Can we predict what the next 12 months may bring for the mortgage market? Many experts have attempted to do this, but there is some disparity among their ideas. Even the quickest look at search engine results for news on house price and mortgage predictions for the New Year reveals a wide range of beliefs. Some believe there will be a marginal increase in mortgage lending, while others have pointed to the likelihood of weaker lending this year. Only time will tell which side has the right answer. The Council of Mortgage Lenders predicts a small rise in lending The CML has predicted this outcome over the next two years, into 2018. A year ago, it predicted gross lending of £261 billion for 2017. However, recently it revised this, opting for £248 billion instead. Will the true figure be somewhere between these two, or will even £248 billion prove to be too high? How will house prices react in 2017? Most experts believe house prices will continue to rise in 2017. Some brokers estimate a 1% rise, while others estimate a 2% or 3% rise. Experts at Nationwide Building Society agreed on 2%, while RICS went for a 3% rise. Meanwhile, those at Halifax have hedged their bets somewhat by opting for an estimate of a rise between 1% and 4%. There is also a widespread belief that first-time buyers will continue to be key in the market this year. if first-time buyers are not catered for this year, the housing market could experience a dip. However, with the Help to Buy scheme reaching its conclusion at the end of 2016, this will undoubtedly leave potential first-time buyers in a tougher position. With that said, there is already some encouraging news in this area. Halifax has unveiled new loans that are designed to help first-time buyers who would have benefited from the government programme. They were first made available on 3rd January, so it remains to be seen how they perform over time. Will the reality of Brexit have an effect? Prime Minister Theresa May is due to trigger Article 50 in March the process that will formally start the clock ticking on the UK severing ties with the EU. The housing market did stall immediately following the vote for Brexit last year. Could we see something similar when Article 50 is triggered? Its possible, but it seems too challenging to accurately predict how the housing market might react through to the end of 2017. Mortgage arrears and repossessions This section of the market appears to be continuing to improve, with mortgage arrears and repossessions both achieving the lowest levels in around 12 years. However, the CML thinks there could be a marginal increase in arrears and possessions by the time we wave goodbye to this year. It is fair to say there is some uncertainty regarding the future of the mortgage and housing market. However, some improvement might reasonably be expected this year if only of a minor degree.