The UK housing market showed signs of stabilizing in September as borrowing costs continued to ease amid hopes the Bank of England may be finished raising interest rates, a survey found.
(Bloomberg) — The UK housing market showed signs of stabilizing in September as borrowing costs continued to ease amid hopes the Bank of England may be finished raising interest rates, a survey found.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said gauges of new buyer inquiries and sales bounced off recent lows. Sales expectations for the next 12 months edged into positive territory.
The findings add to evidence that cheaper home loans are encouraging potential buyers back into the market. RICS said those surveyed cited the Bank of England’s decision to halt its historic rate-hiking cycle last month as a boost for market sentiment.
However, it urged caution about the outlook. Most indicators are still deep in negative territory, with falling house prices now more widespread than at any time since 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis. Affordability remains “incredibly stretched” after a succession of BOE rate increases to tame inflation.
“Although the decision to pause monetary policy tightening a few weeks ago provided a glimmer of relief for the market, interest rates are likely now set to remain on hold for a prolonged period,” said Tarrant Parsons, senior economist at RICS.
“As such, it appears there is little prospect of trends deviating much from the recent picture in the immediate future. That said, the outlook a little further ahead has improved slightly, with 12-month sales expectations moving out of negative territory for the first time in several reports.”
The RICS report is one of the most forward-looking pulse checks for the housing market. Its gauges measure the difference between the share of respondents reporting a rise or a fall in prices, sales and demand.
Signs of greater stability have emerged other surveys too. Nationwide Building Society said house prices were unchanged in September after two months of declines. Analysts say the market is probably halfway through a downturn that will see prices fall around 10% from their peak last year.
Online property portal Rightmove said on Wednesday that the average two-year fixed rate mortgage rate has fallen below 6% for the first time since June after traders reined in their bets on higher interest rates. However, BOE data suggests that rates on new mortgages are still triple their level in early 2022, piling pressure on family finances when they come to renew their deals.
“A sense of predictability is returning to the UK housing market, which means buyers and sellers can better come to terms with higher mortgage rates,” said Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank. “House prices will continue to come under pressure but we think most of the correction will happen this year as demand hardens.”
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