UK house prices freeze in January: Nationwide

Nationwide’s newest house price index shows that annual house price growth slowed to 0.1 per cent in January, its weakest rate since February 2013.

On a monthly basis, house prices grew 0.3 per cent when seasonally adjusted, a turnaround on December, when monthly prices dropped by 0.7 per cent.

This means that the average UK house price now stands at £211,96, whereas in December this figure came to £212,281.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner hints that this wasn’t entirely unexpected. “Indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, he says, “but forward-looking indicators had suggested some softening was likely.”

Gardner puts a large part of this current performance and the near-term future prospects of the housing market down to Brexit-fuelled uncertainties but adds that “ultimately the outlook for the housing market and house prices will be determined by the performance of the wider economy – especially the labour market.

“If the economy continues to grow at a modest pace, with the unemployment rate and borrowing costs remaining close to current levels, we would expect UK house prices to rise at a low single-digit pace in 2019, he adds.”

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy comments: “The report released by the Nationwide this morning suggests a very modest level of growth, both month-on-month and year-on-year.

“However, whilst the annualised figure is barely enough to shift the dial, it still indicates that prices have remained consistent, which one might perhaps suggest is a positive given the Brexit-related headlines over the past month.”

SPF Private Clients chief executive Mark Harris adds that, “we expect pricing to remain low in the coming weeks as lenders compete for somewhat limited business in very uncertain times.”

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