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Stable prices expected in cooling market

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  • 01/10/2000
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By Ben Marquand Despite the continued slowdown in house prices, the future for the housing market re...

By Ben Marquand

Despite the continued slowdown in house prices, the future for the housing market remains healthy, according to the latest figures released by the Halifax and Nationwide.

Nationwide reports that UK house prices fell by 0.6% in August, following three months of stable prices and puts the average price of a house in August at £80,737. The Halifax, however, said that house prices in August matched the growth experienced in July and rose 0.5%. It puts the standardised average price of a house at £84,811.

Despite these discrepancies which arise as a result of differences in each lender’s portfolio, there is still a consensus that the market will remain steady for the rest of the year.

Alex Bannister, group economist at Nationwide, said: “This is now part of a pause, a period of stability for the next five or six months. The market looked unsustainable earlier this year and I doubt whether it will rocket up again this year.”

The July survey conducted by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) showed that there was a clear downturn in the market, but attributed it to the summer ‘blip’ when house buyers traditionally take a break.

The survey showed an increase in the number of respondents who reported that both the numbers of offers and completions had fallen compared with the previous month. In January, the report found that 80% of respondents said demand was outstripping supply, but in July this had fallen to 39%, which suggests that the market has now switched in favour of the buyer.

Research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) confirms the slowdown in prices. The net balance of chartered surveyors across the country reported a 2% fall in house prices, the first decrease since the Asian economic crisis in the winter of 1998. The falls were mainly in London and the south east and were slightly offset by small price rises in Wales and the north west.

Bernard Clarke, communications manager at the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), said: “Prices are slowing down in London and the south east as many first time buyers have been priced out of the market, and this would suggest that prices have reached their peak.”

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