4 months ago • 2 mins
What’s going on here?
Data out on Monday showed that British property sellers are taking the scissors to their asking prices.
What does this mean?
With the Bank of England having ramped up interest rates 14 times in a row, mortgage rates have climbed to a vertigo-inducing decade-plus high. And that’s probably driving the troubling pattern that lenders are spotting, with house prices falling at some of the sharpest rates since the financial crisis. July marked the fourth straight month of price drops, according to Halifax – and new data suggests that trend’s only set to continue: an index tracking the price of newly available homes fell 1.9% this month, in the biggest dip since December. And given that sellers typically only slash prices as a last resort, this trend is a pretty clear sign of where the market’s at – and just how deep (or shallow) buyers’ pockets are.
Why should I care?
Zooming in: Rock and a hard place.
For many Brits, the housing market’s turbulence is a double-edged sword. See, while buying a house is becoming an uphill battle, the rental market isn’t any friendlier. After all, the effect of higher rates still feeds through: landlords, facing increased costs, are simply passing the buck to their tenants. And with more people renting due to the challenges of homeownership, demand has surged too. The upshot is that UK rents rose by 5.3% in the 12 months to July – marking the biggest annual uptick since records began.
The bigger picture: House poor.
This isn’t helping the broader economy either. See, in a phenomenon dubbed the “wealth effect”, we tend to spend more when the value of our assets, like homes, goes up – even if our salaries stay stagnant. And given that a home is often the crown jewel of a household’s assets, even those who’ve settled their mortgages might think twice before splurging now, which could spiral into a vicious cycle.
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