Annual house price growth slows to weakest pace in nearly six years

Annual house price growth slows to weakest pace in nearly six years

Annual house price growth slows to weakest pace in nearly six years

British house prices took a pre-Brexit hit in December, falling by the most in monthly terms since mid-2012 and rising by their slowest pace in almost six years in annual terms, according to data from mortgage lender Nationwide.

The building society said prices in London fell 0.8 per cent a year ago while the so-called "outer metropolitan" region around the capital suffered a 1.4 per cent decline.

Across England, prices in the East Midlands rose 4 per cent, while there was a 3.7 per cent gain in Yorkshire and Humberside, 2.9 per cent in the West Midlands, 2.2 per cent in the North West, 2 per cent in the South West and East Anglia and 1 per cent in the North.

UK House prices fell 0.7% in December, with annual house price growth just 0.5% higher than December 2017.

Meanwhile, both London and the Outer Metropolitan regions continued to see prices decline year on year, leading to a slight overall decline in the south of 0.2%.

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In London, the average house price in the fourth quarter of 2018 was £466,988 - 0.8 per cent lower than the same period in 2017.

Northern Ireland saw the biggest house price rises, up 5.8%.

Annual house price growth slowed to 0.5%, compared with a rise of 1.9% in November, the Nationwide said.

The figure marks a noticeable slowdown from previous months, when prices had been rising at around 2pc. Last month, consumer confidence weakened and surveyors reported a further fall in new buyer inquiries, Nationwide said.

'Brexit and economic uncertainty may well have an increased dampening on housing market activity in the near term at least, ' he said. Nationwide, which published the figures, said that it was "broadly in line with [its] expectations" of prices rising by 1pc in 2018.

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Near term prospects will be heavily dependent on how quickly this uncertainty lifts.

One of the more prominent regional trends in 2018 was the further narrowing of the north-south house price divide in England. "This more nuanced picture obviously isn't reflected in the headline figures, but as the current political and economic uncertainty continues, could well continue to be the case until such times as more clarity is available".

But he added: "This trend was not entirely unexpected as it followed several years of sustained outperformance by the South, which left affordability more stretched in these areas".

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the economic forecasting group EY ITEM Club, said the market had ended the year "very much on the back foot". That figure was also down 0.7 per cent month-on-month.

"Brexit has smashed property market sentiment to smithereens", said Jonathan Samuels, the chief executive of the property lender Octane Capital.

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'As long as borrowers can meet affordability criteria, whether they are taking out a new mortgage or switching to another deal, there will be plenty to attract them for a while yet, ' he said.

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