Acute lack of supply keeps average house prices up – but only just

House price inflation continued to slow in September, Halifax has revealed. House prices did go up last month, but by just 0.1% on August.

The lender’s latest house price index recorded average prices at £214,024 for September, up 5.8% annually, which is down from 6.9% in August.

On a quarterly basis prices fell 0.1%, their lowest recording since a 0.3% drop in November 2012, but the tiny 0.1% rise on August bucked a trend of consecutive monthly falls.

Martin Ellis, housing economist for Halifax, said: “The housing market has followed a steady downward trend over the past six months with clear evidence of both a softening in activity levels and an easing in house price inflation.

“The reduction in annual house price growth from a peak of 10% in March to 5.8% six months later remains in line with our forecast at the end of 2015.

“A lengthy period where house prices have risen more rapidly than earnings has put pressure on affordability, therefore constraining demand. Very low mortgage rates and a shortage of properties available for sale should, however, help support price levels over the coming months.”

Ben Madden, managing director of the estate agents Thorgills, said: “After the Stamp Duty tax hit for landlords and second-home owners, and the shock Brexit vote, it’s no surprise the market has cooled down over the past six months.

“The collapse in the market many predicted simply hasn’t materialised and the reason for this is the acute lack of supply, exceptionally low mortgage rates and an economy and consumer that, as yet, appear to be holding up despite the political uncertainty.

“It’s nevertheless a peculiar and uncertain market. Generally speaking, buyers feel it’s their market, but the longer the economy holds up in the aftermath of Brexit the more the market may begin to favour sellers.

“Sellers and buyers alike will already have an eye on Article 50 and its potential to be another bump in the road. But again, who it favors is as yet unknown. The pendulum of market power could swing either way.

“We’re in a kind of no man’s land where both buyers and sellers have their own reasons to stand firm. As a result, transaction levels have slowed.”