Today has brought a flurry of information on the state of play in the UK housing market as we wait to see how the slow sown in house price growth is developing. We start by noting that according to the official series things may have changed a little.
Average house prices in the UK increased by 1.3% in the year to August 2019, up from 0.8% in July 2019 (Figure 1) but remain below the increases seen this time last year. Over the past three years, there has been a general slowdown in UK house price growth, driven mainly by a slowdown in the south and east of England.
As someone who welcomes the fact that UK wage growth is now well above house price growth it is a shame that house price growth picked up. But we do at least have wages growth around 2% higher than house prices. That will take quite some time to fix the imbalances bit at least they are not still growing.Indeed the place where things are worst on the affordability front is improving faster than that.
he lowest annual growth was in London, where prices fell by 1.4% over the year to August 2019, followed by the South East where prices fell by 0.6% over the year.
This weekend has seen a swing in both directions from the Financial Times. First there is a switch to Paris.
Why London’s bankers cannot resist Paris property
Then er perhaps not.
David Livingstone, the new head of Citigroup in Europe, said the City of London will remain the region’s top financial centre regardless of the outcome of Brexit.
For balance here is the other side of the coin.
House price growth in Wales increased by 4.5% in the year to August 2019, up from 3.8% in July 2019, with the average house price at £168,000.
They have joined the fray this morning via Reuters.
Asking prices for British houses put on sale in October showed the smallest seasonal increase since the financial crisis, as all but the most determined sellers waited for greater certainty over Brexit, industry figures showed on Monday.
Rightmove said that the average asking price for homes sold via its website was 0.6% higher in October than in September, well below the average 1.6% rise seen for the time of year and the smallest increase since October 2008.
Reuters seemed a little less keen on this bit.
Average asking prices in October were 0.2% lower than in October 2018, compared with an annual rise of 0.2% in September.
Views differ on the 2016 referendum but personally I welcome this consequence.
Britain’s housing market has slowed since June 2016’s referendum on leaving the European Union, and official data last week – based on completed sales – showed annual house price growth of 1.3% in the year to August, up from a near seven-year low of 0.8% in July.
LSL operate rather a different system to the asking price driven Rightmove and in fact Rightmove’s methodology seems to have taken a further downgrade according to Henry Pryor.
“..average asking price for UK homes sold..” I think it’s for homes listed, it includes the 50% of homes that don’t sell.
LSL however use this.
The LSL/Acadata house price index provides the “average of all prices paid for houses”, including those made
As to the detail there is this.
Although average house prices in England and Wales climbed by a marginal £113 in the month of September, this was not a sufficiently large increase to avert a further decline in prices over the last twelve months, with the average annual price over this period falling by some -£1,100, or -0.4%. This was the eighth month in this calendar year in which the annual rate of growth has been negative.
In terms of a trend their accompanying chart shows that UK house price growth was of the order of 9% as 2016 began and has been heading lower ever since. So it was heading lower before the Brexit vote partly because if I recall correctly some tax changes for landlords which inflated things then deflated them.
As to the situation regarding real movements I am afraid that LSL then dig a hole for themselves. You can ( and I often do..) argue that the imputed rent driven CPIH is a woeful measure anyway but surely one should use wage growth here.
if we exclude London and the South East from our national statistics, price growth in England & Wales has remained positive over the last twelve months, albeit at a diminishing rate, such that by the end of September the rate of growth was a flat 0.0%……..It is currently only Wales where house price growth is ahead of CPIH. So we have marginal nominal gains alongside real terms falls, although of course the picture varies by type and area.
They have a go are torturing the numbers in a way that makes me wonder if they want a career at the Bank of England but they end up with all areas seeing real wage gains. Even Wales has some real wage growth relative to house prices.
As a Londoner I have to confess I am intrigued by the intra-London swings although the explanation below is a worrying one for the methodology used by LSL.
Unsurprisingly, it is East London where the largest rise in average prices in August for both the month itself and the
previous twelve months has been recorded, with Hackney up by 5.1% and 13.4% respectively. The reason for this gain
in prices is the launch of a new-build apartment block, known as the Atlas Building, comprising some 302 flats at 145 City Road, Hackney, close to Old Street Station. 67 of these apartments have been recorded by the Land Registry as having been sold in June and July to date, with prices ranging from £500k to £1.7 million. Given that this project
involves 302 new-build flats, we can anticipate that Hackney will continue to be at the top of the price-growth tables for several more months to come.
I would have hoped to have some quality measure or at least some form of allowing for the fact the new build sales are different to sales of existing houses or flats. Those selling an existing property in Hackney seem set to get a shock if they base their calculations on the LSL series.
Meanwhile on the other side of the coin.
At the other end of the scale, the borough with the largest fall in average values over the last twelve months is the
City of London, at -28.6%, but because few transactions take place there, its price movements are always quite
volatile, especially when expressed in percentage terms.
Also whilst we are looking at methodology we see that the average price overall has just dipped below £300k as opposed to the £235k of the official series.
It is easy to forget that there is much in the UK economy that is still house price growth friendly. For example mortgage rates remain very low driven by a 0.75% Bank Rate and a 0.53% five-year UK Gilt yield helping to keep fixed-rate mortgages at a low level. It seems the TSB wanted to join the party as of Friday.
TSB has made a series of changes to its mortgage range, featuring cuts of up to 1.30 per cent.
The biggest cuts can be found in the lender’s remortgage 10-year fix suite, with the 85 – 90 per cent LTV rate being chopped from 4.29 per cent to 2.99 per cent. This also asks for no fees and comes with free legals. ( Mortgage Strategy )
To this we can add the positive situation regarding real wages we noted above.
Foreign buyers may have been dipping into the market to take advantage of the lower value of the UK Pound. However things have changed there recently as 141 Yen and 1.28 versus the Swiss Franc replace the levels I noted on the 27th of August.
For example as markets opened yesterday the Yen went to higher levels than the “flash rally” ones I noted on the 3rd of January and at 130 Yen London property looks a fair bit cheaper. You could say the same about 1.20 versus the Swiss Franc.
Help To Buy shared ownership is still in play and has helped one of my friends and conveyancing delays permitting is about to help another.
The problem for house price bulls is that the measures above ( with the exception of real wage growth) were what was required to get UK house prices up to these levels, not to drive them higher. Real wage growth will take another year or two to have a significant impact. So unless we see a new move by the Bank of England or the UK government we seem set for real falls in house prices ( versus wages) and maybe nominal ones too.