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House prices 'picking up pace', say official figures



ONS records 5.8 per cent growth in February, contradicting trends in private sector indices

Page 1 of 51House prices 'picking up pace', say official figures

House price growth is actually "picking up" pace, says the BBC, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics' (ONS) composite house price index tracked house price growth across the UK of 5.8 per cent in February, a marked acceleration from the revised growth rate of 5.3 per cent for January.

It also coincides with data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders showing "very strong borrowing in January and February".

However, it flies in the face of figures from both Nationwide and Halifax, whose respected house prices indices based on their own mortgage completions have noted a slowdown in house price inflation.

Nationwide even tracked negative month-on-month growth for the first time in two years in March, while Halifax tracked annual growth of 3.8 per cent for the month - the lowest since May 2013.

However, the ONS reports, which are based on information published by the Land Registry and its equivalent in the devolved administrations, are far more comprehensive, including cash purchases that are typically excluded in lenders' indices, although some experts say that masks underlying flaws.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, told the Daily Telegraph that the data suffers because it relies on submissions to the Land Registry, which have a long time lag and so mean figures are subject to revision.

He added: "Local level results are particularly volatile and can show significant swings in price movement, especially where transaction levels are low."

ONS figures for the end of last year and early this year have already been substantially revised the initial estimate for December of growth at 7.2 per cent was changed to 5.3 per cent, while January's figure published today is 0.9 per cent lower than the estimate for March.

Nevertheless, all the indices are tracking positive price movement that is slower than in recent years, despite headwinds such as Brexit, and most experts expect this to continue.

House prices grow at slowest rate in four years

House prices are growing at their slowest rate for four years according to the latest index from the country's biggest mortgage lender, reports the BBC.

Halifax's house price index for March puts the annual rate of growth at 3.8 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent for the year to February and the slowest rate since May 2013.

On a monthly basis, the index has shown zero growth for both of the last two months, while the rolling three-monthly data, which the lender prefers, rose just 0.1 per cent in March.

A rival index from Nationwide last week suggested house prices rose by 3.5 per cent in the year to last month, but it recorded a modestly negative month-on-month growth figure for the first time in two years.

An average home in the UK is now worth 219,755, says Halifax.

Experts argue that affordability constraints after years of rapid house price acceleration, coupled with headwinds from Brexit and a crackdown on buy-to-let landlords, is slowing the housing market.

But there is also consensus that a shortage of homes for sale is underpinning the market and that growth will remain positive.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told The Independent he expects house prices to increase by just two per cent this year.

A study by the Centre for Economics and Buyout Research this week predicted values will rise by four per cent this year - and by 60,000 from the end of last year to 2021.

However, those figures are based on Office for National Statistics data which typically records a faster rate of growth and represents a slowdown from 7.5 per cent last year.

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