The latest House Price Index showed house prices up 0.2 per cent in the three months from August to October compared to May to July this year. And prices rose 0.9 per cent in October compared to the same month in 2018.
“While this is the lowest growth seen in 2019, it again extends the largely flat trend that has taken hold over recent months.
“Underlying factors such as mortgage affordability and wage growth continue to support prices, however, there’s evidence consumers are erring on the side of caution.
“We remain unchanged from our view that activity levels and price growth will remain subdued while the UK navigates political and economic uncertainty,” said Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax.
The group pointed to figures from the Bank of England, HM Revenue & Customs and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) as further indicators of housing market activity levels.
The RICS Residential Market Survey for September 2019 showed “renewed decline in new instructions”, it said, with a net balance fall of minus 37 per cent, the weakest performance since June 2016.
Low interest outlook
Meanwhile, the Coutts London Prime Property Index revealed that prices fell by 0.8 per cent in the three months July to September, “eliminating gains made in H1 2019”.
The price of a prime London house is now worth 15.2 per cent less than in the market peak of 2014.
“The two biggest risk factors we’ve seen for property investment have been raising taxes and ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit. While the 3 per cent surcharge for investment property is likely to remain in place, there are now reasons for optimism regarding a potential bottoming of the market,” said Alan Higgins, chief investment officer at Coutts.
“Firstly, we expect Brexit to be resolved over the coming months, likely with a deal. Should this happen, we believe that overseas investors could be encouraged back to the UK market, attracted by very low sterling exchange rates that make UK properties a particular bargain for the non-sterling buyer.
“Additionally, there’s evidence to support our ‘low for longer’ view on interest rates. In the US, a bellwether for global markets, short-term rates have peaked already at below 3 per cent, indicating that the global structure of rates is much lower than previously thought. We believe that this low global interest rate structure could be a key long-term support for real estate,” Higgins said.