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Housing market optimism on the up

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Britons are becoming increasingly confident in the outlook for the housing market, according to the latest Halifax housing market confidence tracker.

Nearly 40% of respondents predict that house prices nationally will increase over the next year, almost double the proportion that believe house prices will fall, at 20%.

Londoners remain the most confident about the prospects for the housing market, followed by the East, the South West and the South East.

At the other end of the spectrum, those in the North East have the least positive outlook for house prices.

Almost two-thirds of people said they think it is currently a good time to buy property but only 15% believe it is a good time to sell.

The survey also showed that economic uncertainty continues to constrain housing demand as more than half of people said concerns about job security was the main worry facing potential buyers.

Raising enough money for a deposit was the second biggest challenge for 42% of respondents followed by the availability of mortgages for 30%.

More than half of respondents said they expect the cost of renting in the private sector to rise over the next year and only 2% think it will fall.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “It is encouraging that the level of consumer confidence in the housing market continues to improve, albeit from a very low base. This is consistent with the broad stability that we have been seeing in house prices nationally in recent months.”

According to the latest Halifax House Price Index, house prices in the first quarter of 2012 were 0.1% lower than the final quarter of 2011.

“There is, however, a substantial north-south divide to the improvement in housing confidence which is reflective of property prices in the South currently more resilient than in the North.

Overall, we continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the UK economy does not suffer pronounced weakening,” added Ellis.

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