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House prices in the UK increased by 2% between December and January, the biggest rise for January since 2009, according to the latest property index figures. The data from the Halifax also shows that in the three months from November to January prices were 1.9% higher than in the previous three months and the quarterly rate of change increased for the first time since July 2014. But it remains below the rates recorded between June and September last year and overall the Halifax expects a moderation in house price growth during 2015. It predicts that house prices nationally will increase by 3% to 5% compared with 8% in 2014. Prices in the three months to January were 8.5% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. This was an increase from 7.8% in December. This measure of annual house price growth was at its highest since October 2014 when it was 8.8%, but remains significantly below the peak of 10.2% in July 2014. It points out that sales increased by 15% in 2014 but despite this annual rise, sales peaked in the first quarter before steadily declining during the course of the year with sales in the final quarter 5% lower than in the first quarter and 1% lower than in the third quarter. ‘This bounce-back in house price growth in January coincides with reports of the first rise in mortgage approvals for six months in December. These improvements may indicate that the recent declines in mortgage rates, the reform of stamp duty and the first increases in real earnings for several years are providing a modest boost to the market,’ said Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist. ‘It is, however, too early to draw any firm conclusions. The monthly figures in January can be particularly volatile due to the lower volumes of activity at this time of year and there have been unusually large rises on occasion in the past, such as in 2007 when it was 2.3% and 2.4% in 2009,’ he explained. ‘Housing demand should continue to be supported by an expanding economy, continuing low mortgage rates and a boost to households’ spending power resulting from lower consumer price inflation and reduced fuel bills. Nonetheless, we expect the overall downward trend in house price growth seen since last summer to continue over the coming months. Nationally, house prices are predicted to increase in a range of 3 to 5% in 2015 compared with 8% last year,’ he added. According to Rob Weaver, director of investments at property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, the figures confirm that the property has still got some punch. ‘A strong January and the first quarterly rise for six months could suggest another buoyant year but I suspect we are more likely to see a period of gentle and sustained growth,’ he said. ‘It's hard to see how the property market could under-perform in 2015. Undershoot 2014, yes, but under-perform, no. Economic conditions at home… Continue reading →
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