What’s in store for the housing market this autumn?

 

August’s figures reveal the usual pattern of reduced prices and subdued transaction volumes. The most up-to-date figures from Rightmove report asking prices dropped by 2.3%, which may sound a lot, but many of those selling in the quieter summer months are doing so out of necessity and often have to discount in order to generate interest and a sale. To put this into perspective, during the same period last year, the fall was 2.1%.

 

Of more significance are the annual figures, which show growth slowing to 1.1% over the last twelve months. Transaction volumes were also slightly lower, but not by much – down 0.8% (source: Rightmove).

Rightmove Director, Miles Shipside, says:

“Overall, in spite of political uncertainty, sales agreed are holding pretty steady and it is usual for there to be an upturn in prices and buyer activity as we head into the autumn season, especially if sellers maintain their cheaper pricing to attract buyers.”

However, despite entering one of the busier sales periods of the year, uncertainty over Brexit, political infighting, rising interest rates and stretched affordability mean it is unlikely we will see any significant price rises.

After so many years of growth, a period of relative stagnation can seem unsettling. Many commentators, however, are claiming it’s good news as, for the first time in almost a generation, inflation is running ahead consistently ahead of house prices, providing a much needed boost for first time buyers. And, what’s good for first time buyers is, ultimately, good for the overall health of the housing market.

Conditions do vary widely from region to region, with annual price growth still buoyant in many of the more affordable areas. In the West Midlands, asking prices were up by 5.1%. In Wales they’re up 4.9% and by 3.8% in Scotland. London continues to drag behind the rest of the country, with annual growth slipping into negative territory at -1.2%. Only Zone 4 recorded any growth, at 0.3%. In Zone 1, prices fell by 3.6%, which was some way ahead of the next biggest faller, Zone 2, which fell by 0.7%. In a perfect demonstration of how the property market is made up of a series of micro markets, the borough of Kensington and Chelsea bucked all the prevailing trends by rising 2.4%.

 

HOUSE PRICES AND STATISTICS

July’s figures are all positive, but those indices that are now reporting August’s prices have fallen into negative territory. It's no surprise, as August is one of the quietest months of the year for house sales.

Nationwide: Aug: Avge. price £214,715. Monthly change -0.5%. Annual change +2.0% 
Halifax: July. Avge. price £230,280. Monthly change +1.4%. Annual change +3.3%
Land Registry: June¬: Avge. price £228,384. Monthly change +0.4%. Annual change +3.0%
Hometrack UK City Index: July: Avge. price £252,400. Quarterly change +2.9%. Annual change +4.2% 
Rightmove: Aug: Avge. price £309,973. Monthly change -2.3%. Annual change +1.1% (asking prices on Rightmove)