UK house prices see unexpected fall in July

Dare social housing providers peer over the fence into the garden next door that is the private sales market? If they do so, they may find out that the grass isn’t really that much greener, as a number of new reports and stats released this week portray a market that many have politely described as ‘flatlining.’

The latest Halifax figures show that prices unexpectedly fell in July, by -0.2%, which means prices have fallen for a second month in a row. Many forecasters were expecting a slight rise. The annual growth rate for the three months to July dropped to 4.1% from 5.7%, which raised analytical eyebrows further.

The cause for this? Well, dare we bring up the B-word, but it does seem to be having an impact, as the market is hit by uncertainty as to what will actually happen in the next couple of months. A higher number of new buyer enquiries are keeping the boat steady for now, but in the words of the one and only Russell Galley, Managing Director at Halifax, “In the longer-term, we believe there is unlikely to be a step change in market activity until buyers and sellers see some form of resolution to the current economic uncertainty”.

But it’s just one survey, right? Well, it’s just one of many reports on house prices that are saying similar things. The folks at RICS, for instance, are expecting sales and prices to turn slightly negative in the near term. Responding, RICS said the new figures will provide “little comfort for the market,” and urged the government to view the housing market as a whole, not separate parts. Wouldn’t that be a nice idea?

It’s not all doom a gloom though. One optimistic forecast thinks annual house price growth will be boosted through August to October, as buyers hurry to complete deals before the end of this period. Why the rush? Something beginning with ‘B’ again?