UK Property Market Continues to Struggle in the Shadows of Brexit Chaos

It has been another manic week for the prime minister, whose cabinet is in a state of almost total disarray.

Theresa May has attempted to assuage concerns from hard-line Brexiters and Remainers in recent weeks, and her inability or unwillingness to pin her ties to a mast one way or another is causing worry that a ‘no deal’, or a rushed agreement with EU negotiators, is likely ahead of the March deadline.

The departure of the popular Boris Johnson, as well as David Davis and a number of key aides, does little to diminish the notion that there is a deep divide in the UK’s ruling party.

Confidence of a clean and efficient Brexit is at an all-time low given the ructions in the Tory party, and the knock-on effect is being felt up and down the country in a number of different ways.

Sellers Despair as Housing Market Crumbles

The worry of Brexit, and the annual downturn in the market which comes each summer, has resulted in tough conditions for property sellers; a double-whammy that is causing prices to be slashed.

The number of properties being added to the market rose by 8.6% in July according to figures released by Rightmove, but there was no obvious increase in sellers to add the necessary demand.

At one point estate agents had bemoaned the lack of properties coming onto the market, but now there are more houses up for sale in the UK than at any point since September 2015.

Unfortunately, there isn’t the demand to keep conditions buoyant, and the consequence is that sellers are having to cut prices in order to facilitate interest.

The trend is nationwide too, and while parts of the Midlands are showing growth and price stability there has been a considerable downturn in London, the south east and parts of eastern England.

“An increase in the number of properties for sale will have to be matched by a corresponding increase in buyer demand if vendors are to avoid reducing guide prices to secure a sale,” Nick Leeming, chairman of Jackson-Stops told The Guardian.

“The market is finely balanced at the moment, and the latest political uncertainties over Brexit will do little to help build confidence.”

Sellers in Scotland are enjoying the best of things, with asking prices up 8.5% on the year and the average property taking just over a month to sell. The West Midlands is next best, with prices up 5.6% in the past 12 months and houses taking around 46 days, on average, to find a buyer.

Compare and contrast that to the misery of those selling in the capital. Prices are down 1.7% on the year, with 0.5% of that loss coming in July so far. Houses are taking more than two months to sell, on average, which is double the time that Scottish sellers are enjoying.

That downturn is most harshly felt in the central Zone 1, with prices down 6.5% annually and 1.2% in July. In Zone 2, the dormant market is reflected in a an average decrease of £8,000 per property.

The Price Isn’t Right for Sellers

The tough conditions in London is actually impacting upon the vast majority of the country, with UK house prices rising at their slowest annual rate since 2013.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed growth had fallen by half a percentage point in May, and that the catalyst was those falling house prices in London. Remarkably, every single region of the UK outside of the capital witnessed property price growth.

But there is positivity in the Midlands once more, with the eastern half of the area showing the best growth at 6.3% in the year, with the west still enjoying a decent increase at 5%. The slowest growth was in the north east, but even so a 1.3% increase is better than nothing.

There is a disparity in value and growth across property types, too. Flats and maisonettes have shown no growth at all in the past year, which is the first time that trend has been seen since 2012. That said, the majority of flats are in London, and so the overall negative picture is skewed somewhat.

Otherwise, there has been generous growth for other property types, with the demand for detached houses showing the greatest growth in supply and demand with average prices rising by 4.6% to £344,000 for the year to May.