Both house buyers and sellers face further uncertainty in the UK property market as figures from the Nationwide building society show that house prices have fallen for the third month in a row.
The decline is the first time since the property market stalled at the height of the financial crash in 2009 that property prices have fallen in three consecutive months. Annual house price growth has also dropped to 2.1 percent from 2.6 percent a year ago, suggesting that property prices in the UK are perhaps beginning to slow naturally.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at the Nationwide, said: “House prices recorded their third consecutive monthly fall in May – the first time this has occurred since 2009. The annual rate of growth slowed to 2.1%, the weakest in almost four years.
“It is still early days, but this provides further evidence that the housing market is losing momentum. Moreover, this may be indicative of a wider slowdown in the household sector, though data continues to send mixed signals in this regard.
“While real incomes are again coming under pressure as inflation has overtaken wage growth, the number of people in work has continued to rise at a healthy pace. Indeed, the unemployment rate fell to a 42-year low in the three months to March.”
With the general election only days away, Mr Gardner dismissed any suggestion that the slowdown in house prices is related to political activity in the UK.
He added: “If history is any guide, the slowdown is unlikely to be linked to election-related uncertainty. Housing market trends have not traditionally been impacted around the time of general elections.
“Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home.”
Nationwide produces a monthly house price index. Its May index revealed that the average price of a home is now £208,711, down 0.2 percent between April and May. There were also monthly declines of 0.4 percent in April and 0.3 percent in March, showing the trend is heading downwards.
Britain’s biggest building society, the Nationwide also revealed that the annual growth rate, at 2.1 percent, is the lowest since June 2013.
The monthly price index is adjusted for seasonal changes in house prices; for example, in spring and summer there are more buyers in the market, pushing prices up. The spring slowdown this year means property experts will ponder how much further the market may fall after the election on June 8 and the start of the Brexit negotiations to remove the UK from the European Union.
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