House prices: Why the average sold price could STOP rising soon – ‘demand is softening’

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According to Rightmove, the average asking prices for properties have increased by a staggering £55,000 in the past two years compared to the pre-pandemic increase of £6,000. House prices have been smashing records for four months in a row now and while inflation reaches a 40-year high of nine percent, the Bank of England has raised interest rates in an attempt to fend off a possible impending recession. Although it might feel like we’re heading in an increasingly downward spiral, this is predicted not to be the case for house prices.

The average asking price for a property in the UK now rests at £367,501, which is up 2.1 percent from last month.

This four-month price record coincides with the fourth successive interest rate rise. However, this rise in rates doesn’t appear to be negatively impacting Briton’s urge to move house.

Research from Rightmove shows the number of buyers contacting estate agents in the month is 31 percent higher than the more normal 2019 market, and sales are up 12 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

However, there are signs the housing market is starting to ease, which will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on asking prices.

Although the market is more active compared to that of 2019; analysing the period between now and the stamp-duty-fuelled market of this time last year, those contacting estate agents are actually down 14 percent, and sales are down 17 percent.

The properties available to buy are also down 55 percent from what was available in 2019, meaning supply and demand will likely be out of sync for the rest of the year.

These numbers might indicate there isn’t necessarily a lack of desire to buy, but more of a lack of homes for sale. A conclusion which might seem to conflict with the UK’s current cost of living crisis, but also one that could impede prices from rising any further.

Why might sold price averages stop rising soon?

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science said: “People may be wondering why the housing market is seemingly running in the opposite direction to the wider economy at the moment.

“What the data is showing us right now is that those who have the ability to do so are prioritising their home and moving, and the imbalance between supply and demand is supporting rising prices.

“Though demand is softening from the heady levels we saw this time last year, the number of buyers enquiring is still significantly higher than during the last ‘normal’ market of 2019, while the number of homes for them to choose from remains more constrained.

“We anticipate that the effects of the increased cost of living and rising interest rates will filter through to the market later in the year, and a combination of more supply of homes and people weighing up what they can afford will help to moderate the market.”

If you’re planning on, or in the midst of saving your pennies to take advantage of possible plateauing or reduced house prices, there are a few ways you can maximise funds.

James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, shared his tips for saving for a deposit.

How to save for a house deposit

Mr Andrews said: “Given that many of us are already stretched thin with rising rents and the cost of living crisis, anyone looking to purchase their first home will need to put in some serious financial planning to afford a deposit.”

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The first step for anyone hoping to build a deposit is to work out how much you need to have saved up to afford a home.

Mr Andrews said: “This figure is based on two factors – the value of the property you intend to buy and how much lenders are prepared to offer you in a mortgage. Subtract one from the other and you have your savings target.

“But it’s important to remember that the greater the percentage of a house you have saved up, the cheaper the mortgage rate you could be offered.”

For instance, if your savings cover 20 percent of a home’s purchase price, you’ll most likely pay a lower rate of interest on your mortgage than someone whose savings only cover 10 percent.

Mr Andrews continued: “Once you have an approximate cost for your deposit you can start budgeting your finances. Make a list of all your regular outgoings, from there you can find any areas you have room to cut back on, allowing you to maximise your savings.

“It’s also crucial you put your saved money into a separate account, just to keep track of how much you’re saving and also to avoid unnecessary spending.

“Some accounts will come with bonuses helping you save even faster. For example, the Lifetime ISA (LISA) entitles you to a 25 percent bonus on savings of up to £4,000 a year if you use them to buy your first home, meaning you can gain £1,000 an extra on top of your savings and interest.

As well as Lifetime ISAs, there are a number of Government schemes like Help to Buy equity loans and shared ownership which can help you get onto the property ladder faster.

Mr Andrews said: “Before you decide on what kind of property you’re interested in, check which schemes you’re eligible for as this may limit your options. For example, with the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, you’ll only be able to access the loan if you’re buying a new-build home or flat.

“Finally, If you’re currently renting, consider finding a cheaper room temporarily or return home to live with your family if you can.

“Doing this for a period of six to 12 months can really boost the rate you’re able to save – however, it’s not necessarily available for everyone.

“If you stick to your budget and play it smart with your savings, that dream home can be yours.”

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