There is very little consensus among property professionals and media outlets as to what on earth is going on with UK house prices. After 18 months of surging values and levels of demand that haven’t been seen in years if not decades, the market stands at the edge of the unknown and there doesn’t seem to be any clear knowledge as to what happens next.
Instead of clarity and useful insight, projections of the near future for UK housing are varied and often contradictory.
In the FT, we have reports from major housebuilder Persimmon saying that the UK housing market is returning to normal, suggesting that seasonal housing market patterns are ‘starting to resume after disruption caused by lockdowns, government stimulus and lifestyle changes’.
But in the Guardian we read that house prices aren’t going to fall for a decade or so, based on research from HSBC that states, among many compelling arguments, that around £250 billion is currently stored in deposit savings accounts, money that is waiting to be spent on property over the coming months and years.
There are many reports saying that the housing market is currently a bubble about to burst, that house prices are hugely inflated and that, in a sudden collapse, they will drop causing havoc for recent buyers and the wider UK economy. But then we read analysis from the Investors Chronicle that there is no bubble at all and that housebuilder Taylor Wimpey says we have an ‘entirely healthy and stable housing market’.
The Express has chosen to sit on the fence, reporting that experts say that house prices are dropping but that buyers ‘should be cautious’ – whatever that means! And Yahoo! News has been equally noncommittal by saying that the ‘red-hot’ housing market ‘may cool a bit in the coming months’, but then again, it may not.
Furthermore, there are endless reports saying that prices will not drop until supply increases, in other words, until more new homes are built and sold on the market. Most experts say that this new supply is not likely to arrive any time soon, but the Financial Reporter then suggests that supply has already increased enough for the market to show signs of stabilising.
For the general consumer, the everyday homebuyer, these conflicted reports are a minefield. What are we meant to do? Should we be rushing to buy a new home now, or would that be madness? Would we be wiser to wait? And if we wait, how long will we be waiting for? So many questions, very few clear, reliable answers.
It’s enough to make you wonder if any experts or reporters, including this one right here, are worth listening to at all. Do we actually know anything of substance? At the moment, it appears not and one can’t help but feel that until more reliable insight is provided, buyer anxiety will remain so high that prices will never fall.