The E&W Housing Market August 2019
Our expectations of a strong housing focus in the recent 2020 spending review were dashed. Somewhat surprisingly, housing was not seen as a national priority for spending, with the emphasis firmly on areas such as the NHS, law and order and local government. This marked a clear change of emphasis from the previous government: however, given that it was a one-year settlement, it is possible this will change again. And given the current level of political uncertainty, further change cannot be excluded.
Indeed, in the circumstances the housing market is probably performing quite well. Mortgage approvals have risen slightly, new buyer enquiries have edged up, and first time buyers are active. Some commentators are suggesting that given uncertain timescales, households have decided to get on with it and move/buy. This attitude is probably underpinned by the current intense mortgage market competition, with 5-year fixed rate mortgages at their cheapest on record. But as is evident from the latest UK Finance Mortgage Trends update covering the first half of 2019, there has been a 2% reduction in new loans to buyers (first-time buyer loans down 0.7%, Homemover loans down 3% and buy to let down 3.7% – all figures exclude re-mortgages).