UK house prices flat in February: Nationwide

Nationwide’s latest house price index shows annual house price growth of 0.4 per cent in February.

Month-on-month, house prices fell 0.1 per cent – in contrast to January, which saw a 0.2 per cent rise in house prices.

This has resulted in the average UK house price standing at £211,304, whereas the January figure was £211,966.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner says that despite “indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but survey data suggests that sentiment has softened.”

Meanwhile, North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf outlines that the 2019 housing market has not met the expectations many people had hoped for.

He says: “The result is inaction for many, other than first-time buyer numbers which remain one good news story as they profit from reduced landlord competition for smaller and lower-priced properties, which will certainly benefit the whole market.”

Leaf outlines the dilemma buyers and sellers are in with Brexit concerns outweighing positive improvements in affordability and employment, combined with continuing low borrowing costs. He adds: “Looking forward, we are not expecting much change until at least the odds on a Brexit deal shorten.”

Foundation Home Loans marketing director Jeff Knight comments: “Given the current political backdrop it is no wonder market activity is seen to be close to stationary.

“That said, there are numbers of buyers and sellers shrugging off economic concerns to progress with their property ambitions and seizing the opportunity to snap up discounted homes in the process.

“Indeed, recently we have seen a big rise in FTB activity, which now represent a large part of the market – a good sign and shows the impact of recent initiatives.”

James Pendleton founding director Lucy Pendleton adds: “It is a pretty unremarkable start to the year but, assuming there is no delay to Article 50, this is going to be the mood music until we get through to April.

“There are extenuating circumstances now of course that are affecting that typical pattern and delivering us the first quarterly fall since the middle of 2018.

“The market is falling in real terms but in the more expensive parts of the country, particularly London, it is going to take a more significant retreat in prices to pull FTBs to the table in significantly greater numbers.”

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy takes a more positive view, believing that the overall subdued level of annual growth indicates stability within the market. He says that today’s figures could be understood as “no news is good news”.

Murphy adds: “Clearly, there are buyers who are still transacting, and indeed many parts of the UK housing market remain resilient to the current political headwinds.

“The good news is this calmer environment, together with lenders who are actively open for business and competing for new customers is providing support for FTBs to get on the ladder.”

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