Case in point is the most recent report on UK house prices from lender Nationwide, released yesterday.
The figures point to average house prices being unchanged month on month in August, and only 0.6 per cent higher than the same period last year.
If you’re currently selling a property, the chances are this isn’t what you wanted to hear.
If you’re a buyer on the other hand, it’s probably a little different.
There are no revelations in saying that in softer market conditions, the vendor rarely holds the whip hand.
Of course, as has been the case for some time, there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ picture in the UK around house price performance, with a very complex and nuanced picture evident in many towns and cities around the country.
Consumer confidence plays a huge part, and again there are macro political and economic factors which vary from region to region.
Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist said, “While house price growth has remained fairly stable, there have been mixed signals from the property market in recent months.
Surveyors report that new buyer enquiries have increased a little, though key consumer confidence indicators remain subdued.
Data on the number of property transactions points to a slowdown in activity, though the number of mortgages approved for house purchase has remained broadly stable.”
The figures from Nationwide follow a report from lending body UK Finance earlier in the week, which suggested that mortgage approvals in July hit their highest level since 2017.
This is an indicator of buyers getting themselves in the position to purchase when they find their ideal property, but crucially appear to be using the softer market conditions in many areas to their advantage, by playing the waiting game in order to negotiate a lower price.
Mike Scott, Chief Property Analyst at online estate agent Yopa, suggests that, for now, the overall picture for the UK property market is subdued but stable.
In his view, the Nationwide data released yesterday “Is consistent with other reports showing a slow but steady market.”
He adds, “We do not expect to see any significant change in the state of the market as we move into the autumn selling season, although political and economic uncertainty may cause some short-term disruption around the Brexit deadline. The direction of the market in 2020 will then depend on the Brexit outcome.”
Fellow estate agent Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, concurs to a point, although is less sanguine about the outlook in the short-term saying, “For those thinking of entering the fray of the current market landscape, there is no doubt a degree of hesitation and who can blame them as we look to be hurtling towards a no-deal exit. Should this transpire, we will no doubt see London and the South East continue to suffer as dwindling market sentiment chips away at property values on an almost monthly basis.
Great news for buyers, not so great if you are looking to sell and expect the price you may have achieved in ‘regular’ market conditions.”
But for those who believe the light isn’t far from the end of the tunnel, it would seem to depend on where you are in the country.
Marc concludes, “This will almost certainly take longer to materialise in London and the South East where the decline has been more substantial, but as we saw after the financial crisis, once it does start to turn, it will turn quickly.”
Follow Louisa on Twitter: @louisafletcher
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