Have house prices fallen more than usual this month

Good morning: UK house prices fell by an average 2.3 per cent in August, driven by a 3.1 per cent fall in prices in London, according to the latest report from Rightmove . . . but the online estate agent says not to panic. Just the usual August dip, according to Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, citing a similar 2.1 per cent dip in prices in 2017.

Which is a bit confusing. Because the 2017 report I dug out of a colleague’s overflowing inbox has Rightmove reporting that prices fell by 0.9 per cent in August 2017, not the 2.1 per cent it claims in today’s report.

So is the 2.1 per cent a typo? Or can the estate agent not add up? A Rightmove spokesman says: “The methodology has been updated to take into account the latest geographical mix of property types in the UK.” Ermm.

Even on the new “methodology” the 2.3 per cent fall is significantly higher than the 1.3 per cent average recorded by Rightmove in August over the past five years. So house prices did fall more than usual in August (although that is probably not something an estate agent is going to highlight).

We also got the latest confidence survey from the Institute of Directors (IoD) overnight, which shows that business leaders are more pessimistic about the outlook for the British economy than at any point this year.

Concerns over Brexit negotiations, rising interest rates and trade tensions have all contributed to the downbeat mood, according to the IoD. Its monthly confidence tracker, which records optimism or pessimism, dropped to a score of minus 16 per cent in July as negative views outweighed the positive.

On the corporate front Mulberry has warned that the collapse of House of Fraser could cost the group £3 million. In an unscheduled update the the luxury goods minnow warns that “the UK market has continued to remain challenging and sales in House of Fraser stores have been particularly affected”.

It adds: “If these sales trends in the UK continue into the key trading period of the second half of the financial year, the group’s profit for the whole year will be materially reduced.”

To see the rest of the article, please visit: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/have-house-prices-fallen-more-than-usual-this-month-gsq772rwr

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