UK Housing Affordability Reaches 2011 Levels

Housing Affordability Levels
The latest house price index by property website Rightmove has shown that the annual price growth in property prices has risen by just 0.2%, the lowest level for this time of year since 2009.

Compared to an average annual wage growth of 3.4%, this means that affordability is increasing at the fastest rate against average asking prices since 2011, making it good news for those looking to purchase a new property.

Winners and losers

Despite the low overall growth, it’s good news for those sellers in the Northern regions, including the Midlands. Here, sellers have been able to command a modest increase compared to asking prices a year ago.

Six of the seven Northern regions saw an annual asking price increase of more than 2%, with Yorkshire and Humber coming out on top at 3.6%. Even Scotland, the poorest performer in the North, has enjoyed an increase of 1.6%.

Excluding inner London, the average asking price for a property in the UK is now £300,715, compared to £298,734 in January. In the north-east, the average asking price is £151,303.

For those in the Southern regions, however, it’s a very different story. The average asking price in Greater London is now £614,182 which, will it represents an increase of 3.4% on the month it’s an annual fall of 2.1%.

In the South East there was a drop of 1.4% and the East of England suffered a decrease of 0.2%. Good news for buyers, but bad news for sellers.

As a result of the increase in prices, buyers in the North are seeing more choice in the market, with the exception of Wales. However, in the Southern regions, homeowners are showing a reluctance to put their properties on the market, with fewer new sellers than a year ago.

House sales

However, it’s worth noting that increased affordability is not yet translating into sales. Agreed sales in January were down 4% compared to the previous year, with Rightmove stating that will “take some time” for the improved affordability to convert into greater sales.

Rightmove’s view

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, commented: “Sellers’ subdued pricing is now being outstripped by higher average wage growth, meaning that buyer affordability is on the rise at the fastest rate in nearly eight years. Buyers are also being given the leg-up by cheap mortgage rates, if they can meet lenders’ criteria and lay their hands on a large enough deposit.

“Prospective buyers in three of the four southern regions are seeing new seller asking prices cheaper than a year ago, indicating that buyers have the upper hand over sellers when it comes to negotiating a price.

“This has obviously been a factor for some owners in those regions deciding not to come to market. Market conditions are more favourable for sellers further north though agents say that it’s still a very price-sensitive market where asking too much at the outset scares off buyers.”

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