Estate agents’ boards advertising homes for sale stand near a block of flats in London, U.K. (Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

U.K. House Prices Fall as London Decline Intensifies

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. house prices fell for the first time in seven months as sellers adapted to the reality of the weaker market.

Asking prices slipped 0.1 percent in July from a month earlier, property website Rightmove said on Monday. In London, prices slipped 0.5 percent, with smaller apartments falling faster than bigger homes.

U.K. House Prices Fall as London Decline Intensifies

The reduction in asking prices can “be a sign of a falling market,” Rightmove director Miles Shipside said. “With more price reductions at this time of year than in any of the last six years, there is likely to be a combination of both initial over-pricing and failure to react fast enough -- or to reduce by enough -- when initial buyer interest fails to lead to a sale.”

The British housing market is weakening after a three-decade boom amid slower economic growth and the uncertainty created by Brexit. London, where the average house price is more than double the national average, has been hit harder than the rest of the country. This month’s declines also reflect a normal summer slowdown in activity, Rightmove said.

A separate report by Acadata showed U.K. house prices fell 0.2 percent in June. Most regions in the U.K. still have higher house prices than a year ago, the property services firm said.

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On an annual basis, Rightmove said house-price inflation slowed to 1.4 percent in July from 1.7 percent. In London, prices fell 1.7 percent from a year ago. The average U.K. asking price stood at 309,191 pounds ($400,000).

There are more sellers coming to the market than buyers, the report showed. The average number of houses in the window of each U.K. estate agency branch is at the highest since September 2015, meaning sellers are having to compete harder on price.

The slump is an opportunity for first-time buyers in London as properties with two bedrooms or fewer saw prices decline. The trendy borough of Hackney posted a 3.5 percent drop.

U.K. House Prices Fall as London Decline Intensifies

Other reports on Monday were more positive for the U.K. economy. Business confidence has reached a two-year high since the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union -- and was strongest in London -- according to Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking. At the same time, consumer spending saw its first back-to-back monthly increase since early 2017, Visa’s Consumer Spending Index showed.

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