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House prices hit record high but analyst questions if now is a good time to buy

Homeowners are now earning almost as much from their property as they are from their salary after prices hit new highs.

The latest Halifax House Price Index for March shows property values were up 11% annually to £282,753.

House prices also saw their largest monthly jump for six months at 1.4%.

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Typical values are up £28,113 in a year and Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst for Hargreaves Lansdown highlights that average earnings are just ahead of that at £28,860.

She warns that this level of price growth is making it harder for people to get on the property ladder and adds that it may not currently be worth the stretch.

Coles says: “While homeowners might feel better off on paper, for anyone trying to get onto the ladder, or move up it, this is pushing properties even further out of reach. 

“Right now may not be a sensible time to stretch yourself.

“House prices are up an average of £28,113 in a year, and £43,577 in two years, as demand continued to outstrip supply, and buyers chased after the few properties on the market. 

“For those who are considering trading down, or are happy staying where they are, it makes them feel wealthier, and provides an element of comfort when everything else in life is conspiring to make them less well off.

“However, for anyone saving to get a place of their own, this means you’re having to run to stand still.”

She highlights that if a buyer is trying to get a 10% deposit together, they would have had to save £2,811 more just to be in the same position they were a year earlier.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, adds that the current housing market situation is different to these figures

He says: “These numbers are very strong but mostly reflect activity of the past few months. 

“Since then we’ve noticed, on the ground, how rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs in particular, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, have taken their toll. 

“There is still plenty of market resilience and demand for correctly-priced houses and flats but increasingly stretched affordability is inevitably putting a break on price growth and transaction numbers.”

Nathan Emerson, chief executive of estate agent trade body Propertymark, says members report that the level of housing supply is still 32% lower than before the pandemic and demand is up 134%.

He says: "There are no signs that this trend is set to change in the near future meaning the market will continue to remain competitive with homes selling quickly.

“The cost of living crisis will undoubtedly show its effects in the market in the coming months, with many households facing increasing energy bills, we could also start to see more efficient homes start to hold premiums over older or less efficient homes."

Jason Tebb, chief executive of OnTheMarket, adds that the portal is seeing more new homes coming to market but not enough to keep up with demand.

He says: “The market continues to adjust to a ‘new normal’, an elevated, faster-paced version of what we saw pre-pandemic.

“It’s time for buyers to be bold and decisive or risk missing out.”    

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