October 5, 2018 / 7:46 AM / 2 months ago

UK house prices record biggest fall since April - Halifax

FILE PHOTO: A couple view properties for sale in an estate agents window in London, Britain August 22, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices fell at the fastest pace since April last month, figures from mortgage lender Halifax showed on Friday, though other data pointed to a smaller slowdown, six months before Britain is due to leave the European Union.

House prices dropped 1.4 percent on the month in September after a 0.2 percent fall in August, a bigger drop than forecast by any of the economists in a Reuters poll.

Compared with a year earlier, prices rose 2.5 percent versus a gain of 3.7 percent in August, again below all forecasts, though Halifax said this was still at the high end of its prediction for 2018 price growth.

“A low supply of new homes and existing properties for sale, combined with historically low mortgage rates and a high employment rate, continue to support house prices,” Halifax managing director Russell Galley said.

Figures from rival mortgage lender Nationwide on Tuesday showed 2.0 percent annual price growth and a 0.3 percent monthly rise.

“Halifax’s data is very noisy, so we doubt September’s data signal that the (Bank of England’s) increase in Bank Rate in August has pushed the housing market over the edge,” Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics said.

“Nonetheless, few households think that housing is a good investment at present and the recent increase in swap rates ... will filter through to mortgage rates soon.”

Office for National Statistics data showed house prices rose 3.1 percent in the year to July, the smallest rise since August 2013, while prices in London fell by the most since September 2009.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Theresa May said she planned to increase taxes on foreign residents buying British housing.

Reporting by David Milliken; editing by Sarah Young and John Stonestreet

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