Prices in the final quarter of 2016 were 2.5% higher than in
the previous quarter, and 6.5% higher than in the same quarter the previous year, according to the Halifax’s latest house price index.
This was due to a marked lack of available housing stock in the housing market, following the uncertainty caused by the decision to leave the EU.
Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said that this was likely to continue: “UK house prices should […] continue to be supported by an ongoing shortage of property for sale, low levels of housebuilding, and exceptionally low interest rates.
But he cautioned that “slower economic growth, pressure on employment and a squeeze on spending power, together with affordability constraints, are expected to reduce housing demand during 2017.
His prediction for 2017 was that house price growth of “1-4% by the end of 2017” was likely, caveating that “the relatively wide range for the forecast reflects the higher than normal degree of uncertainty regarding the prospects for the UK economy this year”.
However others in the market point to different factors which might not have been taken in to account by Halifax’s modelling: people who put off selling or buying following the EU-referendum are now beginning to realise that the actual Brexit process is a long one, and any effects of it – good or bad – will be similarly drawn out over the next decade and longer. This could cause many of 2016’s would-be buyers or sellers to return to the market in 2017.
David Gibson, partner at Whitton & Laing said “we feel that after the post-referendum hunkering-down by buyers and sellers, we feel that this Spring will see a good number of people deciding to sell, having put it off last year. Any increase in property availability would be welcomed by many buyers who’ve had scant choice over the last year or two”.