House prices see biggest fall for two years, says Nationwide

  • In Business
  • 2022-12-01 09:58:05Z
  • By BBC
People looking in estate agent
People looking in estate agent's window  

UK house prices saw their biggest monthly fall for more than two years in November as rising interest rates put off buyers, the Nationwide has said.

Prices fell 1.4% from October, which was the largest month-on-month fall since June 2020.

Annual house price growth saw a "sharp slowdown", the building society said, falling to 4.4% from 7.2% in October.

The lender added the housing market looked set to "remain subdued" in the coming months.

Earlier this month, the government's official forecaster predicted that house prices will fall by 9% over the next two years as affordability issues weigh on demand.

The average property price fell to £263,788 last month from £268,282 in October, the Nationwide said.

It said the housing sector was still being affected by the fallout from September's mini-budget, which triggered a rise in mortgage rates and also led lenders to suspend hundreds of mortgage products amid turmoil on the financial markets.

  • UK house prices set to fall for the next two years

  • What happens when house prices fall?

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Nationwide's chief economist, Robert Gardner, said: "A lot of this reflects the fallout of the mini-budget and the big rise that we saw in mortgage rates, because that really did change the affordability calculations for prospective buyers and really made things a lot less affordable."

He added: "If you look at the typical mortgage payment as a share of someone's take-home pay, for the typical first-time buyer that was running at close to long-run averages of 30%. But as a result of the mini-budget it's moved up to around 45% of take-home pay, which is clearly a massive difference."

Falling house prices may be a relief to some first-time buyers following a period of sharply rising property prices, but experts warn that the big increase in the general cost of living may limit their ability to save for a deposit.

Mr Gardner said the market was likely to remain under pressure for some time, with inflation - the rate at which prices rise - set to remain high and the Bank of England likely to raise interest rates further.

But he added that while the outlook was uncertain, a "relatively soft landing" for the market was still possible, given that employment rates remain high and there is a lack of properties coming up for sale.

He also noted that the cost of borrowing had started to fall in recent weeks.

House price graphic
House price graphic  

Last week, figures from financial information service Moneyfacts showed that the average five-year fixed mortgage rate had fallen below 6% for the first time in nearly two months.

Recent data has been pointing to a sharp slowdown in the housing market. Earlier this week, the Bank of England said the number of mortgages approved in October fell to its lowest level since June 2020.

The next few months could be "something of a nightmare" for the housing market, according to Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

She said that we were "not seeing anything like the full impact" of the mini-budget in Nationwide's figures, as on average it takes about three months to complete a sale.

As a result, the latest data is likely "to include only around a week of sales agreed after mortgage chaos was unleashed. Even at that point, sales being settled were highly likely to have been funded by mortgages agreed well before everything kicked off, so all we're seeing is the effect of a sudden and possibly catastrophic loss of confidence."

She added that while mortgage rates have since dipped, and are expected to fall further, "the damage may well have been done".

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