Homeowners' equity injections into housing market near sixth year

Harriet Green
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Homeowners injected £10.6bn of equity into the housing market in the final quarter of 2013, as very low savings interest rates continue to make it easier for people to pay down their mortgages.

The figures from the Bank of England show the quarter to be the 23rd successive net housing equity injection, but the figure has moderated since the peak level seen in the first quarter of last year, when it hit £13bn.

In the third quarter, the figure was also £10.6bn.

That brings the cumulative net injection of equity into houses to £224.1bn since the second quarter of 2008.

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight explains that, in past years, housing equity withdrawal has been used to bolster consumer spending.

On the face of it, still high net injection of housing equity in the fourth quarter of 2013 suggests that there is an ongoing strong desire and perceived need of many people to improve their personal financial balance sheets given elevated debt levels.

Regardless of the causes of the switch to a net injection of housing equity since early-2008, the fact that housing equity withdrawal is no longer happening has been a constraining factor on consumer spending.

He goes on to point out that surging house prices and stronger consumer confidence will probably see more people engaging in housing equity withdrawal - when consumers borrow against the value of their homes.

But house prices in some areas are still below their 2007 peaks, mortgage interest rates are still extremely low and many individuals still need to improve their personal finances. This means, says Archer, that we’ll be seeing “significant net injection of housing equity for some time to come”.