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House prices fall AGAIN as market braces for Brexit impact

The Nationwide House Price Index for this month has revealed prices fell marginally from January to an average of £211,304 across the UK. They were just 0.4 percent higher than a year ago amid signs the housing market has shifted more in favour of seller. Nationwide Building Society last month revealed property values were just 0.1 percent higher than in January 2018 – the slowest growth since 2013.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor at economic forecasting group EY ITEM Club, warned ongoing Brexit uncertainty could dent the housing market, labelling February’s figures as “another weak performance”.

He said: “If Brexit is delayed for a few months, ongoing uncertainty is likely to weigh down on the housing market and could well see house prices stagnate over the year or even fall slightly.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of London-based mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The spring-like weather has not quite filtered through to the housing market with price growth remaining subdued.

“Uncertainty over Brexit continues to have an impact and is likely to for the next few weeks at least.”

Mr Harris added several mortgage lenders are continuing to trim loan rates in an effort to encourage more business.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner described house price growth as still being “subdued”, with less property purchases made and mortgages being approved.

He said: “After almost grinding to a complete halt in January, annual house price growth remained subdued in February, with prices just 0.4 percent higher than the same time last year.

“Indicators of housing market activity, such as the number of property transactions and the number of mortgages approved for house purchase, have remained broadly stable in recent months, but survey data suggests that sentiment has softened.

“Measures of consumer confidence weakened around the turn of the year and surveyors reported a further fall in new buyer inquiries over the same period.

“While the number of properties coming onto the market also slowed, this doesn’t appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of demand and supply in favour of buyers in recent months.”

This is the latest blow to the housing market after data from bank Halifax earlier this month revealed house prices plunged to their biggest drop in nine months.

Property values fell 2.9 percent month-by-month in January to £223,691, compared to a 2.5 percent rise in December to £230,430.

But they remained largely unchanged over the course of the past 12 months, falling by just 0.8 percent from the price of £224,025 in January 2018.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said price growth is expected “to remain subdued in the near-term”.

He warned the next year will be “important” for the housing market as the market braces itself for any potential impact from Brexit.

“There’s no doubt that the next year will be important for the housing market with much of the immediate focus on what impact Brexit may have.

“However, more fundamentally it is key underlying factors of supply and demand that will ultimately shape the market.”

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