House price slowdown continues but high employment is helping

Annual how price growth continued to barely move in October, growing at less than 1% for the 11th month in a row, according to new data.

The closely-followed Nationwide house price index found that the average price of a home is now £215,368 with growth of just 0.2% compared with September. On a year-on-year basis the growth was just 0.4%.

The building society said high employment and low borrowing costs are offsetting a bigger slowdown, with more than 95% of borrowers opting for fixed rate mortgages in recent quarters, around half of which have opted to fix for five years.

Nationwide house price chart
House price chart (Nationwide/PA)

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Average prices rose by around £800 over the last 12 months, a significant slowing compared with recent years – for example, in the same period to October 2016, prices increased by £9,100.

“Indicators of UK economic activity have been fairly volatile in recent quarters, but the underlying pace of growth appears to have slowed as a result of weaker global growth and an intensifying of Brexit uncertainty.”

“The underlying pace of housing market activity has remained broadly stable, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase continuing within the fairly narrow range prevailing over the past two years.

“Solid labour market conditions and low borrowing costs appear to be offsetting the drag from the uncertain economic outlook. The question is whether this pattern will continue.”

Analysts will be watching closely to see what impact the latest Brexit extension has, but most agree there will not be any major spikes until the political uncertainty is removed.

Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of property lender Octane Capital, said: “Just like Parliament, the property market is rudderless. Until there is a clearer sense of how Brexit will pan out, annual price growth looks set to remain below 1%.

“The jobs market is without doubt a critical support, keeping annual price growth in the black. If unemployment starts to rise materially, the resilience of the property market could falter very quickly and 2020 prove very bleak.”

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