UK House Prices Real Inflation Adjusted Long-term TrendHousing-Market / UK Housing Jun 11, 2008 - 05:58 AM GMT
In recent months inflation has started to breakout to the upside, as CPI began to soar in February, hitting 3% in April and destined to pass 4% this year, busting straight through the Bank of England's 3% upper limit.
Leaving aside the headline house prices, inflation has huge consequences for the real value of house prices which impacts on the wealth effect of the consumer economy which comprises some 65% of the UK economy.
The UK having enjoyed the benefits of the wealth effect right upto the UK housing market peak of August 2007 when average UK house prices peaked at 201,081, following which house prices have declined inline with the Market Oracle forecast to £186,482 as of May 08, as the above graph illustrates the decline to date and the forecast decline of 15% to August 2009, though significant can be interpreted as a mere blip when set against the preceding rise in house prices from a low of £60,096 in1993. However the nominal house price graph masks the actual impact on the consumer economy of trend in real house prices.
The real house price graph more significantly illustrates why the housing bust of the early 1990's contributed to the UK heading for recession and a loss of confidence in the housing market that subsequently persisted for over 5 years. The question as to why people were reluctant to buy houses in the period 1993 to 1997 when nominal house prices had stabilised and started to rise.
The answer is that in real terms house prices were still falling and infact did not bottom until 1996 with the uptrend only being confirmed during the beginning of 1998. Therefore it is only when house prices stopped falling in real terms that the house price uptrend started to gain momentum and trigger the following bull market. It took a further 4-5 years before house prices crossed the previous peak of 1989 some 13 years later.
The subsequent uptrend fed by low inflation and low interest rates proved to be remarkably strong. However the bull market is over and the decline to date of 7% translates to an annualised real terms decline of 14%. As the graph above illustrates over the 2 years of the forecast, real house prices are expected to fall by as much as 25% in real terms and preliminary analysis suggests that UK house prices downtrend into 2011 could see a fall of between 50% and 60% in real terms. The effect of which will be to crush the consumer and therefore the expectation is for a weak UK economy well into 2011.
The situation is even worse for the speculative buy to let brigade who during the housing markets final bull stage increasingly relied upon capital appreciation to provide a return as yields had fallen to below 4%. During a period of inflation the expectation is for interest rates to rise significantly and therefore provide a real rate of return, thus the gap between capital loss plus costs is even wider when considering alternative investments which provide a relatively risk free real return in comparison to buy to let properties. This suggests that a flood of properties from those with large buy to let portfolios will continue to be offloaded onto the weakening housing market and thus accelerate the fall in house prices.
Key Analysis of the UK Housing Market:
By Nadeem Walayat
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Nadeem Walayat has over 20 years experience of trading, analysing and forecasting the financial markets, including one of few who both anticipated and Beat the 1987 Crash. Nadeem is the Editor of The Market Oracle, a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication. We present in-depth analysis from over 150 experienced analysts on a range of views of the probable direction of the financial markets. Thus enabling our readers to arrive at an informed opinion on future market direction. http://www.marketoracle.co.uk
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