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Financial News: UK House Price Growth Exceeds Expectations

UK House Price Growth Exceeds Expectations

01/31/2024 - 04:12:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - UK house prices increased more than expected at the start of the year amid signs of mortgage rates trending down, the Nationwide Building Society reported Wednesday. House prices posted a monthly growth of 0.7 percent in January after staying flat in December. This was also faster than economists' forecast of 0.1 percent increase.

At the same time, the annual fall in house prices slowed notably to 0.2 percent from 1.8 percent. This was the strongest outturn since January 2023. Prices were expected to drop 0.5 percent.

Nationwide's Chief Economist Robert Gardner said investors have become more optimistic that the Bank of England will lower rates in the years ahead.

The shift in view among investors will lead to a decline in the longer-term interest rates that underpin mortgage pricing around the turn of the year. Nonetheless, he cautioned that the interest rate outlook remains highly uncertain.

Although a rapid rebound in activity or house prices this year appears unlikely, the outlook is a little more positive, the economist noted. The evolution of mortgage rates will be crucial as affordability was the key factor holding back housing market activity last year.

Gardner noted that another major challenge for those intend to buy property is raising a deposit. Official data released on Tuesday also showed an improvement in the housing market. The Bank of England reported that mortgage approvals rose to a six-month high of 50,500 in December from 49,300 in November. The BoE had kept its interest rate unchanged at 5.25 percent for the second straight time, snapping a streak of 14 consecutive rate hikes at the September meeting. The bank is expected to hold its benchmark rate on February 1.

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