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Annual house price growth ‘running at below 5% across all UK’s biggest cities’

None of the UK’s biggest cities saw annual property growth hitting 5% or more in August – marking the first time this has happened since 2012 as the market adjusts to more realistic pricing, according to an index.

Zoopla’s index, which covers house price movements in the UK’s 20 biggest cities, found that the fastest rate of year-on-year house price growth in August was in Leicester, at 4.8%, according to Zoopla.

It was the first time since December 2012 that the city with the fastest house price growth had an annual rate of price inflation below 5%.

Leicester was followed by Liverpool, where average house prices increased by 4.6% compared with a year earlier, and Manchester with a 4.5% uplift.

The biggest house price fall in August was in Aberdeen, where house prices were 4% lower than a year earlier, according to the cities index.

Oxford also saw house prices edge downwards, with property values there falling by 0.4% annually.

In London, house prices increased by just 0.2% annually, while in Cambridge they lifted by 0.3%.

Year-on-year house price growth was 4.0% in Edinburgh, 4.1% in Cardiff and 3.6% in Belfast.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Zoopla, said the housing market is “throwing off mixed signals”.

He said: “This is at a time when Brexit is dominating the headlines again and further complicating the outlook”.

He said southern cities in particular have seen a reduction in cash buyers – “and we believe this is down to a decline in investment-buying across high value cities”.

Mr Donnell continued: “This has compounded the slowdown in price rises, which we see as a return to a more sustainable pace of price growth rather than an impending re-correction.

“The London market continues to see greater realism in pricing and there are signs of a modest increase in market activity.

“This isn’t a precursor to price rises, but we do expect sales volumes to start rising once again.”

By Vicky Shaw

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Annual house price growth stagnates in January

Annual house price growth almost ground to a complete halt in January, with prices just 0.1% higher than the same time last year, Nationwide’s House Price Index has found.

This follows a subdued December when price growth slowed to 0.5%. There was a modest 0.3% increase month-on-month after taking account of seasonal factors.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but forward-looking indicators had suggested some softening was likely.

“In particular, measures of consumer confidence weakened in December and surveyors reported a further fall in new buyer enquiries towards the end of 2018.

“While the number of properties coming onto the market also slowed, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of demand and supply in favour of buyers in recent months. Uncertainty exerting a drag on the market.”

Gardner added: “It is likely that the recent slowdown is attributable to the impact of the uncertain economic outlook on buyer sentiment, given that it has occurred against a backdrop of solid employment growth, stronger wage growth and continued low borrowing costs.

“Near term prospects will be heavily dependent on how quickly this uncertainty lifts, but ultimately the outlook for the housing market and house prices will be determined by the performance of the wider economy – especially the labour market.

“The economic outlook remains unusually uncertain. However, if the economy continues to grow at a modest pace, with the unemployment rate and borrowing costs remaining close to current levels, we would expect UK house prices to rise at a low single-digit pace in 2019.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, thought these figures confirmed a market struggling to weather the Brexit storm but not collapsing.

He added: “The fall in December has been replaced by a modest rise in January but this is probably just as much to do with shortage of stock as release of some inevitable pent-up demand in the post-Christmas period.

“Looking ahead, there are probably too many potential bumps on the road to give a clear steer as to the future direction of prices and activity but what is apparent is that there remains a determination among a good number of serious buyers and sellers to find a way of moving on.”

Similarly, Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said that uncertainty is the main issue affecting the housing market with potential buyers and sellers sitting on their hands and waiting to see what happens with Brexit.

He said: “However, lenders won’t be put off. They have started this year the way they finished the last one – keen to lend and offering some competitive products to encourage borrowers to take the plunge. Those who are in the market for a new mortgage or remortgage will find plenty of attractive deals, with many lenders cutting rates in the past couple of weeks or tweaking criteria.

“We expect pricing to remain low in the coming weeks as lenders compete for somewhat limited business in very uncertain times.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Annual house price growth slowest since March 2013

Annual house price growth has fallen back to its lowest rate in more than five years, according to an index.

Across the UK, house prices increased by 1.5% annually in October, following a 2.5% annual increase in September, Halifax said.

Property values increased by 0.7% month on month in October, taking the average house price to £227,869.

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: “The annual rate of house price growth has fallen from 2.5% in September to 1.5% in October, which is the lowest rate of annual growth since March 2013.

“However, this remains within our forecast annual growth range of 0% to 3% for 2018.

“House prices continue to be supported by the fact that the supply of new homes and existing properties available for sale remains low.

“Further house price support comes from an already high and improving employment rate and historically low mortgage rates which are creating higher rates of relative affordability.

“We see this continuing to be the case over the coming months and we remain supportive of our 0% to 3% forecast range.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser, EY Item Club, said the 0.7% month-on-month house price increase in October, was likely to be a correction after a particularly sharp 1.3% month-on-month price dip in September, which had been the second fall in a row following a 0.2% month-on-month decrease in August.

Mr Archer said house prices are typically expensive relative to incomes – standing at around five-and-a-half times earnings in October – well above the long-term average of just over four times earnings seen since 1983.

He said: “It is evident that the housing market is struggling for traction in the face of still limited consumer purchasing power, fragile consumer confidence and wariness over higher interest rates. Brexit uncertainty may also be having some dampening impact on activity.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said that while mortgage rates have not increased significantly, Bank of England base rate hikes have made households nervous of taking out mortgages with high loan-to-income ratios.

“In addition, would-be buyers are deferring purchases until the risk of a no-deal Brexit lifts,” he said.

“The housing market looks set to be dormant throughout the winter.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: “On the ground, realism is hitting home to many sellers who are starting to appreciate that the first offer they receive could very well be their only one, however unpalatable it may be.”

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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House prices recover from April slump, but annual growth slows again

The rate of annual house price growth has slowed for the second month in a row as Halifax reports a “subdued” property market.

The lender’s May House Price Index showed average prices were up 1.9% annually, slower than the 2.2% yearly growth recorded in April, to £224,439.

House prices returned to growth on a monthly basis, up 1.5% during May after a 3.1% decline in April.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, suggested house prices were mainly being supported by a strong labour market.

He said: “These latest price changes reflect a relatively subdued UK housing market.

“After a sharp rise in January, mortgage approvals have softened in the past three months. Both newly agreed sales and new buyer enquiries are showing signs of stabilisation having fallen in recent months.

“The continuing strength of the labour market is supporting house prices. In the three months to March the number of full-time employees increased by 202,000, the biggest rise in three years.

“We are also seeing pay growth edging up and consumer price inflation falling, and as a result the squeeze on real earnings has started to ease.

“With interest rates still very low we see mortgage affordability at very manageable levels providing a further underpinning to prices.”

Commenting on the figures, Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “At first glance, these figures look disappointing with Halifax reporting annual house price growth softening in May.

“Once again we are seeing the rather topsy turvy pattern to the housing market – up one month, down the next. It is the same on the ground – no real pattern, with buyers and sellers negotiating hard but not always successfully.

“Looking forward, we expect more of the same and possibly slightly better as we await figures reflecting the crucial spring market period.”

Source: Property Industry Eye