U.K. Asking Prices Hit Record in the Face of Raging Demand
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U.K. Asking Prices Hit Record in the Face of Raging Demand

Double-digit annual increases left the average asking price at £242,832 in May.

By Liz Lucking
Wed, Jun 2, 2021 12:09pmGrey Clock < 1 min

Good news for home sellers across the U.K. in May spelled bad news for buyers as property price gains reached double digits, according to a report Tuesday from Nationwide.

Asking prices swelled 10.9% last month compared to May 2020, the highest level recorded since August 2014. The gains pushed up the average asking price in the country to a record £242,832 (A$442,819), which is £23,930 higher than the same time last year, the bank and mortgage provider said.

The U.K.’s property market spent half of last May shuttered following the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic. In England—Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland reopened on separate timetables—restrictions on the industry were eased in mid-May, and allowed activity to resume in accordance with government-mandated guidelines.

On a monthly basis, prices rose by 1.8% in May from April, slightly less than the 2.3% jump recorded between March and April, according to Nationwide.

“In the same way as other sectors of the economy, house prices have been driven higher by a supply squeeze as the U.K. comes out of the pandemic,” Tom Bill, head of U.K. residential research at Knight Frank, said in a statement on the report’s findings.

“Add in a stamp duty holiday and the fact pent-up demand has been building for years against the backdrop of Brexit, and the result is a burst of house price inflation,” he continued. “More supply is starting to come online, which will redress the balance. We therefore expect U.K. house price growth will slow down after the summer, declining to 5% by the end of 2021.”

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House values continued to fall last month, but the pace of decline has slowed, CoreLogic reports.

In signs that the RBA’s aggressive approach to monetary policy is making an impact, CoreLogic’s Home Value Index reveals national dwelling values fell -1.0 percent in November, marking the smallest monthly decline since June.

The drop represents a -7.0 percent decline – or about $53,400 –  since the peak value recorded in April 2022. Research director at CoreLogic, Tim Lawless, said the Sydney and Melbourne markets are leading the way, with the capital cities experiencing the most significant falls. But it’s not all bad news for homeowners.

“Three months ago, Sydney housing values were falling at the monthly rate of -2.3 percent,” he said. “That has now reduced by a full percentage point to a decline of -1.3 percent in November.  In July, Melbourne home values were down -1.5 percent over the month, with the monthly decline almost halving last month to -0.8%.”

The rate of decline has also slowed in the smaller capitals, he said.  

“Potentially we are seeing the initial uncertainty around buying in a higher interest rate environment wearing off, while persistently low advertised stock levels have likely contributed to this trend towards smaller value falls,” Mr Lawless said. “However, it’s fair to say housing risk remains skewed to the downside while interest rates are still rising and household balance sheets become more thinly stretched.” 

The RBA has raised the cash rate from 0.10 in April  to 2.85 in November. The board is due to meet again next week, with most experts still predicting a further increase in the cash rate of 25 basis points despite the fall in house values.

Mr Lawless said if interest rates continue to increase, there is potential for declines to ‘reaccelerate’.

“Next year will be a particular test of serviceability and housing market stability, as the record-low fixed rate terms secured in 2021 start to expire,” Mr Lawless said.

Statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week also reveal a slowdown in the rate of inflation last month, as higher mortgage repayments and cost of living pressures bite into household budgets.

However, ABS data reveals ongoing labour shortages and high levels of construction continues to fuel higher prices for new housing, although the rate of price growth eased in September and October. 

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