House price growth steady at 9.2%

Prices rose by 1.4% between March and May to average £213,472.

Annual house growth stood at 9.2% in the three months to May for the second month running, Halifax’s House Price Index has found.

Prices rose by 1.4% between March and May to average £213,472.

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “Whilst some may view rising house prices as something to cheer about, this relentless climb is actually bad news for aspiring homeowners across the country.

“The subsequent, consistent rises in the cost of property that these figures show are preventing many buyers from moving up the ladder, and potentially pricing out an entire generation of aspiring homeowners.

“We need to change this. There must be a genuine focus from the government and the industry to address the supply-demand imbalance that remains the underlying cause of our housing crisis.”

Jeremy Leaf, a former RICS chairman and north London estate agent, still felt buyers were holding back because of the upcoming Brexit vote.

He said: “With the EU Referendum looming on the near horizon it is probably a little early to make too broad a judgement on these figures. Once the vote is out of the way and the result is in, hopefully the market will settle down again very soon after.

“At the moment the uncertainty means people are holding off making decisions - who is going to decide to buy a property if they don’t know whether they are going to get that pay rise or even be laid off, depending on the outcome of the referendum?”

He added: “It is encouraging for the longer-term health of the market that property prices haven’t dropped substantially following the introduction of the stamp duty surcharge for landlords and second homeowners at the beginning of April.

“But it is clear that house prices are being underpinned by a shortage of stock and substantial reduction in transaction volumes.”

Rob Weaver, director of investments at property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, reckoned a pre-EU Referendum slowdown is yet to be reflected in the figures.

He said: “The house price volatility around April’s stamp duty hike has made 2016 a difficult year to predict. But the yoyo effect looks like it’ll settle, at least until all the uncertainty over the EU referendum ends.

“Activity in the housing market has seen a dramatic slowdown. This month’s big vote has left many sellers holding on and many buyers holding back to see whether we’re in or out. It’s become a high June Brexit standoff.

“In the short-term, a vote to remain in Europe should mean the same old, same old - a relentless rise in house prices. But if we decide to leave, we could see a corresponding correction.”