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News: House prices continue along the 'snail trail'

Tue, 11 Sep 07

House prices increased by a measly 0.4% in August, according to new figures from Halifax...

This is the third month in the last four that house prices have grown by less than 0.5%, confirming that house price inflation is slowing.

The three monthly increase in house prices – a good indicator of the underlying trend – has fallen from 4.5% in March to 1.6% in August. 

The annual rate edged higher to 11.4% in August from 11.2% in July.  The annual rate should decline over the coming months as the strong monthly house price gains last summer and autumn drop out of the year-on-year comparisons.

Mortgages drop off

Mortgage approvals to fund house purchase in the three months to July were 9% lower than during the recent three month peak during September to November 2006. The level of new buyer interest in purchasing a house fell for the eighth successive month in July, marking increasing caution amongst potential buyers.  

A healthy economy and strong labour market continue to underpin housing demand.  Gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.8% between Q1 and Q2, above its long-term average pace (0.7%).  Employment continued to rise against the background of healthy economic growth in the three months to June with the total number 93,000 higher than in the previous quarter.

Inflation ‘expected to ease’

House price inflation is expected to ease over the rest of 2007.  The increase in mortgage rates since last summer is having an effect on housing affordability and will bite further during the coming months. 

Negative real earnings growth so far this year - average earnings increased by 3.3% over the year to June 2007 against a 4.4% rise in the Retail Price Index - and rising food prices will also reduce the income households have available for housing.

Commenting, Martin Ellis, chief economist, said: "House prices increased by 0.4 per cent in August.  This is the third month in the last four that house prices have risen by less than 0.5 per cent.  Whilst the market remains robust, this provides further evidence that house price inflation has slowed since the beginning of the year. 

The downward trend in house price growth is expected to continue over the remainder of 2007 as the five interest rate rises since last summer have an increasing impact on household spending and housing demand.   Sound economic fundamentals, high levels of employment and a shortage in the number of properties available for sale will, however, continue to support house prices."

The three monthly increase in house prices – a good indicator of the underlying trend – has slowed sharply over the past few months.  Prices rose by 1.6% between June and August compared with a 4.5% in the three months to March.

housing market activity also continues to ease

Mortgage approvals to fund house purchase held steady at a seasonally adjusted 115,000 in July.  Nonetheless, approvals in the three months to July were 9% lower than during the recent three month peak during September to November 2006. (Source: Bank of England) 

The level of new buyer interest in purchasing a house fell for the eighth successive month in July, indicating that potential buyers have become more cautious.  Completed property sales in July were 10% lower than a year ago.  (Source: RICS)

Interest rate effect will hit home

The increase in mortgage rates since last summer is having an effect on housing affordability and will bite further during the coming months. 

Negative real earnings growth in the first six months of this year and rising food prices is also reducing the income households have available for housing.

Average earnings increased by 3.3% over the year to June 2007; 1.1 percentage points lower than the increase in the Retail Price Index over the same period (4.4%).

Economic fundamentals are sound

Strong economic fundamentals continue to support the housing market. Latest official figures confirm that gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 0.8% between Q1 and Q2, above its long-term average pace (0.7%). 

Employment continued to rise against the background of healthy economic growth in the three months to June with the total number 93,000 higher than in the previous quarter. The total number in employment stands at a record 29.1 million (Source: ONS)

A sound economic background, together with an ongoing shortage of both new housebuilding and secondhand properties for sale, should continue to support house prices.

UK House Prices: Historical Data

All Houses, All Buyers (Seasonally Adjusted)

 

 

 

Index

1983=100

1

Standardised

Average

Price

£

2

 

Monthly

Change

%

 

Annual

Change

%*

 

Price/

Earnings

Ratio *

3

Period

2002 Q4

392.1

121,137

-

26.4

2003 Q4

455.3

140,687

-

15.4

2004 Q4

523.5

161,742

-

15.1

2005 Q4

550.3

170,043

-

5.1

2006 Q4

605.5

.

187,076

-

9.9

Aug

582.1

179,842

1.2

8.2

5.42

Sept

587.5

181,538

0.9

8.0

5.46

Oct

598.2

184,823

1.8

8.6

5.54

Nov

608.0

187,855

1.6

9.6

5.61

Dec

602.6

186,181

-0.9

9.9

5.52

Jan 2007

611.1

188,826

1.4

9.9

5.56

Feb

622.5

192,349

1.9

9.9

5.59

Mar

629.7

194,565

1.2

11.1

5.73

Apr

635.6

196,387

0.9

10.9

5.79

May

636.7

196,720

0.2

10.6

5.78

June

639.0

197,450

0.4

10.7

5.79

July

643.9

198,936

0.8

11.2

-

Aug

646.6

199,770

0.4

11.4

-

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