Belfast Telegraph

House prices set to rise but general election may have impact on market

By Simon Read

Are house prices going to carry on rising this year?

The Halifax reckons growth will continue with property prices climbing between 3-5% in 2015.

"Housing demand should be supported by continuing economic recovery, growth in employment and still low mortgage rates," says Halifax's housing economist, Martin Ellis.

But there are concerns that May's general election will hit property prices. However, Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, reckons there's little to worry about.

"A general election will always cause uncertainty, whichever party is likely to come in to power and any uncertainty may result in a temporary lull.

"However, we don't believe this will have long-lasting implications on the market." In fact, the changes to stamp duty announced in the Autumn Statement may have a greater impact.

"The stamp duty reforms will have two effects," said Fionnuala Earley, research director at Hamptons International.

"First to give buyers more to spend and second to make it slightly easier for them to pass affordability tests.

"The largest effect is likely to be felt in the first half of 2015, mitigating some of the usual slowdown we'd expect in the run-up to an election."

Meanwhile, homeowners are confused about rising interest rates. Six in 10 say they have no idea when it could happen, according to Barclays Mortgages.

That's hardly surprising as experts have changed their views several times in recent months, although the consensus is that rates won't rise until after May's general election. However, more alarming is the statistic that almost half don't know the current bank base rate.

The Centre for Economics and Business Research predicts that at the minimum, mortgage payments could increase by £81 a year by the end of 2015 as a result of possible base rate rises. If the base rate were to increase sharply, typical mortgage payments could climb by £119 a year.

And it seems there's a mortgage war bubbling away with lenders fighting to outdo each other with ever-better deals.

One new offering is a 10-year fixed rate deal at just 2.99%, which is the lowest-ever rate for such a decade-long loan.

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