While Nationwide’s house price index showed a slow but steady positive rise earlier this week, the latest results from Halifax imply more of a slowdown in property prices.
House prices in the UK fell by an average of 0.6% in January to £223,285, after a 0.8% decrease was recorded in December 2017, according to the latest figures from Halifax. The results indicate an overall slowdown in the rate of annual growth, as house prices in January were 2.2% higher than they were in the same month the previous year, compared to December’s 2.7% year-on-year rise.
Russell Galley of Halifax said: “Although employment levels grew by 102,000 in the three months to November, household finances are still under pressure as consumer prices continue to grow faster than wages.
“Additionally, it’s still too early to see any impact for first-time buyers from the abolition of stamp duty on purchases of up to £300,000, which was announced in the November budget.”
Most commentators agree that an overall decline in UK house prices is unlikely this year due to the shortage of housing stock, as well as increasing employment levels. The housing market in London is also thought to have kept any rises lower than would be seen otherwise overall across the UK.
Which house price index?
Halifax’s results contrast those released by Nationwide, which posted a monthly increase of 0.6% in both January and December, with year-on-year growth of 3.2%.
With the two mortgage providers offering somewhat different views on the state of the market, it can be difficult to know which one to rely on. Both Nationwide and Halifax use their own mortgage approvals to gather the data, which is roughly 12,000 a month for Nationwide and 15,000 a month for Halifax. This means neither index takes into account cash purchases, which can make up as much as 30% to 40% of all sales. They also only look at owner-occupied properties, so buy-to-let is taken out of the mix.
House price indices are also compiled by Rightmove and UK HPI, both covering around 100,000 transactions a month, and LSL Acadata from HM Land Registry, covering roughly 80,000 transactions a month. With all the indices using slightly different methods and weights to draw up their reports, the results from each one will be variable.
The Office for National Statistics has also released its house price figures for 2017.