Stamp duty for sale house prices

Halifax data shows house price growth at lowest rate since 2012

New data from the Halifax shows that house prices in the year to November rose by just 0.3%, the lowest rate of growth since December 2012.

The figures show a marked slowdown from September and October, when growth stood at 2.5% and 1.5% respectively.

House prices have also fallen on a monthly basis by 1.4%, following a recovery in October’s figures, with the average sale price now standing at £224,578. At 67,086, mortgage approvals were at their highest levels since January 2018.

“High employment, wage growth and historically low mortgage rates continue to make home ownership more affordable for many, though the need to raise a significant deposit still acts as something of a restraint on the market,” commented Russell Galley, Managing Director of Halifax.

“This is largely offset by relatively limited supply of new and existing properties for sale, which continues to sustain house prices nationally.”

The Halifax’s figures are a contrast to those produced by the Nationwide, which indicated that annual house price inflation stood at 1.9%. However, it’s worth considering that the two collate their figures differently – Halifax base theirs on homes bought with mortgages, excluding council house sales, shared ownership and help-to-buy schemes. Nationwide use owner-occupier house purchase transactions involving a mortgage and do not count buy-to-let and cash deals.

Industry foresees flat start to 2019

The new Halifax figures have attracted much comment from within the industry. “We suspect that the housing market will be relatively lacklustre over the coming months,” said Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY Item Club.

“Although there are varying performances across regions with the overall national picture dragged down by the poor performance in London and parts of the South East.”

For Mike Scott, chief property analyst at estate agent Yopa, the data suggested that, “…the usual Christmas slowdown in the housing market has started early this year, as people wait for the outcome of the current political turmoil before making long-term commitments, such as buying a new home”.

“This is less about Brexit, than it is about the natural cycle of any market that has seen strong advances, said Lucy Pendleton of estate agents James Pendleton. “It comes down to affordability, not politics.”

However, Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, took a more positive view, saying: “Lenders remain incredibly keen to lend and that is a consistent message we are getting from all of them – they want to do more.

“Some are doing this by topping the ‘best buy’ tables with some very competitive rates, such as five-year fixes from less than 2%.

“But not all can compete on rate, depending on how they are funded, so others are looking at increased innovation – taking one year’s accounts for self-employed borrowers, tweaking loan-to-values, or becoming more competitive when it comes to lending at 95% loan-to-value. This is all good news for borrowers.

“This year has been remarkably consistent for the market when you consider the uncertainty around Brexit, with interest rates remaining fairly flat – a trend we expect to continue into next year.”

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