House prices are reported to be falling but is this really a bad thing?

We have seen numerous articles recently about falling house prices – but we wanted to find out what was happening in the local market so we asked marketing company Consortium Business Solutions to talk to some of the estate agents in the area about their observations on the local housing market and their predictions going forward.

The National Picture

House prices nationally have fallen over the last three months. The Halifax has reported that prices fell by 0.2% over the last 3 months to April 2017. This is the first quarterly fall since November 2012.

The Halifax Housing Economist, Martin Ellis said “One reason why prices were slowing was that property had become too expensive for many people. Housing demand appears to have been curbed in recent months due to the deterioration in housing affordability caused by a sustained period of rapid house price growth during 2014-16.”

With falling prices it has been reported by the Halifax that surveyors are starting to reduce valuations as inflation takes effect on household finances and slows housing demand.

House prices fell again in April and are now nearly £3,000 below their peak in December 2016. The average property fell in value by 0.1% in April, according to data from Halifax and Nationwide records a fall of 0.4% for the same period showing both lenders are seeing a similar downward trend.

Halifax said the average price fell to £219,649 in April from £219,788 in March. House prices reached an all-time peak of £222,190 in December 2016. The annual rate of price inflation has been at the lowest rate for four years, remaining at just 3.8% in April.

What local agents say

Ann Nelson, Office Manager at Pollard Machin commented “Yes the market has slowed in terms of volume of buyers but the market locally is still very buoyant.
Our geographic location with access to good schools and stations to London etc. make the area very attractive and maintains its buoyancy. So while there are less buyers, they are none the less very active and is proving very resilient to the political unrest and Brexit.”

Keith Whittington, Senior Branch Manager for White and Sons commented “That while prices have eased off it has essentially just slowed down people’s decision making. This shouldn’t be seen as a negative. Eighteen months ago, it was very much a sellers’ market, properties sold quickly, but those looking to purchase a new home often found a lack of properties and couldn’t easily secure a new place.
Today it is more in the buyers’ favour, and the slight slowing should ensure more choice. The market was suffering from over inflation, Brexit and the election has probably just moved the market into a more realistic and sustainable place.”

Jason Brown, Managing Director at Payne & Co has expressed the view that “it is really too early to say at the moment whether there is going to be a real dip in house prices. It is true to say the housing market is on the cusp and could go either way.
The market is very price sensitive and buyers are being wary of paying over the odds. Our advice is, if you are selling a property you will have more success if you price it realistically. There does seem to be fewer buyers but they are better quality. If you go through the open house route we would have seen more viewers 18 months ago.
Today we are seeing fewer but these are still generating offers, the views to offers ratio has remained largely unchanged. Yes it has been reported that house prices are falling, but these are mainly coming from the top end of the market but elsewhere the prices are still close to what they were last year. It is a pretty much ‘wait and see’ situation.”

So perhaps falling house prices could actually be good for the market, creating stability and avoiding a boom and bust cycle as seen in 2008.