38% of people moving or considering moving, according to figures

Housing market conditions are surprisingly buoyant, with 38% of people actively moving or considering moving, according to one index.

The pace of annual house price growth slowed slightly to 12.1% in April, down slightly from 14.3% in March, the Nationwide Building Society said.

Property values ​​rose 0.3% month over month.

In the UK, the average house price in April was £267,620.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: ‘Annual house price growth slowed slightly to 12.1% in April from 14.3% in March – nonetheless, this is the 11th time in recent years. Last 12 months the annual growth rate has been in double digits.

“Prices rose 0.3% month-on-month, after adjusting for seasonal effects – the ninth consecutive monthly increase, although it was the smallest monthly increase since September of the year. ‘last year.

“Housing market activity remained strong with mortgage approvals continuing to exceed pre-Covid levels.

“Demand is supported by robust labor market conditions, where job growth has remained strong and the unemployment rate has fallen back to pre-pandemic lows. With the stock of housing on the market still low, this has resulted in continued upward pressure on house prices.

“Nevertheless, it is surprising that conditions have remained so buoyant, given the mounting pressure on household budgets which has severely shaken consumer confidence.”

Mr Gardner said people’s expectations of their own personal finances over the next 12 months have “fallen to levels last seen during the depths of the global financial crisis more than a decade ago”.

He added: “Furthermore, housing affordability has deteriorated because house price growth has far outpaced income growth over the past two years, while more recently borrowing costs have increased (although they remain low by historical standards).”

A survey of around 3,000 people for Nationwide this month indicated that 38% across the UK were moving or considering moving.

Mr Gardner said the proportion was particularly high in London, where almost half said they were moving or considering moving.

Even in Wales, where the share was lowest, more than 25% were moving or considering moving, he added.

These figures are high considering that only around 5% of the housing stock is renewed in a typical year in the UK, he added.

Mr Gardner said: “For most movers and would-be movers, the majority of respondents are looking to swap – with the exception of people aged 55 and over, where almost 40% are looking to move into a property smaller compared to just 7% are looking to move to a larger property.

The research also found that 17% of those who were moving or considering moving said they were doing so at least in part to reduce their housing expenses, either by moving to a different area and/or moving to a larger property. small.

Mr. Gardner added: “We continue to expect the housing market to slow in the coming quarters.

“The squeeze on household incomes is set to intensify, with inflation expected to rise further, possibly reaching double-digits in the coming quarters if global energy prices remain high.

“Furthermore, assuming labor market conditions remain strong, the Bank of England will likely raise interest rates further, which will also have a dampening effect on the market if this spills over to mortgage rates. “

Nicky Stevenson, managing director of estate agent group Fine & Country, said: “The growth environment is certainly being tested by the cost of living crisis, rising borrowing costs and war. in Ukraine.

“This was offset by a shortage of supply which led to bidding wars and a sense of desperation among buyers.”

Martin Beck, chief economic adviser to the EY ITEM club, said: “The compression of real incomes due to high inflation means that fewer people will be able to afford to borrow the necessary amount they need to buy at mortgage rates. higher.

“Consumer confidence – including household expectations about their own personal finances – fell to a near-record low in April. And next week’s meeting of the Bank of England’s MPC (Monetary Policy Committee) is likely to lead to another rise in interest rates, pushing up mortgage costs.

“But just like during the pandemic, the housing market should prove relatively immune to economic challenges.

“Those who can afford to buy are more likely to have accrued unexpected savings during the pandemic, an element of which may be for deposits on houses and apartments.

“And cost-of-living pressures from rising inflation and rising prices for basic necessities, like energy, are weighing more heavily on lower-income households, who are renting so disproportionately, than on the better-off, who are mostly homeowners or in the market to buy.

“So while a period of relatively slow price growth is likely, the EY ITEM club believes that a serious correction in property values ​​is unlikely.”

Alex Lyle, director of London-based estate agency Antony Roberts, said: “The market for freehold homes over £1.5million is particularly fierce.

“I can’t remember a market moving faster in this price range.”

He added: “The pandemic has blurred the seasons; we haven’t seen the huge increase in stocks hitting the market, which would normally be the case after Easter. Summer can be calmer if families take a real break for the first time in two years and catch a flight.

Gabriella Dickens, Senior UK Economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “We think house price growth will continue to slow from here… It is true that households could spend some of the savings that they have accumulated during the pandemic. But consumer confidence is extremely low.

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