Slowdown in annual UK house price growth

House prices in Britain have fallen for the first time in 15 months.

The average price of a property dropped to £268,282 in October, down 0.9 per cent compared to October, according to the Nationwide’s House Price Index.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “October saw a sharp slowdown in annual house price growth, to 7.2 per cent from 9.5 per cent in September.

“Prices fell by 0.9 per cent month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal effects, the first such fall since July 2021 and the largest since June 2020.

“The market has undoubtedly been impacted by the turmoil following the mini-Budget, which led to a sharp rise in market interest rates.

“Higher borrowing costs have added to stretched housing affordability at a time when household finances are already under pressure from high inflation.

“For example, the increase in mortgage rates meant that a prospective first-time buyer (FTB) earning the average wage and looking to buy a typical FTB home with a 20 per cent deposit would see their monthly mortgage payment rise from circa 34 per cent of take-home pay to circa 45 per cent based on an average mortgage rate of 5.5 per cent.”

He said the market looks set to slow in the coming quarters. Inflation will remain high for some time yet and the Bank Rate is likely to rise further as the Bank of England seeks to ensure demand in the economy slows to relieve domestic price pressures.

“The outlook is extremely uncertain, and much will depend on how the broader economy performs, but a relatively soft landing is still possible.

“Longer term borrowing costs have fallen back in recent weeks and may moderate further if investor sentiment continues to recover.

“Given the weak growth outlook, labour market conditions are likely to soften, but they are starting from a robust position, with unemployment at near 50-year lows.

“Moreover, household balance sheets appear in relatively good shape with significant protection from higher borrowing costs, at least for a period, with over 85 per cent of mortgage balances on fixed interest rates.

“Stretched housing affordability is also a reflection of underlying supply constraints, which should provide some support for prices.”