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The number of Britons who are positive about the housing market outlook has risen sharply in the last three months, according to a new survey from Halifax.

Some 51% think the next 12 months will be a good time to sell, against 39% who think it will be a bad time, according to the latest quarterly Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker.

This is the first time more people think it is a good rather than a bad time to sell since the survey began in April 2011.

The positive net balance of +12 compared with -6 as recently as September, marking a rapid positive swing in sentiment.

The survey also showed that 63% expect 2014 to be a good time to buy property, while 28% think it will be a bad time, a net balance of +35.

Respondents in the North East were the most optimistic with a balance of +50. This compared to just +18 in London, the least optimistic part of the country for buyers.

Some 72% of British adults predict the average UK house price will rise over the next year, up from 70% in September. Only 6% expect prices to fall, unchanged from September.

While 34% expect house prices to rise by up to 5% over the next 12 months, 27% expect an increase of between 5% and 10%.

Significantly more people expect prices to rise than fall over the next 12 months in all regions.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: “The recovery in the housing market during 2013 has resulted in a significant improvement in sentiment towards selling a property in recent months.

"This shift could provide a much needed increase in the supply of properties available for sale on the market during 2014, which would help to constrain upwards pressure on house prices.

"Whilst sentiment towards the residential property market has improved across the country, significant regional differences persist. The proportion thinking that it will be a bad time to sell continues to exceed those thinking it will be a good time in several parts of the country." 

But people are beginning to worry about rising interest rates, with a slight increase from 11% in September to 14% in December.

Two-thirds of respondents predict that the cost of private sector renting will increase over the next year.


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