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House prices recover from sharp April fall

Written by: Owain Thomas
House price rises slowed to just 1.9% in the year to May, according to the latest data from Halifax.

It maintained the trend of a sluggish market throughout 2018, with annual price rises hovering at around the 2% level.

There was some good news within the data as on a monthly level, prices rose by 1.5%, recovering from April’s sharp fall of 3.1%.

It left the average house price standing at £224,439 in May, down from the recent peak in March of £228,102, and also below the figures seen in most of the second half of last year.

The more volatile monthly figures were in contrast to data from the Nationwide house price index, which has reported falls in three of the last four months, but the trend of slowing annual price growth remains similar.

Halifax managing director, Russell Galley, said these latest price changes reflected a relatively subdued UK housing market.

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

“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,” he added.

Fewer transactions

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at estate agent, Yopa, said: “April’s big monthly fall has partly been reversed, suggesting that the bad weather in March played a large part.

“The fundamentals of the market are still strong, with tight supply, strong employment figures, average wages rising faster than inflation and continuing low mortgage interest rates. We are unlikely to see much more of a downturn in prices unless those economic fundamentals change.

“However, both supply and demand are subdued compared with last year, and we may see a lower total number of house sales in 2018 than in recent years.”

Bank of Mum and Dad reliance

Legal & General Mortgage Club director, Kevin Roberts, added: “Younger buyers are also benefitting from growing support for schemes like shared ownership, which are putting them in a better position than a few years ago.

“However, this isn’t to say the housing crisis is over. One in every four housing transactions in this country is still supported by the Bank of Mum and Dad, a generous level of support, but what about those individuals who don’t have this to rely on?”

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