Asking prices increase for the fifth consecutive month

Asking prices for homes in England and Wales increased by an average of 1.2% in May compared with the previous month, according to the latest house price index published by Rightmove. 

The housing market continues to defy fears of a post EU referendum slump after sellers’ asking prices hit a new record high of more than £317,000 on average in May.

Across England and Wales, the average price tag on a home being put on the market rose by £3,626 – or 1.2% month-on-month – to reach £317,281.

The figures were released by property website Rightmove, whose records go back 15 years. It said the average asking price in May surpassed a previous high of £313,655 reached in April 2017.

Some house price experts have forecast marginal home price growth this year of up to 2% in response to a squeeze on disposable incomes from rising inflation and slowing wages growth. But others have argued that the growing supply-demand imbalance will continue to place upward pressure on property prices which could increase by as much as 5% this year.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, commented: “Whilst all-time high asking prices or economic and political uncertainty could be deterrents to would-be home-buyers, this month shows another strong set of figures.

“Demand is exceeding supply in many parts of the country and continues to push up the prices of newly-marketed homes. Spring is in the air and home movers are springing up the housing ladder.”

This is the fifth consecutive monthly house price increase, as the number of sales agreed by estate agents remains robust, being 2% higher in the year to date than the same period in the previous election year of 2015.

Shipside added: “We normally see a high proportion of market activity in the first half of the year, and in spite of potentially disruptive events the established pattern is continuing.”

Aside from Brexit, the latest figures from Rightmove suggest that any uncertainty generated by the snap-general election has failed to deter most buyers and sellers from entering the housing market.

Nick Leeming, Jackson-Stops & Staff’s chairman, said: “A week after Mrs May’s surprise announcement we asked our branches how buyers and sellers had reacted to this; were they running scared, pulling out or holding back? The consensus was that the vast majority of people hardly batted an eyelid and just wanted to get on with it, the drivers for selling and buying had not changed in their eyes, and Rightmove’s research reflects a spring market seemingly not dampened.

“Our branches in the home counties across Surrey and Kent are seeing particularly strong interest from second-steppers.”

Also reflecting on the latest property price data provided by the property website, David Westgate, chief executive of Andrews Property Group, said that he was not surprised to see asking prices coning to increase. But he added that his firm is starting to see a “slight cooling” in some areas and readjustment in the market place.

He commented: “Many thought that this would initially be caused by next month’s general election, which, has historically deterred home movers from continuing their pursuit for their next home whilst MP’s are canvassing. The good news is that this hasn’t put off home movers looking at the next step on the property ladder and the fundamental elements of a strong market are still in existence to boost buyer activity.”