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House price rises in the UK slowed in the year to the end of May, according to the Halifax. Jeremy Leaf told BBC News that there was no ‘real pattern’ in the market: ‘Buyers and sellers are negotiating but not always successfully,’ he said. ‘Looking forward, we expect more of the same and possibly slightly better as we await figures reflecting the crucial spring market period.’
House prices may be rising at the slowest pace for five years, according to Nationwide, but homes still cost £10,500 more than a year ago. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Mail: ‘On the one hand, the squeeze in incomes and unrealistic asking prices is reducing activity and confidence to move, particularly in price-sensitive areas such as London. On the other hand, the market continues to be supported by low interest rates and overall supply shortages, although we have found recently that listings and viewings are on the rise.’ He added in The Guardian: ‘This will translate into more sales if buyers and sellers recognize the new market realities.’
The number of homes on sale for more than £1 million in London has risen to a record high as buyers walk away from ‘vanity’ asking prices. Jeremy Leaf told The Evening Standard: ‘This is definitely something we are seeing on the ground. More expensive properties have become harder to shift. It is probably taking double the time to sell them, and even that is only after there has been a couple of reductions in price to get it to a level where it is going to move.’
Mortgage lending dropped significantly in the first quarter, according to the Bank of England, with the number of new commitments agreed by lenders at their lowest level since 2016. Jeremy Leaf told City AM: ‘Although a little historic, the decrease in mortgage lending is disappointing. But of more concern is the fall in proposed advances. The reduction in the proportion lent to first-time buyers when buy-to-let investor borrowing increased for the first time in more than a year may be a sign that the government’s intention to ‘level the playing field’ between the two groups is not working.’
Gazundering is also making an unwelcome return. Commenting in The Daily Express, Jeremy Leaf said: ‘The last time we saw a rise in gazundering was around 2008, when the market softened as a result of the financial crisis. Of course, it really depends on the prevailing conditions in your local area but we are seeing the classic ingredients that together, contribute towards an environment which can lend itself towards buyers becoming more opportunistic, slowing demand, surveyor down-valuations, longer transaction times and unrealistic seller expectations in terms of achievable sale price.’