February house price rise slowest in a decade: Rightmove

Data from Rightmove reveals that, at 0.2 per cent, house prices grew at their slowest annual rate in February since 2009.

Measured on a monthly basis, property prices increased by 0.7 per cent, which Rightmove says is consistent with the average February figure of 0.6 per cent witnessed over the last two years.

The result is an average asking price for property in the UK of £300,715, according to the firm.

Rightmove adds that all regions bar the North West and Yorkshire & the Humber, which recorded falls of 0.6 per cent and 0.9 per cent respectively, saw a monthly rise in prices, with Greater London recording the largest, at 3.4 per cent, followed by the North East, at 3.3 per cent.

On a yearly basis, the biggest risers in February were Yorkshire & the Humber, at 3.6 per cent and the West Midlands, at 3.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, Greater London saw property prices drop by 2.1 per cent in the 12 months leading to February, and the South East, a fall of 1.4 per cent.

Because the average annual rate of growth is far below the annual wage growth of 3.4 per cent, Rightmove reports that buyer affordability has improved at the quickest rate since 2011, and that in the South, buyers now have the upper hand.

It adds that in the north of England, however, there is sufficient pricing power for sellers to ask for “modest” increases.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside says: “Longer daylight hours and green shoots appearing in gardens herald the start of the traditionally more buoyant spring market. Sellers’ subdued pricing is now being outstripped by higher average wage growth, meaning that buyer affordability is on the rise at the fastest rate in nearly eight years.

“Buyers are also being given the leg-up by cheap mortgage rates, if they can meet lenders’ criteria and lay their hands on a large enough deposit.”

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brain Murphy adds: “Given the ongoing uncertainty around the current political situation, it’s no great surprise that Rightmove is reporting the most subdued February for a decade.”

Murphy expects an uplift in activity in the near-term, however. He adds: “There will of course be some who will prefer to wait and see what the final Brexit denouement will be before proceeding with their transaction, which is of course totally understandable.

“However, we are now seeing more and more buyers and sellers who’ve held off their transactions for quite some time, and are now at the point where their individual circumstances dictate that, regardless of ongoing negotiations between Westminster and Brussels, it’s the right time for them to move.”

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