by – PA Media for The Guardian

Price rises predicted to ease, but increases in 2021 still may make it difficult for first-time buyers.

The year ahead could bring more stability to the UK housing market after a bumper year in 2021 when frenzied homebuyer activity pushed prices to record highs.

A stamp duty holiday that ended in 2021 helped to fuel about 1.5m house purchases across the UK last year, the highest number since before the global financial crisis.

Huge flexible working changes also prompted many people to relocate.

According to trade association UK Finance, 2021 was the strongest year for mortgage lending since 2007. It estimates that £316bn of home loans were given, the highest figure since the £357bnrecorded 14 years ago.

James Tatch, the head of data and research at UK Finance, said: “We’re seeing a return to a stable path for new lending” for 2022 onwards.

He said a little bit more remortgaging activity was expected to take place in 2022 and that this could accelerate further in 2023.

In two years’ time, a rump of five-year fixed-rate mortgage deals will end, and borrowers will be looking to refinance these loans.

“That will provide a boost to remortgage numbers,” Tatch said.

The trend of people moving out of cities as a result of more flexible working conditions could persist. “It seems like it hasn’t run out of steam yet,” he said.

With house prices reaching record levels in 2021, housing affordability for first-time buyers may continue to be stretched.

UK house prices rose by an average of nearly £24,000 in 2021, to a record high of £254,822

Higher outgoings generally from inflation, which hit 5.1% in November, could mean some people have less income to spend on their mortgage.

Tatch said: “We’re seeing a slightly more challenging environment for first-time buyers compared to pre-Covid because of these house price rises.”

According to the property professionals’ body Propertymark, there were just 20 homes available on average per estate agency branch by November 2021, the lowest figure in records going back two decades.

Read the full article – The Guardian