April 2019 saw a rise in first-time buyers entering the UK housing market, as well as a continued rise in average house prices, according to Nationwide in its latest House Price Index.
This comes after a survey by Rightmove indicated that the UK property market saw a springtime recovery in house prices, following a weaker performance in March, as Westminster was still deadlocked over the Brexit process.
Annual house price growth was subdued in April, but grew at a rate of 0.9 per cent, according to the new House Price Index. Signs of recovery were also reflected by a 0.4 per cent increase month-on-month between March and April.
First-time buyers return
There were signs of a recovery in the number of first-time buyers returning to the UK housing market, according to Nationwide. By April 2019, almost 350,000 new homebuyers were recorded, which is more than double the number that there was a decade ago, the data revealed.
Despite a rise in the number of people seeking to buy a home, the figure remains below its 2007 peak.
Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, commented: “First-time buyers have been supported by the strength of labour market conditions, with employment rising at a healthy rate, and earnings growth slowly gathering momentum.”
He added: “While house prices remain high relative to average earnings, low mortgage rates have helped to support mortgage affordability.”
Recovery despite lack of confidence
A rise in average house prices came despite soft sentiment in the UK housing market, with Nationwide reporting that consumer confidence measures remained weak and that new buyer enquiries were subdued since the start of 2019.
Mr Gardner explained: “Whilst the number of properties coming onto the market has also slowed, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of supply and demand in favour of buyers in recent months.”
Despite the continued rise in prices, he concluded: “April marks the fifth month in a row in which annual house price growth has been below 1 per cent.”