Halifax index shows only modest price rises

House prices in the UK grew by 2.7 per cent in the last three months of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, while the annual change in December was 3.9 per cent lower than the previous month. The Halifax House Price Index (HPI) showed a 1.3 per cent increase in the fourth quarter from the previous three months. On a monthly basis, prices also fell by 0.6 per cent from November, following a 0.3 per cent increase in both October and November. This is the first reported fall since June 2017.

The average price of £225,021 at the end of the year is 2.4 per cent higher than in January 2017 (£219,741). Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax Community Bank, gave an explanation of the figures: “As we’d anticipated, the housing market in 2017 followed a similar pattern to the previous year. House price growth slowed, while building activity, completed sales and mortgage approvals for house purchases all remained flat. This has been driven by a squeeze on real wage growth and continuing uncertainty over the economy.” Galley believes however that, nationally, house prices in 2018 are likely to be supported by the “ongoing shortage of properties for sale, low levels of housebuilding, high employment and a continuation of low interest rates making mortgage servicing affordable in relative terms.”

“Overall we expect annual price growth to continue in the range of 0-3 per cent at the end of 2018,” he concluded. Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans, commented: “Despite announcements in the Autumn Budget focused on sorting the lack of supply once and for all, the fact remains that not enough homes are being built, which continues to inflate prices even in the previously more affordable regions outside the capital.

“Until supply catches up, it’s crucial that supportive measures are put in place to ensure the rental sector is supported. Improving the quality and choice of rental homes for tenants must be top of the priority list for the year ahead.” Jonathan Hopper, managing director at

Garrington Property Finders, gave his perspective: “A decade on from the financial crash, there’s an uncomfortable similarity in the ratio of the average property price to the average salary, with Halifax’s data showing the multiple is


estate agents books close to all time lows. Going forward, and looking at sales

now the same as it was when the market fell apart.

“But despite the questions over

affordability, 2018 is not 2008. Banks are better capitalised and continue to lend, and while the supply of new homes for sale is tight in many areas, the market continues to flow relatively freely.” He continued: “As long as there are no unforeseen shocks, such as change of Government or the collapse of Brexit negotiations, we expect this gradual progress to continue. “Nevertheless, demand is accompanied by one overriding caveat, price sensitivity. With wages falling in real terms and rail commuters suffering inflation-busting ticket price rises, buyers face a balancing act when accessing value, and even the most determined are willing to walk away if the price isn’t right.”

UK house price growth set for standstill

House price growth in the UK will likely come to a halt over the course of next year as the number of transactions reduces slightly, according to the RICS housing forecast for 2018.

The national prediction however includes price growth in some regions, offsetting declines in London and the south east.

The RICS UK Market Survey has recently shown buyer enquiries stalling, sales volumes stagnating and sentiment turning altogether more cautious as a result. The RICS claims the strongest theme impacting the behaviour of the housing market in 2018 is again expected to be the overriding issue of supply, with stock on

activity, the market looks unlikely to breach 1.2 million sales in 2018, with political and economic uncertainty providing a hindrance, as well as the lack of stock, stretched affordability, tax changes and interest rate rises. Tarrant Parsons, RICS economist, commented: “Following a pretty lacklustre finish to 2017, the indications are that momentum across the housing market will be lacking as 2018 gets underway. “With several of the forces currently weighing on activity set to persist over the near term, it’s difficult to envisage a material step-up in impetus during the next twelve months. However, the fundamentals are not much changed from the end of 2017, so levels of activity should soften only marginally when compared to the year just ending.” “That said,” he continued, “despite the recent interest rate hike, mortgage rates are set to remain very favourable, with the prospect of further rises seemingly minimal over the coming year. Alongside this, Government schemes such as Help to Buy should continue to provide some support to sales activity.” Lewis Johnston, RICS parliamentary

affairs manager, offered Government some advice: “To fundamentally shift the narrative on housing in 2018, Ministers need to both introduce new ideas and be much bolder on the positive but tentative moves they’ve made in 2017.” Johnson continued: “The lifting of the borrowing cap for councils should be brought forward, alongside a much larger package of measures for direct commissioning, and in addition to MP Oliver Letwin’s review of unused planning permission announced in the Autumn Budget, there needs to be a much broader rethink of the planning system.”

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