House prices slipped 0.2% last month but 'robust' increases expected


House prices eased back during November and the quarterly rate of growth fell to its lowest level for a year, Halifax has reported.

Prices fell 0.2% between October and November, taking the average value of a UK property to £204,552.

While monthly changes can be volatile, the figures also showed that the quarterly rate of growth, which tends to give a good indication of underlying trends in the market, was the lowest since December 2014 - at 1.4%.

But year-on-year growth remained solid at 9% and Halifax said record low interest rates, together with the gap between supply and demand, was set to keep prices rising at a "robust" pace.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: "Solid economic growth, rising real earnings and falls in already very low mortgage rates have combined to stimulate housing demand this year.

"The increasingly acute imbalance between supply and demand is causing prices to rise at a robust pace. A situation that is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short-term."

Last month's figures showed a marked cooling off since October, when house prices leapt by 9.7% year-on-year and 1.1% month-on-month.

But Halifax highlighted recent data from the Bank of England and surveyors confirming that demand and supply remain at odds.

The Bank recently confirmed that the number of mortgages for house purchases rose 1% between September and October and were 17% higher year-on-year.

This came as research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found the number of homes being put up for sale dropped for the ninth month in a row in October, taking supply to a new record low.

Howard Archer, economist at IHS Global Insight, said buyers were being boosted by earnings growth, high and rising employment, robust consumer confidence and low mortgage interest rates.

He added that Chancellor George Osborne's Budget move to impose a 3% stamp duty surcharge on buy-to-let and second homes from next April may push up prices in the next five months as buyers rush to complete before the new rules come in to effect.

"We expect house prices to see solid underlying increases over the coming months amid firm buyer interest and a shortage of properties," he said.