Britons More Optimistic on Housing

Britons became more optimistic about the housing-market outlook in December compared with two months earlier as more people predicted price increases, according to Halifax, which said it expects a stable market in 2013.

A gauge of the outlook for property prices rose to 20 from 15 in October, the mortgage unit of Lloyds Banking Group Plc said in a report in London today, citing a survey. Thirty-eight percent of those questioned in December expect prices to rise in the coming 12 months, compared with 35 percent in October.

U.K. home values are little changed over the past 18 months as a lack of property for sale supports prices and a squeeze on mortgage lending and a weak economic recovery deter buyers. Housing-market forecasters are mixed on the outlook in 2013, with Hometrack Ltd. predicting a 1 percent decline and Rightmove Plc and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors both projecting a 2 percent increase.

House-price stability “has probably been a key driver of the improvement in sentiment regarding the outlook for house prices over the coming year,” Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said in the report. Still, “ongoing concerns over job security and the challenges in raising a deposit are likely to constrain housing demand and activity. Accordingly, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013.”

The survey, for which 1,927 consumers were questioned between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10, also showed the proportion of people who said it was a good time to buy a home fell to 53 percent in December from 56 percent in October. An index of concerns about employment security rose seven points to 58 last month, Halifax said.

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