February sees FTB house prices slip

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New analysis of the UK’s property market from Mortgage Advice Bureau has shown that, during February, first-time buyer house prices saw a slight dip as the market continues to settle.

According to MAB’s data, average purchase prices for the month were £245,605 – a shade down from January’s £245,742 and up 1.7% year-on-year.

However, the lender says the figure masks a degree of regional variation in average purchase prices with some areas, such as the North West, West Midlands and South West, seeing far higher annual price increases in February.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors cited in their latest report that stock levels in the UK are now at record lows in many areas, which they believe is providing a certain amount of support for prices.

However, as with the UK average purchase price, MAB says this masks “varying shades of regional variations, with some areas of the country anecdotally reporting busier listings in February than others”.

MAB concluded that February’s data “points to the market settling into a consistent pattern rather than gearing up for a ‘spring spike’, although… it’s possible that there will be pockets of the country that may experience a balmier outlook over the next few months than others”.

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau, commented: “February saw the market continue on its steady trajectory from January, with many key factors remaining broadly similar to the previous month.

Indices such as the Halifax and Nationwide both observed average annual house price growth that was still in positive territory, although at a more subdued level than we’ve seen over the course of the past few months.

Correspondingly, transaction volumes in February, as measured by HMRC, also remained almost unchanged on January, indicating that the market was operating on a consistent basis overall.

Mark Carney’s comments in February with regards to probable interest rate rises in 2018 perhaps galvanised some homeowners who have been considering remortgages but not yet taken action to start researching the market, following on from the nine-year high in January of remortgaging activity as reported by UK Finance. Our data indicates that 93.2% of those who did remortgage in February took a fixed rate product of some kind, only slightly lower than February 2017 when 94% of those remortgaging opted for a fixed rate deal.

First-time buyer borrowing also appears to be on the increase after a strong January in this particular sector, with high LTV mortgages and other niche products, such as family assistance mortgages and joint borrower, sole proprietor mortgages helping those who otherwise would need to find large deposits to get into their first property.”

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