A survey by the lender identified a sharp drop in the number of people who felt that it would be a good time to buy a house over the next 12 months – to a balance of +5% in the second quarter, from +34% in the first quarter. The trend was most pronounced in the property hotspots of London and the south east.
It was the latest sign that elements of the UK housing market are cooling, following a drop in mortgage approvals and applications, and a fall in buyer inquiries in London in recent weeks.
Despite those signs, Halifax said seven-in-10 people in Britain think house prices will rise over the next year, continuing a trend which saw the annual rate of growth in prices rising to 8.8% in June, according to the lender's own data.
While the appetite for buying waned in the second, quarter, members of the public were more optimistic about selling property. Of those surveyed, 57% felt it would be a good time to sell over the next 12 months, compared with 32% who felt it would be a bad time. It gave a balance of +25%, up slightly from +24% in the first quarter and the highest since April 2011.
Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at Halifax, said: "Over the past two years consumer confidence has continued to grow, however it appears that we've reached a tipping point with the equilibrium between buyers and sellers much more out of sync.
"The results highlight the regional variations as now people believe that it's a good time to sell but not buy, particularly in London and the south east where house price expectations are generally higher and buyers appear to be less inclined to rush into a buying a property as we have seen over the past 12 months."
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