5 April 2019

Brexit uncertainty results in monthly fall in property prices, says Halifax

UK house prices fell 1.6 per cent from February to March, according to the latest house price index from Halifax, partly offsetting a surprising 5.9 per cent uplift in prices reported by the bank last month. These figures demonstrate the downside in relying on month-to-month data, with the annual figure suggesting price growth of 3.2 per cent in the year to March.

Undoubtedly, housing market activity has been significantly dampened as Brexit uncertainty takes its toll, with Halifax pointing to mortgage approvals around 40 per cent below pre-financial crisis levels. However, one might question some of the lending done prior to the financial crisis, which it could be argued was partly responsible for the crisis in the first instance. Since then, tighter affordability criteria have been introduced, contributing to a healthier market all round.

On the back of all this political upheaval, swap rates are up and down but trending downwards since the start of the year, and lenders remain keen to grab what business there is out there. A handful have responded with rate cuts, with TSB, Halifax, NatWest, Barclays and Kensington reducing pricing on residential and buy-to-let mortgages. This is good news for those borrowers who are brave enough to take the plunge, or who have simply had enough of waiting and just want to get on with their lives.

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