Property prices see 'weakest annual growth since June 2013'


House prices rose at their slowest annual pace for nearly two years in August, Nationwide Building Society has said.

Property values rose by 3.2% this month compared with a year ago, which is down from 3.5% in July and the weakest annual growth since June 2013.

Nationwide said prices across the UK rose by 0.3% on a month-by-month basis in August - taking the average property value to £195,279.

This also marks a slight slowdown on the 0.4% month-on-month rise recorded in July.

The annual pace of price growth is now less than a third of what it was a year ago, hitting double digits for much of last summer, with a 11% annual increase recorded in August 2014.

Nationwide said the slowdown in annual house price growth provides further signs that it may be stabilising close to the level of earnings growth in the UK, which has historically settled at around 4%.

But Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, cautioned that more new homes need to be built to meet surging demand.

He said: "With UK house building running well below the expected rate of household formation in recent years and with demand for homes rising, a significant increase in construction activity is required if affordability is not to become stretched in the years ahead."

Nationwide said there were worrying signs that supply is far from meeting supply, with surveyors reporting the lowest number of properties on their books in July since records began in the 1970s, while new buyer enquiries picked up.

Despite house price growth easing in recent months, Nationwide said the UK property market had proved "remarkably resilient" and recovered well after the financial crisis, with prices now standing around 5% higher than they were before 2008.

This compares well with a raft of other European countries, where house prices are still languishing below pre-crisis levels, such as Ireland, where property values are 38% lower, Spain, still 36% down, and the Netherlands, 18% below.

Mr Garner said: "The strength of the UK labour market in recent years is a key reason why house prices have recovered more quickly. "

He added: "Supply side developments also play an important role in explaining the divergence in house price performance.

"The UK experienced a much smaller increase in building activity in the run up to the financial crisis. As a result, there was much less of an overhang of unsold properties to be worked off in recent years."