Housing market optimism 'growing'

Essex County Standard: Consumer optimism over the housing market is on the rise, according to a new survey Consumer optimism over the housing market is on the rise, according to a new survey

Consumer optimism in the housing market is growing, but so are fears over job security, the Building Societies Association (BSA) has said.

Four out of 10 people expect house prices to rise this year, up from a third when the survey was last carried out in December 2011, the BSA's Property Tracker study found.

Consumers in the South East are the most "bullish" in the UK, with 53% forecasting price rises, compared with 30% of people in Wales, who are the least optimistic according to the survey.

Despite the overall improvement, 56% of people cited job fears as a barrier to the market recovering, up from 54% in December.

Women and people aged between 45 and 54 are particularly concerned about deteriorating employment conditions, the BSA said.

The proportion of people who see stamp duty as a barrier has also risen, from 10% three months ago to 12%, which may reflect the impact of the ending of a two-year stamp duty concession for first-time buyers next week, the study suggested.

Paul Broadhead, head of mortgage policy at the BSA, said: "The majority of home purchases are made because a consumer wants, rather than needs, to move house. This means that consumer sentiment is a useful leading indicator of future sales activity in the housing market.

"It is good to see some positive indicators, price change or an expectation of price change can stimulate activity although inevitably it isn't good news for all."

Some 17% of those surveyed are planning to buy property in the near future. This is made up of first-time buyers (6%), home movers (8%), and buy-to-let investors (3%). Despite the lack of optimism found in Wales about house prices rising, people in Wales are the most keen to buy a house, with 23% of respondents looking to buy, particularly first-time buyers (14%).

In London 22% of respondents intend to buy a new home, while the lowest intentions to buy were recorded in the West Midlands and the East of England, where 13% of people plan to purchase a property in the near future. More than six in 10 of the 2,044 people surveyed this month said they own their own home. Of these home owners, 84% have no immediate intention to move.

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