UK house prices hold steady in August with limited gains expected in remainder of 2018
UK house prices held steady in August with a 0.1 per cent month-on-month increase, according to new figures.
Across the UK, the average house price was £229,958, marking a 3.7 per cent increase on a year earlier, the latest Halifax index has revealed.
Annual price growth accelerated from a 3.3 per cent jump in July - and the 3.7 per cent rise in August was the highest year-on-year increase since November 2017.
Halifax managing director Russell Galley said the latest figures are positive.
"With the average house price now £229,958, prices in the three months to August were also 1.9 per cent higher than in the previous quarter," he said.
"While the pace of employment growth has recently slowed, a low unemployment rate and a gradual pick-up in wage growth are helping to support household finances.
"This has been accompanied by interest rates still remaining at a historically low rate and a stable, yet constrained, supply of new homes on to the market further supporting house prices."
Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said the snapshot of housing market performance "is sending a mixed message".
"Prices are rising more slowly on a monthly basis but accelerating when annualised," he said.
"What we are finding on the ground is a market largely stuck in neutral - shortage of stock is supporting modest price increases, particularly outside London.
"There is an opportunity now for serious sellers to take advantage of increased buyer activity, which we have already encountered, as many return from holidays keen to make decisions about property and move before Christmas if possible.
"But both buyers and sellers need to come to terms with new market realities. Those who do will take advantage; otherwise, nothing much is likely to change."
Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY Item Club does not expect any meaningful upturn in the market over the coming months
"We expect house price gains over 2018 will be limited to around 2.5 per cent. At this stage, we expect a similar rise (around 2.5 per cent) in 2019."
Sam Mitchell, CEO of online estate agents Housesimple.com, added:
"The end of summer report is that the property market is in better health than the doom-mongers have led us to believe.
"A persistent supply shortage and low interest rates may be helping to support property prices, but we don't have one foot over the abyss just yet.
"The danger of constantly talking down the property market is that we will talk the market into a crash, particularly if we focus too much on what's happening in London.
"Investment in the regions is paying dividends. The strength of local economies, with thriving business hubs attracting talent to the areas, is having a positive effect on property prices.
"And whereas in London, affordability has been a recurring problem, in other regions there is still plenty of room for house prices to grow before affordability becomes an issue."