As Brexit becomes ever more chaotic and our bickering politicians fail to find any kind of consensus, it is impressive how well the housing market is holding up. The Christmas lull went on a little longer than usual, but things are now coming back to life, albeit somewhat unevenly.
Rightmove reported a 0.4% rise in asking prices for property coming onto the market last month, although this was the lowest January rise since 2012. They also reported visits to their website were at record highs for the first two weeks of 2019.
There is, as ever, some wide variation across the country. Conditions in London and the Southeast continue to be challenging and that is not just the result of Brexit uncertainty, it’s also the result of the longer term stretched affordability.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst says:
“It is encouraging that potential home-movers are still searching in vast numbers.
Traditionally this is the time of year when more movers look at a wider choice of fresh property supply and kick-start the market, and this year’s buyers have the added spur of the slowest rate of new year price increases for seven years.”
Nationwide’s figures run slightly behind Rightmove’s and they paint a more subdued picture. According to them,
“Annual house price growth almost ground to a complete halt in January, with prices just 0.1% higher than the same time last year. This follows a subdued December when price growth slowed to 0.5%.”
They blame the uncertainty of Brexit for the slowdown but add that, with employment levels at record highs and wage growth back in positive territory, the medium term outlook is far more positive.
So the big question is, when we will get a clearer picture of what the UK will be like post Brexit? Will there be a Brexit at all? No-one knows for certain and that is damaging confidence in the short term.
The sooner the direction becomes clear, the better and not just for the property market.
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