Housing market sentiment falls sharply amidst continuing Brexit uncertainty

The BSA's quarterly Property Tracker shows a third of people across Great Britain (33%) expect house prices to fall over the next 12 months, up from 24% in June 2019.  Just 23% of the population believe that house prices will rise.

Released today, the BSA’s quarterly Property Tracker survey shows that:

  • Housing market sentiment falls to second lowest level since the EU referendum
  • A growing number of people across the UK expect house prices to fall

Confidence in the Housing Market

The Property Tracker Survey questions a minimum of 2,000 adults across Great Britain every three months.  For the past 10 years the same question about whether now is a good time to buy a home has been asked.  The resulting index provides a snapshot of consumer confidence in the housing market. 

At its peak in December 2009 the index stood at +42. In March 2017 before the EU Referendum and the snap General Election it was +5. Since then it has been in negative territory with more consumers disagreeing with the statement that now is a good time to buy a property than those who agreed. 

At its lowest point, in December 2018, the index stood at minus 14. In September 2019 the figure fell to minus 12 from minus 5 in June 2019. This indicates that at least discretionary home purchases may be on hold.

House prices and barriers to home ownership            

A third of people across Great Britain (33%) expect house prices to fall over the next 12 months, up from 24% in June 2019.  Just 23% of the population believe that house prices will rise.  

There are regional variations, with 27% in the North East of England expecting prices to fall. This compares to 40% of people in the East of England – well above the national average of 33%.

Raising a deposit has been the biggest barrier to homeownership since the Property Tracker survey began over a decade ago. Although today’s results show that although it remains the biggest barrier at 60%, it is down from 64% in June - and is now the lowest it has been since December 2015.

Paul Broadhead, BSA Head of Mortgages & Housing comments:

“With the level of political uncertainty the country is experiencing, it is unsurprising that consumer confidence in the housing market, amongst other things has taken a knock. In the coming weeks and months, as we find out what shape Brexit will take, we are hopeful that confidence and stability will begin to return.

“We will be monitoring closely the barriers to homeownership. It is positive that raising a deposit has become a slightly lesser concern to would-be homeowners, but with the Help to Buy ISA scheme drawing to a close from November this could easily change. Some are turning to a Lifetime ISA (LISA) which follows a similar structure to the Help to Buy ISA. Currently 3 of the 4 cash LISA providers are building societies.

“Aspiring homeowners are encouraged to speak to their local building society to find out their best options, and how to make the most of their savings when raising a deposit for that all-important property purchase.”


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Notes to editors

  • You can read the full September 2019 Property Tracker survey report here.
  • The Property Tracker survey is conducted quarterly by YouGov Plc for the Building Societies Association.
  • Total sample size was 2,090 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between August 30 and September 2 2019. Surveys are carried out online. Figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.
  • Figures between June 2012 and March 2016 are from Canadean Consumer.  For all other dates research was carried out by YouGov.  Therefore, caution should be taken when comparing results across these periods.
  • The Building Societies Association (BSA) represents all 43 UK building societies, as well as 5 credit unions. Building societies have total assets of £415 billion and, together with their subsidiaries, hold residential mortgages almost £330 billion, 23% of the total outstanding in the UK. They hold over £280 billion of retail deposits, accounting for 19% of all such deposits in the UK. Building societies account for 37% of all cash ISA balances. They employ approximately 42,500 full and part-time staff and operate through approximately 1,470 branches.
  • The Property Tracker Index represents the proportion agreeing ‘now is a good time to buy’ minus those who did not agree. Respondents who answered 'don't know' are not included.
  • Data tables for the standard questions can be downloaded here: www.bsa.org.uk/information/statistics/bsa-property-tracker/