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House prices defy Brexit gloom

The UK’s decision to leave Europe has had little discernible effect on UK house prices, according to the latest Nationwide house price index.

The Nationwide figures, released this morning, showed prices across the nation rose 5.6% in August compared to the same month a year earlier, and compare to 5.2% growth in the previous month. The rise was significantly bigger than the 4.8% growth the market had expected.

August’s growth was the best since March, when prices were bolstered by a rush by buy-to-let investors and second home buyers to beat changes to stamp duty rules at the start of April.

Compared to the previous month, prices edged in August up 0.6%, according to Nationwide, defying forecasts of a 0.2% fall.

The Nationwide survey is just the latest of several studies that suggest house prices have performed well since the Brexit vote on 23 June and have defied some negative predictions before the referendum of a collapse.

On the downside, data from the Bank of England yesterday showed mortgage approvals fell to an 18-month low in July, as housing experts claim prices are being maintained by a lack of available supply coming onto the market.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The pick up in price growth is somewhat at odds with signs that housing market activity has slowed in recent months. New buyer enquiries have softened as a result of the introduction of additional stamp duty on second homes in April and the uncertainty surrounding the EU referendum. The number of mortgages approved for house purchase fell to an eighteen-month low in July.

“However, the decline in demand appears to have been matched by weakness on the supply side of the market. Surveyors report that instructions to sell have also declined and the stock of properties on the market remains close to thirty-year lows. This helps to explain why the pace of house price growth has remained broadly stable.”

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