Mortgages 

House price growth remains muted

House price growth remains muted

House prices continued their muted growth during November, according to the Nationwide house price index.

Between October and November house prices rose by just 0.1 per cent, with the average price reaching £209,988.

Year-on-year growth was stable at 2.5 per cent in November, but this was a sharp decline compared to the 4.4 per cent registered in the same month last year.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "Low mortgage rates and healthy rates of employment growth are providing support for demand, but this is being partly offset by pressure on household incomes, which appears to be weighing on confidence.

"The lack of homes on the market is providing support to house prices."

Mr Gardner expressed scepticism that the government's recent decision to abolish stamp duty completely for first time buyers when buying a property up to £300,000 would have anything more than a "modest" impact on demand.

He said: "In many regions, first time buyers already paid little or no stamp duty as the price of the typical first time buyer property was below the previous threshold of £125,000.

"“The potential savings are more substantial for borrowers where house prices are higher, especially in London and the south east."

But he restated concerns expressed by the Office for Budget Responsibility that the benefit could be passed on to existing home owners through higher house prices, though he said the overall impact is likely to be "very modest".

Nationwide published figures which showed the average first-time buyer in the north of England would save around £500 in stamp duty, while the average first-time buyer in London would save more than £3,000.

But because house prices in London are so high, around 81 per cent of first-time buyers in the capital would still pay stamp duty while only 2 per cent in the north of England would.

Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of eMoov, said: "A muted but stable level of house price growth is probably the best we could hope for at this time of year, given the usual seasonal slowdown coupled with already tougher than normal market conditions.

"It’s very early days to be observing any kind of impact from the changes to first-time buyer stamp duty and while it may help stimulate demand, and in turn prices, this will only be noticeable much further down the line.

"I certainly wouldn’t be holding my breath where the encouraging signs for housing supply are concerned. Should the government continue to fail in delivering a meaningful number of new homes, which it no doubt will, the overwhelming levels of buyer demand to stock available will keep prices climbing throughout next year."

damian.fantato@ft.com

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