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Is there any room for optimism on house prices?

Despite the worst run of month-to-month price declines since 2008, three market insiders see reasons to believe the market may rebound.

Common threads include persistent shortfalls in supply and easing mortgage rates, along with an ongoing readjustment from the impact of pandemic lockdowns

The Nationwide House Price Index marked its fourth consecutive month-on-month decline in December – and also the fourth consecutive monthly price fall

But “we should not panic,” said Rob Clifford, chief executive of Stonebridge, a mortgage brokerage. Clifford said recent figures should be viewed in the context of the immediate aftermath of the ‘mini budget’ when mortgage rates increased dramatically, a large number of products were withdrawn, and affordability concerns meant many would-be purchasers needed to revisit their plans to buy.

Since early December, the mortgage market has started to move on, however.

“We have lenders returning to most lending segments, rates dropping and a market that is looking more like the pre-‘mini budget’ one,” Clifford said.

He also noted that house price data should be viewed in the context of the past two years of double-digit increases in property prices.

“We simply do not build enough homes to meet demand, and that has been the case for years,” he said.

Clifford expects prices will continue to plateau throughout the rest of the year and into next, but if inflation does begin to fall and mortgage rates follow suit, this could provide an environment in which would-be buyers can get on the ladder and home movers can be in a position to trade up.

“Homeownership remains a cornerstone of aspiration for most people in the UK; that will not change and, unless we can match the demand to buy with supply, house prices will continue to reflect this in the long term,” he said.

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