Welsh house price increase masks struggling market

The small gain reduced the annual change rate from -2.3% in October to -1.6% in November but year-on-year average prices were down £2,458.

Dr Peter Williams, housing market specialist and chairman of Acadametrics, said: “A steady fall from the level in the Spring has been stemmed.

“But just how much the market has struggled is shown by the fact that this month’s average price is barely more than that in December 2008 which was £151,966.”

Williams cautioned against premature jubilance over the a gain of this size which he said would fail to overtake the real falls in property values represented by a 3.0% rate of inflation.

Richard Sexton, director of e.surv, said: “If we peer beneath the positive headline figure we see house prices are £2,458 lower than they were this time last year and prices have fallen in 17 of the 22 local authority areas in Wales.

“First-time buyers face a tough task in putting together the deposit required to even get a toe near the property ladder.”

However Williams said growing confidence generated by the mortgage guarantee scheme announced by the Welsh government holds the promise of positive movements in the mortgage market.

The mortgage guarantee scheme, estimated to inject up to £500m into the market over a five year period, is part of the Wales Infrastructure Plan for Growth and Jobs.

Williams said: “Incorporating as it will a high loan to value lending regime, up to 95%, this may already have had an encouraging impact on potential first-time buyers. But will the increase in numbers in this group, 10% last month, be continued?”

Sexton said weak economic growth was limiting the amount lenders are willing to lend, particularly to lower income borrowers and first-time buyers who they perceive as higher risk.

He believes this is the reason there is a lack of mortgages for first-time buyers which is stifling sales higher up the housing chain.

But in Williams’ analysis of the data he said despite only slow growth expected for Wales in 2013, an increase of 143% in the value of commercial property deals in quarter three of 2012 compared with quarter 2 supported a more positive view of the outlook for growth.

He said the knock-on effects were likely to be increased employment and a potential “trickle-through” effect into the Welsh housing market.