Industry reacts to Land Registry HPI
The Land Registry has published its House Price Index (HPI) for April 2020, having made the decision to suspend the index from May, due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data showed that house prices fell by 0.3% between March and April 2020, and rose on an annual basis by 2.5%.
The decision to suspend the HPI was met in many quarters with approval, considering the lack of certainty that nationwide lockdown caused in terms of the data.
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “We’ve waited quite sometime for today’s figures and it was important they were delivered with 100% certainty, given the importance of their wider context.”
It might be argued that, considering the rapid rate of change in the months since, these figures are of limited relevance, but this is not the case, according to von Grundherr.
He said: “Of course, those quick to talk the market down will point to the fact that these sales were agreed months prior to lockdown proceedings, and we will no doubt see a wobble in price growth further down the line, due to the lag in property sale reporting.
“However, what today’s figures do demonstrate is a market defiant in the face of adversity.
“Despite such unprecedented circumstances we still managed to carry on and complete on property sales agreed prior to the pandemic hitting, rather than throwing in the towel until the dust had settled.
“This stoicism is the reason why the UK property market continues to bounce back regardless of what’s thrown at it and will continue to do so over the coming months.”
The publication in and of itself is something to be taken as a positive, said Islay Robinson, group CEO of Enness Global.
He said: “Although today’s house price figures shine a light on a pre-lockdown market, the return of the UK house price index will be welcomed, if only as a sign of returning normality within the industry.
“With lending rates remaining favourable, the nation’s homebuyers continue to fund the majority of their purchases via mortgage lending, albeit the recent lockdown saw a reduction in consumer demand as many understandably waited out a period of uncertainty we’ve never experienced before.”
Any negativity that shows itself in upcoming reports will also have subsided quickly, Robinson added.
He said: “By the time any decline does reveal itself, the swift market turn around spurred by pent up demand and further stoked by a stamp duty holiday, will have ensured that any decline in prices is short-lived and quickly resigned to the history books.”
James Forrester, managing director of Barrows and Forrester, noted that whether or not the numbers are irrelevant, the publication is itself a sign of positive movement.
Forrester said: “Today’s index could be viewed as a tad irrelevant really given the fact that any impact of the pandemic and the resulting lockdown won’t become apparent for at least a few months yet.
“When you consider the rate at which the market has bounced back since the industry reopened, it becomes even more irrelevant, as by the time any impact does appear we will be over the hump and in a far better place.
“Nonetheless, great to see positive movement on an annual basis and with other industry indicators all pointing to a strong return to form, we should see this positive trend continue with a slight bump in the road to account for lockdown.”