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UK property prices largely flat since March 2019, latest index shows

Residential property prices in the UK held steady in August, increasing by 0.3% to an average of 233,541, according to the data from the latest lender index.

Year on year they were up by 1.8% and on a quarterly basis there was little change with a rise of 0.1%, the figures from the Halifax show.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, pointed out that generally prices have been flat in the last six months, with the average house price having barely changed since March.

‘While ongoing economic uncertainty continues to weigh on consumer sentiment with evidence of both buyers and sellers exercising some caution, a number of important underlying factors such as affordability and employment remain strong,’ he said.

‘Although the housing market will undoubtedly be influenced by events in the wider economy, it continues to show a degree of resilience for the time being. We should also not lose sight of the fact that the single biggest driver of both prices and activity over the longer term remains the dearth of available properties to meet demand from buyers,’ he added.

But the marginal rise is seen as positive. ‘This rise in house prices comes as a surprise, amid the traditional summer slump, not to mention the ongoing political and economic uncertainty that’s gripping the UK,’ said Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at online mortgage broker Trussle.

‘Until there’s real clarity over the Brexit process, it’s difficult to predict house price growth. While not ideal for sellers, this does offer an opportunity for first time buyers who already have a deposit saved up,’ Bhagrath added.

Mike Scott, chief property analyst at estate agent Yopa, pointed out that there is no sign of any sustained fall in house prices on the horizon. ‘Mortgage approvals remain strong, and HMRC’s gloomy provisional figures for the numbers of homes sold in May and June have now been revised upwards as more returns have been received for those months,’ he said.

‘A fall in prices is usually preceded by a fall in market activity, of which there is little sign. However, we do expect a decrease in activity around the new Brexit deadline of 31 October, unless there is a speedy resolution of some kind, which is likely to lead to some short-term softening of house prices in the final quarter of this year,’ he added.

However, Jonathan Samuels, chief executive officer of lender Octane Capital, believes that it’s highly unlikely that the housing market will emerge unscathed from the latest chaos in Westminster.

‘Cheap mortgage rates, high employment and low supply have been supporting property prices to date, but the political climate is now so febrile that this looks set to change during September. With both Government and opposition in a state of unprecedented disarray, the property market could soon be paying the cost,’ he said.