Halifax have released their latest figures this morning and revealed that, despite a less than certain political and financial climate, the UK housing market remains steady.
According to the lender, on a monthly basis, house prices fell by just 0.3%, 5.7% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. Halifax says the average price for a home in the UK now stands at £237,110.
June’s annual change figure of 5.7% 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.
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: “Average house prices dipped marginally in June, falling by 0.3%, to stand at £237,110. 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.”
As ever, the property market was quick to react. Here’s what they’re saying:
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says: “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.’
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The latest Halifax house price numbers, showing a monthly dip in values, are not going to encourage buyers to make a commitment while prices continue to soften. It paints a confusing picture with the annual house price increase actually greater than it was last month while comparative figures from 12 months ago are also unreliable.
In order to get a better feel for the market, it is always preferable to look at what is happening on the ground. 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.”
Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “While it may seem as if the UK property market is treading water on a month to month basis, this short-term metric can be erratic at best and the broader picture shows that we are in a considerably better position than this time last year, with a third consecutive month registering notable levels of annual price growth above 5%.
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.”
Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, had this to say: “Unfortunately, the property market is stuck in a holding pattern, with prices not growing in real terms. Buyers and sellers are hedging their bets and demonstrating caution while they wait to see what happens on the political front.
One should be cautious as the Halifax figures only give part of the picture because they measure values but not the volume of transactions. Are we seeing a decrease in values because there are fewer transactions? It flatters to deceive as we don’t have all the facts.
In the buy-to-let space we are finding that investors are looking for bargains and will only buy at the right price.”