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UK house prices fall by most since 2009, higher rates to bite-Nationwide

UK house prices fall by most since 2009, higher rates to bite-Nationwide

LONDON (Reuters) -British house prices fell by the most since 2009 in the 12 months to May and the country’s housing market faces further headwinds after a recent jump in borrowing costs, mortgage lender Nationwide said on Thursday.

Compared with May last year, the average house price was down 3.4% after a 2.7% annual fall in April, Nationwide said.

That was the biggest year-on-year drop since 2009, during the global financial crisis.

House prices edged down by 0.1% in May from April after a monthly 0.4% rise in April, Nationwide said.

The housing market showed signs of recovery in early 2023 after a jump in mortgage rates at the end of last year triggered by former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s “mini-budget” plans for tax cuts which sent financial markets into turmoil.

However, stronger-than-expected inflation figures published last week caused a fresh rise in bond yields as investors priced in further Bank of England interest rate increases, prompting some lenders to rein in or reprice mortgage offers.

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“Headwinds to the housing market look set to strengthen in the near term,” Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said, citing the risk that the jump in borrowing costs and mortgage rates could be sustained.

“Nevertheless, in our view a relatively soft landing remains the most likely outcome since labour market conditions remain solid and household balance sheets appear in relatively good shape,” Gardner said.

Martin Beck, an economist with the EY Item Club, a forecasting group, said the 4% fall in house prices from last August’s peak was modest compared with the 7% rise in house prices over the past two years.

But 2.5 million owner-occupiers have yet to see their fixed-rate deals go up over the remainder of 2023 and the BoE is likely to carry on raising borrowing costs, meaning house prices would drift down further, Beck said.

Analysts at Capital Economics said prices would fall another 8% while Pantheon Macroeconomics said they would drop 4%.

(Reporting by William SchombergEditing by Muvija M, Paul Sandle and Christina Fincher)

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