Nationwide’s latest U.K. house price index report for June 2019–on the surface paints a picture of a market that’s to some degree treading water.
The current position
Headline factors are that annual U.K. house price growth remains under 1% for the seventh successive quarter, with notably an eighth consecutive quarter of price declines in London. Where there is upward house price movement, it’s well away from the capital: Northern Ireland, Wales and Yorkshire and Humberside registered increases of over 3% in the last quarter (April–June).
Brexit continues to cast its shadow over these figures, as you might expect. It’s been three years since the Brexit vote, and the slowdown in house price growth has sustained as uncertainty has increased. The incoming departure of incumbent U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and the lack of clarity over her successor, either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt, and the direction they’ll take, is a further concern.
Yet it’s worth noting that Brexit uncertainty has steadied prices rather than depressed them outright. Working on, the annual peak for the average real price of a U.K. home was in 2007, when the number stood at £250,354. The market bottomed in 2012, arguably at the peak of U.K. austerity and in the aftermath of 2008’s global financial crash (which, rather than Brexit, is the biggest single factor by distance to damage U.K. house prices in the past 30 years). Back then, the average price of a U.K. house was £189,099.
Since then, we’ve seen tempered peaks and troughs in the market–a marked contrast from the sizeable slopes of the 1980s and 1990s–and the average price of a U.K. house now stands at £216,515 in June 2019 (non-seasonally adjusted). That’s just 2.1% down from its 10-year high. In spite of sizeable pressures, pricing has proved to be relatively unresponsive. It’s been a much better decade for the housing market than the one before.