Market sentiment continues to rise

Nationally, the proportion of people thinking that it will be a good time to sell in the next 12 months exceeded those who think it will be a bad time for the first time since the survey began in April 2011.

Half (51%) think it will be a good time to sell compared with 39% thinking it will be a bad time. This made a net balance of +12 compared with -6 in September.

Sentiment towards buying also improved with 63% of respondents expecting it to be a good time to buy in the next 12 months compared with 28% thinking it will be a bad time to buy (net balance of +35).

Respondents in the North East were the most optimistic with a balance of +50. Whilst in London the difference between those thinking that it will be a good time to buy rather than a bad time is the lowest, at +18.

The proportion thinking that it will be a good time to both buy and sell over the coming 12 months increased to 38% in December from 30% in September and was significantly higher than the 9% recorded in the survey 12 months’ ago.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “The recovery in the housing market during 2013 has resulted in a significant improvement in sentiment towards selling a property in recent months.

“This shift could provide a much needed increase in the supply of properties available for sale on the market during 2014, which would help to constrain upwards pressure on house prices.

"Whilst sentiment towards the residential property market has improved across the country, significant regional differences persist.

“The proportion thinking that it will be a bad time to sell continues to exceed those thinking it will be a good time in several parts of the country."

The headline House Price Outlook balance (i.e. the difference between the proportion of people across Britain that expect the average house price to rise rather than fall) stood at +66 in December. This was an increase of two percentage points compared with the last quarter (+64).

Nearly three-quarters (72%) of British adults predict the average UK house price will rise over the next year; up from 70% in September. Only 6% expect prices to fall – unchanged from September.

A third (34%) expect house prices to rise by up to 5% over the next 12 months with a quarter (27%) expecting an increase of between 5% and 10%.

Significantly more people expect prices to rise than fall over the next 12 months in all regions.

Ability to raise a big enough deposit (61%) and concerns about job security (56%) continue to be considered as the main barriers to being able to buy a property. There were slight improvements in both these perceived obstacles to homeownership since the last survey in September.

Concerns about rises in interest rates, however, increased slightly from 11% in September to 14%, more than reversing the decline between June and September.

Two thirds of respondents predict that the cost of private sector renting will increase over the next year, with this standing at 67% in December.