Britain’s housing market surges

Britain’s housing market surged in September with house prices soaring by 7.3% and mortgage applications hitting a 12 year high.

House price figures from Halifax showed the steepest annual increase since June 2016 with the average property price reaching £249,870.

Substantial gains

Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director, said: “September saw a third consecutive month of substantial gains.

“The annual rate of change will naturally draw attention, context is important with the annual comparison, as September 2019 saw political uncertainty weigh on the market.

Extremely strong

“But few would dispute that the performance of the housing market has been extremely strong since lockdown restrictions began to ease in May.

“Across the last three months, we have received more mortgage applications from both first time buyers and homemovers than anytime since 2008.

Changes

He added that changes in the market had been brought on by the effects of the pandemic with increased homeworking sparking a desire for more space.

The stamp duty holiday is encouraging both vendors and buyers to close deals before the break comes to an end next March.

But he warned: “It is highly unlikely that the housing market will continue to remain immune to the economic impact of the pandemic.

The release of pent up demand and indeed the stamp duty holiday can only be temporary fillips and their impact will inevitably start to wane.

Unemployment

“As employment support measures are gradually scaled back beyond the end of October, the spectre of increased unemployment over the winter will come into sharper relief.

“Therefore, while it may come later than initially anticipated, we continue to believe that significant downward pressure on house prices should be expected at some point in the months ahead as the realities of an economic recession are felt ever more keenly.”

Phenomenal

Meanwhile experts are delighted with market performance.

Finance director Joshua Elash says: “These numbers are phenomenal and demonstrate the real extent and determination of the pent-up demand for homes and investment property across the country.

Highest growth

“Transactional volumes are up again for the fourth consecutive month.

Values are up again with the highest growth in over four years.

“With continued high levels of liquidity in the market, strong underlying demand, and a government committed to supporting the sector, it’s hard to see where this stops.”

Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients commented: “The Halifax has received more mortgage applications from first-time buyers and home movers than at anytime since 2008 – and it will not be the only lender in this position.

“Service levels have suffered across the board partly because of this level of demand, coupled of course with staff working from home, and delays further along the process with surveyors and solicitors also trying to cope with more work than usual.

Cheapest rates

“Not everyone can access the cheapest rates, however, with the divide between sub-80 per cent pricing and above growing all the time.

“A number of lenders have increased pricing in the 80 per cent-plus range, which is mainly affecting first-time buyers, while those with bigger deposits continue to attract the most competitive deals.”