UK’s house price growth has ‘almost ground to a halt’


House prices in the UK ‘almost ground to a halt’ in January, according to figures from the Nationwide.

The building society said growth was the lowest for almost six years, with prices up 0.1 per cent – they went up by 0.5 per cent in December.

It is the worst set of figures from the Nationwide’s annual price growth measure since 2013, when growth was zero.

An uncertain economic outlook caused by Brexit was the most likely reason for the loss of confidence among buyers, the building society said.

It said buyer uncertainty had eclipsed positive economic news, such as the growth in employment, rising wages and low borrowing costs.

The findings come as Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to find a Brexit deal that will be approved by MPs in the Commons.

The survey – compiled from Nationwide’s own lending data – showed that house prices rose 0.3 per cent in January, adjusted for seasonal factors, from December.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said the UK’s economic outlook remains ‘unusually uncertain.’

He added that house prices could rise ‘at a low single digit pace’ in 2019 if the economy keeps growing and unemployment and borrowing costs remain at current levels.

A Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) survey also found that members believed the outlook for the next three months was the worst for 20 years.

More than a quarter of RICS members said they expected sales to fall, the most negative feedback since records began 21 years ago.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said the slump was  ‘sentiment-led’ and consumer confidence had been falling since November.

It started to dip when it became apparent to consumers that the UK’s withdrawal process from the EU was not going smoothly.

Tombs said increasing numbers of would-be house-buyers were likely to wait for Brexit uncertainty to clear forcing sellers to drop asking prices.

He added: “As a result, year-over-year declines in house prices in the near term should not be ruled out.”

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