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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Agents stay positive as house prices continue to creep up

House prices increased 0.5 per cent in November, which was the strongest monthly rise since April according to the Nationwide. 

However, annual house price growth remained below one per cent for the 12th month in a row at 0.8 per cent.

The typical home in the UK now costs £215,734 according to the lender.

Agents continue to be buoyed by the resilience of the market given the political traumas of Brexit and a General Election being thrown at it.

Jeremy Leaf - the north London estate agent, market commentator and former RICS residential chairman - says: “The housing market remains largely on hold but still relatively resilient, underpinned by near-record low mortgage rates, strong household spending and shortage of stock outweighing political and economic uncertainty. 

“At the sharp end, pent-up demand can remain so only for so long as realistic buyers and sellers prepare for life beyond the election and cautiously check on value before deciding to move.”

Another agent based in the capital - Patrick Alvarado, director of central London estate agent Nicolas Van Patrick - says: “The London housing market is definitely picking up. Over the past three months, we have sold most of our properties, many of which had been sitting on our books for more than a year, so there is reason to be quietly optimistic. Agents tend to be bellwethers for future movements in the market and there is no doubt that we are seeing more buyers get on with it and step into the market, which bodes well for the future.”

David Westgate, chief executive at Andrews Property Group, says vendors and buyers are showing signs of ignoring the political hiatus and getting on with their lives.

“Exceptionally low mortgage rates and more affordable prices are making that decision a bit easier. Some sellers are still proving stubborn on price but overall there is a bit more realism than there was earlier in the year he says.

However, The Guild of Property Professionals’ chief executive Iain McKenzie warns there is unlikely to be a significant improvement in the market for some weeks or months. 

“While there was a bounce in activity and confidence after the announcement of the Brexit extension from March to October, it is unlikely that we will see another boost in activity until after the general election and a clear path forward has been established by the newly elected government. Once we know what to expect, the market can settle into a new normal and activity will start to improve as buyers and sellers get on with it” explains McKenzie.

The author of the latest house price figures - Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner - says: “Indicators of UK economic activity have been fairly volatile in recent quarters, but the underlying pace of growth appears to have slowed as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty. To date, the slowdown has largely centred on business investment, while household spending has been more resilient.”

He adds that next month’s General Election may not have a major effect on the housing market.

“It appears that housing market trends have not traditionally been impacted around the time of general elections … Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home.” 

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