UK housing market shrugs off concerns of Brexit slowdown

Rightmove survey shows 4.6% rise in house sales compared with the month of the EU referendum, while the sum of 2017 sales is on a par with the year before.

The UK housing market is shrugging off concerns in the wider economy following the Brexit vote, compounding problems for many first-time buyers still wrestling with the strongest year-on-year price rises in the market.

There are more buyers and sellers in the wider market compared with the period around the referendum a year ago, with the number of sales agreed up by 4.6% in June 2017 compared with June 2016, the latest survey by property website Rightmove found.

The company added that prospective buyers are “seeing a lot of sold boards on properties they would like to buy themselves” – with over 45% of estate agents’ property stock now being sold subject to contract.

Meanwhile, cumulative sales agreed during 2017 are almost on a par with the same period in 2016, down by 0.4%, even though the first six months of last year was boosted by the rush to beat the April 2016 stamp duty deadline, the survey added.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “A year on from the shock referendum result and subsequent dent in activity levels, the fundamentals remain strong.

“Low unemployment, low interest rates, strong demand and historic undersupply of homes are mitigating any wobbles in confidence and as a result nearly half the properties on the market, over 45%, have sold signs slapped across them.”

The monthly survey, which is calculated on asking prices rather than completed transactions, comes at a time of year when the property market is typically quiet, as buyers and sellers take a break from the spring selling season and households concentrate more on holidays than house buying.

According to Rightmove, the seasonal slowdown in activity has caused the overall market to rise by just 0.1% last month, but while that includes a drop in prices for first-time buyers outside of London since June, the traditional blip in the market at this time of year has provided little solace for embattled buyers trying to get on the property ladder.

The data shows that the national average asking price for people buying their first home has dropped by 1.7% since last month to £196,450, but that figure is still 3.8% higher than a year ago, while the first-time buyer sector is the highest riser in the market during 2017.

Still, Rightmove cautioned that in spite of high demand and lack of suitable supply, stretched buyer affordability continues to act as a price brake. While all regions have seen year-on-year price rises, the national average stands at a “relatively subdued” increase of 2.8% to £316,421, the company said.

The warnings about supply also dovetail with a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) published last week, which showed that the average number of properties available per agency branch had fallen to an all-time low in June, at just over 42.

Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau, added: “The average time to sell, standing at 60 days in this month’s [Rightmove] report, has remained broadly unchanged now for the last quarter, and also points to market consistency in most areas that again flies in the face of some who might suggest that the market is in negative territory.

“Quite to the contrary, all of these indicators would point to a calm, steady and functioning UK market, with perhaps those consumers who did decide to ‘wait and see’ in the lead up the election now deciding to simply get on with their move, adding yet more motivated movers into the mix in most parts of the UK.”

Overall, the West Midlands has experienced the greatest price rises in England and Wales during 2017, according to the Rightmove survey, with prices 6.1% higher than last year.

The East Midlands has been the next best performer with price growth of 4.9% followed by Yorkshire and Humber at 4.1%. Greater London has had the weakest growth of the regions outside central London over the past 12 months with 0.9%, followed by the north-east with 1.6%.

The author: Clémentine FORISSIER

Clémentine Forissier, a youthful journalist hailing from Brussels, has been making waves in the field of media. Despite her relatively young age, she has quickly risen to prominence as a prominent voice in Belgian journalism. Known for her fresh perspective and dynamic reporting, Clémentine has become a recognized figure in the Brussels media scene, offering insightful coverage of various topics.

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