Here is a summary of the key housing market trends so far for 2024:

  • Prices are holding (mostly) steady: Annual house price inflation is currently at -0.2%, basically unchanged from previous months. While it is not the thrilling growth some may hope for, stability can be a good thing.
  • Sales are rising: Despite somewhat flat housing prices, sales volumes are up 12% compared to last year. This shows that property buyers are back in the game and feel renewed confidence in their investments.
  • Mortgage rates are the major hurdle: Unfortunately, significantly higher mortgage rates impact affordability, especially for lower earners. For many buyers, annual mortgage costs are a staggering 61% higher than three years ago – ouch!
  • A North-South divide: Higher prices and costs seem to be weighing more heavily on Southern England than on other regions across the country. This imbalance could continue to influence the market, especially in London.


What Does This All Mean?

To put it briefly, the UK housing market is going through a transitional phase. The frenzy of the pandemic years is fading, creating a slightly more balanced environment where buyers have some negotiating power. Still, the road to ownership remains challenging for many prospective buyers. Here is a breakdown for buyers and sellers:


For Buyers:

  • Don’t despair, but be realistic: Increased sales mean you have more choices, but the financial side of things is still tricky—factor in those higher mortgage rates when doing your sums.
  • Negotiation could be your friend: Sellers who overprice are less likely to succeed in this market. Be prepared to make offers, but do your research on reasonable prices.


For Sellers:

  • Pricing is everything: Don’t get stuck on dreams of massive profit—price competitively to align with the market if you want to attract serious buyers.
  • Kerb appeal matters more than ever: As buyers become pickier, those first impressions count. Can you enhance your property’s charm with a spruce-up?

Lingering Effects of High Mortgage Rates

The UK housing market continues to wrestle with the aftermath of the significant interest rate rises in 2022 and 2023. While mortgage rates have recently eased slightly, they remain substantially higher than the ultra-low levels experienced in the recent past.

Despite some moderation, today’s average 5-year fixed mortgage rates around 4.5% are still double those in recent years. This translates to a staggering 61% increase in annual mortgage repayments for a typical buyer compared to March 2021. High borrowing costs significantly erode affordability, even with modest house price declines.

This 61% increase stems from two primary factors. Two-thirds of the added financial burden is directly attributable to increased mortgage rates. The remaining one-third reflects higher average house prices, which are still elevated by 13% compared to March 2021.

In 2023, this shock to affordability caused a 23% drop in housing transactions. With buying power diminished, the market is still adjusting. While signs of stabilisation emerge, the reality of higher mortgage costs continues to constrain housing demand and upward pressure on prices.

While recent moderation in mortgage rates brings some relief, buyers cannot ignore the lingering impact of higher borrowing costs. It is essential to factor these higher repayments into all purchasing decisions. This could mean adjusting expectations on budget, location, or property size.

Stamp Duty: A Regional Cost Factor

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) represents a substantial component of property purchase costs,  disproportionately impacting southern England due to higher house prices. This dynamic has significant market implications:

  • Southern England Disparity: A staggering 75% of annual stamp duty revenue originates from Southern England transactions, despite the region only accounting for 50% of housing sales. This highlights the substantial additional cost for buyers in this area.
  • Buyer Behaviour: While buyers seem undeterred from seeking ideal homes in terms of size and bedrooms, higher costs – including stamp duty – are prompting some to expand their search parameters geographically. One-third of potential movers are willing to consider locations outside their immediate area in pursuit of better value.
  • Market Impact: This openness to relocation could create ripple effects. Increased demand in previously less-favoured areas may intensify competition and gradually influence localised price dynamics.

For buyers in southern England, stamp duty significantly amplifies the financial burden of a property purchase. This awareness is crucial for accurate budgeting. Those willing to consider less central locations might find improved affordability and a broader range of options. Potential buyers may want to explore the current stamp duty thresholds and relevant calculators to understand the specific financial implications for their target locations.

Sales Activity and Mortgage Trends

Zoopla estimates around 1.1 million housing sales will be completed in 2024 – an improvement over last year. While the market isn’t going haywire anytime soon, the fact that people are buying and selling at a healthier pace is ultimately a sign of resilience.

The UK housing market is finding its footing after recent fluctuations. Recent data suggests a potential shift towards a more balanced buyer-seller dynamic:

  • Mortgage Approvals Surge: A 32% jump in mortgage approvals during February 2024 indicates a growing appetite for home purchases and moves closer to pre-pandemic levels. This signifies increased buyer confidence and accessibility to financing.
  • House Price Stabilisation: While some regions within southern England and the East Midlands continue to see slight declines, the rate of these falls is decelerating. Importantly, house price inflation has turned positive across northern England, the West Midlands, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. This points to an overall steadying of prices following recent volatility.

These trends suggest that the market is adjusting, with a more positive outlook for potential buyers. Increased buyer activity, fuelled by improved mortgage accessibility, could gradually lead to a less aggressive price decline. As this stabilisation takes hold, it could create a more manageable environment for those considering a property purchase in the coming months.


The 2024 UK housing market signals a shift towards greater stability. While regional variations and the lingering impact of higher mortgage rates remain, improving sales activity and moderating prices suggest a more balanced environment for buyers and sellers.

Download the official report by Zoopla by clicking the button below.

Official Report