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Moving house in 2019? Here’s what you need to know

If you're thinking of moving home in 2019, here's your update on what to expect from the market, pre and post Brexit, mortgage rates, and other changes that homeowners need to be aware of.

January 3, 2019

Moving home 2019

It’s a brand new year and it’s time to start making plans! January is the perfect time for new beginnings but if yours involves a house move you may well be feeling somewhat nervous. Last year was an interesting year for the housing market, so what can we expect in 2019? With the help of our trusted expert friends, we take a look at what you can expect.

Brexit

Ah the dreaded B word! The UK’s chaotic exit from the EU continues to cause uncertainty across the country and when it comes to housing it’s certainly causing jitters. We’re regularly asked by our members whether they should hold off from making any decisions until the picture is clearer.

Housing expert Henry Pryor says: “I expect Brexit nerves and wider uncertainty to make buyers think twice before committing to what for most is their most expensive purchase. Most I expect will want something to reflect the perceived risk that they think they are taking which for many will be a reduction or discount on the price.

“The deals done in Q1 won’t show up until the summer which will knock confidence further as it may look like the market is falling which in itself will add to uncertainty even in 12 months time.

“Those who think that things will stabilise after 29th March may have missed the fact that there is then the two year Implementation Phase culminating perhaps in a General Election if Mrs May manages to hang on that long. One party will look for confirmation of the compromise they have hammered out, the other that they would have done a better job. Either way, uncertainty looks like it will haunt the housing market long into 2021.

“Prediction is therefore especially difficult but one thing is certain; at any future date one house will still be worth one house and if you are fortunate to be able to buy them you ought to be able to take advantage of the chaos to negotiate a great deal on what you buy. Selling will remain frustrating with only half of all homes actually selling and only the best selling well.”

If you’re considering selling, while it’s obviously important to keep an eye on what’s happening in the wider market, it’s more important that you think about your own situation and what’s best for you.

Mortgage rates

2018 saw interest rates rise for only the second time in 10 years when the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee hiked rates to 0.75% in August. So what can we expect in 2019?

David Hollingworth, mortgage expert at London & Country says: “The direction of travel for rates has been a gradual increase but like any forecast for next year, it’s impossible to avoid the question of Brexit and how that might influence rate movements.  If the exit is a disorderly one there could be further weakening in the pound, resulting in upward pressure on inflation.  Higher inflation would typically be countered by higher interest rates but it’s also possible that the Bank will look through that and could even cut rates if it feels that the economy is in need of support, just as it did following the referendum in 2016.

“The mortgage market remains very competitive, so borrowers have the chance to take action and remove any guesswork by fixing their rate at a competitive level.”

New build nightmares and leasehold scandals

The new build sector was the subject of A LOT of bad press in 2018, and rightly so. Far too many buyers are moving into sub-standard new builds that cause nothing but nightmares. Unfortunately we expect this will continue this year, unless the government takes action.

Worryingly, we’re finding it’s not just new build quality that’s a growing concern, but the types of schemes liked shared ownership, issues around selling help to buy homes, and of course leasehold tenure and the myriad of problems that can bring with it.

Find out more about our campaign for better new builds here

Estate agents

2018 wasn’t the easiest of years for the estate agency sector. Onlines especially were hit hard with the closure of Hatched and eMoov falling into administration. High street agents have also been responding to a quieter market by scaling back and share prices dropping.

The good news is there are deals to be done for consumers, particularly on fees.

Furthermore, of course, with formal regulation of sales and letting agents expected next year, service levels should also improve across the board.

Mark Hayward, National Association of Estate Agents said: “As we look ahead to 2019, there’s a fog of uncertainty. Brexit is undoubtedly fueling a sense of apprehension in the housing market, which in turn affects sentiment. With details of the final deal still unknown, both buyers and sellers will continue to hold off on making any decisions. However, this slowdown presents a window of opportunity for first-time buyers who will find more affordable properties, granting them greater bargaining power.

“We usually see demand spike in the first few months of the year, but the landscape will probably be very different in 2019 as buyers sit on the fence and adopt a ‘wait and see’ strategy until the Brexit deal is complete.”

Surveys

We’ve made no secret of the fact we don’t think surveys in their current form are fit for purpose and last year the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors echoed our sentiments and is planning to introduce a new standard to ensure surveys are fit-for-purpose and help to simplify the buying process for home buyers.

Paul Bagust, RICS global property director says: “As part of our commitment to promote and enforce the highest standards in the residential sector, the new Home Survey Standard will bring together the views of consumers, cross-industry stakeholders and practitioners to become the sector best practice benchmark in achieving consistency and high quality to meet evolving client demands in the home survey market.

“Over the coming months, we will be leading an extensive public consultation to deliver a standard which ensures transparency, consistent competence and high level of service as expected from RICS professionals. Attaining the highest professional and ethical standards is vital to provide consumers assurance that work undertaken by home surveyors meets these standards.”

Whatever happens in the housing market this year, the HomeOwners Alliance will be campaigning for a better deal for homeowners. You can find out more about our current campaigns here

Dedication

This article was written by and is dedicated in loving memory to our colleague and friend Christine Toner. 


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