Is there a housing bubble? Since the Brexit referendum the news has been filled with threats about a possible housing crash. Tabloid scaremongering with headlines back in July like “ Britain 'is on the brink of housing price collapse' in the Daily Mail Online, and Britain on 'edge of worst house price collapse since 1990s' in the Sun. Now, however, they seem to be back peddling as the Halifax house price index shows that house prices have not dramatically fallen through the floor.
The house price index shows that in some cities like Leeds and Manchester house prices are still on the up. So, there isn’t one bubble, there are many bubbles, so it is less like one big Lindor and more like an Aero.Or because financial institutions and Governments like stability, more like a Crunchie. These housing bubbles have not exactly burst but now homeowners who have basked in rising prices for years will have to get used to slower rates of growth or maybe even a drop in the value of their home. But a generation of renters faced with increasingly unattainable property prices, when prices are much higher than incomes can afford, will be relieved to see the market cool off so that they can afford to get on the property ladder.
Mortgage lenders rushed to offer lower mortgage rates earlier this year to encourage home ownership.However, there is a lot of speculation that the Bank of England may raise interest rates to curb inflation soon, and this will make it harder for people on variable rate mortgages to repay them. High ownership ratio combined with an increased rate of low Mortgage rates may signal higher debt levels associated with bubbles.
While people are paying high rental prices they cannot also afford to enter an expensive market. At present, many first time buyers are looking to have to save as much as £33,000 just for a deposit, with an average income this just is not possible, certainly not quickly, and this slows the market. There need to be first time buyers to keep the chains alive. When the market stagnates, vendors have no choice but to lower their asking prices. This produces a small scale cycle resembling the fox and rabbit ecology model.
In November 2015 The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee launched a new inquiry into the economics of the UK housing market. The Committee investigates the supply and affordability of housing across the housing market and reviews the effectiveness of the Government's policies to provide low cost housing to rent and to buy. Lord Hollick, Chairman of the Committee, commented: "There are clearly serious issues with the UK housing market. Across the country, young people in particular are struggling with the cost of housing, whether they are looking to buy or rent. There is an affordability crisis in housing.”
Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, made a statement in the Commons on local housing needs yesterday. Speaking in the House of Commons, Javid said that if lasting change is to be made, a proper understanding of how many homes are needed, and where, is required, and the existing system “is not good enough”. He said a “consistent approach” is a necessity. If we stay with the fox and rabbit model, the Government is trying here to introduce some wild hares.
An ONS study published 4th December 2016 found that 1 in 4 young adults are living with their parents. If cheaper housing stock appears on the market, these boomerang children will be able to afford a place of their own. Parents living in an empty nest are then able to downsize, and therefore make more family properties available.
The Guardian has reported a positive outlook on 12th August. Martin Beck at consultancy Oxford Economics said there was a lack of drivers to push up house price growth but equally an absence of the kind of forces which have typically caused prices to fall. “UK house price growth is running out of steam. And with household incomes squeezed and the affordability of housing stretched, we think a prolonged period of very modest growth lies ahead. But the prospect of a crash is remote,” he said.
Thomas Fisher, an economist at PwC, said: “Factoring in continued pressure on household incomes in the second half of the year, we anticipate a likely weakening in UK house price inflation to around 4pc on average for 2017.”
So maybe these bubbles won’t exactly burst, but like a whoopee cushion, let out a little sigh.
According to this month’s Halifax house price index, House prices in June, July and August were on the up, 0.1% higher than in March, April and May. This means that the annual house price growth has picked up to 2.6%. Just don’t be too quick to shout hurrah.
Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax Community Bank, said: “The annual rate of growth increased from 2.1% in July to 2.6% in August with the average house price now £222,293, which is just above the previous high of December 2016 (£222,190). “
Unemployment is also at a 43 year low. The Office of National Statistics16th August Bulletin states that “The employment rate (the proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 who were in work) was 75.1%, the highest since comparable records began in 1971.”
There has also been an increase in mortgage approvals, and according to Bank of England seasonally adjusted figures, nearly reversed all the falls seen so far this years.
So this seems sunny news, however, wage growth is still lagging. The cost of your weekly shop has also gone up. If you look at your standard 800g white loaf, for example. it was 97p in April and is now £1.04. It doesn’t sound a lot, but add 7p to every item in your weekly shop and it soon adds up to a sizeable increase. With inflation outstripping wage growth, this puts a significant strain on the household budget. New house or avocado toast?
The HMRC say that property sales are on the up, however the RICS monthly report, shows that new instructions for home sales fell for the 17th consecutive month in July, and that the average number of properties on estate agents’ books are close to an all-time low, making that instruction from any vendor all the harder to secure.
With wages stagnating and food bills increasing it is not hard to see why people are less eager to upgrade, so there are fewer properties coming onto the market, and thus the market value increases.
Without making but the slightest nod to Brexit, house prices will fluctuate, wages and food prices go up and down. Yesterday the Telegraph reported that “soaring house prices in the UK mean that one in every 76 Britons is now a millionaire, up from one in 84 last year.” Somehow that diminishes the value of being a millionaire, it just bumps up the stamp duty. If your prospect is a millionaire purely because their house is worth a million, it means very little if they have no immediate intention of selling it. Whether they live in a large house In Belgravia or a 2 up 2 down in Sunderland the value of their home increasing means nothing. Its just the roof over their head. It only matters when they decide to move.
This is a good place to state that the Big Data that feeds our AI includes the house price index. So whether house prices go up or down you can be confident that Houseprice.AI and our Estate Agents app, Horizon, will back up your own knowledge with the most current and fair price for any vendors property.