July 5, 2019 / 8:32 AM / 12 days ago

UK house prices pick up a bit more speed: Halifax

FILE PHOTO - A residential street is seen in Notting Hill in central London October 8, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices rose at the fastest annual rate since early 2017 in the three months to the end of June, mortgage lender Halifax said on Friday, adding to other signs that the housing market has stabilized after weakening on Brexit worries.

House prices were up by 5.7% in the three months to June compared with the same period a year ago after rising by 5.2% in the three months to May, Halifax said on Friday. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a 5.9% rise.

Halifax cautioned that the annual increase was flattered by weak price growth in the corresponding period in 2018. In monthly terms, prices fell by 0.3% after a rise of 0.4% in May.

But Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director, said the housing market was “displaying a reasonable degree of resilience in the face of political and economic uncertainty”.

Other measures of house prices have shown smaller increases than Halifax recently — with prices in London falling — but have also suggested a bottoming out in the market after a slowdown linked to worries about Brexit.

Halifax’s measure of annual house price growth had been growing by nearly 10% a year at the time of the 2016 referendum.

Britain secured an extension to the deadline for its departure from the European Union until Oct. 31 but many investors remain worried about the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, something the two contenders to become prime minister say they are prepared to do if necessary.

“If the UK ultimately leaves the EU without a deal - be it on Oct. 31 or some other time - we believe house prices could quickly drop around 5% amid heightened uncertainty and weakened economic activity,” Howard Archer, an economist with EY Item Club, a forecasting group, said.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Michael Holden

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