“There is at last optimism for the year ahead – but things are still on a knife edge”, warns NAPB

THE PROPERTY market remains “on a knife-edge” but there are signs of green shoots heading into 2024, a leading association has said.

Data released last week showed that house prices recorded a second month of growth.

The Nationwide House Price Index showed average values were 0.2% higher, building on the 0.9% increase it measured in October.

Commenting on the figures Jonathan Rolande, from the National Association of Property Buyers, said: “There is a feeling amongst property insiders that, barring an unforeseen disaster, the worst of the market is now behind us.

“It looks unlikely interest rates will rise further and buyers have now become used to the ‘new normal’.

“Sellers, sensible ones at least, realise they will not now get the dizzying prices of 2021 and are being more realistic, closing the gap towards a potential buyer’s expectation. Banks are cutting rates, first-time buyers are emerging again, many prompted to buy by the appalling state of the rental sector.

“There is at last optimism for the year ahead but things are still on a knife edge. The early part of 2024 will dictate whether the optimism is thanks to green-shoots of recovery or just plain wishful thinking.

“I am keen to see transaction volumes increase, as opposed to prices rising. The market has been sluggish for long enough and low sales volumes are bad for everybody in the market.”

The Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has made it clear he does not expect the Bank to announce interest rate cuts for the foreseeable future – denting some confidence in markets that the Bank rate could slip back to 5% in June.

It currently stands at 5.25%.

Housing market experts say the pause to rate hikes, which started in September, would continue to help support prices in the coming months, barring any shocks, amid the lack of any stimulus to support activity.