The housing market has been a driver for investment income for so many years now that there’s barely a day goes by without an article in one of the national papers telling us the boom is back or the bubble is about to burst.

What’s really going to happen?

Well I’m going to be honest and say, whether you’re asking me when I write this, in January 2020, or when you’re reading it – which might be in weeks, months or even years to come – the answer, of course, is no one knows.

If we could foretell the future, then we’d all be lottery millionaires.

But many of the things that do influence the property market are quite intuitive – local employment drives demand; overall confidence (or lack of it) in the national economy drives prices up; if there’s net migration into a local area, then demand rises and that should impact prices positively; as does specific demands, for example areas popular for retirement homes or homes for first time buyers.

So you can think about these factors in your local area, and assess how you think they’re going to change over the next year or two, before deciding whether or not to buy.

Of course, for most of us, buying property still means one thing above all else – buying a home to live in. So we might not want or be able to wait.

If that’s true for you, then it’s really a case of considering the main thing – does the property you’re interested in meet your needs? Does it feel like home?

If you answer yes and yes, then chances are you’ll be expecting to live in your new home for long enough that you’ll ride out most factors that could negatively influence ‘the market’.

Reading the newspapers at present, it’s clear the pundits think the UK housing market is unlikely to see much price inflation anywhere in 2019, and that’s the view of the professionals too: see, for example, the most recent UK Residential Market Survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The big trends everyone1 seems to agree on at the current time (spring 2020) are:

  • In the past two years, sales activity has declined and overall sales volumes for the rest of 2019 look likely to stay flat or decrease slightly again.
  • In most areas, outright falls in house prices will be avoided, because there are still not enough homes for the number of people wanting to buy a home of their own – so demand remains steady nationally – but there will be local exceptions.
  • In the short term, Brexit uncertainties will impact demand. We all like a bit of clarity around the big decisions we make, so many people will hold off moving, which might mean you can find a bargain, if someone needs to sell in a hurry in the short term.
  • There is also a dip in construction at present, so the number of new properties being added to the market will not be sufficient to match overall demand.

Nationwide reported the average price of a home in January rose 0.1% from a year earlier, to £211,966. However, there are big regional variations. While prices have been falling for some time in London and parts of the south-east, values are still growing in the Midlands and northern England, and RICS expects this might also remain true in Wales and most of Scotland.

You should always bear in mind that any valuation of a property is a matter of the valuer’s opinion, rather than a matter of fact. What’s important, for you, is whether their official valuation (which is the maximum a lender will be willing to offer you), plus any savings you have, will match the asking price of your dream home? (Check our blog on surveys to see advice on adjusting your offer if work needs to be done to the property you like.)

And if you’re fortunate enough to be looking at property purely as an investment, then always seek out a professional advisor, who can take you through all the issues to consider: not just the asking price, but including things such as tax on your immediate rental income.