Will UK house prices crash this year and if so when? We take a look at what's in store for the UK housing market this year
In 2018 house prices rose - but only just. Figures from Nationwide show that over the course of the year UK property prices were up just 0.5%.
There were five months that were lower than the one before according to the Nationwide house price index, while the Halifax and Rightmove versions saw found monthly drops.
The year also ended with other problems.
The number of days it takes a home to sell rose from 56 days in May to 70 days in December, Rightmove found, while the latest figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors are the most negative seen in the 20 years since it's been reporting them.
As well as Brexit uncertainty, surveyors reported domestic issues related to lack of supply while affordability continues to affect the market.
New buyer enquiries fell for the fifth month in a row in December and the drop-off in interest from buyers was matched by a decline in fresh properties coming onto the market.
“Britain’s property market ended the year much as it began it – battered, befuddled and with precious little idea about what next," said Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders .
But is the worst now over or are we looking at the start of a house price crash?
House price crash of Commons
The biggest single fear facing potential buyers and sellers is Brexit.
If things go badly, and Britain crashes out of the EU with no deal or a bad deal, then the fallout could crush house prices.
Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned that in the worst-case scenario house prices could fall as much as 35% over three years.
Currently, concerns are strongest in London and the South East, but the impact of job losses and collapsing firms would be felt across the country if things go wrong.
That means a lot of people are holding off making a decision on whether to buy until they get a clearer picture of what Britain's future outside Europe will look like.
“The one thing that is certain is uncertainty," MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis explained in December.
“That is what’s worrying everyone."
Others were more pessimistic.
“Barring an improbable Brexit solution which magically avoids both economic and political turmoil, a return to universally rising prices appears unlikely," Hopper said.
“Instead 2019 is more likely to see a continuation of 2018’s fractured, multi-speed and multi-directional market, in which low supply and high demand drive up prices in regions still perceived as offering strong value – such as the Midlands and Northern England – while buyers hold the whip hand in other markets where prices are falling.”
Is there hope for house prices in 2019?
Estate agents and mortgage lenders are quick to point out that the UK has a growing population and houses aren't being built fast enough to keep up.
On top of that, mortgage rates are close to the lowest they've ever been and there are several initiatives to help first time buyers .
In fact, last year more first-time buyers climbed onto the property ladder than at any time since 2006 , thanks to schemes like help-to-buy, stamp duty discounts and lifetime ISAs combined.
None of those facts have changed - Brexit or no Brexit.
Mark Readings, founder of online estate agency House Network, said: "Although political uncertainty continues to be the driving force behind a high majority of serious buyers and sellers remaining on the fence, the economic fundamentals for first-time buyers are strong as help-to-buy and low mortgage rates contribute to providing affodability."
He added: "As we move into 2019, we expect to see a slow but positive shift in the market, as supply and demand increases and confidence is regained both nationally and internationally in the UK property market."
Should I buy a home in 2019?
Probably, not before March if you can avoid it.
Until we know the shape of the market to come - and that will depend on what happens with the EU - then you could end up buying something only do see prices immediately start falling.
By contrast, if the news from Westminster is good, prices could start again. The key word here is "start" - prices won't spike immediately. You'll still have time.
That said, if you're buying a home to live in - not as an investment - then "now" is always the right time. Provided you can afford it the mortgage and deposit.
When should I sell a home in 2019?
This is a tricky question.
On the one hand, getting your home on the market as quickly as possible might mean you manage to move before a crash happens.
On the other, if things go well, there might well be a lot of pent-up demand pushing prices higher in the aftermath of Britain leaving (or deciding not to) that could push prices up and make selling easier.
"We will no doubt see many buyers and sellers batten down the hatches until further notice but once stability does returns, it won’t take much for the UK property market to dust itself off and activity to pick up once again," said property expert and Yomdel chief executive Andy Soloman.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: "Buyers and sellers who are prepared to negotiate hard are moving on with their lives, even if prices achieved may not suit all. Serious sellers need to ensure their homes are realistically priced to attract viewings."
He added: "Some need to recognise that the first offer they receive may be their only offer, however disappointing it may seem."
2019 house price predictions
Most experts say house prices in 2019 will be broadly flat - with predictions ranging between a fall of 1% and a rise of 4%, and more people predicting rises at the lower end of the scale.
Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “Despite current political upheaval, and on the basis that it is still most likely that the UK exits the EU with a form of withdrawal agreement and transition period, we expect annual house price growth nationally to be in the range of 2% to 4% by the end of 2019.
"This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison. However, the uncertainty around how Brexit plays out means there are risks to both sides of our forecast.
“Longer term, the most important issue for the housing market remains addressing the affordability challenge for younger generations through more dynamic housebuilding.”
Regionally, almost everyone thought prices would fall - slightly - in London and the South East, but predictions for the rest of the country were more positive.
Hometrack predicts prices in places including Liverpool and Glasgow prices could rise by another 5%, while Rightmove thinks the "more buoyant northern half of the UK" will see prices rise by 2% to 4%.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove housing market analyst, said : “Since the property market’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis, many parts of the northern-half of the UK have seen marginal or relatively modest price increases.
"We predict that these areas will continue to see price rises, though tempered by affordability constraints.
"In contrast, regions in and around the influence of London saw prices go up in a five-year period by an average of around 40%. Consequently, we forecast that these previously booming areas will continue to see modest downward price re-adjustments in 2019."