What the numbers say: a close look at the UK’s latest House Price Indices

Have you been considering selling your house in Kent or East Sussex? With the current state of the housing market, it’s a question on many people’s minds. But before you make any decisions, it’s crucial to look at the numbers and facts. According to the Halifax, house prices in Britain saw a 1.7% increase in 2023, with the average property now costing £4,800 more than it did in December 2022. Additionally, data from Rightmove shows that average new seller asking prices have risen by 1.3% month on month, reaching £359,748. This is the largest increase in prices between December and January since 2020, although average prices are still 0.7% lower than last year. With the Bank of England governor hoping for further decreases in mortgage rates, it’s important to closely examine the UK’s House Price Indices to understand the current state of the housing market. So, let’s take a closer look.

Understanding 2023

According to Nationwide, 2023 was characterised by a sluggish housing market. Transactions dipped to approximately 10% beneath pre-pandemic numbers for the last six months, a downturn that’s largely attributed to increased borrowing costs leading to a significant fall in mortgage-involved dealings (roughly 20%). Contrarily, cash transactions have consistently outstripped pre-Covid figures.

The Halifax’s House Price Index noted an across-the-board surge in property values by 1.7% in 2023, suggesting the market overcame forecasted odds despite heightened taxes, rising inflation and broader living costs pressures. In fact, average house prices witnessed a 1.1% hike month on month in December – marking the third successive monthly elevation. In specific numbers, the standard UK house price stood at £287,105 in December 2023, rising from £282,305 in December of the preceding year.

Kim Kinnaird, director at Halifax Mortgages, acknowledged that the final quarter of the previous year experienced a positive upturn, despite preceding six straight months of property value decline from April to September.

Snapshot of 2024

Rightmove’s House Price Index reveals an early picture of 2024 showing both prospective buyers and sellers being significantly more active than the same time frame in the previous year. This increase in activity could indicate a resurgence in confidence in the property market compared to the uncertain period following the mini-Budget. The first week of 2024 experienced a 5% surge in potential buyers reaching out to estate agents about properties on the market, particularly evident in regions like London and the North East.

There’s also been a 15% increase in new listings coming to the market since the beginning of last year, boosted by a record number of properties being listed on Rightmove on Boxing Day. The highest influx of new properties came from the North East and South West regions, providing a wider selection for the influx of new buyers. However, there is still no surplus of available properties, with the overall inventory sitting just 1% above the average market levels observed in 2019. Despite this uptick in buyer activity, it remains crucial for sellers to remain competitive in their pricing strategies due to the increasing number of listings exceeding the rise in buyer enquiries.

From 27 December onwards, nine out of ten of Rightmove’s busiest days were due to prospective buyers starting the process of securing a Mortgage in Principle. This determines the amount they could potentially borrow from lenders and, therefore, the range of properties within their budget. January looks set to be the most active month for securing a Mortgage in Principle via Rightmove since the service’s inception in 2022. Although we are in the early days of 2024, these figures suggest that future movers are already starting to set their budgets and plans in motion.

The governor of the Bank of England expressed optimism for the continuation of falling mortgage rates when addressing MPs recently. Andrew Bailey, in his discussion with the Treasury Committee, acknowledged that significant shifts in market interest rates over recent months have led to lower mortgage costs. Despite increasing interest rates, Bailey reassured that the financial sector remains stable. However, he highlighted the potential risk from the conflict in the Middle East, should it lead to escalating energy costs. Several economists are forecasting a decline in UK inflation to around 2% in the forthcoming months, which could potentially afford the Bank of England some flexibility to reduce interest rates.

Closer to home

If you’re thinking of selling your home in any of the areas we cover (Tunbridge Wells, Rusthall, Langton Green, Southborough, Pembury, Hawkenbury, Tonbridge, Groombridge, Hartfield, Withyham, Forest Row, Edenbridge, Crowborough or Uckfield and want to understand how this all translates to the local property market and especially your property, give our team at KMJ Property a call on 01892 515188 / 01342 824824.