Hope yet for house prices

House prices are rising.
House prices are rising.

Estate agents hope 2014 could be a bumper year for homeowners after a lender published figures which show a sharp rise in house prices.

House prices surged by 7.4 per cent in Yorkshire over the last 12 months to reach an average of £140,684, latest figures from Nationwide revealed.

The region was slightly behind the UK average increase of 8.4 per cent, and James Watts, from Robert Watts Estates in Cleckheaton, believes the market in North Kirklees still has some work to do.

“There are signs that the change is coming,” he said. “There is currently a lack of stock in the housing market, which pushes prices up.

“The first three months of this year will be crucial in terms of where the housing market will go in the next few years.”

He added: “First-time buyers are the ones to start off chains of buying, so they are vitally important to the market, and we are seeing a rise in people buying their first houses.”

West Yorkshire house prices surged by seven per cent to an average of £152,459. One market James rates particularly highly is bungalows.

He said: “There will always be demand for bungalows in this area, as there never seem to be enough to meet demand. We also sold the more semi-detached houses last year than in any of our previous six.

“What we have to remember is that we don’t live in London – we live in West Yorkshire, and the recovery here will take time.”

But not everyone is so optimistic about the market’s future.

Ayub Kayat, MD of Silk Estates in Batley, said: “The housing market is steady at the moment because interest rates are so low, so people’s mortgage rates are good, but they cannot stay low forever.

“The cold, hard truth is that this is still a buyers’ market, as many people will struggle to pay their mortgages and will have to sell.”

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Part of the reason for the acceleration in house price growth is that the supply side of the market has not kept pace with the upturn in demand, even though buyer numbers remain subdued by historic standards.”

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) predicted that 150,000 new homes will be built across the UK during 2014 – a 20 per cent rise on 2013 levels – although this will be insufficient to meet national demand, it said.