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House prices bounce back in October

House prices bounce back in October
John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

House prices rose in October, bringing an abrupt end to six straight months of falls, the latest Halifax house price index reveals.

House prices edged up 1.1% in the month, taking prices to an average of £281,974. This follows a 0.3% decline registered in September.

However, on an annual basis, house prices are down 3.2%. 

Halifax suggested that the first-time buyer market is holding up better than other areas of property, since the annual rate of house price growth for such buyers is -2.4%, a smaller fall compared to the general market over the last 12 months.

Regional differences

On a regional basis, the South East of England has seen the starkest falls. While all nations and regions of the UK have experienced price drops over the last year, the fall is sharpest in the South East at -6%.

By contrast, prices in Scotland have been the most resilient, with prices down by just 0.2%, while Northern Ireland has seen prices drop 0.5%.

Kim Kinnaird, director of Halifax Mortgages, noted that sellers were taking a “cautious attitude”, which was leading to a low supply of homes for sale which in turn is helping to prop up prices.

She said: “While many people will have seen their income grow through wage rises, higher interest rates and wider affordability pressures continue to be challenging for buyers.

“Across the medium-term, with financial markets not anticipating a decline in the Bank of England’s base rate soon, we expect house prices to fall further overall – with a return to growth from 2025.”

The Halifax study comes after the latest Nationwide house price index found prices grew 0.9% last month.

Lender confidence is growing

Lenders are “more confident” than they have been in some time, Mark Harris, chief executive of SPF Private Clients said, while there is “much less volatility” in the swaps market.

He said: “The second rate hold has increased speculation that base rate may have peaked, although even if this is the case, interest rates are unlikely to start declining for a while yet.

“Lenders continue to reduce their fixed rates, with five-year money available from 4.62%, compared with two-year fixes of just over 5%. Other lenders are enhancing and broadening criteria, which is a positive sign for the market and bodes well for coming months.”

Lack of supply boosting prices

Stephen Perkins, managing director of Yellow Brick Mortgages, said that the lack of supply was “pivotal” to these upticks in house prices, while demand is picking up as buyers “sense a bargain”.

He said: “First-time buyers in particular are in a strong position and know that they hold a lot of bargaining power at present. The stupendously high cost of renting is also encouraging them to buy even though mortgage rates are much higher than what they were. Nobody is expecting a spectacular recovery in the property market but predictions of further drops of 10% and above are starting to ring hollow.”

Malcolm Davidson, director of UK Moneyman, suggested that few would have expected house prices to rise, and noted he was not seeing buyers waiting for prices to fall but rather for the return of lower fixed rate mortgages.

Given that the Bank of England has stated twice in the past three months that interest rates are likely to remain high until inflation is well and truly behind us, that could well be a long wait,” he said.