Residential Property Review – December 2023 

Sellers knock £18,000 off asking prices

Sellers accepted an average discount of £18,000 on their property sale in November 2023 – the highest average price cut in five years. 

This is according to property portal Zoopla, which stated that high mortgage rates are continuing to impact housing affordability for buyers – meaning that sellers are having to adjust to a market where buyers don’t have the money to meet their asking prices. As such, they can either reduce the asking price to what buyers can afford or wait it out until things improve.

Zoopla experts don’t think sellers will have to wait for too long. Its Executive Director of Research, Richard Donnell, commented, “Financial markets expect the Bank of England to start cutting rates around the summer of 2024. If mortgage rates start to fall further, this will support an improvement in demand and sales volumes later in 2024.”

Want to be happy? Here’s where to live

There are many things that make people happy – their family, their job, their hobbies… and, of course, the place they call home. 

Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index reveals the happiest places to live in the UK. The Index is based on factors such as community spirit, nearby green spaces, and a sense of belonging.

And the happiest place to live in 2023 is… Richmond upon Thames. Taking the top spot from last year’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall, the borough in south-west London has – according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan – “so much of what makes London special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture.”

In second place is the city of Winchester in Hampshire, followed by Monmouth, Wales, in third.

Buy-to-let lending to drop by 53%

Research from UK Finance suggests that investors are increasingly staying away from the residential property market, with buy-to-let purchase lending projected to fall by £8bn (53%) in 2023. 

The trade body also predicted that lending will fall by a further £1bn (13%) in 2024.

This fall is often attributed to the government’s decision to replace mortgage Income Tax relief with a 20% tax credit – a policy that is becoming ever more punishing for landlords with the increase in mortgage rates.

James Tatch, Head of Analytics at UK Finance, commented, “2023 was a challenging year for both prospective and existing mortgage borrowers, facing affordability pressures from higher interest rates and the increased cost of living, as well as house prices still at elevated levels relative to income.

With these pressures unlikely to ease significantly in the short term, we expect lending to remain weak in 2024, with a gradual improvement in affordability reflected in a modest increase in activity levels in 2025.”

All details are correct at the time of writing (20/12/23)

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