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UK house prices pick up speed, BoE rate hike won't hurt - Halifax
November 7, 2017 / 8:57 AM / 11 days ago

UK house prices pick up speed, BoE rate hike won't hurt - Halifax

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices rose in the three months to October at their fastest pace since February and the Bank of England’s interest rate hike is unlikely to offset the impact on prices from a lack of homes for sale, mortgage lender Halifax said.

FILE PHOTO: Terraced houses are seen in Primrose Hill, London, Britain, September 24, 2017. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh/File Photo - RC1486B9BE00

House prices increased by an annual 4.5 percent in the August-October period, picking up speed from a 4.0 percent increase in the three months to September, Halifax said on Tuesday.

The rise was in line with a median forecast in a Reuters poll of economists.

It was the third month in a row that the pace of house price increases gathered pace, suggesting that a dip after last year’s Brexit vote has bottomed out.

The Halifax house price index had been rising by as much as 10 percent a year before the referendum before slowing to just over 2 percent in July this year.

Still, the high price of property means many people are unable to afford a home of their own, putting pressure on the finance minister Philip Hammond to encourage more home-building when he announces a budget plan on Nov. 22.

In October alone, prices rose by 0.3 percent, Halifax said. That represented a slowdown from growth of 0.8 percent in September but was slightly stronger than the forecast in the Reuters poll.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax Community Bank, said the lack of properties for sale, combined with still low mortgage interest rates and strong jobs growth, would continue to help house prices, even as Britain’s economy slows ahead of its exit from the European Union.

“Increasing pressure on household finances and continuing affordability concerns are some of the factors likely to dampen buyer demand,” he said. “That said we do not anticipate the Base Rate rise will be a barrier to buying a house.”

The BoE last week increased its benchmark rate to 0.50 percent from 0.25 percent and said it did not expect the hike to have a big impact on households.

Last week, Halifax said public confidence in the outlook for British house prices dropped to its lowest in nearly five years, weighed by pessimism about the economy rather than the prospect of higher interest rates.

Rival mortgage lender Nationwide has said British annual house price growth edged up to a three-month high in October. It also said the outlook for the housing market remained subdued.

Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Andrew MacAskill

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