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‘Steady as she goes’ for housing market with price growth unchanged

John Fitzsimons
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John Fitzsimons

House price growth in the year to June was 0.9 per cent according to the latest house price index from the Office for National Statistics, unchanged from the month before.

As a result, the average property is now worth £230,000, up by £2,000 from this point last year.

On a regional basis, Wales saw the strongest growth over the 12 months at 4.4 per cent. This was followed by Northern Ireland (3.5 per cent), the East Midlands (3.2 per cent), the West Midlands (2.6 per cent) and the North West (2.4 per cent).

Three regions saw house prices fall over the year, with London values struggling the most. Prices dropped by -2.7 per cent in the 12 months, with the South East at -0.6 per cent and the South West with -0.2 per cent also seeing values drop.

Steady as she goes

Mark Harris, chief executive of advice firm SPF Private Clients, said it was “steady as she goes” for the housing market which was no mean feat given the combination of the summer slowdown and Brexit uncertainty.

He continued: “Mortgage approvals rose slightly in June. Lenders remain keen to lend with a number cutting rates or easing criteria in order to encourage business. Remortgaging is likely to be particularly busy this autumn with many borrowers coming to the end of deals and lenders ready to pick up that business with long-term fixes in particular.”

A change to the usual seasonal patterns

Sam Mitchell, chief executive officer of online estate agents Housesimple, said that a slowdown over the summer was no surprise, but suggested that the threat of a no-deal Brexit could mean “considerable changes” to the usual seasonal property patterns.

He continued: “The Halloween deadline is fast approaching and with that comes the fear and urgency of home movers to complete deals before we leave the EU. While the longer-term outlook remains uncertain, this is likely to stimulate a lot of buyers and sellers throughout the housing chain in the next three months – from first-time buyers all the way up to down sizers.” 

Wary of the commitment

Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at online broker Trussle, described the market as “stagnant”, suggesting that the Brexit situation was making would-be buyers wary of committing to a move.

She added: “However, for those that can afford to get onto the housing ladder, more borrowers are thinking strategically of how best to protect themselves against the ongoing Brexit chaos by locking into decade-long fixed rate mortgages. And with some lenders offering longer term security products, this approach is possible.”