UK house prices rose by 1.6% in August, according to Halifax?s most recent price index. But although this figure is consistent with stabilisation in housing prices over the past 3 months, it does not correspond with other housing market reports, which are reporting that prices are falling. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) for example has reported twelve months of falling asking and agreed sales prices.
Martin Ellis, Chief Economist for the Halifax says: ?This pick up in monthly house price inflation is consistent with the continuing upward trend in market activity in recent months and the previous pattern of house price movements when the Bank of England begins to reduce interest rates.?
Independent market analysts, however, point out that transaction based house price indices, such as that of the Halifax, need to be interpreted correctly as they only measure the price of property changing hands, and are driven by the most buoyant areas of the market: in this case the top end. Thus Halifax’s latest figures constitute very good news for the country house market, which has remained healthy so far this year.
These surveys support anecdotal evidence suggests that demand for ‘the best’ property remains reasonably strong, despite the generally depressed level of housing market activity.
Even more positive to house sellers is the fact that both transaction and survey based house price indices are showing evidence of rising buyer interest.
Sensible pricing is allowing vendors to take full advantage of the rise in buyer interest noted last month. John Denney, Country House Director of Hampton’s International says: ‘Traditionally August is a quiet and flat month, however this month viewing figures have increased considerably (up 25%), together with a 63% increase in offers and 21% more sales agreed – including a lot of our older stock, as sellers became more aware of the market conditions’.