Following the Autumn Statement from the Government on 17 November 2022 and the update from the OBR that followed, we thought it would be beneficial to share some of the highlights, as well as our thoughts around the potential impact on our Tavistock and Okehampton property markets. Read on to hear more from , Director at Miller Town & Country.
Following the Autumn Statement from the Government on 17th November 2022 and the update from the OBR that followed, we thought it would be beneficial to share some of the highlights, as well as our thoughts around the potential impact on our Tavistock and Okehampton property markets. Read on to hear more from John Simmons, Director at Miller Town & Country.
No Big Surprises
Although the news regarding the overall state of the economy was fairly sobering, confirming that we are now in a recession, this was in line with predictions made ahead of the statement and in lockstep with the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR), so we did not see the market turmoil we did after the mini-budget in September – definitely a good thing!
Inflation & Interest Rates
While still eye-wateringly high, OBR does not believe that inflation will now reach the previously predicted peaks of ~13%, instead it is forecast to peak just over 11% in 4Q22, equating to a calendar year average of 9.1%, which is forecast to drop to 7.4% by mid next year, and more sharply after that. Leading on from that, Interest rates are now not predicted to get as high (peaking at around 5% in the second half of 2023 vs. the previously predicted 6.2%), which has helped to calm an already stabilizing mortgage market, giving lenders the confidence they need to lend and meaning good news for mortgage rates. Yes, rates will be higher than the historic lows we have seen over the past couple of years but are still lower than longer range norms.
Cost of Living
Household incomes are forecast to decrease by a concerning 7% in next few years once rising prices are taken into account, and it will take another five years before the pound in our household pocket is back to where it was last year. Food & drink prices have risen 14.5% in the year to September, with increases exacerbated by the weak pound, but food inflation is predicted to ease significantly at the end of 2023.
Energy prices are of course also contributing to cost of living pressures. As expected, there will not be a further extension of the relief that is currently in place, leading to bill of up to £3000/yr for average household from April (vs. up to £2500/yr at the moment), as unit price subsidies will not be renewed – this means an additional £500/year in energy spend for the average household. Lower income and vulnerable households will however be entitled to additional support.
The main tax headline in last week’s announcement was that the threshold at which higher rate of 45% is paid has been decreased from £150,000 to £125,140, meaning a higher tax bill for high earners. However, although there have not been threshold changes for the lower tax bands, the personal allowance has been frozen until 2028, effectively decreasing take-home pay for future years. Tax-free allowances for dividends and capital gains are also due to be lowered in 2023 & 2024.
The Stamp Duty cuts that were announced in September have now become more of an ‘extended holiday’, as these relief measures will now end in 2025.
What does all this mean for the housing market?
The inextricable link between the broader economy and the housing market means that there will inevitably be cooling in the housing market in the coming year or two. At the moment, the OBR is forecasting a 9% decrease in average prices over this period, driven by higher mortgage costs and cost of living pressures. It is important to remember though that house prices have increased by 31% over the last five years (Sept 2017 – Sept 2022, gov.uk UK House Price Index) so a 9% decrease is more of a correction back to more a more normal increase trend than a real drop in value.
On the ground here in the West Devon property market covering the area around the towns of Okehampton and Tavistock, we have noticed a definite drop in buyer enquiries over the past couple of weeks as people waited to hear what the statement of the 17th November would contain. We’re anticipating that enquiries will increase again as we move into December however and people start planning for springtime moves, now that there is more certainty around the broader economy and impacts on personal finances. Affordability concerns will also drive an increase in downsizing, and more homes for sale means correspondingly more buyers in the market.
For those that will need to move in the next few months, whether driven by changing financial or personal circumstances, or a job move, be reassured that there are definitely still opportunities to be had in this falling market - though the price you realize when selling may not be quite as high as it has been in the past two years’ frenzied housing market, the price of your onward purchase will be correspondingly lower also. The key will be pricing competitively at the outset of putting your home on the market – to get ahead of the market, rather than chasing it down.
We're here to help
Please do give us a call if you’d like to talk through your particular situation and what might make the most sense for you at the moment – as always, our team will provide straight-talking, transparent advice without agenda to help guide you through these stormy seas.