What does a general election mean for the UK housing market in 2024?

The announcement of the UK general election for July 4th 2024 has come earlier than expected—but what does this mean for the housing market?

What impact will the general election have on the housing market?

Overall, we don’t see the election having as big an impact on the housing market as previous years. This is due to there not being a huge divide in policy between the two main parties, with neither having many specifics on housing other than a focus on reforming the private rental sector and boosting housing supply. However, the number of completed sales may now fall slightly short of the 1.1m we expected for 2024.

Businesses and landlords will want to see that political parties have concrete plans - namely for boosting housing supply across all tenures and getting the right reforms to the private rented sector. This will ensure that supply is maintained while giving renters more protections.

What will housing market activity look like over the general election period?

As we run up to summer and the slower period in the housing market, the election announcement is likely to stall the pace at which new sales are being agreed to in the coming weeks.

Most buyers who are close to completing on a house will ideally want to push through and agree a sale now. Those who are earlier in the process may look to delay decisions until the autumn after the election is over.

What does the housing market look like at the moment?

The housing market has been recovering with more homes coming to the market for sale, and an increased volume of sales overall. This is a sign of growing confidence amongst sellers, even though mortgage rates remain at 4.5% to 5%.

Currently, there are 392,000 homes in the sales pipeline that all working their way to completion over 2024. This is 3% higher than this time last year, and we don’t expect to see buyers already in the process of working toward sales to pull out.

The incentive to move remains for many households - in particular for first-time buyers who are escaping rapid growth in rent costs, and upsizers who delayed moving last year when mortgage rates increased.

Key takeaways:

  • People who are close to agreeing a sale on a home will want to push ahead
  • Early stage house hunters may hold back on decision-making until after the election
  • Activity in the housing market has been rising with more homes for sale and more homes being sold
  • There are 392,000 homes currently in the sales pipeline, and we don’t expect to see buyers already in this process to pull out


Where is it cheaper to buy than rent?

A third of homes for sale are cheaper to buy than rent, with the average first-time buyer saving £93 a month on a mortgage instead of renting.

A third of homes (150,000) currently for sale can be bought with a mortgage and monthly repayments that cost less than the average rent in the same area, according to our latest research.

The average monthly UK rent is currently £93 per month (8%) more expensive than the average mortgage repayment for a first time buyer (FTB) - an improvement since last summer, when mortgage rates were 1% higher and it was cheaper to rent than buy.

First time buyers should look to urban areas for affordable homes

While some regions have more affordable homes for first time buyers than others, urban areas are the best locations to find homes that are cheaper to rent.

Oadby and Wigston, a suburb of Leicester, has the largest proportion of for-sale homes (82%) with remortgage repayments lower than the local market rent.

Ipswich in Suffolk comes second (80%) and North West Leicestershire (78%) comes third.

The majority of homes for sale in Manchester (62%), Newcastle (68%), Southampton (62%) and Sheffield (51%) are also cheaper to buy than rent, thanks to an abundance of flats - the most common property type in these cities.

This is welcome news for renters who may prefer to buy locally.

Over 40% of homes in the north and Scotland are cheaper to buy than rent 

First-time buyers can find 150,000 homes (34% of the total listed) where average monthly mortgage repayments are lower than rents, assuming a 20% deposit.

The North West, North East and Scotland that have the highest proportion of these homes.

Over two-fifths of homes for sale in the North East (48%), Scotland (46%) and North West (44%) are cheaper to buy than rent with the monthly difference between the cost of renting and buying in these areas ranging between £240 and £425.

However, the availability of affordable homes is at the highest risk of falling in these regions as house price inflation has recovered earlier than in the southern regions of England.

It’s a different story for first time buyers in the south of England and the Midlands, which have a lower share of homes listed for sale that are cheaper to buy than rent.

Just a quarter (27%) of homes in the South West and a third (33%) of homes in the East Midlands have mortgage repayments lower than local rents, largely down to higher home prices in these regions, meaning that borrowing costs remain much higher.

Two in five homes listed for sale in London are cheaper per month than renting

London also has a relatively high proportion of homes for sale where mortgage repayments are lower than rents: two in every five homes listed on Zoopla would work out cheaper to buy than to rent.

This is because the gap between rental inflation and house price inflation has been greatest in London over recent years: rents are up by 26.6%, while house prices have increased by only 8.9% over the past five years.

Low price growth and higher rents ultimately means greater options for first-time buyers, although rents remain high in the capital.

Nine out of 10 homes that are cheaper to buy than rent in London are flats, which typically come with a lower price tag.

This is due to a larger difference between typical FTB monthly mortgage payments and monthly rent payments of £470 in inner London and £170 in outer London.

This is not just the case for London too - potential homeowners keen to secure a mortgage with payments below local rents should look to flats with two in three flats currently available for less than local rent in their respective markets.

Key takeaways

  • A third of homes listed for sale (34%) on Zoopla can be bought with a mortgage and repayments that cost less than the average rent in the same area*
  • Buying an average home with a 20% deposit on a 30-year term works out as £93 cheaper per month than renting it
  • Availability is best in the North East, Scotland and North West, with over 40% of homes having mortgage repayments below rental costs
  • Oadby and Wigston area near Leicester has the highest proportion of homes listed for sale that are cheaper to buy than rent
  • The majority of homes for sale in Manchester, Newcastle, Southampton and Sheffield could be purchased with mortgage payments below rents


Period properties swallow £700-a-month in upkeep

New research finds that period properties cost the equivalent of a small mortgage in maintenance and upkeep.

We love a character fireplace and ornate cornice as much as the next person, but these period features can come at a price in the long run.

We’ve taken a closer look at the true cost of owning a period property - one that was built before 1919. On average, period home owners have spent more than £19,213 maintaining and repairing their home since the start of 2022.

This is nearly two-and-a-half times the maintenance cost of non-period homes since 2022 (£8,496).

In total, that works out as an extra £700-a-month spent on maintaining a period home, since 2022 - a significant proportion of the current average monthly mortgage cost of £950.

And over the whole time they’ve been in their period home - which averages 16.8 years - owners of period homes have spent a whopping £68,000 on upkeep.

What are the most common issues with period homes?

Most of the time, these maintenance costs are on fixing external elements of a period home. This includes:

  • Roofing

  • Brickwork

  • Garden maintenance

  • External walls

  • Leaning chimneys

Period homeowners have spent an estimated £12,865 on these external fixes since 2022, whereas owners of non-period homes only spent £4,314 on them.

And when it comes to internal maintenance, period homeowners have spent a further £6,348, covering things like:

  • Flooring

  • Bathrooms

  • Electricals

  • Removing mould

  • Upgrading insulation

  • Fixing wiring and electrics.

On the other hand, those in non-period homes have only spent £4,182 on internal maintenance. It drops to just £2,915 for those who own a new-build home (built in or after 2020).

Is it worth buying a period property?

The costs of running a period home have caught many homeowners out.

A fifth (22%) say they didn’t realise how much they would need to spend to maintain, repair and upgrade their property - or they didn’t envisage any costs at all..

And two in five (39%) period home owners say the final cost was more than they had anticipated.

That’s not to say it always comes with regret. 72% of period home owners say the costs are ‘worth it’ and they don’t regret their purchase.

Many period homeowners think that older homes have more character (55%), others love the architectural style (45%) and a third (33%) say original features are a key draw.

What to check before buying a period home

Period properties require regular investment to keep them in good, working order. Be sure to look beyond simply the price of a property and factor in the ongoing maintenance costs when you’re looking for your next home.

And before you buy, invest in a property survey to identify any problems.

This will help you answer questions like:

  • How old is the boiler? They typically have a lifespan of 10-15 years.

  • Is there any mould that’ll need fixing? Sorting out leaky roofs, rising damp or poor ventilation can be costly.

  • What condition are the roof and chimneys in?

  • Are there any signs of Japanese Knotweed? This invasive plant has underground roots that will damage anything in its path.

  • Are there any signs of rot? You’ll need to confirm the extent of the problem and see if it’s treatable - if not, the timber may need replacing.

Looking for less maintenance? A new-build home could be the way to go

There are plenty of options when it comes to era and style of home, with many high quality homes on the market which require less investment in upkeep.

New-build homes are designed to take away the hassle and cost of upkeep compared to older properties.

New builds are constructed to the latest building standards and regulations and, with only your own wear-and-tear to deal with, you’re unlikely to need to fork out for repairs for a good few years.

What’s more, most new-build homes come with warranties to protect you in the case of any issues. Defects are usually covered for 2 years while the structural warranty lasts 10 years.

And if you’re worried about losing that homey feel of a period property, rest assured that there are plenty of design options to make sure your new build is totally your style.

You can often choose exactly how it looks, from the flooring, to the kitchen cabinets, to the garden design.

Whether you go for a new-build, or a place that has been on the block a little while longer, the most important thing is that you choose a home that works for you and your budget.

Key takeaways

  • New research finds that owners of period homes built pre-1919 spend an average of £700 per month on upkeep
  • The biggest costs go on fixing external elements like roofing, brickwork and walls
  • Be sure to get a full survey done before you buy a period home to identify any issues and help anticipate future costs


New-build homeowners save £1,685 a year on energy bills

New data reveals the huge energy savings found with new-build homes, cutting bills by 57% or £1,685 a year on average.

Research from the Home Builders Federation released in May 2024 has shown the significant savings offered by new-build homes compared to older properties.

The average new-build energy bill is 57% cheaper than for older properties, equating to savings of £1,685 a year for those who live in a new-build home.

Type of new-build home

Energy efficiency of new build versus similar older property

Average monthly saving of a new build

Average annual saving of a new build

















Homes built to new sustainability regulations from June 2023 onwards are proving to be the most energy efficient options on the market.

The research found that these newest builds save homeowners more than £2,000 on annual energy bills, which rises to £2,575 for houses specifically.

85% of new-build homes achieve an A or B EPC rating

85% of new-build homes achieve an A or B Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating compared to less than 5% of older properties.

An EPC rating is an assessment of how much energy your home uses per square metre and how much carbon dioxide it produces.

It takes into account things like the roof, walls, insulation, windows, heating system, lighting and renewable energy solutions. A is the top mark, showing a home has best-in-class energy efficiency.

What makes new-build homes more energy efficient?

New-build homes have energy efficiency built in from the very start of their construction. Everything from the materials to the building techniques are designed to keep heat in and use less energy.

Cavity wall insulation means the gaps between the inner and outer walls of a new-build home are filled with things like mineral wool, polystyrene beads or polyurethane foam. This helps store heat by bouncing it back into the home, rather than letting it escape through draughts.

High-efficiency heating systems also use less energy to generate more heat, while double or triple glazing, low energy lighting and dual flushes all use less energy than conventional equivalents.

New builds also come with brand new A+ appliances, which dramatically reduce the amount of energy used by your dishwasher, washing machine and other white goods.

Key takeaways

  • 85% of new-build homes achieve an A or B Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating compared to less than 5% of older properties.
  • New-build homes are more energy efficient because these considerations are built in from the very start of their construction.
  • New-build homes are fitted with cavity wall insulation, double or triple glazing, and brand new A+ appliances which all contribute to a more energy-efficient property.


Bank Rate holds at 5.25%, so when will rates drop?

The Bank Rate has remained unchanged for the sixth time in a row since it was raised from 5% to 5.25% in August 2023. Meanwhile, average mortgage rates on two- and five-year fixed rate deals have increased for the first time in six months.

The Bank of England has kept the Bank Rate at 5.25% for the sixth time in a row.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has voted by a majority of 7-2 to keep the Bank Rate unchanged at 5.25%.

Two members wanted to cut the rate by 0.25%, to 5%. This marks a slight shift from the last vote in March, when only one member voted to reduce the Bank Rate.

The Bank Rate, sometimes known as the 'base rate’ or ‘interest rates’, affects the rates that lenders charge their borrowers. It has remained at a 16-year high of 5.25% since last August.

Why has the Bank Rate been held again?

The Bank has been using interest rates as a way of controlling inflation. It raised interest rates from 0.1% at the end of 2021 to 5.25% last August.

The good news is that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), a key measure of inflation, has fallen from 11.1% in October 2022 to 3.2% today.

However, 12-month CPI inflation dropped less than expected in March, prompting some people to speculate that interest rate cuts could be pushed back. The Bank has an inflation target of 2%.

The latest decision on interest rates was widely expected. The Bank said that while progress in key economic data is 'encouraging', it needs more evidence that inflation will stay low before it cuts interest rates.

The Bank added that lower oil and gas prices mean that inflation is expected to fall to around 2% before 'increasing slightly' in the second half of the year, to around 2.5%. It’s hoped it will then edge down again.

What does this mean for borrowers?

Borrowers on variable or tracker mortgages will be relieved that their rate is unlikely to go up. Though they’ll be disappointed the Bank Rate wasn’t cut.

According to Moneyfactscompare.co.uk, the average standard variable rate (SVR) is at 8.18%, down from 8.19% last November. The rate has stayed at this level since the start of April.

Meanwhile, borrowers locked into fixed-rate mortgages will not be impacted - yet. But borrowers who come off fixed-rate deals and remortgage soon are likely to see their mortgage repayments jump, squeezing household budgets further.

Annual mortgage repayments for the average buyer are now a staggering 61% higher than they were three years ago, before mortgage rates started climbing.

It means that in pure monetary terms, they have soared from £7,100 to £11,400. Two thirds of that hike is fuelled by higher mortgage rates, while one third is due to higher house prices.

First-time buyers are finding it tricky to afford mortgage repayments in the first place. Because of recent interest rate rises, mortgage affordability is now the biggest challenge for first-time buyers, according to the Building Societies Association (BSA).

But Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops, points out that interest rates of around 5% are not high by historical standards.

“It’s important to keep in mind that, while the past 18 months have been a time of economic headwinds, the exceedingly low rates that became the norm in the 2010s were the exception and not the rule,” Leeming explains.

“A pivot towards lower rates in June, even if only minor, would help to ease affordability constraints at the lower end of the housing market and help to ensure chains don’t break down once sales have been agreed.”

What is the forecast for interest rates? 

The Bank is generally expected to cut interest rates this year (assuming there’s no surprises in store). But opinions on when exactly this could happen, and by how much, naturally vary.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, believes it’s time for rate setters to be bold and start reducing rates: “The Bank was always likely to hold rates this month, and we expect June’s meeting to have a similar outcome.

“That said, by that point there should have been two further lots of improving inflation data, reinforcing the argument for cutting rates by the end of the summer.”

Leeming adds: “While no change was widely assumed, the expectation is that June’s meeting will finally break the base rate deadlock and initiate a rate cut.”

Will mortgage rates go down in 2024?

The housing market has been relatively stable in recent months. The number of sales agreed are now 12% higher than this time last year.

This improving picture is echoed in the Bank of England’s recent mortgage approval figures.

The number of mortgages given the green light in March stood at 61,300, edging up from 60,500 the previous month. Monthly mortgage approvals are now close to the 65,000 level seen during the three years leading up to the pandemic, says Hina Bhudia, Partner, Knight Frank Finance.

But in a blow to borrowers, mortgage rates have climbed in recent weeks. Big names including Nationwide, NatWest and Santander have raised rates on fixed-rate mortgages.

According to Moneyfactscompare.co.uk, the average two-year and five-year fixed rate was 5.91% and 5.48% respectively on 1 May, compared with 5.8% and 5.39% at the start of April.

That said, two major lenders provided a glimmer of hope this week, cutting some rates. Harris says: “With Barclays and Lloyds already announcing reductions this week, hopefully it is only a matter of time before other lenders follow suit.”

Our Executive Director of Research, Richard Donnell, believes that even if inflation and interest rates edge down, mortgage rates are unlikely to drop much further this year.

Donnell explains: “Lower interest rates would likely result in further modest declines in mortgage rates but how far depends on how low money markets see base rates falling.

“Economists currently expect base rates to fall to 3.5% by the end of 2025, which would imply mortgage rates remaining in and around the 4%+ range.”

Despite an improved outlook overall, Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, also thinks it’s unlikely there’ll be a further “meaningful” fall in mortgage rates this year.

He adds: “However the highly competitive nature of the mortgage market has meant that mortgage costs have already nudged down this year, and have been much less volatile. Combined with an improved outlook for economic growth, and increased buyer confidence, we can now expect modest house price growth this year.”

Key takeaways

  • The Bank of England has voted by a majority of 7-2 to keep the Bank Rate at 5.25%
  • It’s the sixth time in a row that the rate has remained unchanged
  • The Bank says that while progress in key economic data is “encouraging”, it needs to see more evidence that inflation will stay low before it cuts the Bank Rate.


Will mortgage rates go down in 2024?

Mortgage rates are not expected to fall further this year, but rising wages are likely to improve affordability for buyers as house prices stay flat.

In June last year, the average five-year fixed-rate loan for a 75% loan-to-value mortgage peaked at 5.8%, adding hundreds of pounds to monthly mortgage repayments for buyers and homeowners.

Today, that same mortgage has now fallen to an average rate of 4.4%.

Here’s how that difference pans out in terms of monthly mortgage payments.

Monthly repayments on a five-year fixed-rate 75% LTV over 25 years

Mortgage value

£200,000 property value, 25% deposit

£300,000 property value, 25% deposit

£400,000 property value, 25% deposit

£500,000 property value, 25% deposit

5.8% monthly repayments





4.4% monthly repayments





Mortgage rates unlikely to drop below 4% in 2024

However, buyers holding out for lower mortgage rates in 2024 may be disappointed, as they are unlikely to decline much further this year, even if inflation and the Base Rate edge lower.

Our Executive Director of Research, Richard Donnell, says: ‘Expectations of lower interest rates are already priced into fixed rate mortgages today.

‘Lower interest rates would likely result in further modest declines in mortgage rates but how far depends on how low money markets see base rates falling.

‘Economists currently expect base rates to fall to 3.5% by the end of 2025, which would imply mortgage rates remaining in and around the 4%+ range.’

Why are mortgage rates going down?

Mortgage rates began to go down in the latter half of 2023, as inflation dropped from 6.3% in September to 4.2% in December. In February this year, inflation dropped to 3.8% and is expected to meet its 2% target in the coming months.

However, the Bank of England has held the base rate at 5.25% since August 2023, as inflation has stayed higher for longer than expected. It is expected to cut the base rate when it meets in June this year - and by the end of 2025, it's expected to lower it to 3%.

The bank rate determines the interest rate the Bank of England pays to commercial banks that hold money with them. It influences the rates those banks charge people to borrow money or pay on their savings.

What factors affect interest rates?

Inflation is the main reason interest rates are high in the UK at the moment. An unexpected rise in demand - or decrease in supply - can cause inflation to rise.

At the end of 2021, the Bank of England began to raise the base rate in order to reduce inflation and help slow down price rises for everyday items including food, petrol, gas and electricity.

It is working - and inflation has fallen a lot, but the Bank of England needs to keep the base rate high enough to ensure inflation comes back to its 2% target.

Global shocks can also have an impact on inflation, such as wars, pandemics or the blockage of major transport routes like the Suez Canal, as they affect the flow of goods around the globe.

How buyer affordability could improve in 2024

All that said, there are other ways in which buyer affordability is likely to improve this year: and that’s wages rising while house prices hold steady.

This trend is happening already, and it’s improving confidence among buyers.

‘Rising household disposable incomes are expected to be the primary driver of improved housing affordability over 2024,’ says Donnell.

‘Disposable incomes are projected to increase by 3.5% over 2024, while house prices look set to remain broadly flat over the year.’

In fact, momentum in the housing market is already ticking up and the number of sales agreed has climbed 9% year-on-year.

This, in turn, is encouraging more sellers to come to market, improving the choice available for buyers.

More choice for buyers in 2024

Currently there are 20% more homes for sale than there were in spring 2023, with the average estate agent having around 30 homes on their books.

And more choice for buyers means more opportunity for wriggle room when it comes to paying the asking price.

‘Our view is that a greater availability of homes for sale will keep price rises in check,’ says Donnell.

‘In Q1 2024, the average estate agent had almost 30 homes for sale, a return to the pre-pandemic average.

‘This means buyers have more choice and room to negotiate, especially where homes are failing to attract buyer interest in a timely manner.’

Affordable areas remain popular with buyers

While momentum is up among buyers and sellers across the UK, in more challenging mortgage rate times, it’s the affordable areas that are proving to be the biggest draw for buyers.

‘Sales activity is up across the board, with the strongest growth in sales taking place in areas with more affordable house prices, such as Yorkshire and the Humber (11%) and the North West (13%),’ says Donnell.

Meanwhile, the strongest growth in new sellers listing homes can be seen in the South West (28%) and North East (26%).

Over in the capital, the supply of homes for sale is just 8% higher, which means house prices are rebounding faster here than other parts of the UK, as more buyers compete for properties.

Asking price discounts narrow as house prices hold steady

While it remains a buyers’ market right now, buyers should know that the discounts being offered by sellers are starting to get smaller.

Towards the end of 2023, nearly half of sellers were offering discounts of 5% or more. That figure has now shrunk to two-fifths.

Similarly, the average discount offered at the end of last year was 4.5%, (£14,250). Today, it’s 3.9% (£10,000).

There continues to be a north/south divide in house prices, with homes in the south continuing to register house price falls as homes in the north see house price growth.

But all areas are recording higher annual price inflation than six months ago, as sales volumes recover and pricing levels firm.

So while there’s still room to negotiate, house prices are starting to hold steady in 2024 and we don’t expect to see a further fall in property prices this year.

Key takeaways

  • Mortgage rates expected to stay in and around 4+% for the rest of 2024
  • House prices will hold steady as rising wages improve affordability
  • 20% more homes available for buyers in spring 2024
  • Average agent now has 30 homes on their books


Housing affordability more of a challenge in southern England

The challenges facing first time buyers and uspizers right now all boil down to one thing: affordability. And buyers in the south of England are suffering the most on this front. Our Executive Director of Research, Richard Donnell, takes a look at what’s happening in the housing market.

The divide in market activity between the south of England and the rest of the UK is becoming starker on the back of higher mortgage rates.

Why are homes in the south more expensive?

After the global financial crisis in 2007, house prices in southern England rebounded, largely led by London. By 2014, house prices in London were rising at a rate of 20% year-on-year.

In 2015, mortgage regulations were introduced to prevent households taking on unsustainable levels of debt, which can lead to a boom/bust cycle for house prices.

However, those regulations came a little too late for southern England, where prices had already jumped ahead.

Since 2016, we have seen house price inflation under-perform, especially in London, and one key reason for that is the impact of those mortgage regulations.

They’ve meant that buyers have needed to inject more equity into the home they want to buy, in order to make their mortgage repayments more affordable.

The impact of stress testing mortgages and limiting high loan-to-income lending has since led to a decrease in buying power, which in turn has created a cap on demand.

Incomes needed by first-time buyers across the UK

The chart below shows the gross household income needed to rent and buy a typical first-time buyer priced home.

Richard's weekly: gross income needed to buy and rent a typical first-time buyer home

If a buyer is taking out an 80% loan-to-value mortgage (using a 20% deposit) at a rate of 4.5%, the income needed to repay it is broadly the same across most of the UK.

However, because house prices are higher in southern England, for the same type of property, buyers will need to be earning considerably more: well over £100,000.

When that purchase is then stress tested to an 8.5% mortgage rate, the income needed to secure the property jumps even higher, thereby ultimately reducing the number of people who can afford to buy it.

Data from the Office for National Statistics reveals that first-time buyer incomes are generally lower than the income needed for mortgage lenders’ stress-testing rates.

So, first-time buyers are getting around this problem by putting down larger deposits.

This enables them to get their loan-to-value percentage for their mortgage down, so that they can then afford to buy their home at the current stress-testing rates - and their monthly mortgage repayments then become more affordable.

Average first-time buyer deposit in London hits £145,000

In London, this approach means the average first-time buyer needs to have a £145,000 deposit and an annual income of £90,000.

It’s a similar but less extreme position across the rest of the south of England.

However for the rest of the UK, where house prices are lower, the average deposits needed to secure a home and the mortgage repayments for it look more manageable for more would-be buyers.

Calls for higher LTV loans to be made available, alongside the loosening of mortgage regulations, would help FTBs, but they would simply add to buying power, rather than delay the needed reset in affordability.

High LTV lending is very hard to achieve across southern England and consequently 95%+ lending here is a niche lending segment.

What industry solutions might help first-time buyers?

Long-term fixed rate mortgages are an option but this is a market that needs Government support to get off the ground.

Long term mortgages could potentially avoid the need to run a stress test on the borrower at a higher mortgage rate but the ‘loan to income flow’ limit would limit the size of the market: currently lenders are only able to lend 15% of their customers loans of over 4.5x their current income.

It is likely that we will see lenders look to review how they stress test new borrowers, such as applying lower stress rates for 5+ year fixed rate loans.

This flexing of affordability at the margins will help some borrowers. But it wont deliver the reset we need to open up the market to more buyers who don’t currently have access to the levels of equity needed.

With mortgage rates unlikely to get much lower in the short term, incomes growth is going to have to do the hard work in resetting affordability across southern England.

First time buyers adapting to market conditions

Our data shows first-time buyers in southern England are adapting, looking at areas with better value for money for the type of home they need as well as considering smaller homes at lower price points.

We have seen a shift to flats, which have attracted less demand in recent years, as first-time buyers targeted 3 bed homes at lower prices where there was the potential to improve the home.

The average value of a flat in London is just 3% higher than at the start of 2016. This compares to a 13% average increase for flats nationally and 39% for a house in the UK. This underperformance has made flats more affordable relative to incomes and explains the increase in demand.

Buyers should know though, that flats are often sold under the leasehold, which can mean additional running costs such as service charges and ground rents.

Richard's weekly: House price inflation by property type and region 2016 - 2024

Key takeaways

  • In 2014, London house prices were rising at a rate of 20% year-on-year
  • In 2015, mortgage regulations began to include stress tests, often at rates 3% higher than the mortgage deal being offered
  • This has reduced buying power in the south, where homes are more expensive
  • In 2024, the average first-time buyer in London needs to have a £145,000 deposit and an annual income of £90,000


Best things to do in London in May 2024

London will be gearing up for summer in May 2024, so make the most of it at a music festival, rooftop bar or must-see exhibition.

May truly is one of London’s finest months if you ask us. Not only is the city pleasantly warm and bursting with colourful spring blooms, but everyone is giddy with the possibilities of the coming summer.

And most excitingly of all, there are not one, but two bank holidays on which to embark on inaugural rooftop bar excursion of the summer, rock out at one of the year’s first music festivals, lounge about in your favourite park, check out all those must-see exhibitions you’ve been meaning to catch or escape the city on a mini-break.

And if that isn’t enough to keep you entertained, here’s our guide to the best events, parties, pop-ups and things to do in May 2024 in London. You’re in for one sweet, sweet month.

01. Independent Label Market

Independent Label Market
⭐ Things to do 🛍️ Markets and fairs📌 King’s Cross ⏰ 11 May 2024

This regular music market is back, providing artisan produce and street food alongside its mega vinyl booty. Find records on sale from all sorts of indie labels including AD, Because, Big Dada, Brainfeeder, Chess Club, Chrysalis, Dead Oceans, Dirty Hit, Fire, Jagjaguwar, Late Night Tales, Matador, Marathon, Ninja Tune, Secretly Canadian, Third Man and more. Once you’ve flipped through as many sleeves as you can manage take a look at stalls from artists and makers including Babak Ganjei, Donna Harle, This Is Fun Isn't It, Hand Jazz, Kam Creates, Nicole O'Hara, Sri Mckinnon and East London Printmakers. Or, neck back a pint from the London Brewers’ Market.

2. ‘Romeo & Juliet’

‘Romeo & Juliet’
🎬 Theatre ⭐ Shakespeare 📌 Covent Garden⏰ 11 May - 3 Aug 2024

Super-director Jamie Lloyd is renowned for his powers of celebrity wrangling, but even by his standards this is quite the coup: his production of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’ will star Tom Holland, aka Spider-Man himself, in his first stage role since a lengthy stint in ‘Billy Elliot’ as a child actor. Holland will, of course, be playing Romeo: there’s no word on any other casting, including Juliet, but further celebrities seem unlikely – Lloyd tends to assemble diverse, interesting casts that highlight up-and-coming talent. Stylistically, we can certainly expect a contemporary setting and stripped-back aesthetic, though last year’s peerless ‘Sunset Boulevard’ did see Lloyd get back to his more maximalist roots with its gargantuan video wall and copious use of gore – you’d think a bit of the ol’ claret has to be an option for Lloyd’s take on Shakespeare’s high-ish body-count romantic tragedy.

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3. City Splash

City Splash
⭐ Music 🎡 Music festivals 📌 Tulse Hill ⏰ 27 May 2024

If you love nothing better than the idea of grooving to reggae, Afrobeats and dancehall in the sun, this is the festival for you. City Splash is once again taking over Brockwell Park to celebrate the impact of Caribbean and African culture in the UK and beyond – giving you a chance to dance, connect over music and have a bloody good time. This year's line-up includes Capleton, Beenie Man, Shenseea, Busy Signal and Queen Omega.

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4. Fawlty Towers

Fawlty Towers
⭐ Theatre 🎡 Comedy 📌 Shaftesbury Avenue ⏰ Until 28 Sept 2024

‘Fawlty Towers’ (the play) is absolutely not an attempt to boldly reinvent the adventures of Basil, Sybil, Manuel and co for the twenty-first century. Instead, the performance has stitched together content from three classic episodes: ‘The Hotel Inspector’, ‘The Germans’ and ‘Communication Problems’. It sounds like they’ll be woven into a single narrative with a new ending, but whether you’re a long-term fan or too young to have ever seen it, you’ll pretty much be getting ‘Fawlty Towers’ in its classic form.

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5. Between the Bridges

Between the Bridges
⭐ Things to do 📌 South Bank ⏰ Until 13 Jul 2024

Outdoor spaces are big business come London summertime, and this seasonal pop-up between Waterloo and Westminster bridges is one of the biggest in London. Boasting lovely views over the river Thames and an eclectic programme of drag shows, DJs, live performances and themed club nights, its summer 2024 season is packed with surprises. For this month’s schedule, you can expect non-stop noughties from the 10-piece brass powerhouse that is the Old Dirty Brasstards, plus TEDFEST, celebrating everything that is Father Ted.

6. Chelsea in Bloom

Chelsea in Bloom
⭐ Things to do 🎡 Quirky events 📌 London ⏰ 20 May - 26 May 2024

Chelsea’s annual floral art show is back, bringing luscious colour to King’s Road, Sloane Street and other iconic locations. The streets and squares and more than 120 businesses of SW10 will be transformed with wonderful floral displays created by retailers in the borough, and you can even vote for your favourites. This year’s theme is ‘Floral Feasts’, so expect classy horticulture inspired by well-loved childrens books and movies.

7. Firsts Rare Book Fair

Firsts Rare Book Fair
⭐ Things to do 🎡 Markets and fairs 📌 Chelsea ⏰ 17 May - 19 May 2024

The Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association’s (ABA) are back with their annual ‘Firsts’ festival, the theme Art of the Book for this year. There’ll be over 100 exhibitors, meaning you can cast your curious eye over some first edition Dodie Smith, a rare copy of Grimm Brothers’ fairy tales illustrated by David Hockney and a miniature German printed children’s library. Talks, demonstrations and exhibitions are on the programme, too.

Average rent in London: April 2024

The average rent in London is now £2,121 per month after +4.2% growth in the last year. The cheapest average rent is in Bexley (£1,520) and the highest average rent is in Kensington and Chelsea (£3,459), although rental increases are slowing in the most expensive parts of the city.

London is by far the most expensive place to rent a home in the UK with an average rent of £2,121 for new lets. Average rents in London are almost double the UK average of £1,220.

However, rental inflation in London has slowed in the last 12 months, now at +4.2% versus +14.8% a year ago. This is lower than UK-wide growth of +7.2% over the last year.

Average rental prices in London

Average monthly rent in London in February 2024

% change in the last 12 months

£ change in the last 12 months




Average rent by borough in London

The table sets out the average rent for every local authority in London, starting with the cheapest. It also shows how much rents for new lets have increased in the last 12 months in each location.

Local authority area

Average monthly rent

% change in the last 12 months

£ change in the last 12 months





























Barking and Dagenham
















Waltham Forest




Kingston upon Thames




































Richmond upon Thames
















Tower Hamlets












Hammersmith and Fulham




City of London








City of Westminster




Kensington and Chelsea




Rental growth has slowed the most in Inner London boroughs, which are also commonly the most expensive with average rents sitting well above £2,000 per month. For example, the average rent in Kensington and Chelsea and the City of Westminster exceed £3,000 but growth has stalled to +3.10% and +1.30% respectively.

This slowdown is a response to affordability challenges and lower demand for new lets in the centre of the capital. It suggests landlords are becoming more realistic in pricing their rentals and may be taking cost-of-living struggles into consideration when setting new rates, which tend to be exacerbated for those in the rental market.

However, the experience of renters in Outer London is a different story, with ongoing double-digit rental inflation in several areas. The rises stretch to +12.9% in Havering, where the average annual rental bill is now £2,160 more expensive than a year ago.

Rents have also risen by more than +11% in the last year in more affordable boroughs of Sutton, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham, and Waltham Forest.

The chart shows how rents have risen in London boroughs over the last year, highlighting the difference between inner and outer boroughs.

A chart showing rental inflation in Outer vs Inner London boroughs. Rents in outer boroughs have risen more, by up to 13%, whereas inner boroughs have risen by up to 5%.

What’s next for the London rental market in 2024?

We expect the growth of London rents to slow to around +2% on average in 2024.

It’ll be a reprieve for London renters as they already face the highest rents and lowest affordability of anywhere in the country. The average renting household in London (1.25 people) already spends 40.4% of their earnings on rent compared to a UK average of 28.4%.

Average rent in the UK: February 2024

Demand from London renters will continue to drop as many cannot afford further rent rises amidst other affordability pressures.

London renters will continue to look for lower rental prices in the outer boroughs and nearby commuter towns, which will keep average rents rising more quickly in these places.

Key takeaways

  • London’s average rent is currently £2,121 after +4.2% growth in the last year
  • Growth has slowed from +6.4% last month and +14.8% a year ago
  • The current annual increase is lower than the UK as a whole as London rents have started to reach an affordability ceiling
  • The borough of Bexley has the cheapest average rent in London at £1,520 but rents are rising quickly in these comparatively cheap spots on the outskirts
  • Rents are much higher in Inner London boroughs like Kensington and Chelsea, the City of Westminster and Camden - but rents are rising more slowly at between +1% and +4%


Sales on the up as house prices hold steady

Buyer confidence is improving and 12% more homes are going under offer compared to this time last year. Mortgage approvals for home purchases are also up 32%.

The housing market is now more balanced than it was before the pandemic, which is good news for sellers, as it means more people have a chance of moving home in 2024.

The number of homes available for sale is continuing to grow but house price inflation remains broadly static.

And static house prices are good for buyers, who are already struggling to cope with a 60% increase in mortgage payments in 2024.

Meanwhile, more homes for sale and renewed buyer confidence means more sales are being agreed: in fact sales agreed are up 12% compared to this time last year.

And for the first four months of 2024, the number of homes going under offer has also been higher than in the first 4 months of 2023.

Our Executive Director of Research, Richard Donnell, says: ‘The housing sales pipeline is now rebuilding after a period of lower sales, when mortgage rates spiked higher in 2022 and 2023.

‘Our data shows that the housing market remains on track for 1.1m sales completions in 2024, up 10% on 2023.’

House Price Index April 2024 - measures of market activity continue to increase

Mortgage approvals up more than 30%

Mortgage approvals for home purchases went up 32% year-on-year in February 2024, marking another return towards pre-pandemic levels.

‘The 4 to 6+ month time lag between agreeing a sale ‘subject to contract’ and moving in, means sales completion data is yet to register an upturn but this will emerge in the coming months,’ says Donnell.

House prices firming as market activity improves

House prices are continuing to hold steady right now, and annual house price inflation is largely unchanged since last month. It currently stands at -0.2% at the end of March 2024.

‘House prices continue to fall, at a slowing rate, across five English regions covering southern England and the East Midlands, with prices down the most in the East of England (-1.7%),’ says Donnell.

‘However, in the north of England, West Midlands, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, house price inflation has moved into positive territory, with prices in Belfast rising by 4.5%.’

House Price Index April 2024 - house prices map

Higher mortgage rates continue to affect buyer affordability

In southern England, where homes are more expensive, buyers are being hit harder by higher mortgage rates, low income growth and rising living costs.

This, in turn, is affecting house prices, as sellers set lower asking prices in order to attract a sale. Our data shows that 95-100% of homes in southern England are in markets where prices are currently falling.

However, at a national level, only 64% of homes are in markets registering annual price falls. Back in October last year, that number was much higher: 82%.

‘The scale of these price falls is relatively modest, in most cases between 0% and -3%,’ says Donnell.

‘We expect house prices to continue to firm over 2024 but we don’t expect house price inflation to start accelerating. The current trends in price inflation, and the divergence between the south and the rest of the UK, are expected to continue over the coming months.

‘Much depends on the outlook for interest rates and how this influences mortgage rates. Fixed rate mortgages today already reflect expectations for interest rate reductions in the future and we don’t expect any major changes in average mortgage rates over the rest of the year.

‘What the housing market needs most is continued price stability, which will create the right environment for continued growth in sales.’

Key takeaways

  • Sales agreed volumes up 12% year-on-year as house prices stay static
  • Homes in the south are currently seeing negative price inflation in the UK
  • 64% of homes are in markets with price falls, but this is down from 82% last October