What's going on?
While some parts of the world see house prices soar, there was bad news for UK homeowners on Thursday as an influential report showed prices were up just 1.6% in October versus a year before – the slowest growth since 2013.
What does this mean?
With the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union still unresolved (for now), Brits have been understandably reluctant to splurge on a new home: the same report showed prices rising at 5% just before the Brexit vote in 2016.
When economic growth is stronger – and prospects are brighter – people are more likely to want to buy a first home, or upgrade on what they already have. Across the US, the annual increase in average house prices was 5.8% in August; still, that’s the first time it’s dipped below 6% in a year, potentially worrying investors: higher interest rates (and more expensive mortgages) could be putting a damper on housing demand. In China, meanwhile, house prices have also risen even as the economy slows – leading wary authorities to step in to prevent a bubble forming.
Why should I care?
For you personally: There’s a time to own, and a time to buy.
If you’re looking to buy a house, slowly growing prices are a plus, and still-low interest rates make mortgage repayments (relatively) affordable. But once you’ve got the keys, it’s all change: a homeowner wants to see the value of their investment rise, but fears interest rates looking set to increase further both in the UK and around the world.
For markets: Rising house prices are good for the economy – and stocks.
When house prices are rising fast, people tend to spend more on their home because it adds more to its value – which is great news for DIY outfits like Home Depot and Lowe’s in the US and their suppliers. On the other side of the Atlantic, however, B&Q owner Kingfisher and Carpetright are having a rougher ride – as are UK retailers in general.