House prices now falling, says Halifax

New figures puts average UK price at £186,135

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The Independent Online

Worries about potential interest rate rises could curb house buying, according to the Halifax, which has reported prices dropping 0.4 per cent in October compared to September.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax said that house prices in the three months to October were 0.8 per cent higher than in the previous three months. This represents the third consecutive drop in the quarterly rate of increase and the smallest rise since December 2012. Its latest figures show that year on year prices are up 8.8 per cent.

"The economy is, however, continuing to grow at a healthy pace and employment is still rising," he said. "These factors should support housing demand over the coming months.

"However, while the chances of an imminent interest rate hike may have receded, many borrowers are concerned about the impact a rise could have on their monthly mortgage repayments over the next 12 months. This concern is likely to curb buying intentions."

Price growth in 'prime' central London slowed to zero in October, according to figures from Knight Frank, the first time in four years that there was no monthly growth.

Alex Gosling, managing director of online estate agents Housesimple.co.uk added: "After a long spell of balmy conditions, the first frost has come to the housing market.

"Yet buyer demand remains strong and lenders are engaging in a price war, pushing the cost of many mortgages to historic lows. A period of calm and consolidation in house prices would be no bad thing if it gave helps buyers focus on factors other than just the fear of being left behind by spiralling prices."

Earlier this week, estate agents Jones Lang Lasalle predicted UK house price growth of four per cent for 2015. Its report also forecast that the general election would have little effect on the housing market.

"This slowing of the market, in particular where London is concerned, is largely down to the fact that interest from international buyers has started to decline thanks to the changes to Capital Gains Tax due to come in in April 2015, where non-UK residents will be taxed at similar rates to UK residents when they sell off their UK property," said Graham Davidson, Managing Director of Sequre Property Investment.

"The introduction of the MMR (Mortgage Market Review) in April 2014 is also starting to have an impact on mortgage approvals, which is leading to a drop in completion numbers. Approvals rates have dipped again for the third consecutive month and are now at a 14 month low."

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