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South and east behind house price ‘slowdown’ ‒ ONS

  • 17/07/2019
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South and east behind house price ‘slowdown’ ‒ ONS
Annual house price growth dropped from 1.5 per cent to 1.2 per cent in May, according to the latest house price index from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).


As a result, the average property is now worth £229,000, £2,000 higher than the same period a year ago.

The ONS noted that there has been a general slowdown in house price growth over the last three years “driven mainly by a slowdown in the south and east of England”.

It pointed to London, which saw prices drop by 4.4 per cent over the year, compared to a fall of 1.7 per cent in the year to April. The North East was the only other region to see prices fall over the period, by 0.7 per cent.

In contrast, the North West saw prices jump 3.4 per cent, while the West Midlands saw a rise of 2.7 per cent, followed by the South West at 2.6 per cent.


Capital ‘plaguing’ the national average

Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agent Housesimple, noted that price growth was “somewhat subdued”, but pointed to London’s price fall as having “plagued the UK average”.

However, he noted that prospects were actually positive, with buyers “coming to the market in their numbers”, noting that lending for house purchases is at its highest level since June 2016.

He added: “Buyer confidence should be music to the ears of prospective sellers. Many might have been waiting for Brexit clarity before selling, but understandably their patience, and that of buyers, is now wearing thin.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director at MT Finance, argued that as long as transactions were at a “subdued level”, there would be no real improvement in house price growth.

He continued: “We are unlikely to see any significant change to property prices unless the new prime minister makes a significant change to stamp duty which is a big blocker to those buying second homes or buy-to-lets.”


Affordability worries unshakeable

John Goodall, chief executive of Landbay, argued that given the political uncertainty, the fact that prices were growing at all underlined the strength of the market.

But he warned the reality was that “affordability remains an unshakeable concern” for first-time buyers, even with wage growth starting to improve.

He continued: “Prospective buyers should take heart that despite the recent fall in residential transaction volumes, there is significant appetite for mortgage lending from lenders as a collective. The fact that house price growth is slowing means now could well be the time to act.”


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