Navigating the 2024 Housing Market: Your Ultimate Guide to Buying a Home This Year

Navigating the 2024 Housing Market: Your Ultimate Guide to Buying a Home This Year
The UK housing market usually picks up in spring each year - something about the weather, perhaps, makes us decide to take the plunge and move house for a fresh start. Plus, if a house is on the market in spring, your moving day can be scheduled (hopefully) for the summer holidays, minimising disruption to the school year and making the most of decent weather.

Spring is therefore a great time to start looking for a new house as there’ll be plenty of choice. If you’re thinking of buying a home in 2024, here is our guide for what to consider and what to look out for.

What are house prices like in 2024?

This is a really difficult one to predict. The experts aren’t sure - some major estate agents and banks are predicting a fall of 2 - 3%, whilst Knight Frank (a major property consultancy) thinks house prices will rise by 3%.

Even if property prices fall considerably this year, they won’t be anywhere near as low as they were pre-pandemic.

As rises or falls in house prices are an overall trend throughout the country, it’s not necessarily bad news if you’re selling - you might achieve less than you’d hoped for your old home, but your new home will be similarly lower in value. It’s pretty good news for first time buyers - you may be able to find the home of your dreams for less than you’d thought, though still at a pretty high cost.

The important thing is only to borrow what you can afford to repay on a monthly basis. Some mortgage lenders are now approving mortgages of 30 or 35 years, rather than the previous standard of 25 years, to reduce the monthly repayment amounts for borrowers. Of course, if you borrow for a longer period, you will end up paying a lot more overall in interest, but if your priority is to get on the housing ladder then that might be a price you’re willing to pay.

Will mortgage rates fall in 2024?

Like house prices, mortgage rates are still much higher than they were pre-pandemic. They are a little lower than mid-2023, when they were an average of 6 - 7% for a 2-year fixed term mortgage. As of March 2024, the average rate is 5 - 6%.

As mortgage interest rates are affected by national and global economic forces, it’s impossible to tell whether they will rise or fall due to some unforeseen catastrophe or war. However, forecasters hope that they will remain fairly steady this year. They may fall a little as different lenders compete with each other for customers, but they are unlikely to drop significantly.

In short, if you’re waiting for mortgage rates to go down considerably before buying a house, you may be waiting a very long time. 

What help is there to buy a house in 2024?

Sadly, the Help to Buy scheme (that allowed you to save £200 a month to buy a house worth up to £250,000 with the government contributing a further 25% of whatever you’d saved) has now closed to new borrowers. 

Instead, you can save up to £4000 a year in Lifetime ISA if you’re aged 18 - 40, and use that to pay towards buying your first home (or as a retirement fund if you already own a house). The government will pay up to £1000 per year into your ISA, depending on how much you save.

If you’re earning less than £80,000 and want to buy your first house, the First Homes scheme is available: you could save 30 - 50% off the market value of certain houses in England.

The Shared Ownership scheme is another option if you can’t raise a mortgage for the full purchase price of your own home yet. This scheme involves buying a percentage of a house (anywhere from 10% to 75%) with a housing association owning the remaining share. You’d pay your mortgage for the purchase price, and pay rent to the housing association on top of that. If your financial circumstances improve, you’d have the option later to buy the rest of the house so that you own 100%.

Fancy building your ideal home? If you want to buy land and build your house on it, you could get a Help to Build Equity Loan from the government with no interest for 5 years and very low interest thereafter.

There are other loans and schemes available - for example, for disabled people or older people, or members of the Armed Forces - so it’s worth looking to see what might be available for your circumstances.

What should you look for in a home in 2024?

As many of us have continued to work from home to some degree or other, properties in villages and towns further afield, away from major cities, have improved in popularity. Homeowners who don’t have to commute every day prefer the fresher air and sense of community that is more abundant in semi-rural areas.

Gardens and off street parking are always desirable, perhaps now more than ever as people spend more time at home than before the pandemic.

A building in the garden that can be used as an office space or summer house to relax in (or perhaps in which to house a hot tub) is a really useful addition to a property. Keep an eye out for houses that have these, or space for these. You’d only need planning permission for a summer house if it were to cover more than half the garden, or if it is over a certain height.

Also check the energy efficiency rating of any home you’re considering buying. Is there loft and wall insulation? Are the windows double- or triple-glazed? Can you close off the rooms so that you can (if needed) only heat the ones you’re using, or is it all open plan?

Can self storage help with moving house in 2024?

When you’ve found the right house to buy, self storage could help with the logistics of moving day, and it can be really useful for the weeks and months after you’ve bought your new home. 

Moving is an expensive process, and cutting down on removals costs can help. Before you get a quote for moving all your belongings to your new home, you could rent a self storage unit for the belongings you don’t need to take with you on moving day. When you’re settled in your new home, you can sort through everything in your self storage unit and decide what you want to bring into your new home and what you’d prefer to recycle, sell or donate.

If you’re also selling a house, it can be difficult to time everything so that the sale and purchase go through on the same day. Last-minute difficulties can cause huge problems and delays. 

Having a self storage unit lined up as a Plan B can bring you some peace of mind. If your house is going to sell before your new house is ready, you could move your belongings into your storage unit and rent a room or stay with friends and family until your new home is ready for you to move into. 

If your new home needs redecorating or renovating, keeping most of your belongings in a self storage unit will keep them safe, clean and - most importantly - out of the way until the work is done.

If you’re downsizing, you could put any excess belongings into a self storage unit to give you time to consider what to do with them in the long term. If you’re moving in with a new partner and have duplicate belongings, a self storage unit is a great place to keep everything safe, clean and dry until you’ve decided what you’re keeping in your new home, and what can be sold or donated to charity.

Our friendly team is available to chat if you’d like some tailored information or advice on whether self storage can help with your house move. We can provide no-obligation quotes, help you to work out what size of unit would suit your needs, and point you to your closest storage facility.

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