Annual house price growth in the UK remained sluggish in February, up just 0.4% and month on month prices fell by 0.4%, the latest lender index shows.
This means that the average price of a property was £211,304, down from the average of £211,966 in January 2019, the data from the Nationwide shows.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, pointed out that indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months.
However, he acknowledged that the survey data suggests that sentiment has softened. ‘Measures of consumer confidence weakened around the turn of the year and surveyors reported a further fall in new buyer enquiries over the same period,’ he explained.
‘While the number of properties coming onto the market also slowed, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of demand and supply in favour of buyers in recent months,’ he added.
According to Dilpreet Bhagrath, mortgage expert at online mortgage broker Trussle, with Brexit still at the forefront of minds, many of those hoping to move are reluctant and this is likely have an impact on property price growth.
‘While the number of homes coming onto the market has slowed, there are still some good deals to be had, particularly for first time buyers not in a chain who are able to move quickly. Those who do find their dream home should take into account their current and future personal circumstances and consider opting for a fixed rate mortgage for the stability of knowing how much they’ll pay each month,’ she added.
However, Jeff Knight, marketing director for Foundation Home Loans, pointed out that there are numbers of buyers and sellers shrugging off economic concerns to progress with their property ambitions, and seizing the opportunity to snap up discounted homes in the process.
‘First time buyers now represent a big part of the market, which is a good sign and shows the impact of recent initiatives. And I also expect a number of landlords to see an opportunity to expand their portfolios,’ he said.
Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, also believes it is good news for first time buyers. ‘Slower house price growth combined with competitive mortgage rates continues to entice buyers, particularly first time buyers, who now make up the majority of home purchases bought with a mortgage,’ he said.
‘With their numbers at a 12 year high, Government initiatives, such as Help to Buy and Shared Ownership are helping those who may otherwise be unable to step onto the property ladder,’ he explained.
‘For borrowers, the influx of innovative solutions has provided more choice than ever before, which for some may seem a little overwhelming. By speaking with a mortgage adviser, borrowers can gain a better understanding of the options available and receive tailored advice that is best suited to their needs,’ he added.