House prices starting to mature thanks to mortgage lending rules

House prices starting to mature thanks to mortgage lending rules

They were brought in to protect the country's property market from reaching bubble conditions and crashing like it did in 2008, and it seems as though the Mortgage Market Review (MMR) regulations may be doing just that, according to new figures released by Nationwide.

The building society has published its latest house price figures for May, in which it was shown that final salve values increased by some 0.7 per cent during the month.

While it is still upwards movement, and leaves prices at 11.1 per cent higher than they were a year ago, the fact that the rise was lower than the 1.2 per cent experienced in April has led Nationwide to suggest that it may be the start of a maturing that helps ease fears over the potential for a property bubble.

There are now some "tentative signs that activity in the housing market may be starting to moderate", Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said, although he was quick to add that it is too early to say for certain whether it will be a long-term period of maturing and cooling off. 

At the moment, house prices in the UK come in at an average of some £186,512, Nationwide added, which leaves them at their highest price ever, now in excess of the peaks last seen in 2007.

So has the MMR regulation change had an impact after all? A slowing in price rises would certainly indicate that there have been fewer buyers around, with increases likely to be less substantial when demand is not as heavy. 

The rules were introduced as a result of a study by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the aftermath of the property crash of 2008. As of April 25th this year, banks and building societies have been required to take more steps to check that someone can not only afford to pay their mortgage now, but is also not going to be affected greatly by future interest rate increases and other financial factors. 

It means that banks have had to become more tentative and ask more questions of their customers before they afford them a loan to buy a house, which should mean - in theory - that fewer people than in recent years are given the green light.

And with this slowing of price increases coming in the weeks immediately after the rules came into play, it is only natural to assume that they have had some sort of effect on demand and the number of people who are looking to buy.

However, only time will tell if the MMR rules can really have a long-term benefit to the country, and whether or not they will be able to play an important role in keeping the threat of a housing bubble at bay.