Tue 16 Jan 2024
How would you fix the crisis in the housing market? Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told This is Money: ‘First, by building more. Increasing the amount of affordable housing, including that built by local authorities, is key. Second, we need an easier planning system. The planning process is so protracted and time consuming that it acts as a deterrent to many to increase supply even though it is so desperately needed. Third, I think there needs to be more help for first-time buyers.’
The average UK house price will fall one per cent next year, according to Rightmove. Jeremy Leaf told City AM that the forecast is ‘quite encouraging’ bearing in mind the portal looks at asking, rather than selling, prices. ‘Such a modest change is unlikely to have much bearing on buyers’ intentions one way or another,’ he said. 'Certainly, we have seen over the past month or two activity has remained fairly consistent despite rocketing interest and inflation rates.'
The average UK house price jumped again in November, according to the Halifax. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard: ‘Of course, the shortage of stock is supporting house prices. There is no doubt either that recent falls in inflation and mortgage rates as well as the continuing strong employment figures have improved confidence in the market.'
Meanwhile, asking prices are not faring as strongly, with Rightmove reporting that they fell nearly 2 per cent month-on-month in November. Jeremy Leaf told The Guardian: ‘Asking prices are not values but often an agent’s aspirational starting point to marketing. Overall, sales agreed are down as transactions are inevitably taking longer bearing in mind weaker demand and higher base rates. However, recent reductions in mortgage rates, and inflation not rising quite as rapidly, has given the market a bit of a kick when needed.’
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also reported a fall in annual house prices although its figures are more historic as it is reporting on October’s data. Jeremy Leaf told The Independent: ‘Buyers and sellers are taking heart from the pause in interest rate rises and falls in mortgage payments and inflation, as well as continuing strong employment. Looking forward, the signs for the new year are more promising than they may have been only a few short months ago.'
London rents rose at the highest rate since records began in 2023, according to the ONS. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard that the rises were unsurprising due to the shortage of stock but warned that Londoners may not be able to cope were they to go any higher. ‘We have noticed in our offices a reluctance to keep chasing rents and an affordability ceiling finally having an impact on many tenants,’ he said.