House prices down 3.7%

Michael Lloyd

March 28, 2019

House prices across England and Wales fell by 1.7% on the month and 3.7% on the year, estate agent haart has found.

The average house price now sits at £219,975.

New buyer registrations rose by 15.6% on the month and by 6.8% annually. The number of properties coming onto the market this month rose by 4.2% and 7.5% on the year.

Paul Smith, chief executive of haart, said: “Although government delays on Brexit are frustrating, this level of uncertainty has become the new normal. Data from across our branches revealed that market activity was stronger than expected throughout February.

“Whilst we have referenced pent up demand in the market before, we are now seeing this demand translating into transactions, with an annual uptick in transactions of 7%. Buyers and sellers alike are fed up of waiting and are finally taking the plunge.

“Registrations also continued to increase on the month (15.6%) and the year (6.8%), as Brits showed willing to press ahead with their property plans regardless of Brexit.

“Whilst this trend was also present in January, we saw a modest monthly increase in new sellers coming to the market in February too (4.2%), meaning we should see a further uplift in transactions in the coming months if we receive some level of economic and political stability.

“In February prices continued to correct across the country – falling by 5.4% in London but significantly rising in the East and West Midlands – leading to overall price stagnation across the country.

“Cooler prices in the capital caused 10% more first-time buyers to register interest on the month. Looking forward, it is difficult to predict how the market will perform given the current political turmoil.”

In February, there were 11 buyers chasing every property across England and Wales. The market has become less efficient this month, as the number of transactions has fallen by 8.1%, whilst the number of viewings has increased by 6%.

This indicates there is pent-up demand in the market. The average purchase price for first-time buyers has fallen by 0.9% on the month and by 1.6% on the year.

This comes as the number of first-time buyers registering onto the market has risen by 9% on the month, but fallen by 18% on the year. The average amount first-time buyers are paying for a deposit has fallen by 6.5% on the month and by 12.5% on the year.

Clearly, first-time buyers are capitalising on low prices and are putting down larger deposits than needed to own more of their own homes.

The average property price in London has fallen by 1.1% on the month and by 5.4% on the year. The number of new buyers entering the market has risen by 21.1% on the month, and by 15.9% on the year.

The number of new instructions has risen by 0.3% on the month, but fallen by 8.1% on the year. Sale transactions decreased by 0.6% on the month but recorded an annual rise of 4.8%.

The number of tenants entering the market across England and Wales has risen by 8.4% on the month and by 36.5% on the year.

The average rent is up 1.2% on the month, but has fallen by 4.6% on the year. The average rent now sits at £1,297 per month across England and Wales.

Tenant demand in London has increased by 9.5% on the month, and by 52.3% on the year. London rents are down 0.2% on the month, but have risen by 3.5% on the year. The average rent now sits at £1,920 per month.

Smith said that in the event of no Brexit at all, he would expect the immediate impact on the property market to be positive, but this would be for a limited period of time.

Smith added: “Lack of confidence in the current government in delivering on its promise would threaten political stability and would therefore likely have a rolling negative impact on the market. Whilst we’d avoid the uncertainty of leaving the EU, a new government would bring fresh uncertainty.

“Cancelling Brexit may cause price increases in London in the short-term, but we would see this level off in the medium term as the cracks in our current property legislation would look even larger with Brexit no longer overshadowing them.”

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