According to the Nationwide House Price Index, house prices in the UK fell by a modest of 4% in the month of November, marking an annual decline of 13.9%, which is down from a 14.6% in the year to October.
Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide’s Chief Economist commenting on the figures said that prices fell by just 0.4% in the month compared with 1.3% in October, bringing the annual rate of house price falls to 13.9%, down from 14.6% last month. The average price of a house is now £158,442. This is about £25,000 less than this time last year, but is still about £25,000 higher than in November 2003.
This pressure will continue to be felt in the housing market due to the prevailing poor economic situation. The labour market too is weakening, which will inevitably hinder market demand, particularly when property remains expensive relative to earnings. There is also little incentive for new borrowers to hurry into the housing market, with prices falling at their current rate.
However, there has to be some measures which should provide some support to the housing market in general and help existing and potential homeowners in these difficult times. One such is the falling interest rates, ie. the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to reduce interest rates by 1.5% at their November meeting.
Although this decision is not aimed directly at the housing market, such a substantial shift in the bank rate will help a significant number of existing and potential homebuyers. Different borrowers will be affected in different ways by the rate cuts.
Borrowers on tracker mortgages will have benefitted one-for- one from base rate cuts. Some borrowers are on their lender’s standard variable rate (SVR), which do not change automatically when the base rate moves, most lenders have so far passed on a large part of the Bank of England’s 2.75% worth of base rate cuts since December 2007. Roughly, 50% of borrowers on fixed rate deals will not benefit immediately from rate cuts, but surely they will pay very much less when they come to the end of their deals.
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