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Affordability of housing in Britain is improving at its fastest rate since 2011, according to data from Rightmove’s recent house price index.

The average asking price for property in Britain increased by 0.7 per cent this month, which is consistent with growth recorded in February last year and the one prior to that, according to the data from Rightmove.

This means that housing affordability is improving at its fastest rate for eight years with annual wage growth at 3.4 per cent outstripping price growth, according to the data from Rightmove. However, asking prices have increased by just 0.2 per cent year on year.

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The pattern varies depending on location with higher asking prices in the North of England and those in the South falling year on year, according to the recent data.

Asking price growth has risen by 3.6 per cent in Yorkshire and The Humber to an average of £187,813. Also, the North East saw a rise of 3.4 per cent to £151,303 and in the West Midlands prices have risen 3.2 per cent to a current average of £222,647.

Meanwhile, asking prices were down 2.1 per cent year on year in Greater London to £614,182, followed by a fall of 1.4 per cent in the South East to £395,240. Also, prices fell by 0.2 per cent in the East of England to £347,045, according to the recent data from Rightmove.

In Wales, asking prices increased by 2.9 per cent on an annual basis to £192,246 and in Scotland, they were up 1.6 per cent year on year to an average of £148,576.

There are some signs of buyer hesitancy in the property market with the number of sales agreed in January down 4 per cent year on year, according to Rightmove.

An active spring this year for the housing market

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, said that the scene would be set for an active spring this year if it were not for the uncertain political backdrop. He added: ‘As it is, the extent of that activity will depend on the degree of hesitancy among sellers to try to sell and be realistic on price, and buyers overcoming short term uncertainty and taking a medium-term view that this is a good time to buy. As always, those decisions will also be influenced by local market dynamics.”

He also believes that buyers will be encouraged to act by having more supply in all Northern regions apart from Wales, whilst all Southern regions are seeing hesitancy to come to market with fewer new sellers than this time last year.

“Prospective buyers in three of the four southern regions are seeing new seller asking prices cheaper than a year ago, indicating that buyers have the upper hand over sellers when it comes to negotiating a price,” said Shipside.

He added: “This has obviously been a factor for some owners in those regions deciding not to come to market. Market conditions are more favourable for sellers further north though agents say that it’s still a very price sensitive market where asking too much at the outset scares off buyers.”

A word from Jackson-Stops

Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops, said that both buyers and sellers are coming to the same conclusion that now is as good a time as any to make a move while interest rates remain relatively low.

He added: “Prominent lenders such as HSBC are cutting their mortgage rates, including their 10 year fixed rate loan products, which is particularly welcome news for first time buyers and those looking to remortgage their properties over the next few months.

“Although a decade long fixed rate mortgage may seem like a big commitment, particularly to those new to the market, locking themselves in could provide the assurance they need while the UK navigates through Brexit, and the wider uncertain political and economic landscape.

“Given that we currently have no clearer idea of our position outside of the European Union with so few weeks to go until Brexit day on the 29 March, it’s not surprising that some parts of the market remain hesitant,” he added.

Leeming also believes that for those looking to make a move, the best advice is to research. This is because there is a limited supply of stock coming to the market currently, and if a property ticks all of the boxes in terms of price, location, access to key amenities and good transport links, it is well worth considering buying the property at this current moment.

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Jim Kersey
Jim focuses on the socio-economic impact of housing. His reporting for Property Notify often touches on topics such as changes in sentiment among investors in various housing sectors, as well as the impact of various developments on the average person.

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