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House prices bounced back slightly in February, according to Halifax. Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co, told This is Money and The Daily Express: ‘On balance, Halifax doesn’t record much movement one way or another, a small monthly rise in prices and a small annual fall, which bears out what we are seeing on the ground.’ He expanded on these comments in Your Money: ‘There are more listings and viewings but a reluctance to make an offer until clear direction of travel for the market can be established, with buyers and sellers still negotiating hard.’ Finally, he concluded in What Mortgage: ‘We don’t expect this pattern to alter very much over the next few months unless there is a Brexit breakthrough.’
But Nationwide recorded a slightly different picture, with house prices falling for the first time in the six months to February, according to its latest index. Discussing the findings in The Daily Telegraph Jeremy Leaf said that, as one of the most closely-watched indicators of property market strength due to its longevity and accuracy, Nationwide’s figures may ‘cause concern’. He added that at this time of year there should have been an increase, not a fall, in house price growth.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics found that house prices dipped by 0.3 per cent month-on-month in January. Jeremy Leaf explained in The Daily Mail: ‘We have found house prices to be rather volatile over the past few months – up a bit, then down a bit. On the one hand, they have been supported by low interest rates and shortage of stock, but on the other, compromised by squeezed affordability and Brexit uncertainty.’ He explained further in The Evening Standard: ‘No region reflects this pattern more than London, which is showing again that price rises are lagging behind most of the rest of the country, mainly due to previous overheating and now availability of more stock.’
Mortgage approvals for house purchase and remortgaging dipped below their recent averages in February, Bank of England figures show. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Mail: ‘This is another survey demonstrating the relatively volatile nature of the present housing market – up one month, down the next – as buyers and sellers come to terms with new market realities.’
With over-60s set to outnumber those aged under 20 by 2045, the redevelopment of towns and cities need to cater for the older generation. Jeremy Leaf told The Daily Express: ‘Solving the housing crisis is not just about building more homes. Attention needs to be paid to lending, planning, enforcement and better use of existing resources, especially local authority land.’
The number of properties changing hands has collapsed as would-be sellers sit tight. Jeremy Leaf told The Mirror: ‘Successful sellers are the ones who are recognising the new market realities. Property needs to stand out one way or another to gain attention.’