While UK house prices continued to advance in May, posting their tenth successive monthly increase to keep annual price growth in double digits, the rate of growth continued to slow. According to the Nationwide House Price Index, average house prices advanced by 11.2% YoY in May, down from 12.1% in April and from the 18-year high of 14.3% witnessed in March[i]. Meanwhile, Rightmove reports[ii] that the price of properties coming to market hit a fourth consecutive record of £367,501 in May, up by 2.1% month on month or £7,400 in value terms. This means that average prices are now £55,000 higher compared to the levels pre-pandemic. To put the magnitude of this increase into perspective, average prices increased by £6,000 in the two years prior to the pandemic. Therefore, the sharp price increase of the past two years has been close to 10 times more than the price increase seen in the previous two years[iii].
Chart of the month: Monthly UK house price, annual % change
Source: Nationwide House Price Index, Blend Network
- According to the Nationwide House Price Index[iv], UK house prices continued to advance at double-digit rates in May. Indeed, prices have been growing at over 10% year on year since last May. The Bank sustains that despite growing headwinds from the squeeze on household budgets due to high inflation and a steady increase in borrowing costs, the housing market has retained a surprising amount of momentum. They believe demand is being supported by strong labour market conditions while the stock of homes on the market has remained low, keeping upward pressure on prices.
- However, the trend has clearly been easing in recent months. According to a recent piece in the FT[v], the housing market has started to slow, with a growing number of sellers having to cut asking prices and the average time to sell a home lengthening. According to Zoopla, more than one in 20 homes for sale had their asking prices slashed last month, by an average of 9%, the highest level of discounting in 18 months.
- That said, activity levels remain strong and still significantly higher than pre-pandemic. According to Rightmove[vi], the number of buyers contacting estate agents in May was 31% higher than the more normal 2019 market, but down 14% year on year. Meanwhile sales agreed are up by 12% year to date compared to the same period in 2019, but down by 17% year to date compared to the hectic market we saw last year.
- Affordability concerns remain high, especially amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis. According to a recent UK Housing Market Update by Savills[vi], mortgage lenders expecting lower availability of mortgages in Q2 2022 outweighed those expecting increased lending by 22%, according to the Bank of England credit conditions survey.
Property Market News
- Following increased pressure to tame inflation – currently running at its highest level in 40 years – the BoE voted to rise base interest rates to 1.25% from 1% last week. The market generally expects the housing market to continue to ease following the most recent rate increase[viii].
- Property portal OnTheMarket, which published its full-year results last week, also joined many voices in the industry to predict a moderation in the market, rather than a crash[ix]. Jason Tebb, the OnTheMarket’s CEO, said there were signs that more homes were coming to market, which was likely to put the brakes on the sharp price increase.
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[i] Source: Nationwide House Price Index, https://bit.ly/3MU7ujt
[ii] Source: Rightmove House Price Index, https://bit.ly/2MhjHQf
[iii] Source: Rightmove House Price Index, https://bit.ly/2MhjHQf
[iv] Source: Nationwide House Price Index, https://bit.ly/3MU7ujt
[v] Source: FT, https://on.ft.com/3Hokg8X
[vi] Source: Rightmove House Price Index, https://bit.ly/2MhjHQf
[vii] Source: Savills UK Housing Market Update, https://bit.ly/3zFkeHZ
[viii] Source: Property Industry Eye, https://bit.ly/3zF0R1M
[ix] Source: FT, https://on.ft.com/3MSWUJF