As Liz Hamson’s leader column suggested, 2017 was a year of major change in the resi sector.

Martin Skinner CEO Inspired Asset Management

Martin Skinner CEO of Inspired Asset Management, predicts sales of new homes to owner-occupiers to pick up in 2018

But after a strong end to 2017, recent progress in the Brexit negotiations allied with the stamp duty discount for first-time buyers should provide a boost to the resi market once the traditional seasonal slowdown has passed.

Mortgage rates are now close to an all-time low, and the rise of Help to Buy and the Lifetime ISA (where the government tops up £4,000 of annual savings with a further £1,000) have all combined to make it easier than ever for first-time buyers to purchase a new home. In fact, we’ve worked out that the mortgage repayments of our Help to Buy purchasers are nearly half the cost of renting the same apartments.

I expect sales of new homes to owner-occupiers to pick up significantly during 2018. I also expect buy-to-let investors to trickle back into the market as they take advantage of limited companies to retain mortgage interest relief.

An increasing number of limited company buy-to-let mortgage products are now available and competition between lenders is driving interest rates even lower.

With all of that in mind, 2018 promises to be yet another incredible journey for those in the resi sector.

Martin Skinner, chief executive, Inspired Asset Management

Things could be a lot worse

A snap general election, the first interest rate rise in a decade, continuing Brexit negotiations, and the effects of a raft of new rules introduced over the past couple of years continuing to take their toll on house prices, have meant that all in all 2017 has been a difficult year for the UK housing market.

Looking to 2018, what’s in store? There is no doubt that UK house price growth will slow in 2018, with our prediction being a growth rate of 1.5%, but it’s not all bad news. A welcome change to stamp duty with the news first-time buyers would be exempt for properties up to a value of £300,000, applicable as long as they were purchasing a home worth less than £500,000 will no doubt help ease this group of buyers path to home ownership.

Increased funding for government initiatives such as Help to Buy will also give a boost to properties priced at £600,000 and below.

Help to Buy

Source: Alamy/Cernan Elias

The rise in interest rates may seem significant simply because there hasn’t been one for such a long period, but in actual fact mortgage rates are still historically low. Lastly, the fundamental shortage of housing will continue to underpin the market for the next year, regardless of the outcome of Brexit negotiations as the government is notably short of its target to build 300,000 new homes a year.

All in all, while it’s unlikely 2018 is going to be a standout year for the housing market, given the political and economic uncertainties the UK is facing, things could be a lot worse.

Ashley Osborne, head of UK residential, Colliers International