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Consumer confidence in the housing market cools

Building Societies Association | Building Societies Association

3 min read Partner content

The number of people who think that now is a good time to buy a home is at its lowest level since June 2008, the BSA's Property Tracker report has revealed. Just 29% believe that now is a good time to buy, down from 40% three months ago.

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, recently described the property market as the 'biggest risk to financial stability and recovery', and the intense focus on the housing market has resulted in the Bank of England announcing that they are prepared to take action to reduce activity if necessary. However, new mortgage lending regulations, affordability constraints and media scrutiny may be beginning to have a limiting effect without intervention.

On house prices, 62% of Londoners say that there is a housing bubble in the Capital. Over half (55%) of people across the UK agree. Views about prices across the rest of the UK are very different with just 20% saying that they believe there is a bubble across the rest of the UK. Prices are now rising in all regions, but most remain under their 2007 peak.

Building new homes is seen as the most effective way of curbing house price inflation. This view was particularly strong amongst first-time buyers where 40% saw this as the best solution. When asked about their reaction if the Bank of England were to introduce measures making it harder to get a mortgage, 28% of first time buyers said that they would put their home buying plans on hold for the foreseeable future. Curbing Help to Buy is not seen as an effective solution - just 6% of the public believe that this would work.*

Commenting on the results, Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy at the BSA, said:

"For decades successive Governments have failed to address the problem of housing supply. The launch of Help to Buy: Equity Loan just over a year ago has provided a much needed shot in the arm to the construction industry while Help to Buy: Mortgage Guarantee has had a beneficial effect on consumer confidence, but actual lending is low. There is clamour in some quarters for this scheme to be withdrawn or scaled back; in my view the impact would be negligible.

“The single biggest issue in the market remains lack of supply. The population is increasing, household sizes are falling – so there are more of them - all leading to the pressure on prices which we are seeing in varying degrees across the country. This quarters’ Property Tracker clearly shows that consumer confidence has cooled and that people are more cautious about buying.

“The Financial Policy Committee at the Bank of England, which met yesterday^, has a wide range of tools intended to take heat out of the market. I would urge caution as the challenges in raising a deposit and the recently introduced Mortgage Market Review regulations are beginning to have an effect to dampen demand. The Committee’s tools are untested, and could prevent people from buying for an extended period without addressing the core problem of under supply.

"If the Government is serious about tackling the challenges in housing, then it should appoint a Housing Minister who sits at the heart of Government. An overarching housing strategy is urgently needed, one that looks beyond the end of the next parliament and co-ordinates the range of Government departments with an interest in and responsibility for all parts of the housing market, including infrastructure development."

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