House price growth in the UK was weaker than expected in November, with figures from Nationwide Building Society showing a slip in average property prices. The annual rate of house price growth continues to slow, remaining stable at 2.5pc in November “ but down from 4.3pc at the beginning of the year. There was a modest 0.6pc increase in growth in the three months to November. Average UK property prices have fallen from £211,085 in October £209,988. Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said that annual growth remains within the 2-4pc range that has prevailed since March.
While low mortgage rates, a lack of housing stock, and healthy rates of employment growth are providing support for property demand and propping up house prices, this is being partly offset by pressure on household incomes, which appears to be weighing on confidence, Mr Gardner said. He added that the Chancellor's decision to abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers purchasing a property up to £300,000 "is likely to have only a modest impact on overall demand". In many regions, first-time buyers already pay little or no stamp duty as the price of the typical first-time buyer property is below the previous stamp duty threshold of £125,000. The potential savings are more substantial for borrowers where house prices are higher, especially in London and the South East," he said. There have been fears that freeing first-time buyers from stamp duty will, in fact, push property prices up further, with the Office for Budget Responsibility claiming the move will increase prices by 0.3pc.