Those who hoped that voting to leave the EU would lead to lower house prices may be getting their wish, with the latest research showing that annual house price growth has fallen to its lowest level in over three years.
That's according to the latest House Price Index from Halifax, which shows that house prices in the three months to September were 5.8% higher than in the same period in 2015. It may still be an increase, but it marks a sharp slowdown from the growth rate of 6.9% recorded in August and from 8.4% the previous two months. It's also the slowest rate of annual growth seen since August 2013 (when prices rose by 5.45 year-on-year), highlighting a definite shift in pricing activity.
Not only that, but monthly and quarterly growth rates are equally as lacklustre: on a monthly basis prices rose by just 0.1% (after falling the previous two months) and fell by the same 0.1% on a quarterly basis. This means that the price of a typical property in the UK now stands at £214,024, a notable reduction from the record of £216,726 set in June, with subsequent price drops having had a clear impact.
But is this all to be expected? Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, certainly thinks so – and it isn't just the result of the referendum. He said that the housing market "has followed a steady downward trend over the past six months" with softening activity levels and easing house price inflation, broadly in line with their forecast.
There's been a "lengthy period where house prices have risen more rapidly than earnings", Martin explained, which has put pressure on affordability and constrained demand. This has been the key driver of softening price growth, but isn't expected to be maintained. Indeed, "very low mortgage rates and a shortage of properties available" should help to support price levels over the coming months, Martin said, so price growth may not be slowing for long.
So what does this all mean? Well, if you're thinking of taking the plunge and buying that home, now could be a great time to do it! Not only are mortgage rates at record low levels, but with house prices moderating for the time being, it could prove to be the perfect combination. Check out our mortgage best buys to get started and see if the timing's right for you.
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