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House price optimism in the UK fell to its lowest level for 18 months in January as lending got off to sluggish start. While the Halifax House Price Index found prices increased 2% to £193,130 in January, some 60% of those surveyed for the lender’s latest housing market confidence tracker report expect the average property price to be higher in one year’s time. This means that house price optimism has fallen from 62 to +52, the lowest this figure has been since June 2013, when 52% expected a rise in property prices. In June 2013 inflation was at 2.9% compared to 0.3% currently, employment was just over 30 million compared to 30.9 million, and lending levels were at £15 billion compared to 17 billion. Despite the fact that GDP for 2014 grew at 2.6% and all nine members of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to hold interest rates at 0.5% the dip in confidence levels over house prices mirrors that over the economy in general. ‘More than half of consumers still believe house prices will be higher than they are now in a year’s time; however optimism has continued to weaken. Despite this the fundamentals remain in place and we’re now seeing a return to the seasonal trend for house price activity,’ said Craig McKinlay, mortgages director at the Halifax. ‘Traditionally, a slow start builds to the summer before another lull and then a further period of increase followed by a gradual easing at the end of the year,’ he added. But he pointed out that of more concern are the figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government showing a slowdown in the number of new homes being built. ‘It’s widely acknowledged that the UK needs an increase in the amount of new housing being built,’ said McKinlay. ‘The Lloyds Banking Group Commission on Housing targeted 2 to 2.5 million new homes built by 2025 new homes to be built before 2025. If we are to address demand the increase in new homes coming onto the market needs to be sustainable,’ he explained. Continue reading →
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