Brexit impact on house prices is uncertain, Nationwide says
The Brexit effect on the housing market may take months to become clear, the Nationwide said as it reported a slight rise in UK house prices in July.
The UK's biggest building society said that uncertainty after the UK's vote to leave the EU could reduce demand among buyers.
Even so, the resulting impact on house prices was "not certain".
Property prices rose by 0.5% in July compared with June, and were up 5.2% on a year earlier.
That meant the average UK home was valued at £205,715, the Nationwide said.
The data from the Nationwide is its first since the EU referendum. Generally, investors have expected the UK housing market to be hit by any slow down or uncertainty following the UK's vote to leave.
However, the data is based on mortgage offers made by Nationwide, suggesting that it is too early to record sentiment among buyers.
"Any impact from the vote may not be fully evident in July's figures, as there is a short lag between a buyer making the decision to purchase a property and applying for a mortgage," said Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.
"In the near term, increased economic uncertainty may lead to weaker demand for homes. Leading indicators are consistent with softening ahead. Household confidence fell sharply in the wake of the referendum result, especially attitudes towards making major purchases, which in the past has correlated with mortgage activity, though less closely in recent years.
"How the labour market evolves will be crucial in determining the demand for homes in the quarters ahead."
After changes to stamp duty in April, untangling any change in demand owing to this tax change and as the result of the referendum would be difficult, he added.
"Even if there is a fall back in demand as a result of economic uncertainty, the impact on house prices is not certain, as potential sellers may also hold off from placing their properties on the market," he said.
"The stock of homes on estate agents' books is already close to its lowest levels for 30 years."
Jonathan Hopper, managing director of buying agents Garrington Property Finders, said: "While you can't read too much into the July house price rise, what is certain is that there has not been a crash in property prices since Brexit, more of a soft landing.
"The sheer lack of supply is helping to prop prices up. The pendulum has swung largely in favour of the buyer since Brexit, but it is by no means a black and white market."