The today’s drop in UK inflation to 4.6% from 6.7% in September has several implications for the Leicester property market:
Mortgage Rates and Housing Market Sentiment: The drop in inflation is expected to influence the Bank of England’s decisions regarding interest rates. With inflation falling more than expected and core inflation also reducing, there’s a growing belief that the Bank of England might keep rates on hold, as evidenced by the recent pause in rate hikes. This expectation is affecting the UK property market, with two-year fixed mortgage rates already dipping below 5% for the first time in five months, and major mortgage lenders like Halifax and HSBC joining the trend. This reduction in mortgage rates is likely to boost home buying affordability and should lead to increased activity in the housing market.
Investor Sentiment and Housebuilders’ Stocks: The lower inflation rate has been positively received by investors, leading to a rise in the stock prices of UK housebuilders like Barratt Developments, Taylor Wimpey, and Berkeley Group. This uptick is another indicator of a more optimistic outlook for the property sector.
Challenges and Uncertainties: Despite the decrease in inflation, the UK economy faces stagnation and a risk of recession, which could influence consumer confidence and spending, including in the property market. Additionally, while the news of declining inflation is positive, it’s essential to note that prices are still rising at a rate over double the government’s target. This scenario, coupled with the fact that arrears continue to increase, suggests that the housing market still faces challenges and uncertainties.
Future Rate Cuts Possibility: Investors are increasingly betting on Bank of England rate cuts next year, with expectations of three 0.25% reductions in the Bank Rate by December 2024 with the first cut by June 2024. If these base rate cuts materialise, they could further improve mortgage affordability and stimulate the property market.
Government Policy and Fiscal Measures: The government’s approach to fiscal policy, especially in the upcoming budget, could significantly impact the property market. If the Chancellor introduces measures that support the housing market, it could positively influence home ownership and property investments.
In summary, the drop in UK inflation is likely to bring some added relief to the Leicester property market, particularly through lower mortgage rates and improved investor sentiment.
However, economic uncertainties, including the risk of recession and the ongoing challenges in the wider economy, suggest a cautious approach to predicting the future of the UK (and Leicester) property market.