Are house price rises grinding to a halt?

It appears that the housing market in many parts of the country may be slowing, or possibly even grinding to a halt, latest figures show.Rising home house prices

The average price of a home in England and Wales froze between May and June at £172,011, statistics from the Land Registry indicate.

That still leaves buyers paying slightly less than at the previous market peak of November 2007, but it’s still more than 6.4% up over the 12 months to the end of June.

Summer phenomenon, or longer term?

Some experts believe the cooling in prices could just be a result of the usual summer market slowdown experienced when families go away for holidays and the ‘spring bounce’ effect tails off.

It could also be that after strong increases in many parts of the South, in particular London, markets conditions are normalising again.

The chief executive of London and the South East estate agent Marsh and Parsons told the BBC that “After a frenetic start to the year, the pace of house price growth has slowed this quarter as the market stabilises and returns to more normal trading conditions”.

There could be more to it…

However, other experts feel that there could be that the market malaise is deeper. The tightening of lending rules by the Government and the talk of an interest rate rise as well as media reports of the risk of buying at high levels could be impacting on buyer behaviour.

Online estate agent’s Alexander Gosling was quoted in the Guardian newspaper as saying “With the mortgage market review, rate rises to come and wage growth still proving negligible, there is every reason to expect more conservative price growth in the months ahead. I think London buyers in particular have reached a point where enough is enough.”

Other recent surveys from Halifax and Rightmove have also suggested that perhaps, while there are strong regional variations,  the overall market might be seeing a levelling off, if not a full retrenchment.

Autumn market is the true test

It’s only really once the summer holidays are over and working life returns to normal for many that the direction of the housing market will become clear.

It may be that if the economy keeps motoring ahead, without any external shocks from Europe or further afield, and real wages start rising above inflation, confidence will return with gusto and an upward trend will be resumed.

Regional figures

Here are the most recent regional monthly and annual house price figures in England and Wales from the Land Registry, including the average price of a home in each region in brackets.

West Midlands: +1.9% monthly, +4.7% annually (average house price £135,228)

South East: +0.6% monthly, +4.7% annually (£228,109)

London: +0.1% monthly, +16.4% annually (£437,608)

Wales: -0.3% monthly, +2.7% annually (£117,440)

North West: -0.4% monthly, +2.2% annually (£109,905)

East: -0.4% monthly, +2.2% annually (£187,820)

South West: -0.9% monthly, +5.4% annually (£180,880)

East Midlands: -1% monthly, 6.4% annually (£129,030)

North East: -1% monthly, +0.8% annually (£98,555)

Yorkshire and the Humber: -1.3% monthly, 3.4% annually (£118,699)

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