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House prices at a standstill in October, says Nationwide

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House prices were unchanged in the month to October, following 15 successive months of growth, according to the latest Nationwide House Price Index.

The price of residential property rose 4.6 per cent in the year to October, a drop from the 5.3 per cent rise in the year to September.

The average house price in the month was £205,904, unchanged from September.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner says measures of housing market activity remain fairly subdued, with the number of residential property transactions about 10 per cent below the levels recorded in the same period of 2015 in recent months.

However, he says “this weakness may still in part reflect the after-effects of the introduction of stamp duty on second homes introduced in April, where buyers brought forward transactions to Q1 to avoid additional stamp duty liabilities.”

He says mortgage approvals edged up modestly in September, though they remain weak by historic standards. “Surveyors report that new buyer enquiries have increased modestly in recent months,” says Gardner.

“While the economic outlook is uncertain, solid labour market conditions and historically low borrowing costs should provide support to buyer confidence.”

Legal & General Mortgage Club director Jeremy Duncombe says it’s important not to let the figures distract us from the bigger picture.

“Annually, prices are outstripping wage inflation, making it ever harder to get onto or move up the housing ladder. A supply-side crisis still dominates the housing market, with existing property stock unable to meet current levels of demand, making the idea of owning a home an ever distant prospect for first-time buyers.”

“With the Autumn Statement looming, the Government has an excellent opportunity to announce a raft of new measures to unlock existing brownfield sites and build hundreds of thousands of new homes to ease demand.”

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