Halifax house prices fall in August
House prices in the three months to August were 0.3% lower than in the preceding three months – slightly worse than in July when there was a 0.1% decline in prices on a three monthly basis.
Depsite fluctuations there has been little overall change in prices over the first eight months of 2012. The average UK house price in August 2012 was 0.2% higher than in December 2011. House prices nationally are at a very similar level to three years’ ago, at £160,256.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “Nationally, house prices continue to tread water, as measured by the underlying trend.
“A gradual upward trend in spending power, aided by lower inflation, should help to support housing demand in the coming months. Nonetheless, house prices are likely to remain flat over the remainder of 2012 and into next year.”
The lender said there had been an industry-wide improvement in the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchase – a leading indicator of completed house sales.
Approvals picked up in July with a 7% increase following a 13% decline the month before. Overall, approvals in the three months to July were marginally lower (-2%) than in the same three months last year.
Russell Quirk, director of low cost estate agents eMoov.co.uk, said: “The treading water cliche has been wheeled out once again, but in fairness to the Halifax that accurately sums up what the property market is doing: very little indeed.
“The paralysis of the property market could continue for quite some time, as both lender and consumer confidence are weak.
“It’s clutching at straws to think that marginally lower inflation will suddenly inject confidence into the market. There are countless points of weakness.”
Nick Hopkinson, director of PPR Estates, said the Credit Crunch of 2008 remained “wholly unresolved” with mortgages only really available to those who don’t need the money.
And he added: “Mortgage costs for anyone brave enough to take out a loan are typically closer to 5% rather than the 0.5% official rate which effectively nullifies the benefits of the Bank of England’s low rate policy for most consumer borrowers.”