House prices inched up at the start of 2019 in new reports issued by Rightmove and Your Move/Reeds Rains, with regional variations giving a deeper picture of the current state of the market.
Rightmove’s House Price Index England, Wales and Scotland showed that average asking prices were up by 0.4% for the month to £298,734. While that is an improvement on the fall of -1.5% in the previous report, it is the slowest monthly rise at this time of the year since January 2012. Rightmove show that prices also rose by 0.4% in the year to January.
Your Move’s data for England and Wales shows a monthly rise of 0.3%, a fifth consecutive monthly rise, and an average price of £306,647. Their House Price Index reports an annual change of 0.6% which, like the YourMove results, is a near-seven year low.
‘Interest is still there’ – Rightmove
However, Rightmove are positive about the opening days of 2019, and say that their website had an average of 4.5 million visits in the opening fortnight of the year – 5% more than at the same time last year.
“Sellers seem to recognise that they need to lower their price aspirations,” said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst. “Mass market home movers have a track record of ignoring the politics and continuing to satisfy their housing needs, and as long as these fundamentals remain in place through this period of uncertainty, the market will keep moving.
“Indeed, in 2018 the number of sales agreed by estate agents was down by only 3% on 2017, an indicator of resilience and holding up much better than many had forecast.”
Prices fell on a monthly basis in London, Wales and the East Midlands in Rightmove’s findings, but were up in every other region. The strongest return was from England’s north-west, where the average price of a home rose by 2.6% to £193,240.
Mr Shipside adds, “Given the current market backdrop and ongoing political turmoil, it’s not surprising that the more challenging conditions in London and its nearby regions mean that they appear to have had a slower start to the year.”
Annual growth across certain regions in Your Move’s report hints at a north-south divide. Both the East and West Midlands, the north-west and Wales show rises of above the current inflation rate of 2.2%, whereas every other region is less and in London annual prices actually fell on Your Move by -0.5%.
“Due to current political and economic unrest it is understandable why buyers and sellers may be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach to the property market,” said Oliver Blake, Managing Director of Your Move and Reeds Rains. “But, in turn, as demand waivers, it means that property may become more affordable to more people. This should help buyers, and first-time buyers, in particular, are ready to act.”