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House prices increase in January

House prices increase in January

Category: Mortgages

Updated: 06/02/2012
First Published: 06/02/2012

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House prices increased in January, despite an underlying trend of falling values in the mortgage market.

Prices rose by 0.9% last month, figures from Halifax show, with the average price of a property in the UK very close to where it was eight months ago at around £161,000.

Over the longer-term, prices in the three months to January were 1.8% lower than in the same period a year earlier.

The measure has edged lower in the last two months, from -1.0% in November, although it is still comfortably above the recent low point of -4.2% in May 2011.

"Prospects for house prices over the coming months will, to a large extent, depend on events in the Eurozone and the repercussions of developments there for the UK economy," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"If the UK can avoid a prolonged recession, we expect broad stability in house prices in 2012."

While the low interest rate environment has been unkind on savers, it has proved to be somewhat of a blessing to a struggling housing market.

Figures show mortgage payments for a new borrower in the second half of 2011 were at their lowest as a proportion of disposable earnings for 14 years.

Typical mortgage payments for a new borrower - both first-time buyers and home movers – at the long-term average loan-to -value ratio, stood at 27% of disposable earnings in the fourth quarter of 2011.

This was well below the average of 37% recorded over the past 27 years.

Mortgage payments have nearly halved as a proportion of income in recent years from a peak of 48% in 2007.

"Lower house prices and reduced mortgage rates have been the main drivers behind the significant improvement in affordability," said Mr Ellis.

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