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A Hopeful Start
The 2023 property market started strong while still reacting to the mini-budget impact in September 2022. Forecasts for the year were fruitful, with predictions for the best buy-to-let areas and interest rates to decrease below 4%.
In April, first-time buyers (FTBs) found the average asking price was hitting an all-time high of £225,000. This meant that saving for a 10% deposit of £22,500 proved most difficult. Despite this, FTBs remained one of the largest groups to buy in May, seeing a 6% increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.
The Rise of Interest Rates
Here came the turn the 2023 property market was not expecting. To combat inflation and bring it down to 2% from 8.7%, the BOE raised the base rate to above 5%. This sudden rather than steady increase was a tactic to make it more expensive to borrow money, hoping that people would opt to save money while price increases cooled.
However, research proved that the average mortgage rate between 1995 and 2022 was 5.62%. Following the low mortgage rates of the pandemic which we grew accustomed to, this meant that it was more the sudden rise back to average rates than the rate itself that shook the market.
House prices began to reduce across the country. According to Rightmove, asking prices decreased by an average of 1.9% between November and December, which is a steeper fall than usual. As for sales, they average 20 weeks rather than 16 weeks from listing to completion.
However, with the BOE holding the base rate at 5.25% since November, it is safe to say that mortgage rates have peaked. Could this end to the 2023 property market be a hopeful one?
2023 Property Market
Overall, the 2023 property market experienced lower-than-predicted house price falls and higher-than-anticipated mortgage rates. The rising interest rates have stretched the affordability for many who were planning to move. However, 5-year fixed-rate mortgages have been falling below 5% since their initial rise in July. This alongside rising incomes is improving buying power. However, house prices must fall further to offset the high interest rates. The rebalancing continues!
This year has surely been a rollercoaster. The 2023 property market somersaulted from buyers preferring smaller deposits and relying on mortgage repayments at the start of the year to more cash buyers entering the market due to mortgage affordability pressures.
Currently, while mortgage rates remain historically high compared to recent levels, the mortgage market is much calmer. Both mortgage rates and rental growth have reached their peak, meaning more stability for homebuyers into 2024.
Read our Property Market Forecast for 2024. We cover projected house prices, mortgage rates, rental demand, and what should happen in the market next year to revive activity.
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