House Builders in Focus As House Prices Rise

House prices are on the rise yet house builders remain depressed.

Charts (4)

House prices are on the rise, at least for now. According to Nationwide’s house price index, house prices rose 1.7% in July offsetting at -1.6% fall in June. On an annual basis house price growth recovered 1.5% from -0.1% last month.
RICS also reported that their house price gauge turned positive for the first time since the start of the coronavirus crisis.

Why are house prices rising?
There are three factors supporting house prices in the near term. Firstly, the stamp duty holiday announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak, which is due to conclude in March next year. Secondly as people reassess their home needs in light of lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic they are looking to move. Thirdly pent up demand. 

However, there is a risk that these factors prove to be a false dawn. We saw earlier in the week that labour market conditions in the UK are weakening as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and as government support is slowly withdrawn. Expectations are for unemployment to reach 7.5%, it currently sits at 3.9%. If, as expected, the labour market does weaken considerably then we can expect this to dampen activity in the housing market in the coming quarters.

Let’s not forget the Help to Buy scheme. This has possibly been one of the most supportive factors of the housing market and house builder stocks since it began. The government has announced an extension to the scheme, but only by two months until March 2021. This is just a few months after Brexit and is when the stamp duty holiday is due to end. 

House prices are rising but house builders remain depressed, as dark clouds gather on the horizon. We are still in very early days of the economic recovery is the next few months will be crucial for both the labour market and the housing market.

Bellway reported earlier in the week, announcing that it expects profits to fall in 2020 and beyond owing to the coronavirus crisis, which led to reduced productivity and higher costs. Housing completions fell 31% however there are signs that demand is slowly picking up. The dividend will only be returned when Bellway consider that there is sufficient clarity on the economic outlook.

Chart thoughts
The rally from the mid-March low has stalled. After picking up from 1735 to a recent high of 2035p in early June, the share price has come under mounting pressure. Trading below its 50, 100 and 200 daily moving averages on the daily chart and below its ascending trendline, suggesting there could be more downside on the cards.
Support can be seen at 2320p yesterday’s low. A break through here could see the door open to 2200p a level last seen in April. 
On the flip side, resistance can be seen at 2530p the 100 sma, 2575p ascending trendline and towards 2750p

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