House prices fall again but agents remain resilient October

Average house prices fell annually for the second consecutive month during October, Land Registry figures show.

The data may only reflect activity from earlier in the year due to the lag between completions and registrations at the Land Registry, but agents suggest it shows the market has been more resilient than expected this year.

Average prices fell 1.2% annually in October compared with a 0.6% drop in September, which was revised downwards by the Land Registry.

This puts the average house price at £287,782, £3,000 lower than the same month last year but £7,000 above the recent low point in March 2023.

Prices were down 0.7% on a monthly basis, a steeper drop than the 0.2% decline recorded previously.

Annual house price inflation was highest in the North East where prices increased by 0.2% in the 12 months to October 2023. London was the English region with the lowest annual inflation, with average prices down 3.6% annually.

Commenting on the figures, Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said:

“This, the most comprehensive of all the housing market surveys as it includes not just mortgaged properties but also increasingly popular cash purchases, is particularly interesting.

“The figures confirm the greater resilience in evidence for the past few months in the usually distracting period leading up to Christmas.

“Buyers and sellers are taking heart from the pause in interest rate rises and falls in mortgage payments and inflation, as well as continuing strong employment.

“Looking forward, the signs for the new year are more promising than they may have been only a few short months ago.”

Nicky Stevenson, managing director at Fine & Country, said the property market is looking “increasingly buoyant” after a bumpy start to the year.

Stevenson said:

“The fact that the housing market has remained robust despite the year’s economic challenges gives reason to be positive about its continued resilience and growth.

“Buyers are proving highly motivated to move, with some having put their plans on hold while waiting for the economic landscape to stabilise.

“Good quality homes in sought-after locations are still being snapped up quickly as a result.

“Properties marketed at first-time buyers should become an easier sell in the new year as mortgage providers continue to compete for business and are bringing interest rates down in the process, widening affordability and the potential pool of movers.” 

Iain McKenzie, chief executive of The Guild of Property Professionals, added:

“Another fall in property prices makes it even more likely that 2023 will finish with the average price paid for a home ending up less than the year before – the first time we have seen this in over a decade. 

“Stability is on the horizon though, with different measurements for house prices indicating a tapering off in house price volatility.

“This is good news for homeowners, who have faced uncertainty all year about the value of their property and when the best time to sell is. 

“First-time buyers will have been hoping for a greater adjustment in prices than just a £3,000 fall in the previous 12 months, as that does not put levels anywhere close to what the picture was like pre-pandemic.

“An important factor to bear in mind is that we have not seen as much of a drop-off in property transactions as there has been in other periods of economic difficulty.

“This demand has kept prices from facing a landslide in the last year.

“It is likely that the coming months will continue the trend of modest falls, but with inflation coming down at a faster rate than expected, we are hopeful that this will eventually bring more confidence back to the market, and more lenders will loosen the purse strings.”


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