As we close the year 2019, our network of property finders give their views on recent trends in the UK property market and look ahead to 2020.
How Are House Prices Holding Up?
The year to May 2019 saw UK house prices by 1.2% to reach a national average of £229,432. This is a 0.2% rise on the previous month, April. However, it marks a continuation of three year slowdown of average UK house growth, particularly in the South East. For example, in London house prices fell by 4.4% to the year to May 2019.
Despite the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit, most experts are predicting positive price growth for the remainder of 2019, albeit much slower than in recent years. Of course, that may all change as we approach and pass that crucial 31st October date. In the scenario of a no-deal Brexit, the Office for Budget Responsibility is predicting that house prices will fall by almost 10% by mid-2021. These predictions align with previous comments by Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England.
It should be noted that the loss of momentum in house prices is predominantly an English problem, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all continuing to post positive results.
Many of the main reasons for the presently positive market prices remain the same as they have been for several years now. The supply of available property in the most sought-after locations does not meet the demand made possible by the availability of cheap mortgages. To the year ending March 2019, 169,700 new build dwellings were completed. Whilst this might seem like a lot, it is still significantly below the government’s minimum requirement of 250,000.
The other main factor to consider is the changing demographics in the UK, which have a far greater impact in some areas than anything else. For example, entry into the market is very difficult, with the average age of first time buyers well over 30. At the other end of the spectrum it is estimated that 90,000 people a year (termed ‘last time buyers’) would like to downsize to a smaller property. More people are now also choosing to rent. Whereas five years ago, 65% of 30 year olds were buying a property, now it is only 45%.
The challenge for the government, who prefer people to purchase rather than rent, is to make it easier for first-time buyers to enter the market.
In terms of market predictions for the remainder of 2019, it does vary quite a lot from region to region and even quite locally. We’ve taken predictions from our experienced property finders across the UK and you can read on below for some fascinating insights into their expected hottest spots for 2019.
Devon & Cornwall
Reg Parry, Director for Devon & Cornwall finds that despite the new stamp duty laws, Brexit uncertainty and a slowdown in the London market, demand in Devon and Cornwall has remained, provided properties are sensibly priced.
And the ‘Poldark effect’ has certainly seen renewed interest in West Cornwall, with the final series currently being shown on TV. Towns such as St. Ives have benefited from this beautiful area being screened every Sunday evening on national TV for several years.
Devon has also proved resilient with an ongoing property shortage keeping the market moving in a positive direction.
Lisa Green, Director of the North West office believes the focus for growth there will continue to be on the Liverpool – Chester – Crewe – Manchester area as developments around the Northern Powerhouse, Liverpool Two and HS2 start to gather momentum.
Manchester is already offering the highest rental yields in the country for investors at 5.4% and that looks set to continue. In 2018, rental prices rose by 5.76% on the previous year. With cranes littering the skyline, it’s a transformation that’s almost impossible to miss. Manchester is a hotbed of regeneration with more jobs being created there than in other major UK regional city. With those jobs comes a need for real estate to meet demand. Hence the numerous skyscrapers currently in development right across the city.
The city is highly attractive to anyone looking to escape the high prices of London without losing out on the benefits and excitement of urban life.
Lisa also predicts that the attractive market towns of Cheshire, such as Knutsford and Nantwich will always be in demand for families looking to combine ease of access to employment with great schooling and a high quality of life. The opening of the Storyhouse Theatre in 2017 combined with the city’s rich and extensive history means Chester will always be an attractive proposition.
Oxfordshire & The Cotswolds
Stephen Wolfenden, our Director for Oxfordshire & The Cotswolds, believes that the demand for property there will continue to grow, following the great improvement in transport links to London, and finds that more people are now considering basing their main home in the country and commuting into London or retaining something smaller there.
He considers that hotspots in the area for 2017 are the villages within access of both Banbury and Oxford Parkway stations, and in the last 12 months, any village within 15 minutes’ drive of the gorgeous Soho Farmhouse, a country hotel and member’s club set within 100 acres. It’s close to The Tews, Charlbury and the ever popular Chipping Norton. With David Beckham recently having moved to the area, it’s a trend that is likely to continue.
Oxford and its surrounding areas is proving to be particularly popular at the moment for off-market properties, particularly at the higher end of the market. Without a well-connected property finder to assist them, buyers won’t even be aware that such properties are available for sale.
Many estate agents in the know are now seeking out period properties for themselves in the beautiful villages between Banbury and Shipston on Stour, Brailes, Stourton and Hook Norton, which offer great value in comparison to some of the more established Cotswold hotspots.
Banbury is now only an hour from London, and that also opens up the charming villages of Deddington, Bloxham, Aynhoe, Helmdon and other excellent villages around Brackley.
With good properties in short supply, and deals increasingly being done “off-market”, that is all the more reason to consider using an experienced property to help you find your dream home in the remaining few months of 2019 as we look forward to 2020, and to secure it for the best possible price.
If you are looking to buy a home in one of the UK’s 2019 property hotspots, get in touch with a County Homesearch property finder. Get in touch today on email or call 0333 939 8300.