Property market in the UK continues to fluctuate

The ups and downs in the housing market, both in sales and prices, have been varied at stages over recent months and the demand for housing remains resilient, fuelling “cautious optimism” among new sellers in most regions of Britain, according to an analysis from property company, Rightmove.
Its website, which claims to display more than one million properties to buy or rent, described January as its “busiest month ever”, with a record 141m visits to the website.
Average asking prices were up by 0.2 per cent (£2,414) this month, with all regions but one recording the price of newly marketed property rising this month.
The south west was “a very marginal exception” with a fall of £131.
The annual rate of increase, however, is still subdued at 1.5 per cent.
Scotland saw the biggest monthly increase, at 5.1 per cent, while the north-east and Wales managed 3.6 per cent and 3.5 per cent, according to Rightmove’s report.
It has been buffeted by London’s year-on-year fall of one per cent.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said: “While it is the norm for new sellers’ asking prices to be buoyant at the start of a new year, the first complete month of 2018 has seen more pricing optimism than the comparable period in 2017.” He added: “The political and economic uncertainty is out of sellers’ control, but they are in control of their asking prices, and in general they are not being overly ambitious or setting too high an asking price.”
Shipside said nationally two per cent more sellers had come to market this month compared with the same period a year ago, which he called “a step in the right direction.” It comes as chartered surveyor firm e.surv’s new mortgage monitor for February reported a positive start to the year for the UK mortgage market. It noted an increase in the number of small deposit borrowers being approved.
One-fifth of all approvals went to small deposit buyers, well above recent months.
In December, 18.2 per cent of loans were to this part of the market while the month before that was at 17.2 per cent.
Richard Sexton, director at e.surv, said: “We are now starting to see the effects of the Bank of England’s decision to increase the base rate filtering through to the market.”
Figures out last week from UK Finance said that the number of mortgages taken out by first-time buyers had surged last year, to its highest level since 2006.
Separate Rightmove data for London show house prices edged up 2.5 per cent in 2017, giving the capital the lowest regional growth in the UK.
The figures, from the Land Registry, showed UK house prices grew 5.2 per cent in the year to December, up from five per cent the previous month.
Meanwhile, price growth in London was below the UK average for the 13th month in a row — although the average house price in the capital was £484,173, compared with £226,756 in the UK as a whole. It is interesting to see the figures from the end of 2017.
Month-on-month, house prices in the UK increased 0.4 per cent in December, up from a 0.2 per cent fall in November.
The figures underscored an already weak housing market, property transaction data showed the number of homes bought and sold across the UK had fallen 0.1 per cent in the year to December, with a 3.9 per cent fall between the last two months of the year.
Data from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has shown estate agents expect house price growth to fall in the near term.“
We expect 2018 to be a challenging year for the housing market with activity likely to be lacklustre,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club.
“December’s sharp drop in mortgage approvals suggests that already pressured housing market activity took a further hit from the Bank of England raising interest rates in early November.
Head of residential research at Savills, Lucian Cook, said subdued growth in the capital city is likely to continue until 2022 thanks to tighter rules on lending and a hike to stamp duty on high-end homes.“We are forecasting that prices in London only increase by a net figure of seven per cent over the next five years,” he said.
(The author is our foreign correspondent based in the UK. He can be reached at