House prices steady in July

House prices steady in July

The average UK house price increased on a yearly basis in July despite slipping slightly in the month, according to the latest Halifax house price index.

The index, published today (August 7), showed the average price of a property was £236,120 in July — 4.1 per cent higher than the same month last year but 0.2 per cent below the June 2018 price.

According to the lender, July’s annual change of 4.1 per cent comes against a backdrop of relatively low growth in the corresponding period in 2018.

House prices were also 0.4 per cent higher in the three months to July than in the previous quarter (February to April).

Data from HM Revenue & Customs, used in the index, showed that the number of transactions was down in June — 16.5 per cent lower than the year before — but mortgage approvals were steady at 66,440 for the month of June.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “The average UK house price fell slightly for a second month, as the market continues to tread water with marginal increases or decreases in each monthly period. 

“That said, it’s worth remembering that while economic uncertainty continues to weigh on the market, the overall trend actually remains one of comparative stability, with average prices down by less than £600 over the last three months.”

Mr Galley thought there was unlikely to be a step change in the market until buyers and sellers saw some form of resolution to the current economic uncertainty.

Joshua Elash, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “The market is flat and house prices are down again month-on-month, but the shift is relatively small. 

“However, there is a risk that come autumn, the robustness of the property market will be put to the test.

"If Brexit or deflationary forces lead to the Bank of England increasing the base rate, there will be consequential pressure on homeowners to sell as they struggle to deal with meeting the cost of increased mortgage payments.”

North London estate agent, Jeremy Leaf, said the Halifax figures confirmed what the industry was seeing on the ground — that there has been “no real change to house prices” and no change expected as buyers seemed to be looking beyond Brexit “irrespective of the outcome”.

He added: “What is more important is the number of transactions, which remain sluggish and protracted as sellers reluctantly come to terms with new market realities.”

The notion the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, had housing firmly on his agenda was “encouraging”, according to Brian Murphy, head of lending at the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

He also thought today’s report suggested there would be no significant movement in the market dynamic until later this year.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “Encouragingly, mortgage pricing continues to be extremely competitive. 

“A number of lenders have cut rates again, while others are tweaking criteria to appeal to more customers.”