House prices rose for the seventh month in November but the pace of the recovery is beginning to ease, the Nationwide said.
The cost of a home increased by 0.5pc during the month, pushing average property prices up to £162,764 – a level last seen in August 2008. Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The monthly rate of house price inflation was unchanged in November at a seasonally adjusted 0.5pc, leaving the average price of a typical property 2.7pc higher than a year earlier.”
But there are signs that house prices are rising at a more moderate pace than in the spring and summer, with the 0.5pc rise recorded for both October and November, the smallest since prices stopped falling in April. The three month on three month growth rate, which is generally considered to be a smoother indicator of the underlying trend, also moderated during November to 2.8pc, down from 3.5pc in October and 3.8pc in September.
Today’s figures come the day after the Bank of England reported that the number of loans approved for house purchase had increased for the 11th consecutive month in October, rising to 57,345, their highest level since March 2008. The housing market has recovered quicker than expected during 2009 as a shortage of properties on the market has pushed up prices.
However, many economists are predicting a return to price falls during 2010 as more homes are put up for sale. Nationwide said the housing market remained “crucially dependent” on labour market conditions. It added that while unemployment had increased noticeably, the rise had not been as rapid or as pronounced as previously feared. Mr Gahbauer said: “Despite continued uncertainties about the future, the better than expected performance of the labour market has probably contributed to the surprise rebound in house prices this year. “Together with the fact that mortgage rates have fallen sharply as a result of base rate cuts, this has meant that far fewer borrowers have fallen into arrears than would normally be the case in such a deep recession. “As such, the downward pressure on house prices from distressed sales has so far been significantly lower than expected.”
Online estate agency turtlehomes.co.uk