House prices inched up by their lowest annual rate in six years in the three months to November, growing just 0.3 per cent compared to the same period last year, new figures show.
The average house price is now £224,578, according to Halifax’s index, after prices fell by a 1.4 per cent in November over October, making it three months of falls out of the last four. Compared to the preceding three months of June to August, prices dropped by 1.1 per cent.
But the three months to October saw home sales jump 2.4 per cent on the previous quarter, with September and October both seeing more than 101,000 homes sold.
November’s figures showed mixed results in Britain’s housing market, with the lowest growth in house prices in six years accompanied by a 2.4% jump in home sales on the previous quarter
Meanwhile, for only the third time in the last 18 months more than 67,000 mortgages were approved in October to finance house purchases, up 2 per cent on September’s numbers.
Russell Galley, the Managing Director of Halifax, said: ‘House price growth has slowed as we approach the end of the year, falling from 1.5% in October to 0.3% in November.
Halifax’s House Price Index showed that house prices have fallen in three of the last four months, and are down 1.1% on the previous quarter of 2018
‘While this is the lowest rate of growth in six years, it remains within our forecast range of 0% to 3% for 2018.
‘High employment, wage growth and historically low mortgage rates continue to make home ownership more affordable for many, though the need to raise a significant deposit still acts as something of a restraint on the market.
‘This is largely offset by relatively limited supply of new and existing properties for sale, which continues to sustain house prices nationally.’
Since a high ten years ago just before the financial crisis, the average number of homes for sale has more than halved, which Halifax’s Russell Galley blamed for high house prices
Experts were divided in their response to the figures, with some quick to blame uncertainty over Brexit.
Jonathan Samuels, CEO of the property lender Octane Capital said: ‘The lowest rate of growth for six years is a reflection of how Brexit uncertainty has hit the property market for six.
‘Without wanting to appear overly pessimistic, there’s every chance 2019 could be 2009 all over again.
‘All the ingredients for extreme uncertainty, both political and economic, are in the mix.
‘As we approach the finish line tape of 2018, there’s a sense that next year could deliver no end of curveballs at best — and a black swan at worst.’
Others said it came down to affordability, not politics. Lucy Pendleton, co-founder director of estate agents James Pendleton, said: ‘The market has buckled but don’t blame Brexit, blame the piggy bank mentality.
‘Most UK homeowners, if they’re being honest with themselves, will say they’ve had a great run over the past five years.
‘This period began after the market pulled its face out of the mud of a horrible 2012, when plenty of property just would not budge and prices fell throughout the year.
‘The problem is that a long bull run like this encourages people to see their home more as an investment, and we all begin to wonder how long it will last.
‘A desire to stay put is borne of a fear of missing out and this all helps to weigh on transactions, which ultimately brings things to a head sooner.’
One estate agent urged calm. Sam Mitchell, the CEO of Housesimple.com, said: ‘On first glance, these figures might set alarm bells ringing, but we need to put them into context before manning the panic stations.
‘There’s an unprecedented level of political turbulence battering the country at the moment and that is inevitably feeding through to house prices.
‘We didn’t see the traditional Autumn bounce in transaction levels this year, but after a subdued summer and three months of Brexit wranglings, it was probably more hope than expectation that the housing market would just power through.
‘All things considered, the property market is actually holding up incredibly well in extremely testing times. And there are areas of the country, such as the North West and Yorkshire, which seemed to have brushed off Brexit fears.’