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Reports Give Insight into Property Market

The latest House Price Index from Halifax has revealed that UK house prices over the last three months (August-October) were 2.3% higher than in the previous three months (May-July).

House Prices Rise

In addition, prices in the three months to October were 4.5% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. The annual rate in October is higher than in September (4.0%) and at its highest growth rate since February.

House prices rose by 0.3% between September and October, following a 0.8% increase in September. The average price of £225,826 is the highest on record and 2.8% higher than in January (£219,741).

“The fact that the supply of new homes and existing properties available for sale remains low, combined with historically low mortgage rates and a high employment rate, continues to support house prices and is likely to do so over the coming months,” commented Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax Community Bank. “Increasing pressure on household finances and continuing affordability concerns are some of the factors likely to dampen buyer demand. That said we do not anticipate the Base Rate rise will be a barrier to buying a house.”

Shortage of Houses for Sale

With regards to house sales, the Index found that despite home sales recording a modest fall of 2% to 100,850 in September they have remained just above 100,000 each month since January. In the three months to September home sales were 6% higher than in the same period a year earlier.

However, the shortage of homes for sale appears to be continuing to limit activity, with the balance of new sales instructions for home sales falling for the 19th consecutive month in September. The average stock levels on estate agents’ books, on the other hand, remain broadly stable. New buyer enquiries declined in September for the sixth month in succession – and the lowest level since July 2016.

Decline in Buyer Interest

A lack of buyer demand and a decline in sales were also revealed in the latest Residential Market Survey by RICS.

It found that in October, interest from buyers continued to decline, with 20% more respondents seeing a fall in new buyer enquiries over the month.  Agreed sales were also reported to have fallen again with 20% more respondents noting a decline in transactions over the month at the national level. Regionally, Wales, Scotland and the North East were the only areas to see any pick-up for agreed sales, while sales trends were either flat or negative across the rest of the UK.

“The combination of the increased cost of moving, a lack of fresh stock coming to the market, uncertainly over the political climate and now an interest rate hike appears to be taking its toll on activity in the housing market,” commented Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist. “With both buyer enquiries slipping and sales expectations also subdued, the sense is that home owners are staying put and first time purchasers are increasingly focusing on that part of the market supported by the Help to Buy incentive. A stagnant second-hand market is bad news for the wider economy, not just in terms of spending but also because it restricts mobility.”

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