House prices are still rising at a record pace, but some estate agents say signs of a slowdown are already here.
Look at the numbers and property inflation is rampant: Nationally this week, house prices rose 11 percent in the year to July.
This is higher than consumer inflation behind the cost of living crisis, for which the latest reading from the ONS was 9.4% in June.
But while it may seem surprising that house prices are still soaring, the market is said to have lost steam due to a dramatic rise in mortgage costs – with interest rates rising to fight higher than expected inflation.
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Alongside the national statistics, some comments from property agents suggest that the market has softened.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom, just gentle talk about easing pressure, but note that that’s from this typically bullish perspective.
These trends are snapshots of emerging trends, but they’re worth tracking in a more difficult market, such as the stock market, where directional changes are easier to gauge.
When it comes to the property market, it’s not just the big house price report numbers that you need to look at, it’s worth keeping an eye on what’s going on near you or where you might want to buy.
This will give you a guide to what’s most important to you: Be proactive about whether your home is going up or down in value, or whether you can afford to buy or move.
While home price index reports make headlines, they don’t provide the best indicator of what’s going on.
What you’re tracking is the average UK housebuilder, not representative of what really exists: the average property near me is different to the one near you.
Meanwhile, the UK’s overall property market is made up of many different private pockets that don’t always move together.
Broadly speaking, this can be said of the North-South divide, London and the rest, the commuter belt with the regions or in many other ways.
But more narrowly, markets can behave differently in two areas. For example, the towns where I live in Hertfordshire do not take the same measures as nearby Luton.
Looking at where you live won’t give you the full picture of what’s happening in the property market across the UK, but it will give you a good idea of what’s happening where it matters to you.
Depending on how interested you are – and I’ll admit I’m a bit of a property nerd here – you can track asking prices, what areas are selling, and how much or little is coming to market.
But there’s another piece of advice I can give: If you really want to take the temperature of the local property market, look at what’s not selling.
Looking at what’s selling and what’s not is the best guide to getting a feel for a property and where it’s headed.
This is something that we armchair property speculators can do, but house price indexes can’t because they are based on sales prices, asking prices, mortgage completion figures, etc.
However, looking at what is selling and what isn’t is the best guide to property sentiment and where it might be headed.
When you think, ‘That’s a crazy price,’ and things still sell, the market is a great gun.
When you see more homes for sale than the last batch and ask, ‘How much?’ And they still sell, the market is doing well.
But when you start seeing only some of the better high-end stuff being sold, and then moving on to what seems like a reasonable price for the features, you can see the heat coming off.
When reduced accounts start hitting Rightmove en-masse, you know things are definitely on the slide.
And you can tell a market is in real trouble when homes look like good value and still aren’t selling.
On that note, we’ve moved from the first and second scenario above to the third one of my properties we’re looking at next door.
The market is still doing well, but pales in comparison to the pandemic madness.
This is to be expected: mortgage rates have risen since the start of the year, with the average five-year fix rising from 1.55 per cent to 3.5 per cent, which can add hundreds of pounds to the monthly cost of buying the same home.
In the long run this will have an impact and you can check how much it will cost you with our best mortgage rates comparison calculator.
A hint of a slowdown was also seen in the national report, with the building society saying that while cash buyers remained strong, mortgage buyers had slipped further since the end of the stamp duty holiday.
I expect this trend to continue as rapidly rising mortgage rates continue to bite.
So, it’s worth looking at what not to sell and what not to buy.
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