Press release

People in the North West are the most optimistic in Britain about the housing market

The weak economic outlook and continued uncertainty about the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU are factors driving negative consumer sentiment about the housing market across the country.  However people in the North West are bucking the trend and are by far the most optimistic about their prospects in the housing market, if slightly less so than a year ago.

In research which has been carried out every quarter since June 2008, 2,000 consumers from across Britain are asked a range of questions including whether now is a good time to buy a property or not.  The index shows whether people are more negative or more positive about their prospects of buying a new home.    Only people in the North West and the West Midlands have remained positive over the past 12 months.     

Home Purchase Index   


March 2018

March 2017

Britain as a whole






South East

- 8


East of England



South West



East Midlands



West Midlands



Yorkshire & Humberside



North West



North East









 Table 1    

The survey also asks consumers to identify the more practical barriers that are holding them back from buying.  Since December 2008 the single biggest barrier in Britain has consistently been the challenge of raising a deposit.  Since March 2016 this has been a barrier identified by 60% or more of consumers, in March 2018 65% of consumers in the North West identified raising a deposit as their biggest barrier to home ownership, compared to 72% in the South East and an average of 68% across Britain as a whole.

The survey also tracks whether the requirement to pay Stamp Duty is a barrier.  The results give an indication that either first time buyers are unaware of the abolition of stamp duty for many of them in November 2017; do not see the benefit of it as the Government had hoped; or more probably,  that after the publicity the change received after the Budget it is no longer at the forefront of consumer’s minds.   Whatever the reason it is far from the most substantial barrier.


All adults % (GB)

First time buyers only % (GB)

All adults % (North West )

All adults %
(South East)

September 2017





December 2017





March 2018





Table 2

Commenting, Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy at the BSA said:

“The UK is experiencing a period of uncertainty and this is having a generally adverse effect on consumer sentiment and behaviour in the housing market.  People living in the North West seem to be bucking this trend, perhaps due to the positive focus that the Northern Powerhouse has brought to the region.  The general concerns that consumers have are clear from a Home Purchase Index that has been negative since June 2017.  How consumers are behaving can in part be demonstrated by the 6-year high in re-mortgage lending reported by the Bank of England for January 2018¹ and February figures from RICS² which showed listings and new buyer enquiries drifting lower in some regions, particularly London and the South East, remaining flat in the North West.   

“Whilst housing market activity is likely to remain muted for the remainder of 2018 there is limited good news for would-be home buyers as house prices start to cool off a little, mortgage finance remains readily available and fierce competition amongst lenders is good for consumers.  If the Bank Rate rises as anticipated by a further 0.25% in May, it will still be comparatively low by historic standards.” 

Press Office contacts

Hilary McVitty Tel: 0207 520 5926

Out of hours: 07507 837 326

Paul Broadhead is available for interview

Notes for Editors

¹¹Figures issued by The Bank of England on 26 March 2018 for January 2018 showed the highest monthly value of re-mortgage activity for the past 6 years at  £10.4 billion.

 ²RICS February UK Residential Market Survey issued on 8 March 2018

  • Further detail from the GB Property Tracker Survey.
  • Table 1: Figures are from YouGov Plc. Research from two separate surveys:
  • 1-2 March 2017, total sample size was 2,021 adults
  • 2-5 March 2018, total sample size was 2,000 adults
  • These surveys have been carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
  • Table 2: Figures are from YouGov Plc.  Research from three separate surveys:
  • 1-4 September 2017. Total sample size was 2,027 adults
  • 1-4 December 2018. Total sample size was 2,157
  • 2-5 March 2018. Total sample size was 2,000
  • These surveys have been carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+)
  • Home purchase index – respondents are asked whether now is a good time to buy a property.  The index is the difference between those who are positive and those who are negative. 
  • The Building Societies Association (BSA) represents all 44 UK building societies which between them serve 23 million members.
  • As at 31/12/17: Building societies have total assets of over £387 billion and, together with their subsidiaries, hold residential mortgages of over £298 billion, 22% of the total outstanding in the UK.
  • They hold over £268 billion of retail deposits, accounting for 18% of all such deposits in the UK. Building societies account for 35% of all cash ISA balances.
  • Societies employ approximately 40,000 full and part-time staff and operate through around 1,550 branches in addition to digital channels.

GB Home Purchase Index over time

June 2008


September 2008


Average December 2008 – December 2015


March 2016


June 2016


September 2016


December 2016


March 2017


June 2017


September 2017


December 2017


March 2018


  • Figures June 2008 – March 2012 provided by YouGov Plc
  • Figures June 2012 – March 2016 provided by Canadean Consumer
  • Figures June 2016 – March 2018 provided by YouGov Plc  
  • Average calculated by the BSA




The BSA Team

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