House price growth “steady” in September: Nationwide

Annual house price growth was unchanged from last month’s 2 per cent figure in September, according to the latest Nationwide House Price Index.

On a monthly basis, prices grew 0.3 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis, taking the average house price in the UK to £214,922 as compared to £214,745 last month.

The report details increasing divergence across the UK’s regions, with London posting an annual drop for the fifth quarter in a row (-0.7 per cent), although Nationwide also notes that property in the capital is still more than 50 per cent above prices seen in 2007.

Inside England, Yorkshire and Humberside recorded an increase of 5.8 per cent on a yearly basis, and the East Midlands notched up growth of 4.8 per cent over the same time frame. In the North, prices fell 1.7 per cent in the 12 months to September.

On a countrywide basis, Northern Ireland prices grew 4.3 per cent over the year, while Wales, Scotland and England fell behind with relatively modest increases of 3.3 per cent, 2.1 per cent, and 1.4 per cent, respectively.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner says: “Subdued economic activity and ongoing pressure on household budgets is likely to continue to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and house price growth this year, though borrowing costs are likely to remain low.

“Overall, we continue to expect house prices to rise by around 1% over the course of 2018.”

North London estate agent and former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf adds: “These numbers are actually quite good news… once again, we are finding that the market continues to be supported by a shortage of stock and low mortgage rates, as well as new buyers returning from holiday keen to take advantage of some more realistic pricing.

“It is a mixed bag, however, because activity and prices in London remain challenging whereas in many places outside it is quite a different picture.

“It seems unlikely that the proposed additional stamp duty on foreign buyers will help to bring down prices or make more homes available for local people considering a large proportion support new development in London, many of which contain the affordable housing we lack.”

Yopa chief property analyst Mike Scott comments: “As we move into next year, prices are likely to continue to rise at this rate, roughly in line with inflation, with supply and demand in balance. Since housing supply only changes very slowly, it will take an increase or decrease in demand to realign the market and get prices rising faster or slowing down and falling.”

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy says: “This morning’s figures should provide a degree of reassurance, as they appear to point towards the housing market continuing to function at a healthy level so far this year, despite the ongoing political and economic headwinds.”

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