Where have all the 'for sale' signs gone?

By Kevin Peachey
Personal finance reporter


Fewer homes have been on the market in 2018 than in any year of the past decade, the UK's biggest mortgage lender has said.

The Halifax said house-hunters have been left with relatively little choice, which means that prices have still risen as a result.

House prices rose by 2.5% in the year to the end of September, with the average home costing £225,995, it said.

However, this rate of growth is slowing, down from 3.7% in August.

Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax, said that low mortgage rates and more people in work meant that demand for homes remained steady.

However, economic uncertainty and the squeeze on wages mean the rate of price rises is far from the runaway growth seen before the financial crisis.

House prices actually fell by 1.4% in September compared with the previous month. The month-on-month change is considered to be a much more volatile measure, but this is the second drop in a row.

"September is a month that normally sees a burst of activity as people return from holiday and go back to work. So a fall of this scale is quite a retreat," said Lucy Pendleton, founder director of independent estate agents James Pendleton.

"The concern is that legions of Brits didn't get back from holiday and head straight out again to the estate agent like they normally do. The back to work bounce is nowhere to be seen."

Russell Quirk, chief executive of Emoov, said: "With stock levels at their lowest in a decade, we need more on the menu to fuel the UK property market machine."

The figures come shortly after rival lender, the Nationwide, said property values had risen by 2% annually in September, a rate unchanged from August.

The building society said the Yorkshire and Humberside area saw annual house price growth of 5.8% in the third quarter of the year - the biggest regional rise in the UK.

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