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U.K. News

House prices still firm
By Gary Duncan, Economics Correspondent  
Nov 6, 2003

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HOUSE prices saw further sharp gains last month although the rate of increase is slowing, the Halifax reported yesterday.

Nationally, average house prices rose 1.2 per cent during October, only slightly below September’s hefty 1.6 per cent rise, according to Britain’s biggest mortgage lender.

Halifax said the property market remained robust, despite a cooling of the red-hot rate of increase in prices seen last year.

Annual house price inflation eased to a rate of 16.7 per cent in October, the Halifax data showed. This was down 12 percentage points from the 28 per cent peak seen last November.

Martin Ellis, Halifax’s chief economist, predicted that an expected rise in interest rates from the Bank of England today would have only a “modest” impact on the market. A quarter-point rate rise would add only £4 per week to the typical £80,000 mortgage — a rise that most households can absorb easily, he said.

Halifax’s figures were weaker than last week’s Nationwide Building Society data, which showed a 2 per cent October price rise, suggesting a market accelerating again.

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