Is this the start of a house price crash?

crash-1167727Probably not.

At least I doubt it, but there are certainly indications that the inevitability of house price growth, which has been a defining feature of the many local markets over recent years has had its day.

According to the Halifax, house prices fell in April 2017 and are approximately £3k below their 2016 high-point.

The report (of a 0.1 per cent fall in April and 0.2 per cent down for the quarter) is supported by similar data released by Nationwide suggesting that prices fell by as much as 0.4 per cent.

What does this mean in reality?

Taking the Halifax figures, as the most recent release, in isolation it means that as Martin Ellis (economist with the building society) puts it:

“House prices have stagnated over the past three months. Overall, prices in the three months to April were marginally lower than in the preceding three months; the first quarterly decline since November 2012.”

The figures demonstrate, that after a number of years of significant and fairly rapid growth, housing demand has slowed to the point that price appreciation has been largely negated.

Halifax April 2017

Of course, despite the decline over the last three months, the annual change figure is still very much in the black.  Whilst this represents the lowest annual increase in four years, the Halifax reported a 3.8 per cent increase – year-on-year – to the end of April 2017.

And for letting agents?

Supply is still low. This means that in the short to medium term continued increases remain likely. In fact according to the RICS the volume of properties coming onto the sales market has fallen for 13 straight months (to the end of March 2017). Stock is therefore at an historic low.

Optimistically, this should suggest that letting agents’ can expect to stay busy for the time being as households unable to find a home to buy continue to rent.

At the same time markets tend to be subdued during periods of uncertainty, like election campaigns, potentially bolstering demand for short-term rental accommodation.


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