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Bank Initiative Continues to Fuel the Market


The latest house price figures from the Halifax show that the housing market continues to recover thanks to the bank of Englands Funding for Lending initiative.  Although down 0.2% on December, Januarys house price figures were up 1.3% on the corresponding month of 2012.  Prices in the three months up to January were 1.9% higher than in the previous three months and the average price of a home is cited by the bank, at £162,932.

This improvement in the market, which started in late 2012, has continued into the New Year but the lender was unwilling to predict a continuation of this trend, stating that the outlook for prices going forward was unclear.  The Funding for Lending scheme has been operating since August 2012 and it involves the Bank of England offering cheap funds to banks and building societies, on the understanding that they lend it to personal and business customers.

The Halifaxs housing economist, Martin Ellis, said that the state of the economy would be the key factor in the performance of the housing market this year.  The outlook for the UK economy and house prices is more unclear than usual, he said.  Subdued economic growth and pressures on household finances are expected to constrain housing demand. Overall, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013.

Despite the pick-up in recent months, the market remains highly regionalised.  Land Registry data showed that prices rose by 8.4% in London last year but dropped by 3.5% in the north west of England.  Despite being at their highest for five years, transaction levels remain low compared to their pre-crash levels, which also makes the market highly volatile.

It's not difficult to see why people have started to buy houses again; a certain financial product website has gone on record to say that fixed mortgage rates are at their lowest since the product was devised in 1989.  The average five-year fixed rate has fallen from 5.67% in February 2009 to 4.14% today.  Shorter two-year fixes have come down from 4.88% to 4.11%.  The downward trend has been brought on by the banks that have joined the Funding for Lending scheme; they have to increase their loan books or face stiff penalties.

Sources: bbc.co.uk, lloydsbankinggroup.com (image courtesy of thisismoney.co.uk)