Latest UK house price index shows a slowing of growth in the market

UK house prices in the three months to May were 2% higher than in the preceding three months but they fell 0.1% month on month, according to the latest index figures.

The annual growth compared to May last year is 8.6%, taking the average price of a home to £196,067, the monthly index report from lender The Halifax shows.

And an analysis of the data shows that the quarterly measure of the underlying rate of house price growth has eased for the second consecutive month, falling to its lowest since January.

On top of this annual house price growth only increased marginally from the 8.5% recorded in April and continues to be in the narrow range of 8% to 9% where it has been throughout 2015 so far.

‘Housing supply remains extremely tight with the stock of properties available for sale currently at its lowest level for many years,’ said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist.

‘At the same time, ongoing economic recovery, increasing employment, real earnings growth and very low mortgage rates are all supporting housing demand. This combination has kept annual house price inflation well above earnings growth although activity levels are subdued,’ he pointed out.

‘The imbalance between supply and demand is likely to continue to push up house prices over the coming months. Looking further ahead, the increasing level of house prices in relation to earnings is expected to dampen house price growth,’ he added.

The report also points out that figures from HMRC show that home sales fell by 3.4% between March and April to 97,020. Nonetheless, sales in the three months from February to April were marginally higher, up 1.3%, than in the preceding three months.

Mortgage approvals continue to pick-up. The volume of mortgage approvals for house purchases, a leading indicator of completed house sales, increased by 9.9% in April. Whilst approvals in the three months to April were 6.6% higher than in the preceding three months, they were 4.3% lower than in the same three months a year ago, according to the latest available Bank of England, seasonally adjusted figures.

And supply remains tight. The stock of homes available for sale fell further in April and is currently at its lowest level for many years. New instructions declined in April for the eighth month in the last nine, contributing to the very low levels of supply, data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors shows.

But there has been an increase in those thinking it is a good time to buy. The latest Halifax Housing Market Confidence Tracker shows that the net proportion of consumers who believe the next 12 months will be a good time to buy increased from +21 in March to +26 in April.

In contrast, the net proportion that thinks that the next year will be a good time to sell fell from +33 to +30. The headline House Price Outlook balance, i.e. the difference between the proportion of people across Britain that expect the average property price to rise less the proportion who think it will fall, fell to +58 in April from +64 in March 2015.