UK house prices up in May but annual growth is slowing

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House prices in the UK increased by 0.6% in May as a steady upward trend in values continued but there are signs that growth is slowing. Quarter on quarter prices were up 1.4%, slightly below April’s 1.5% but this was the lowest since November 2015 when it was also 1.4%, according to the latest index from lender the Halifax. Also, the May rise of 0.6% largely offset Aprils fall of 0.8% and Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist pointed out that the quarterly figure is a more reliable indicator of the underlying trend in the housing market. Prices in the three months to May 2016 were 9.2% higher than the same three months in 2015 so the annual movement was the lowest it has been since last autumn. The index shows the average price now reaching £213,472. According to separate research from the Halifax property prices per square metre have risen by 432% in Greater London against a national average increase of 251% over the past two decades. Although London dominates the country's list of most expensive property locations on a per square metre basis several areas outside southern England fetch a higher property price per square metre than the national average of £2,216. These are Solihull, Leamington Spa, Altrincham Edinburgh and Harrogate. ‘Low interest rates, increasing employment and rising real earnings, continue to support housing demand. The strength of demand, combined with very low supply, is causing house prices to rise at a brisk pace in quarterly and annual terms,’ Ellis explained. ‘Increasing affordability issues, caused by a sustained period of higher than earnings house price growth, should curb housing demand and result in some slowdown in house price growth as the year progresses,’ he added. The figures are published at a time when demand is still outpacing supply, according to Ian Thomas, director of online property investment company LendInvest. ‘The resilience of house price growth is remarkable. Even now that the stamp duty stampede of the first quarter is behind us, and with the uncertainty of the European Union referendum result dampening activity, house prices are still holding up,’ he said. ‘There simply aren't enough houses being built. The latest disappointing house building data make this abundantly clear. The Government’s dream of one million new homes by 2020 simply isn’t realistic without a fundamental change of approach,’ he pointed out. ‘As a result, house prices will continue to rise. Investors will continue to enjoy great returns from putting their money into property, while aspiring home buyers face a tricky time getting the sums to add up in order to move up the housing ladder,’ he added. However, Rob Weaver, director of investments at property crowdfunding platform Property Partner, believes the slowdown in growth is quite dramatic. ‘The house price volatility around April’s stamp duty hike has made 2016 a difficult year to predict. But the yoyo effect looks like it’ll settle, at least until all the uncertainty over the EU referendum ends,’ he said. ‘Activity in… Taylor Scott International

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