The credit crunch that followed the property market boom wiped about 20% off the value of our homes. But from March 2009 to March 2010 the market had a full year of bouncing back. However, in the early summer of 2010 the market came off the boil once more and by late summer was seemingly in reverse. The latest data from the Halifax showed a record monthly fall of 3.6% for September, on the back of two consecutive monthly rises.
The other big mortgage lender, Nationwide, says that the average house price for the country is £166,757 (Halifax £162,096); it clearly doesn’t agree with Halifax, citing a 0.1% rise for the month of September. Land Registry figures lag behind slightly but are largely regarded as being very accurate. Its house price index showed a month on month 0.3% rise for August but annual inflation was down to 6.7% from 6.8%. Never to be ignored, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that although estate agents felt that prices were falling, they were expecting to sell more homes in the coming months.
Talk to the experts and the short term future for the market is bleak. Some economists have predicted that property prices will be 10% lower than mid 2010 by the end of 2011 but the general feeling is more towards a period of stagnation rather than the big falls seen in 2008. One thing that the economists are agreed on though is the fact that the effects will be felt differently across the UK, with those living in London and the south-east being less likely to feel the pinch from public sector cuts and spending cutbacks.
In summary, the property market remains precariously balanced. Bricks and mortar are already over-priced and it seems unlikely that the country’s ailing economy can support any further price rises. Although more property seems to be coming to market and consequently estate agents are expecting more sales, lenders are tightening the criteria of cheap interest-only mortgages, which may well exert a further downward trend on house prices.