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UK Housing Market trends

Survey confirms property slowdown

 Housing Market Trends

Official confirmation of a slowdown

Government figures have confirmed a widely reported slowdown of the UK's housing market.

The UK housing market has settled into a slump as house prices fell for the 10th month in a row, dropping 1.2% by the end of July 2008, according to property market watcher Hometrack.

Hometrack figures show July's price drop has wiped £2,000 from the value of the average UK house which now stands at £168,500. Over the last year about 4% has been knocked off house prices which is equal to about £7,800 from this time last year when the average house price was £176,300. 

Hometrack said every test of activity in the UK market showed that the slowdown was now gathering pace. 

'Indicators of market activity across the housing market remain weak with the survey highlighting a 20% drop in demand over the last three months,' said Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack. 'Transaction volumes have been the greatest casualty of the decline in demand over the last 12 months, the vast majority of homeowners simply do not need to move at the moment.' 

The time it takes to sell a property jumped by almost a week to an average of 11 weeks, rising from 10.3 weeks in June. Homeowners pushing for a quick sale have had to accept just 90.9% of their asking price falling from 91.6% last month. 

Donnell said ">recent price falls have been concentrated in southern England. Despite this the survey revealed prices fell across 64.9% of the country compared with 58.9% in June. 

'The majority of recent price falls have been concentrated more in southern England where prices have declined off a relatively high base after the strong growth through 2006 and the first half of 2007,' said Donnell.

The average price of a home in 'middle Britain' by Christmas 2008 will have dropped £40K from its peak, a group of economists, psychologists and finance industry experts has warned today.

Such a fall would equate to a fall of more than 18% off middle Britain property prices, according to AXA's 'Financial Taskforce'. This would leave middle Britain defined as households with an income of between £40,000 and £100,000 a year seriously exposed to the risk of negative equity.

The taskforce calculates that a 'typical middle Britain' household that bought a home in March of this year might now have only £15,000 worth of equity left in their property equivalent to just 9 per cent its value.

The AXA taskforce was created earlier this year with a view 'to investigating the financial problems facing Middle Britain and what steps can be taken to solve them.' It includes representatives from economics consultancy Centre for Economic & Business Research (CEBR) and financial psychology specialist Design Technology, as well from its main sponsor, insurer AXA.

Steve Folkard, head of savings and pensions policy at AXA and a member of the taskforce, predicted a 'very tough 18 months for middle Britain's housing market'. 'Middle Britain may have managed to weather the storm before now, but that resilience is being seriously tested by the ongoing effects of the credit crunch,' he said.

'Negative equity is something most of us will remember from the early 1990s and there's nothing to suggest that Middle Britain will be caught up in a crisis of that magnitude. However if you bought a home earlier this year you should bear in mind that the equity you have in that property could go down before it goes up.'


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