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Brexit hitting housing market as confidence falls – BSA and Principality

  • 18/12/2018
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Brexit hitting housing market as confidence falls – BSA and Principality
Research from the Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that Britons see Brexit as the single biggest risk to the housing market in 2019.


The findings highlight a notable downturn in confidence in the housing market with concerns being raised about the potential for significant house price falls and concerns over the cost of living and interest rate rises.

These are echoed by research conducted by Principality Building Society which found similar concerns from potential homebuyers in Wales.


Confidence falling

Just 19% of the 2,023 adults surveyed by the BSA agreed that now is a good time to buy a property, down from 24% in September, while 33% felt it was not a good time to buy.

More than half said Brexit was the biggest risk to the housing market next year, followed by a rise in the cost of living (38%) and a rise in interest rates (36%).

Raising a deposit remains the biggest barrier to home ownership (62%) and there was growing concern about future falls in prices as a barrier to property purchase (28% – up from 18% in September.

Among those who do not see now as a good time to buy, 31% said a correction in house prices might make them change their mind.

The South East (59%), London and Scotland (both 58%) were the most concerned about the impact of Brexit, while the West Midlands (45%), East Midlands and North East (both 46%) were least concerned about Brexit.


Housing cost biggest concern

The Principality research of 1,015 adults in Wales found that the actual cost of housing was the biggest factor in deciding if someone moved or bought, with 68% of people citing this reason.

Interest rates (46%) and job security (31%) were also key factors, supporting the BSA results, with 25% saying Brexit was putting them off buying or selling a home.

The mutual also asked about housing schemes to help buyers in Wales.

The Welsh government’s Rent to Own scheme was most well-known with 40% saying they had heard of it, followed by Help to Buy ISAs (£9%) and shared ownership schemes (34%).

Just 30% were aware of equity loan schemes, and 29% home starter schemes.


Bold actions needed

BSA head of mortgage policy Paul Broadhead (pictured) noted it was unsurprising Brexit was a key factor in the subdued mortgage market.

“Looking past Brexit, the fact remains that raising a deposit is the biggest barrier to buying property,” he said.

“For decades, successive governments have failed to get a grip on the deficit in housing supply. This has led to house price increases far exceeding wage growth, particularly for the young.

“The current government has bold plans, but bold actions are needed to narrow the gap between house prices and earnings.”

Principality Building Society chief financial officer Tom Denman agreed that Brexit uncertainty meant homeowners were moving less and choosing longer fixed-rate mortgage deals in response.

“The rising cost of living, including energy bills and council tax, have added to demand for the security of fixed-rate mortgages,” he said.

“The preference for two-year fixes is being surpassed by five-year and longer fixes.”

He added that despite the political and economic uncertainty, Wales has seen an average annual house price growth of 3.3% up to November 2018, although the number of sales were down by 1.4% compared with the same period in 2017.

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