UK Housing Market Sees Optimistic Start to 2024

The UK housing market has kicked off 2024 on a positive note, with new seller asking prices increasing by 0.9% in January. This rise, equivalent to £3,091, takes the average asking price for a UK home to £362,839, according to data from leading property site, Rightmove.

This upward shift marks the first time in six months that the annual price change figure has been in positive territory, now up 0.1% compared to a year ago. While this could be attributed to a seasonal increase in activity, property experts are optimistic about the market’s performance at the start of the year.

Michelle Niziol, CEO at IMS Property Group in Oxfordshire, comments, “There’s a sense of optimism, helped hugely by mortgage rates dropping in recent months. It’s been a positive start to the year, particularly when compared to the slower pace of this time last year.”

Rightmove’s data also revealed a 16% increase in agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 compared to the same period last year. This suggests that despite the high mortgage rates and cost of living crisis, some market participants believe now is a good time to buy.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, shares this cautious optimism. He says, “While some would-be buyers will continue to be affected by elevated mortgage rates and major affordability constraints, many other prospective buyers who can afford to do so, have acted fast and demonstrated their belief that 2024 is their year to get moving.”

For sellers, the market also shows promise. Rightmove reports a 16% increase in agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 compared to the same period last year. However, it’s worth noting that the average time to sell is at its slowest since 2015, making it crucial for sellers to price their properties correctly from the outset.

As for mortgage rates, they have fallen from their summer highs but remain elevated compared to the long-term average. The outlook for rate cuts remains uncertain, with the Bank of England holding the base rate steady at 5.25% at its last four rate-setting meetings.

In conclusion, the UK housing market has shown signs of optimism at the start of 2024. However, both buyers and sellers must remain cautious and informed to navigate the still complex property landscape successfully.

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