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House prices fall 1.2% in post-Brexit vote summer lull

Housing experts say the health of UK house prices hangs on the strength of the ‘traditional autumn market’, as the summer lull adds to the subdued sentiment caused by the Brexit vote.

House price research released by Rightmove, which analysed properties put up for sale between 10 July and 6 August, showed asking prices fell by an average of 1.2% on the previous month, a drop of £3,602.

The monthly decline is in line with the average decrease in house prices experienced over the last six years. There have only been larger drops in two of the last six years since 2010.

In its report, Rightmove said the year was very much one of two halves as Brexit uncertainty followed on from the lull after the rush to beat the April Stamp Duty deadline and had now melted into the quieter activity seen in the summer months. How different the latter half of the year would be, depended on the strength of the traditional market rebound this autumn.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “Many prospective buyers take a summer break from home-hunting, and those who come to market at this quieter time of year tend to price more aggressively.

“This summer is also affected by both Brexit uncertainty and the aftermath of the buy-to-let rush in March to beat the Stamp Duty deadline. Most sellers seem to recognise that buyers may want some extra encouragement to get them to put their towel on a property to reserve it as well as on their sunbed.”

Enquiries to agents in July were down 18% on the election-boosted equivalent month in 2015 but 4% higher than July 2014 indicating that despite the turbulence caused by the UK’s vote to leave the EU, the housing market has yet to show signs of any major upheaval.

Robert Scott-Lee, managing director of Chancellors, the estate agents, said: “As we look towards the autumn market we feel very confident with the underlying fundamentals. Applicant enquiries are strong and buyer motivation is strong given lending rates and general demand caused by under supply, however, we of course note that political developments may cause ongoing disturbance to the normal negotiation process.”

Scott-Lee said some buyers had tried to cash-in on the uncertainty of the political and economic environment by renegotiating prices but many sellers had stood firm, bolstered with the confidence of having back-up offers from other interested househunters.

The average UK selling time was 60 days in July, slightly higher than the previous month when sellers were able to complete their transactions within 58 days. Year-on-year, selling times have improved with the average time taken to sell a home standing at 65 in July last year.

Homeowners in London and the south east have experienced the greatest slowdown in the time it takes to sell their properties. Time to sell in London has increased by five days between May and July, the south east and the south west regions were up by four days. The east of England region was up by three days. While the average number of days it takes to sell a property was still longer in the north, all of the northern regions have seen either no change or just a day plus or minus over the same period.

The research highlighted that the sector which would most benefit from the autumn pick-up was made up of larger homes with four or more bedrooms.

They are taking the longest time to sell, with an average of 74 days from being advertised on Rightmove to being marked as sold subject to contract by estate agents.

This ‘top of the ladder’ sector was also suffering the largest drop in new seller asking prices this month, with a fall of 2.9%. First-time buyer homes, those with two bedrooms or fewer, and second-stepper type properties, which typically have three bedrooms are performing the best, with an average time-to-sell of 58 days and price drops of 0.5% and 0.4% respectively.

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