But all things are relative, as when one looks more closely at the data, it realistically indicates the usual softening of prices at this time of year, with a decrease of 0.5 per cent in August on the previous month, but a year on year increase of two per cent, with the average UK property value now £214,745 versus £210,495 for the same period in 2017.
A small cooling in house prices in August is normal, and looking back over the last ten years at varying data sources, a 0.5 percent month on month decrease is nothing out of the ordinary.
It’s only if this were followed by a continued, significant fall in prices in September and October, traditionally one of the busier times in the UK property market, that one might suggest the tempo of the market had shifted.
However, for now, the picture remains relatively stable, as Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist suggested: “Annual house price growth remains within the fairly narrow range of circa two to three per cent which has prevailed over the past 12 months, suggesting little change in the balance between demand and supply in the market.
“Looking further ahead, much will depend on how broader economic conditions evolve, especially in the labour market, but also with respect to interest rates.”
Robert continued: “Overall, we continue to expect house prices to rise by around one per cent over the course of 2018.”
Others in the industry are also unruffled by such a month on month cooling in prices. Jeremy Leaf, former RICS residential chairman, remains sanguine and said: “The widely-respected Nationwide figures confirm much of what we have seen on the ground over the last month or so; in other words, a market softening a little further in view of the slowing demand over the summer, which was to be expected.
“However, we are seeing no signs of any major changes and in fact, over the last few weeks we have seen more interest in property again which could well transfer into an increase in sales agreed during September and October.”
House price growth dropped by the biggest margin seen since July 2012
Founder of online estate agency Emoov Russell Quirk offered his contrasting and slightly less optimistic viewpoint on today’s figures, saying that they highlight “Another slowing in the rate of UK house price growth, and one that continues an unpredictable year where market performance is concerned.
“This is the largest monthly decline in over six years and while the monthly measurement can be erratic it highlights the volatility of the current landscape.”
Russell continued: “This is largely due to the subdued level of activity from both buyers and sellers with even the slightest spike impacting the top line figures.”
In real terms though, what does this mean if you’re currently trying to sell – or buy – a property?
Brian Murphy, Head of Lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau explained: “Today’s figures indicate a slight month on month decrease in average price, which one might suggest does highlight the volatility of monthly price movements, as the year on year figure still shows a positive reading very much in line with annual market forecast issued at the beginning of 2018.
“As we enter the final key selling season of the year, which is particularly important for those who want to move into their next home before Christmas, it’s quite normal for those vendors whose properties have perhaps stuck on the market over the summer to review their asking price.
“This is a very much standard practice, and if indeed this trend begins to emerge again this year over the next few weeks, would be seen by many in the industry as part of a normally functioning market.”
The reality for many is that regardless of what a top line analysis of pricing might suggest, movements in values are still very much localised, and there is an ongoing disparity between the better performing regions, such as the North and Midlands, and those where values continue to fall, such as London and the South East.
Annualised average growth was still within market forecasts
For those who are considering selling or indeed currently have their home on the market, ensuring that the asking price is realistic and in line with current local trends is crucial to securing a buyer within a reasonable time-frame.
If you’re currently marketing a property but haven’t yet secured a buyer, a good rule of thumb is to look at the number of viewings your agent has achieved for you so far.
On average, it takes twelve to fourteen viewings to secure an offer – but only if a property is being marketed at the right price.
If your home has been on the market for four to six weeks and you’ve only had one or two viewings, regardless of how well or badly it’s presented, or where it is in the country, or indeed even buyer demand in your local area, the chances are that your expectations are a little over-ambitious.
There’s nothing wrong with trying the market of course. But with buyer affordability stretched to the limit in most parts of the country, the savvy seller appreciates that there is only so far that prices can go.
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