Agents are becoming more confident about a busy Spring market after the Bank of England held interest rates for the fourth consecutive time at 5.25%.
The cost of borrowing remains at a 15-year high and the central bank has hinted that rate cuts could be a while away, but property professionals remain optimistic.
Jason Tebb, president of OnTheMarket, said: “Numerous rate rises and the high cost of living have inevitably impacted activity as they have heightened borrower concerns around affordability. That said, the housing market has proved remarkably resilient, with transaction numbers softening rather than falling off a cliff.
“Agents report a busy start to the year with motivated buyers and sellers keen to get on with their moves after a period of sitting on their hands and waiting for mortgage rates to improve.”
Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, added: “The upside of Bank of England’s inaction provides stability to the market, allowing buyer and seller confidence to build after a subdued year of activity.
“Across the Jackson-Stops network we are already seeing a positive uptick in the number of prospective buyers and new properties coming onto the market in January, which will hopefully pave the way for a busy spring. Though the market will remain cautious in its optimism; only as the year progresses will we be able to determine more clearly how buyers behaviour will respond.”
Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, is also sticking to the agent’s revised forecasts that house prices will rise this year.
He said: “The decision to hold was never in doubt but the fact inflation is due to fall notably faster than previously guided by the Bank of England is good news for the housing market.
“For anyone buying or remortgaging, the Bank of England’s cautious tone should be weighed against the fact lenders set their fixed rates based on market expectations, irrespective of whether they come true or not. As the economic outlook improves, we expect UK house prices to rise by 3% this year
Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, said: “It is positive to see that many people intending to buy their first home or sell their current one won’t be hindered by an increase in interest rates.
“However, it is now time for the UK Government to continue to curb inflation so that interest rates can fall further to help ease the backlash this has had on people’s affordability. They should make 2024 the year consumers start to enjoy some confidence again following three years of disruption to the economy.”