UK Home Prices And Activity Show Modest Declines

Although the UK real estate market is much revitalized since the crash, residential prices and activity are starting to fall off as supply increases. Housing affordability is helping …

Although the UK real estate market is much revitalized since the crash, residential prices and activity are starting to fall off as supply increases. Housing affordability is helping to fuel buyer interest, however, as low lending rates are helping to drive drive down the cost of owning a home. See the following article from Property Wire for more on this. 

Residential property prices in the UK fell 0.6% in June on the back of a similar decline in May and in line with predictions from leading industry commentators. The latest house prices index from the Halifax shows that prices in the April to June quarter were largely unchanged compared with the first three months of the year. This continued the slowdown in house price growth since the beginning of the year following the moderate recovery in prices during much of 2009.

‘This pattern is in line with our view that house prices will be broadly unchanged over 2010 as a whole. A shortage of properties for sale in 2009 contributed to an imbalance between supply and demand and was a key factor driving up house prices last year,’ said Martin Ellis, housing economist at the Halifax.

‘An increase in the number of properties available for sale in recent months has helped to reduce the imbalance, relieving the upward pressure on prices. The low level of interest rates, however, continues to support housing demand,’ he added.

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The index also shows that prices in the second quarter of 2010 were 0.1% lower than in the first quarter of 2010. This continued the slowdown in the pace of house price growth since the beginning of the year and compared with a 0.6% rise in the first quarter of the year.

Property prices in June were 6.3% higher on an annual basis as measured by the average for the latest three months against the same period a year earlier. This was below the 6.9% increase in May, which was the highest since October 2007 at 8.9%.

Prices are now 7.5% above their April 2009 trough despite the modest decline over the past few months. The average house price is currently £166,203, some 17% below its August 2007 peak.

The increase in the number of properties for sale is curbing the upward pressure on house prices. Estate agents have reported a sharp increase in instructions from new vendors following the recent abolition of HIPs, reinforcing the recent trend as more homeowners have been encouraged to sell following the improvement in house prices in 2009.

The ratio of house sales to the stock of unsold properties on surveyors’ books fell for the fifth time in the past six months in May according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Ellis said the easing in this ratio indicates a moderate loosening in market conditions, reducing the support for house prices.

He also pointed out that Bank of England industry wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchase, a leading indicator of completed house sales, were largely unchanged between April and May, at a seasonally adjusted 49,800. Approvals in the three months to May, however, were 3% lower than in the preceding three months, indicating a modest softening in housing market activity.

In separate research, Halifax has found that the cost of owning and running a home in the UK has declined by 6% over the past two years. Between April 2008 and April 2010, the average annual cost associated with owning and running a home fell by £544 from £9,564 to £9,020. In real terms, that is after allowing for retail price inflation, the cost of housing has fallen by 9%. Housing costs in the UK are now equivalent to 27% of gross average full time earnings, down from 30% in 2008.

The Halifax said that the fall in the cost of housing since 2008 has been driven by a 19% decline in mortgage payments. The average mortgage rate paid by existing borrowers fell by 2.13% points between April 2008 and April 2010 from 5.80% to 3.67%.

This article has been republished from Property Wire. You can also view this article at
Property Wire, an international real estate news site.

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