David Parry, divisional director of planning for the Nationwide, the UK's biggest building society, forecast that 1.58 million houses would change hands next year, an increase from 1.47 million in 1999.
Barry Naisbit, chief economist at Abbey National, said high employment and rising incomes would continue to move the housing market ahead. But he added that there would be no return to the boom of the late 1980s. "An average house is currently worth around three times the annual average earnings, which is considerably below the peak of five times the average earnings in 1989."
Mr Naisbit said that wide regional differences would also even out next year. The South-east has far outstripped other regions. But while house prices in London will continue to grow strongly, other regions are expected to narrow the gap with even stronger price rises.Reuse content