rental price growth. This trend is expected to continue, with city center flats, especially those without outdoor space, likely to suffer in comparison. A potential house price crash on the scale of 2008 is unlikely, as there is currently no significant increase in repossessions or distressed sales. Instead, the market is expected to remain nuanced and challenging to predict from data alone. It's important for buyers to consider their specific location and property type when making purchasing decisions.

    • Understanding the complexities of the UK housing marketInstead of relying solely on national averages, consider the unique fundamentals of the specific location for accurate housing market evaluation.

      The UK housing market is not a monolithic entity but rather a complex patchwork of various markets. Yolanda and Nathan emphasized this point, suggesting that it's essential to consider the unique fundamentals of the specific location you're interested in when evaluating the housing market. Instead of focusing solely on the national average, homebuyers, negotiators, and dealers should look at their individual circumstances and needs. As Yolanda put it, a house is a home first and foremost, and its value as an asset can be secondary. The house price indices produced by various organizations may get good PR, but they don't capture the intricacies of the local markets. Overall, this conversation underscores the importance of taking a nuanced approach to understanding the housing market and making decisions based on the specific context of your situation.

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