Britain's housing market has emerged from its seasonal summer lull faster than usual, ending speculation that recent tightening of the mortgage market by regulators has killed off the rampant buying and selling of homes.
Rightmove said in its house price index for September that the average value rose by 0.9% on August to £264,875. This was the first monthly increase in September since 2011. On an annual basis, the average price was 7.9% higher.
House prices have risen rapidly since early 2013 as the economy recovers and low interest rates make getting a mortgage cheaper and easier. Moreover, ever-higher demand is putting extra pressure on the country's insufficient housing supply, pushing up property prices.
The Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority, both concerned about the pace of house price growth, put additional rules on mortgage lending. This is to prevent people taking on excessive mortgage debt while interest rates are low to pay for higher house prices.
Around the time that the new rules first came into effect at the end of April – stricter affordability tests for borrowers – activity in the housing market slowed markedly. This led some market commentators to suggest there may have been a profound change off the back of the rules.
"We usually see a price fall at this time of year as potential home-movers are generally still in holiday mode," said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.
"However, it looks like there are early signs of a bounce-back in demand after the summer lull, leaving those estate agents with a shortage of stock at a potential disadvantage and therefore eager to attract new instructions. While there is more property coming to market this year, it has been more than swallowed up by increased sales.
"There is already 10% less property available per estate agency branch compared to this time a year ago, and with enquiries by phone and email to agents up by 16% compared to August last year, and at near record levels, you can see why there has been an earlier than usual price pick-up.
"The ability of potential buyers to remain on-watch and in-touch and react more quickly is also a factor. While you may be switched off from work during the summer break, many people's mobile devices are still switched on to the internet to see what's coming to market."