Official data shows house prices slid into decline in September

Ben Southwood
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HOUSE PRICES started to slide going into September, ending a six-month run of unbroken expansion, official data revealed yesterday.

The UK’s average house price slipped 0.2 per cent between August and September, the data from the Office for National Statistics showed, as even London’s housing market came under pressure.

London house prices dived some 1.2 per cent in just a month, but this fall was not enough to outweigh rapid yearly expansion – which stood at 5.2 per cent, down from the 6.3 per cent seen in August.

The UK market overall also showed expansion in the year to September, at a rate of 1.7 per cent – down from August’s 1.9 per cent, but still in the black.

This official data confirmed the picture given in earlier unofficial releases, indicating returned weakness in the UK housing market from September.

And Howard Archer at IHS Global Insight said that economic pressures could lead to sustained weakness in the market. “The modest drop in house prices in September…ties in with our view that there are still significant downside risks to the house price outlook and they could well drift a little lower over the winter months,” Archer said.

“Although surveyors have hinted at a pick-up in housing market activity, it is still very low compared to long-term norms and a significant, sustainable turnaround in house prices still looks some way off,” he added.

Many statistical releases for October and beyond from mortgage lenders, surveyors and estate agents support Archer’s view that the market seems stuck in a slowdown. But many analysts hope the government’s Funding for Lending scheme will perk the market up.