UK housing transactions set to jump by a fifth by 2020, but recovery depends on first-time buyers

  • New report launched today (Bricks and mortar in a digital world: fifteen years of the property market) reveals
  • Between 2015 and 2020, housing transactions are forecasted to rise from 1.23m to 1.49m
  • Econometric analysis demonstrates the importance of first-time buyers’ access to high LTV mortgages for the health of the market
  • Industry insights and predictions from leading figures over the future of the property industry

The number of property transactions is set to rise by over a fifth in five years to reach almost 1.5 million in 2020 if first-time buyers are given greater access to high loan-to-value lending, according to research commissioned by My Home Move – the UK’s leading provider of mover conveyancing services.

The increase in annual property transaction figures from the 1.23 million recorded in 2015 to the projected 1.49 million in 2020 – a rise of 21.1% – is based on an econometric forecast of property transaction volumes. This includes a 6.6% rise in property sales in 2016, compared to 2015.

The independent research has been commissioned by My Home Move* as part of a major report published today called ‘Bricks and mortar in a digital world: 15 years of the property market’ which coincides with My Home Move’s 15th anniversary.

The forecast model draws on the historic relationship between property transactions and three variables that have had the greatest impact on property turnover: average mortgage rates, unemployment figures and the average first-time buyer percentage deposit.

The forecast of transaction levels carried out for My Home Move is based on:

  • The OBR prediction for unemployment which is expected to fall slightly to 5.0% this year before rising slightly to 5.3% by 2020
  • The OBR prediction for Bank Rate which is expected to rise gradually from early 2018 to reach 1.0% by the end of 2020.**
  • As part of the research for My Home Move, the average percentage deposit for first-time buyers has been independently forecasted. This has been modelled to fall from the current 17.1% to 10.0% by late 2019 as more high LTV mortgage products come onto the market helping to make homeownership more affordable.***

As property transactions provide one of the most important measures of the overall health of the UK’s housing market, the research highlights a positive future for the market as transactions are set to advance strongly.

The impact of improved access to high LTV lending on the forecast level of transactions can be seen in the graph below.

Property transactions increase much more rapidly if first time buyer access to high LTV loans improves

The report from My Home Move, (Bricks and mortar in a digital world: 15 years of the property market), also includes predictions on the future of the property market from leading figures in the UK property market including:

  • Michael Bruce, Purplebricks
  • David Livesey, Connells
  • Peter Williams, Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association
  • Robert Sinclair, Association of Mortgage Intermediaries
  • Miles Shipside, Rightmove
  • James Knightley, ING

The report is available on request.

Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move, comments on the forecast: 

“Although house prices have improved since the economic crash, property transaction levels, which are a key indicator of market health, are yet to return to their peak of 2007. This report highlights the critical importance of unlocking access to high loan-to-value mortgage products for first-time buyers, if we are to see transaction volumes grow and the health of the market remain.

“The forecast shows that the number of home purchases could see a dramatic improvement if access to home ownership for first-time buyers is nurtured. In particular, we need more lending to those with smaller deposits so that average deposit sizes for first-time buyers fall to 10%. However, reaching this would require a coordinated effort from across the industry sooner rather than later: from house builders to ensure the supply is there; from lenders to provide the high loan-to-value lending that first time buyers depend on; and from those of us who support first-time buyers with their purchase to ensure that buying a home is as easy as it can be.

“It couldn’t be clearer how important first-time buyers are in ensuring a healthy future for the property market as a whole.”

* The econometric forecast has been carried out by Rob Thomas, Director of Research at Instinctif Partners and formerly a Bank of England economist, high profile analyst at the investment bank UBS and senior policy adviser to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

** Office of Budget Responsibility forecasts published 16th March 2016

*** Source for historic data on FTB mortgage sizes: CML

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