The latest Halifax house price index has revealed that UK house prices saw little movement during August, inching up by a mere 0.3% rise on the month and 0.1% on the quarter.
According to the figures, house prices in August were 1.8% higher than in the same month a year earlier.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “There was no real shift in house prices in August as the average property value grew by just 0.3% month on month. This further extends the predominantly flat trend we’ve seen over the last six months, with the average house price having barely changed since March.
While ongoing economic uncertainty continues to weigh on consumer sentiment – with evidence of both buyers and sellers exercising some caution – a number of important underlying factors such as affordability and employment remain strong.
Although the housing market will undoubtedly be influenced by events in the wider economy, it continues to show a degree of resilience for the time being. We should also not lose sight of the fact that the single biggest driver of both prices and activity over the longer-term remains the dearth of available properties to meet demand from buyers.”
Dilpreet Bhagrath, Mortgage Expert at online mortgage broker Trussle, comments: “This rise in house prices comes as a surprise, amid the traditional summer slump, not to mention the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that’s gripping the UK.
And until there’s real clarity over the Brexit process, it’s difficult to predict house price growth. While not ideal for sellers, this does offer an opportunity for first-time buyers who already have a deposit saved up. Particularly as recent research suggests the average income of a first-time buyer has jumped by 1.2%.
For those in a position to buy, it’s crucial to consider current and future financial circumstances in order to secure the right mortgage deal to suit personal needs.”
Josef Wasinski, co-founder of Wayhome, said: “House prices remain too high, so these figures just hammer home the fact that many aspiring homeowners are struggling to get onto the housing ladder. For far too many, including some of those relying on the Bank of Mum and Dad, homeownership is a distant dream.
Amidst the fast-changing Brexit backdrop, it’s likely that remedies for housing market issues will be put on hold. However, we need to see the Government address this as an immediate priority as decisions take time and action is needed now.”
Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, says: “With house prices bumping along at the same level for a while now, this is beginning to look like the new norm for the market. Gone are the spikes in pricing, the unpredictable boom and bust, replaced with a more positive, sustainable performance of 2 or 3 per cent growth in line with inflation.
The summer is always quieter but the back end of August saw business pick up with more new enquiries coming through. There is that worry that the mess unfolding in Parliament means there won’t be an autumn bounce this year, but consumer confidence is proving to be remarkably resilient.
Lenders are still chasing market share, which is being reflected in cheaper mortgage rates and high-street lenders looking at specialist lending to boost their margins.”
Michael Stone, founder and CEO of Stone Real Estate, commented: “While we remain enveloped in a dense fog of Brexit uncertainty it’s no surprise that house price growth continues to stutter, and will no doubt do so until the ordeal is over. The one saving grace that we’ve seen come to the forefront is the continued demand for new build properties and this has helped support the market and ensure prices at least remain stable.
Bolstered by Help to Buy and the first-time buyer demand, new build sales have been less susceptible to wider market trends and the sector has maintained a consistent level of activity as a result. With first-time buyers, in particular, less concerned with the current landscape or Brexit and more so on getting a foot on the ladder, the sector has helped to steady the ship in otherwise choppy waters.”
Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves commented: “An updated methodology brings yet more evidence of Brexit-based, static market movement from the new and improved Halifax index. This is hardly surprising given other industry indicators, but no doubt a tad exaggerated due to the fact that half of the nation vacates for sunnier climbs in August and this has a notable impact on the housing market.
All in all, it could certainly be worse and if we consider how poorly Brexit has been handled it’s a miracle that we’ve seen any growth registered whatsoever. The reality is that wage growth remains steady, the affordability of mortgage products is still very good indeed, and these factors along with a shortage of stock will continue to support the market.”