North-South divide re-emerges as house prices slip further

North-South divide re-emerges as house prices slip further

Rightmove said that the average asking price of a home listed for sale on its website - over 90% of United Kingdom estate agents list homes on the portal - increased by 0.1% month-on-month, taking the annual rise in prices to 2.8% compared with a 1.8% increase in June, with all regions seeing a year-on-year price rises.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said high demand would continue to support house prices in the coming months but that a squeeze on consumers' purchasing power would limit the rate of price rises. Although for first-time buyers, the figure fell 1.7 per cent month-on-month, from £196,943 in June to £196,450 this month.

Monthly house prices went up 0.1% from the previous month, taking the average price of a property up to £316,421.

Supply of new homes on the market continued to be restricted, though 7.6% more sellers coming to market this month compared to this time a year ago, though June 2016 saw the Brexit vote hold the market back.

Rightmove said the summer holiday season generally has a "dampening" effect on activity, with the price of newly-marketed property at a virtual standstill - up by just 0.1%.

'Buyers, many of whom are sellers too, will struggle to afford to pay much more'.

More than half the unitary authority areas in England in Wales - 60 out of 108 - reported prices falling over the month.

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The past month has seen a turnaround in expectations for interest rates, with three members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee voting to raise the base rate from 0.25 per cent at the last meeting.

There are more houses being put up for sale compared to when the European Union referendum was held this time past year. "High demand will continue to underpin prices, but we are seeing stretched affordability limiting the pace of rises, especially in the south of the country".

This is the highest proportion recorded by Rightmove since it started recording the data seven years ago. On an annual basis asking prices for this sector of the market are 3.8% ahead of where they were in July 2016.

Prices were flat in the South West and South East and fell by the most in the North East, at 1.3 per cent.

"Prices are in the summer doldrums", said Mr Shipside.

As the fundamentals of the housing market remain good, the online property experts said, this had led to the number of sales agreed numbers remaining nearly identical to those in 2016, with many parts of the country seeing as high a proportion of properties marked as sold than at any time in the last seven years.

Separately, a survey showed British consumer confidence suffered its biggest fall in more than two years in the second quarter of 2017, mirroring other recent measures of consumer sentiment.

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