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Annual house price growth halves in a year to just 2.1 per cent in August as stamp duty levy hits north London hard

PUBLISHED: 17:33 29 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:40 29 August 2017

The figures suggest a cooling economy, say Nationwide

The figures suggest a cooling economy, say Nationwide

TonyBaggett

Nationwide have revealed that London’s homes have increased in price by over half since 2007, with stamp duty revenues up by 2.2 billion

House price growth has slowed 0.8 per cent since July to just 2.1 per cent; more than half of the 5.6 per cent rise achieved last year. House prices have decreased 0.1 per cent month on month, but although prices fell between March and May, they have risen since June. The figures from Nationwide have prompted responses that the Brexit-weakened pound has caused buyers to tighten their purse strings.

House prices in north London have increased 5 per cent since the vote to leave the EU, reaching £754,831, a decrease of the same amount since June according to agent, Haart. Across London, however, prices have fallen by 0.5 per cent since June to a city-wide average of £555,397.

With London’s house prices on average 56 per cent higher than in 2007, the capital has been particularly impacted by the 3 per cent levy on second homes and revisions in the stamp duty charges, for which the revenues have risen to record highs. With London paying more than under the old slab system, revenues for the tax have increased to £12.8 billion in the year to the second quarter of 2017, up markedly from the £10.6 billion taken in 2007.

With the Brexit-bitten pound causing inflation to rise, the housing market has remained sluggish in the first half of this year, with the house price to earnings ratio climbing resulting from stagnant wage growth and a higher cost of living.

As a result, the number of residential property transactions in the year to June almost a third below that recorded in 2007. Agents have reported that stock is at a 30 year low, buyer enquiries are lacklustre and the number of new homes coming on to the market has remained poor.

However, some agents have rebuked this claim, with lettings agents in particular recording higher numbers of stock. This could be a result of more homes struggling to sell, and instead being put on the market to rent until the market picks up pace again.

Nationwide’s chief economist, Robert Gardiner, said that he expects prices to rise by 2 per cent over the course of this year, although Countrywide predicted 0 per cent growth, and a decrease of 1.5 per cent in Central London, however it did say prices will rise again next year.

Commenting on the figures, Mr Gardiner said: “Ultimately, housing market developments will depend on wider economic performance. The UK economy slowed noticeably in the first half of the year, and there has been little to suggest a significant rebound in the months ahead.” The UK economy only grew by 0.3 per cent in the first half of 2017, just half the pace of the previous year.

“The slowdown in price growth to the 2 -3 per cent range in recent months from the 4-5 per cent prevailing in 2016 is consistent with signs of cooling in the housing market and the wider economy,” he added.

With speculation over the Bank of England raising interest rates from their record low of 0.25 per cent, Nationwide argues that buyers might be reluctant to take a chance, whilst the number of mortgages approved hit a 9 month low in June.

In contrast, the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association has found that there has been a 13 per cent increase in applications being successful in the second quarter of this year compared to 2016. So it’s not all doom and gloom; in addition to record low mortgage rates and with unemployment at a 40 year low, the sluggish figures are somewhat surprising, and Mr Gardiner believes that strong demand and a lack of supply will continue to bolster the housing market.

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