Will house prices drop in 2021? Experts views on how housing market will change this year

14 Jan 2021

Buyers and sellers face some big changes this year, including the end to a stamp duty holiday and the unpredictability of the coronavirus crisis.

Here, we look ahead to find out what the experts think will happen to house prices over the next year: 

Will house prices fall in 2021? 

Mortgage lender Halifax reckons in general, house prices will fall over the next year by as much as 6%.

This would almost wipe out all of the gains seen in the "mini boom" in the second half of 2020

The lender, which monitors UK house prices, said that fresh national lockdowns and a sharp rise in unemployment is expected to bring property prices down. 

It added there are already signs the market is slowing. Prices in December rose by 0.2%, the slowest monthly rise in the past six months. 

The Centre for Economics and Businesses Research (CEBR) said it also expects prices to fall by 5% over 2021. 

"With the pace of the UK's economic recovery expected to be constrained by the renewed national lockdown, and unemployment widely predicted to rise in the coming months, downward pressure on house prices remains likely as we move through 2021," said Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax.

However, property portal Zoopla says it expects to see prices rise by 5% by February before it slows to 1% by the end of the year. 

Richard Donnell, director of research and insight at Zoopla, said: “We expect housing demand to slow further over 2021 and this will ease the upward pressure on prices which we expect to be 1% higher by December 2021.

"Lower sales volumes over the second half of 2021 and a growing scarcity of supply will offset weaker demand and support headline pricing levels."

Where will house prices fall the most?

Many city workers seized the opportunity to move to the suburbs in 2020, thanks to the government’s prolonged working from home guidance

The first lockdown created a thirst for more rooms, outdoor space and cheaper property. 

Research by online mortgage brokers Trussle found that an overwhelming 71% of first-time buyers are now planning to buy in towns and rural locations.

It means house prices outside the city may see a boost if this trend continues into 2021. 

What help is out there for first-time buyers?

GETTING on the property ladder can feel like a daunting task but there are schemes out there to help first-time buyers have their own home.

Help to Buy Isa - It's a tax-free savings account where for every £200 you save, the Government will add an extra £50. But there's a maximum limit of £3,000 which is paid to your solicitor when you move. These accounts have now closed to new applicants but those who already hold one have until November 2029 to use it.

Help to Buy equity loan - The Government will lend you up to 20% of the home's value - or 40% in London - after you've put down a 5% deposit. The loan is on top of a normal mortgage but it can only be used to buy a new build property.

Lifetime Isa - This is another Government scheme that gives anyone aged 18 to 39 the chance to save tax-free and get a bonus of up to £32,000 towards their first home. You can save up to £4,000 a year and the Government will add 25% on top.

Shared ownership - Co-owning with a housing association means you can buy a part of the property and pay rent on the remaining amount. You can buy anything from 25% to 75% of the property but you're restricted to specific ones.

"First dibs" in London - London Mayor Sadiq Khan is working on a scheme that will restrict sales of all new-build homes in the capital up to £350,000 to UK buyers for three months before any overseas marketing can take place.

Starter Home Initiative - A Government scheme that will see 200,000 new-build homes in England sold to first-time buyers with a 20% discount by 2020. To receive updates on the progress of these homes you can register your interest on the Starter Homes website.

In contrast, city centre homes saw prices dip slightly in 2020, particularly in London where they fell by as much as 1.5% in some boroughs, according to Halifax. 

But Tom Scarborough, boss of online estate agent Movewise, believes buyers will be heading back to the city by the end of the year. 

“Nobody wanted to buy a flat or house without outside space during lockdown unless they were getting a property at a bargain price,” he said. 

“This negative effect on these sections of the housing market will hopefully start to unwind in the latter half of 2021, when city life starts to normalise.

“If this happens, we should see demand rise and prices recovering from a weak 2020."

Meanwhile, Jason Harris-Cohen, managing director of Openpropertygroup.com, feels house prices in the north will see a modest rise as buyers look to relocate from the expensive south. 

He also points out that the government’s Towns Fund will see £3.6billion invested in over 100 towns across the UK as part of its plans to “level-up” the country. 

Mr Harris-Cohen said: “This is an exciting opportunity and will deliver regeneration which will inevitably lead to more desirable places for people to want to own their own homes."

What does it mean for first time buyers?

Stiff competition from second-steppers plus tougher lending restrictions meant there was a decline in the number of first-time buyers getting on the property ladder last year. 

Many lenders pulled their high loan to value deposits, spooked by the prospects of unemployment and further coronavirus restrictions.

Figures from Moneyfacts showed that at the beginning of March there were 391 deals for first-time buyers with a 5% deposit, but by June there were just 16.

There were also several lenders that banned buyers from using gifts from friends and family to help cover the cost of a deposit. 

But ReallyMoving’s Rob Houghton says there are reasons to be hopeful if you’re a first-time buyer in 2021. 

He said: "2021 could see a reversal in fortunes for first time buyers as lenders return to the market, competition for homes is reduced and price inflation readjusts downwards."

Article by Hollie Borland, The Sun.

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