This report is to help give everyone – industry and consumers – a quick five-minute guide to what’s happening in the property market, according to the property indices, along with property expert Kate Faulkner’s comments.
Signs of family movers returning as market stabilises
“Average new seller asking prices drop by 1.9% (-£6,966) this month to £355,177. Prices usually fall in December due to seasonal factors, but this month’s drop is bigger than the previous 20-year average of 1.5% as sellers get more competitive.”
Stock levels drop further and prices post marginal year-on-year gain
“Despite a seasonal monthly fall of 0.7% since last month, asking prices across England and Wales end the year up 0.1% vs. Dec 2022.”
Near-term sales expectations turn slightly positive for the first time this year
“National house price declines appear to be slowing.”
House prices fall 1.8% over the course of 2023
“UK house prices ended 2023 down 1.8% compared with December 2022, leaving them almost 4.5% below the all-time high recorded in late summer 2022. Prices were flat compared with November, after taking account of seasonal effects.”
UK house prices rise for third consecutive month
“In December, the cost of an average UK home rose for the third month in a row to £287,105, up +1.1% or £3,066, compared to November, reaching the highest level since March 2023.”
Annual price falls moderate in December
“Our data this month provides some light relief for home-owners. On a monthly basis house prices have risen, in this instance by some £550, or 0.2%, in December 2023, and now stand at a level last seen in February 2022.”
House price falls starting to moderate as sales improve
“Annual house price inflation is -1.1%, down from +7.2% a year ago.”
Here are the most interesting and useful stats from this month’s indices:
For those that are interested in the England market, please see our regional price analysis below.
For Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland we monitor:
Please find a summary of the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland markets below:
Summary from the indices of the Scottish housing market
“Scotland also recorded a modest annual increase of 0.5% last year.”
“Scotland’s average house price also recorded growth, with the average property in the nation now £205,170, +2.6% higher or £5,277 in cash terms on an annual basis.”
Average prices show little change since May
“The average house price in Scotland in October 2023 has increased by some £975, or 0.4%, over the last twelve months, which is 0.4% lower than the 0.8% growth rate seen in September, one month earlier. This is the lowest annual growth rate since March 2019, nearly five years earlier.
“Despite the fall in the annual rate, 17 of the 32 local authorities were reporting a positive movement in prices over the previous twelve months, compared with 16 in September. However, Edinburgh had the largest fall in prices over the year when measured on a weight-adjusted basis (which takes into account both the number of sales and the nominal fall in average price), which singlehandedly counteracted some 30% of the positive movement in values in the 17 areas with price gains.
“In October, Clackmannanshire saw the highest increase in its annual rate of price growth, at 9.9%, but with only 44 sales in the month, contrasted with Edinburgh’s 612, the movements in average price will be unduly impacted by individual transactions, especially when expressed in percentage terms. Moray is in second place, with a more arithmetically significant 97 sales, with an average price gain of 8.3%. In Moray, all property types have seen prices rise over the year, with the largest increase being in semi-detached properties, up from an average £180k in October 2022 to £200k one year later.
“At the other end of the scale, the area on the mainland with the largest percentage fall in prices over the last twelve months, for the second month running, was East Ayrshire, at -6.0%. In East Ayrshire, all property types - except for terraces - saw prices fall over the year, with the largest fall being detached homes, down by an average £20k over the last twelve months. At an average £264k, in October 2023, East Ayrshire is ranked 29th out of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland, by way of its detached property values.”
Summary from the indices of the Welsh housing market
“Wales saw a 1.9% decline – Q4 2023 vs Q4 2022.”
Summary from the indices of the Northern Ireland housing market
“Northern Ireland was the best performer in 2023, with prices up 4.5% over the year.”
“Northern Ireland continues to be the strongest performing nation or region in the UK, with house prices increasing by +4.1% on an annual basis. Properties in Northern Ireland now cost on average £192,153, which is £7,595 higher than the same time in December 2022.”
Although the Land Registry figures are still a few months behind the end of the year, Rightmove, Home, Halifax and Nationwide are close to tracking the end of the year results. None of them, from a price perspective, are showing the significant falls as expected just over a year ago.
Considering everything external factors have thrown at the property market – financial meltdown post the Liz Truss government, cost of living crisis, huge rises in mortgage rates (although many of these were predicted well in advance) and utility bills, it is quite incredible that property prices have hardly fallen at all.
However, the ‘hidden’ problem in 2023 which will be similar in 2024 is the lack of sales – estimated around 1mn as opposed to the average 1.2mn.
Hopefully most of the moving industry will have put monies away during the heady days during covid when sales were running at 1.3mn and 1.6mn. For those that haven’t, it will be another tough year financially.
Interestingly, in 2023 the North/South divide has meant that the North has done a lot better than the South – mainly due to affordability issues being less pronounced.
Best performing regions
From a regional perspective, more affordable areas such as the North and Yorkshire are seeing only slight falls – or indeed some rises according to Rightmove, Home.co.uk and Halifax.
The areas recording the largest falls across the indices include London (-3.6% according to the Land Registry), South East (-3.7% Rightmove) and the East (-5.2% according to Nationwide).
“Whilst at a national level average asking prices have seen a marginal fall of 1.1% compared to last year, there is a mixed picture across Great Britain, which has thousands of hyper-local markets, highlighting the need for sellers to price in line with their local market trends. Average new seller asking prices are higher in seven out of 11 areas across Great Britain compared to a year ago, with the North West leading the way at 1.5% higher than last year, and the South East being the worst performer at 3.7% below 2022.”
“Across northern England (which comprises North, North West, Yorkshire & The Humber, East Midlands and West Midlands), prices were down 1.8% year on year. Yorkshire & The Humber was the best performing northern region with an annual rate of change of -0.5%.
“Meanwhile, southern England (South West, Outer South East, Outer Metropolitan, London and East Anglia) saw a 3.4% year-on-year fall. London was once again the best performing southern region with a 2.4% annual decline.”
“North West (+0.3%), and Yorkshire and Humber (+0.1%) saw modest house price increases over the last year. The South East fell the most during 2023, when compared to other UK regions, with homes selling for an average £376,804 (-4.5%), a drop of £17,755. Unsurprisingly, London retains the top spot for the highest average house price across all the regions, at £528,798, albeit prices in the capital have declined by -2.3% on an annual basis.”
“A rather mixed bag of change in price movements among the 10 regions, with six showing an upward movement in their rates compared to the previous month, and four areas where price declines have accelerated. The largest change in rates took place in the North East, up by +1.5% on the previous month, making it the only region to have a positive annual rate of growth, at +0.8%.
“The second-largest movement in rates occurred in the East of England, where prices fell by an additional -1.0%, resulting in a decline of -6.0% on an annual basis, which is the largest decrease in prices seen in any region over a twelve month period since October 2011.
“The four areas with more negativity in their rates of growth since the previous month were the East of England, the South East, and the East and West Midlands. The six regions with a positive change in growth rates were Wales, the three northernmost regions of England, the North East, the North West and Yorks and Humber, plus the South West and Greater London.”
For city/town tracking, we use Land Registry (government data) and Zoopla/Hometrack. The Land Registry data is useful because we can analyse how property prices have changed over time and this helps us to put today’s price information into context.
The Zoopla/Hometrack data is useful as they take into account the change in mix of property transactions during the pandemic to houses away from flats. This has meant the likes of the Land Registry and other indices have over exaggerated price changes year on year.
As we have seen for some years now, there is less and less of a ‘pattern’ when it comes to areas that perform well and badly. Good performing areas exist up and down the country from Edinburgh to Peterborough while poor performing areas stretch from Aberdeen to Southampton.
Topping the price growth charts according to Land Registry and Hometrack:-
Lowest performers are:
Overall, out of 30 cities, since 2005, property prices have risen above the average annual 3.8% inflation rate in eight cities/towns, including Milton Keynes, Manchester and Bristol, with price growth staying below inflation for the remaining towns and cities.
Even with the price growth seen during the pandemic, what this shows is that, in real terms, especially for those that own outright the property, property prices have not necessarily been delivering as well as they are believed to from an investment perspective.
For property prices to keep up with inflation, they need to have risen by 68% since 2005 ie over 3.0% per annum. Despite a lot of talk about prices rising during the pandemic, take away the big increases and falls and in actual fact that only leaves one region and a small number of our cities, just eight out of the 30 we track.
Additional data from Zoopla also shows how much property price growth has slowed – especially versus wages:
This is the critical measure for 2024 and so far, it looks like prices will hold in the main, but transactions are going to remain lower than ideal – sub 1.2 million.
For the industry to survive a 17% loss of business in 2024 versus the norm, everyone is going to have to do everything they can to ensure property transactions go through as successfully as possible.
This means reducing fall throughs so that money and time isn’t wasted on failed transactions.
This year, according to Zoopla, it’s expected that first time buyers and up sizers will be the main markets to buy. With the new rules from Trading Standards on upfront material information, it’s also essential that any sellers are willing to put in the work required upfront to make sure a property is sold with the right information.
This one thing in itself, will help to speed up sales and reduce fall throughs, so everyone from lender through to agent, legal company and surveyor needs to make sure all properties are marketed with this information upfront.
“Provisional figures for November 2023 constitute the third month-on-month decrease in seasonally adjusted transactions in recent months. Non-seasonally adjusted transactions fell by 2% in November 2023 relative to October 2023 and 22% relative to November 2022.”
Propertymark are reporting: “There were on average just 6 new homes placed for sale per member branch in November, a 26% drop on October’s figure. Supply has decreased month on month since August 2023 and although seasonal trends are evident, the market is clearly in a cooling phase. The number of sales agreed per member branch decreased again in November 2023. Whilst seasonal patterns explain this trend, the year-to-date performance in 2023 is lower than in either 2021 or 2022.”
Data from Chris Watkin and TwentyEA
This data shows us how the market is performing to date versus other years. Compared to the average from 2017 to 2019, where 23,400 instructions were listed versus the lower 22,000 in the latter week of November, around 6% down versus the same week in other years.
As far as sales agreed are concerned, average sales at the end of the week were 19,500 from 2017 to 2019 and in this last week of November, they were 19,000, just 2.5% down. However, this is more of a reflection of the problems we saw in 2022 due to the mortgage crisis than it is because of a better performing market in 2023.