Brexit sees off ‘Autumn bounce’ in house prices

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Sales are down but could you grab a bargain?

Autumn. Now is the time when estate agents expect to see a bounce in market activity and prices. Children are back at school and buyers and sellers come into the market ahead of Christmas. But not this year. According to the latest Housing Price Index from Rightmove, the number of sales agreed is down in all regions compared to a year ago, with a reported 5.5% drop showing a marked reversal from the +6.1% sales-agreed flurry that the market was seeing a month ago.

The number of properties coming to market is also down by 7.8% this month compared to the same period a year ago, again with all regions down on this time last year. And we are now seeing a 0.2% fall in prices for the first time since 2010, so what’s going on?

Rightmove’s housing market analyst Miles Shipside thinks Brexit is largely to blame. “Many have got used to living in the jaws of uncertainty since the referendum over three years ago, and have been getting on with their lives and housing moves. However, as we approach yet another Brexit deadline, there are signs that the increasing gnashing of teeth is causing some to hesitate,” he says. This year, any pick-up in the market is a late starter at best and if uncertainty persists, Miles reckons the activity we normally associate with the autumn could be delayed until the New Year.

Lack of consumer confidence is also driving up the recent increase in the number of residential property sales that are now falling through before completion. Sales progression specialist mio, told the press this week that the problem is likely to continue short term due to political and economic uncertainty. And figures from Quick Move Now back this up, revealing that almost a third of all failed transactions were a result of a chain collapsing.

The good news though, is that there may be a silver lining for anyone planning to buy or trade up. If potential buyers can hold their nerve they could find themselves in a strong negotiating position. They may even be able to grab a bargain – something that has become all-too-rare in most parts of the country in recent years. Are we seeing the start of a readjustment in house prices? Only time – and the outcome of Brexit will tell.