Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), comments:
“A frantic start to 2014 drove the strong annual growth in the latest ONS House Price Index. However, the rate of increase slowed significantly towards the end of last year and November’s average house price was 1% below August’s peak of £274,000. This slight slowing of activity will be especially welcomed by first time buyers, who have also had their hopes lifted by Stamp Duty adjustments – benefitting those towards the bottom of the property ladder.
“Consumer demand in the housing market is expected to remain strong this year, although a slower rate of growth is likely as uncertainties around the general election and interest rates remain. However, with UK inflation falling to 0.5% today – matching the record low last set in May 2000 – a Bank Rate rise may still be some way off. This is more good news for mortgage borrowers, who are already benefiting from historically low pricing and products such as Barclay’s lowest ever 10-year fix which can arm them against future rate rises.
“Market conditions have rarely been so favourable for potential buyers, but while low inflation often signals that supply is exceeding demand for goods and services, the opposite is true in the housing market: there is still a chronic shortage of new homes. Correcting this imbalance must be a key focus for the government and industry to improve affordability and avoid pricing out buyers with lower deposits.”