U.K. First-Time Homebuyers Call ‘Bottom’ of Market, Report Says

British first-time homebuyers have become less pessimistic about property values as a growing number call the “bottom of the market,” Rightmove Plc said.

Thirty-three percent of people who intend to purchase their first property in the coming 12 months said prices will be higher in a year, the operator of Britain’s biggest property website said in an e-mailed report in London today, citing an April survey. That compares with 22 percent in January.

It “appears to indicate more first-time buyers are calling the bottom of the market,” said Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove. “A significantly higher proportion of them now believe prices are set to increase over the next 12 months and so are perhaps looking to enter the property market in greater numbers before their affordability deteriorates.”

U.K. house prices have declined in the past year as the biggest budget squeeze since World War II and accelerating inflation undermines consumer confidence and hurts housing demand. At the same time, tougher lending rules are forcing buyers to raise bigger deposits to buy homes.

Rightmove said that among those planning to purchase a home in the next year, 26 percent are first-time buyers, up 3 percentage points since January. Still, that’s below the level seen as needed for the “long-term health” of the housing market, it said.

Job Security

Separate reports today showed Britons became less pessimistic about their employment prospects in April, while companies’ inflation expectations rose to the highest in almost 2 1/2 years.

A job-security index by Lloyds Bank Corporate Markets increased 9 points to a 12-month high of minus 18 last month. An employment prospects gauge climbed to a seven-month high, the unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc said.

A measure of inflation expectations among businesses for the next three months gained to 108.5, the highest level since November 2008, from 106.2 in March, accountancy firm BDO LLP said. A reading of more than 100 indicates companies expect inflation will be above its average trend and exceed the central bank’s 2 percent target.

An index of estimated business output for the next three months fell to 97.6 from 99.3, BDO said. A reading above 95 signifies expansion.

The most recent first-time homebuyer data are part of Rightmove’s first-quarter consumer-confidence survey, which questioned 26,240 people between April 4 and April 18.

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