With so many competing factors at play such as changing interest rates, fluctuating lender sentiment and the impact of fresh government schemes to help first time buyers, predicting the future fortunes of the UK housing market is a notoriously tricky business. That said, there are plenty of indicators and underlying trends in the marketplace to inform the savvy investor looking to expand his or her portfolio in the New Year.

The price is right

With demand for new housing still high and a continued lack of enough new properties coming to market, a broad spread of industry commentators see property prices continuing to rise this year – with expectations ranging from a modest 1% rise according to Rightmove, Knight Frank and Savills, to more impressive returns of 3% according to property website, Hometrack. Much will of course depend on any further changes to interest rates and wider economic sentiment as the year progresses but as things stand, only a few lone voices see prices contracting dramatically.

Generation rent

With the attractiveness of renting showing little sign of abating, some prominent commentators, such as the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), anticipate rental prices rising faster than overall values. This will give much cheer for fledgling investors looking to secure strong returns from a first property and will increase the competition for properties in buoyant locations like Birmingham where demand continues to firmly outstrip supply.

Reduced capital gains

While areas outside the capital continue to offer both better value and stronger potential rental yields, the trend of investors looking beyond London for gains only looks likely to continue. Prices across the capital have been muted for some months now and some predictions for 2018 actually foresee prices falling back a little. This continues to lead many investors to look towards the Midlands and beyond where there is far greater scope to get a toe-hold in the market, notably at the more affordable end of the scale.

Cities slicker?

City living has long been prized across the length and breadth of the UK, particularly for young professionals looking to get ahead on the career ladder, and some commentators reserve their most bullish predictions for 2018 for this ever-popular market segment. Indeed, property website Hometrack, predicts growth of as much as 5% among the UK’s top 20 cities. As has historically been the case, those cities with a vibrant cultural offering, alongside world-class educational facilities and transport links stand to fare particularly well, such as Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

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