The UK housing market will hold steady this year, thanks to supply and demand factors bolstering prices and decreased interest rates (the first since 2005) upping consumer confidence, predicts the National Association of Estate Agents (www.naea.co.uk).

But, overall prices are expected to remain static with a 0% rise in the average house price expected by the end of next year.

On a regional level, London and the south east will remain strong as demand continues, while other areas ? particularly those suffering from lower employment ? are likely to see prices plateau or depreciate over the coming year.

‘Further decreases in the base rate are expected for early 2008 when we may see another quarter percentage point fall. We are unlikely to experience another drop after that, however, until much later in the year. I would be pleasantly surprised if the rate was as low as 5% by the close of 2008,’ said Peter Bolton King, chief executive at the NAEA.

Home information packs (HIPs) have had a bumpy ride in 2007. Buyers have shown little interest and instructions have fallen considerably, noted Mr Bolton King.

‘Although a whole year has passed, is seems HIPs are as much of an unknown factor now as when we were making our predictions for 2007. The first few months of 2008 will be a telling time.

‘We will start to see the impact of the rollout early in year, when the market traditionally picks up again after Christmas. I am really hoping we do not see instructions negatively affected by the launch of the final phase in the same way they have been by phases one and two this year,’ added Mr Bolton King.

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