The Halifax House Price Index, published yesterday, contained the news that the UK average house price is now £282,753; that prices had increased by 1.4% in a month; 2.3% in the quarter; and a huge 11% in a year.
Halifax noted that since the first covid lockdown in March of 2020 average house prices have risen by £43,577.
Industry reaction confirmed that high demand and lack of stock are behind the increases, but there is a hint of disbelief that the momentum can be maintained when the cost of living is spiralling upwards as well and incomes are being squeezed harder than most people have ever experienced in their lifetime.
Nicky Stevenson, MD of Fine & Country:
“It’s as if the housing market has decoupled itself from the rest of the economy and the cost of living crisis has yet to make any dent on the prices people are willing to pay.
“Whether buyers are forced to reassess their budgets later in the year will depend on how acute affordability pressures later become.”
Anthony Codling, CEO of Twindig:
“The Halifax house price index rose in March for the ninth month in a row, the 1.4% increase in March 2022 of £3,860, an amount significantly larger than the average full-time monthly wage, was the biggest increase since September.
“Whilst many take comfort from rising house prices, in our view, affordability concerns are starting to move up the housing ladder.
“Not only is it difficult for first-time buyers to take their first step onto the housing ladder, but it is increasingly difficult for those looking to trade up as the recent levels of house price inflation have increased the distance between the rungs on the housing ladder itself.”
Nathan Emerson, Propertymark CEO:
“Our latest Housing Market Report found that the level of housing supply is still 32 per cent lower than before the pandemic and demand is up 134 per cent.
“There are no signs that this trend is set to change in the near future meaning the market will continue to remain competitive with homes selling quickly.
“The cost of living crisis and will undoubtedly show its effects in the market in the coming months, with many households facing increasing energy bills, we could also start to see more efficient homes start to hold premiums over older or less efficient homes.”
Amanda Aumonier, Head of Mortgage Operations and online mortgage broker, Trussle:
“House price growth continues to march to new heights. However, with an increasingly dire financial climate setting in, we may well see this appetite drop off in the coming months.
“Rent is now cheaper than mortgages for the first time in 14 years. So it’s likely we’ll see the first time buyer pipeline begin to disappear as consumers look at the higher interest rates and lower rent options, and question whether to commit to a mortgage at this point in time.”
Jason Tebb, CEO of On The Market:
“Buyer and seller sentiment continued unabated in March despite considerable upheaval in the wider economy and the cost of living crisis. The market continues to adjust to a ‘new normal’, an elevated, faster-paced version of what we saw pre-pandemic.
“We’re seeing an uptick in new homes coming to market, as you’d expect for this time of year, but still not enough to keep pace with demand. It’s time for buyers to be bold and decisive or risk missing out.”
Iain McKenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals:
“The release of every new set of house prices is starting to feel like Groundhog Day, with constant announcements of yet another record high becoming increasingly monotonous.
“There was so much expectation that the cost of living crisis would start to impact on house prices, yet prices continue to defy predictions and show month-on-month increases.
“House prices are being driven not by consumer confidence, but by the lack of properties available and the speed at which they are sold, with high demand driving prices higher.