Barely a week goes by without at least one piece of bad news about the UK's bonkers housing market. Whether it's reports that the 'bank of mum and dad' are lending their children more money to get on the housing ladder than ever before, or the news that asking prices recently hit a new record high in England and Wales, there's very little to celebrate if you're an aspiring homeowner.
Today, however, new figures from Halifax offer some much-needed hope that one day we might be able to afford our own homes. UK house prices are "stagnating" and have fallen by 0.2% in the last three months, marking the first quarterly decline since November 2012, the BBC reported. Prices fell by 0.1% in the past month alone, Halifax said.
Prices rose by 3.8% in the year leading up to April, however, leaving the average price of a flat or house at £219,649. (A similar amount can buy you wildly different levels of luxury throughout the UK.)
One reason for the stagnation and decline is that prices have simply become unaffordable for too many of us. (You don't say!) "Housing demand appears to have been curbed in recent months due to the deterioration in housing affordability caused by a sustained period of rapid house price growth during 2014-16," said Martin Ellis, a housing economist at Halifax.
Just last week, Nationwide said house prices were growing at their lowest rate for four years (2.6%), while the Bank of England said the number of mortgages being approved had dropped for the second month in a row.
It's unclear whether this decline marks the start of a longer-term period of falls, or is just a minor blip en route to even higher property prices. Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of specialist property lender, Octane Capital, said the property market is going through "an affordability hangover from the price growth of recent years", with Brexit negotiations and "cross-Channel spats" also creating uncertainty, the Mirror reported.
"Combine the rising cost of living with muted wage growth, add in political and economic uncertainty, and a period of prolonged house price stagnation is a real possibility.”
But Ellis said prices are likely to rise further. “A continued low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing acute shortage of properties for sale, should... help continue to underpin house prices over the coming months.” Great.