Surveyors say house prices are still falling

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Although house prices are generally falling, the rate of decline depends largely on where you live, says a survey by estate agents.

The UK Housing Market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) says that although 23 per cent more surveyors say prices are falling rather than rising, three-quarters of those who confirm falling prices put the drop in the no more than two per cent.

Regionally, says RICS, only London continues to report rising prices, with the East and West Midlands showing the strongest negative assessments..

Northern Ireland is also “deeply in negative territory”, while sentiment among surveyors has perked up noticeably in Scotland.

The RICS survey largely confirms the October analysis from Halifax, Britain’s biggest lender, which shows an annual fall of 2.3 per cent to the end of September – to an average £161,132, against £162,307 in September 2010.

Halifax sees little prospect of change for the rest of this year, with low interest rates and a marginal rise in employment over the past year continuing to support the market.

But demand is hard hit by higher inflation, increased taxes and rising energy bills.

There is also evidence that your view of the housing market is affected by the home you are already in.

In the South East and London, says the Knight Frank/Markit House Price Sentiment Index, people are far more upbeat about house price prospects, while those in the East Midlands are gloomiest.

Similarly households earning £23,000-£34,500 per year expect house prices to fall further over the next year, while those on higher and lower incomes are more confident that prices will rise.

Grainne Gilmore, at Knight Frank, says: “It is noticeable that households which have incomes around the national average salary of £26,0000 a year are the only group which expects the price of a their property to decline in the next 12 months, perhaps partly reflecting the increased challenges they face.”

In a survey of 1,500 households, the Knight Frank index found 21 per cent of owner-occupiers believed the value of their home had fallen since August, while ten per cent thought it had risen. Confidence is weakest among homeowners in the East Midlands, North East and Yorkshire.

Wales has also seen the sharpest swing back to confidence among homeowners, regarding future prospects.

Henry Pryor, a housing market commentator, said: “In many areas, house prices are down by ten per cent and more year on year, but sellers remain reluctant to accept this. For those trading up, it doesn’t really matter, because the next home they buy has also fallen in value.”