House price growth shows mixed picture

Michael Lloyd

July 5, 2019

home sales

Property price growth showed a mixed picture in June – rising by 2.4% from Q1 to Q2 but falling by 0.3% from May, the Halifax House Price Index has found.

After dropping marginally, the average house price now stands at £237,000.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: “This extends the largely flat trend we’ve seen over recent months. More generally the housing market is displaying a reasonable degree of resilience in the face of political and economic uncertainty.

“Recent industry figures show demand looking slightly more stable, with mortgage approvals ticking along just above the long-term average.

“One of the major restraining factors on the volume of transactions in the market continues to be the very low level of stock for sale.

“With the ongoing lack of clarity around Brexit, people will be looking for more certainty in the coming months, both to encourage them to list their property and to create the confidence needed to encourage buyers.

“Of course, the likelihood of continued historically low mortgage rates will underpin prices in the near term.”

House prices in the three months to June were 5.7% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. This comes against the backdrop of a particularly low growth rate in the corresponding period in 2018, which has had an impact on year-on-year comparisons.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, added: “We are finding that some buyers, including some investors, are looking beyond Brexit and political uncertainty and are prepared to go ahead if they can perceive value. Sellers please note.”

HMRC Monthly data shows UK home sales reducing slightly with sales in March to May falling by 3.5%, against the levels in December to February.

Year-on-year, UK seasonally adjusted residential transactions in May 2019 were approximately 11% lower than May 2018.

Mortgage approvals remain steady at just slightly above the 12-month average. Bank of England industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – have fallen by 636 from April to 65,409 in May.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “A steady mortgage market, despite the economic and political turbulence, is the best we could have hoped for.

“The ongoing uncertainty with regard to Brexit continues, resulting in many people putting decisions on hold and a lack of property coming to market. However, lenders remain keen to lend and subsequently mortgage rates are low, which is supporting property prices to an extent.”

Demand for housing stabilised in May with the RICS UK Residential Market Survey showing a slightly more stable picture coming through during May.

The sales to stock ratio increased slightly to 31.5%. Agreed sales fell for the 10th successive month, but less so than previously. Near term expectations remain subdued but sentiment on the longer-term outlook for sales and prices signals modest recovery further out.

Director of Benham and Reeves Marc von Grundherr was in high spirits, comparing the property market to the current hot weather.

He added: “Much like the recent weather, we’re seeing a seasonally inspired heatwave returning to the market with many wider indicators suggesting a more stable outlook for the year ahead.

“While the political forecast remains uncertain it’s unlikely to dampen this growing market momentum, as homeowners bask in the warmth of a robust property market that is yet to see any meaningful decline despite all that’s been thrown at it.”

Guy Harrington, chief executive of property lender Glenhawk, said: “Despite the continued tsunami of negative sentiments in the market, both politically and financially, activity in the housing market is bobbing along nicely. For those looking to buy, now is good a time.”

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