House prices: 2018 could be ‘year of the first-time buyer’ | Property | Life & Style

Time off work over Christmas will have given those toying with this idea an opportunity to research options online.

And a new year full of fresh opportunities could galvanise many to get a move on – whether upsizing, downsizing or first-time buying.

But where to?

Research by Strutt & Parker suggests that 61 per cent of us want to live near water: most on the coast but 15 per cent on a loch or lake, 10 per cent on a river or estuary and 4 per cent on the banks of a canal.

Homeowners in London and the South-east are particularly drawn to the South-west and Richard Speedy, head of Strutt & Parker’s waterside department and its Exeter office, says: “With property and waterside living part of our inherent culture, many homeowners I speak to value this lifestyle incredibly highly and are prepared to pay a waterside premium for the most sought-after spots.

“Thanks to this steady demand, even in the winter months, house prices have remained stable and confident moving into 2018.”

Top waterside towns for Strutt & Parker include Topsham and Salcombe in Devon; Itchenor in West Sussex; Margate in Kent; Aberdovey in Gwynedd, plus Alnmouth and North Berwick in Northumberland and the Borders respectively.

Escaping to the countryside is another wish list topper but James Mackenzie, head of Strutt & Parker’s prime country house department, says buyers’ demographics have changed: “Our London buyers significantly dropped during the year,” he reveals. 

“Once a 50/50 split between city and country, it’s now dropped to 40/60 in favour of those already in the area.

Replacing these buyers have been expats taking advantage of the weak pound by paying in dollars.”

Nationwide Building Society estimates a 3 per cent fall in prime central London prices this year despite prices elsewhere in London continuing to rise in line with the UK national average of about 2.5 per cent.

Stephanie McMahon, head of research at Strutt & Parker, says central London’s price drop may continue until 2020: “Regional hotspots are likely to be the drivers of UK house price growth in the meantime, with 18 per cent growth forecast for the UK over five years to 2022.” 

These hotspots are likely to include the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor, described as the UK’s Silicon Valley thanks to the university cities’ high tech business parks.

The East and West Midlands are also regions to watch, with 4.5 per cent price rises in 2017, according to Nationwide.

Meanwhile, Scotland is…

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