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UK house prices in the three months to the end of November were 0.7% higher than in the previous three months, according to the latest quarterly figures from the Halifax. This quarterly rate was marginally down from 0.9% in the previous month and the data also shows that prices in the three months to November were 8.2% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. On this measure, annual house prices are now growing at their slowest rate since February and on a month on month basis they are up o.4% which reverses the 0.4% monthly decline recorded in October. However, home sales fell in October to 98,490, the first time they have been below 100,000 in 2014. Nonetheless, current estimates suggest that housing transactions in 2014 will total in excess of a million for the second consecutive year. This is the first time since 2006 and 2007 that home sales have exceeded a million in successive years, according to HMRC, seasonally adjusted figures. The index also points out that mortgage approvals continue to fall. The volume of mortgage approvals for house purchases, a leading indicator of completed house sales, fell in October, to 59,426, data from the Bank of England shows. Approvals have now fallen by 22% from 76,574 in January 2014. Private housing completions in the first three quarters of 2014 were 10% higher compared with the same period in 2013, at 68,930, according to the department of Communities and Local Government. It means that levels of house building remain well below those required to keep up with the pace of household formation, but these latest figures show signs of a revival. A continuation of this upward trend in house building would help to bring demand and supply into better balance, curbing upward pressure on house prices. ‘Receding buyer interest combined with a revival in private housing completions has brought supply and demand into better balance. These factors have in turn contributed to the easing in house price growth since the summer,’ said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist. ‘But housing demand continues to be supported by a strengthening economy, rising employment levels, still low mortgage rates and the first gain in real' earnings for several years,’ he explained. ‘We expect a further moderation in house price growth over the next year with prices nationally expected to increase in a range of 3% to 5% in 2015. The prospect of higher interest rates at some point in the year and the deterioration in affordability over the past year are expected to be key factors curbing housing demand,’ he pointed out. ‘Housing demand should be supported by solid economic growth, higher employment, still low mortgage rates and the first gain in real earnings for several years. We expect to see a more even regional pattern in house price growth during 2015,’ he added. Continue reading →
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