Bloomberg News

U.K. House Prices Fall as Hometrack Forecasts Faster Declines

October 02, 2011

Oct. 3 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. house prices fell for a fifth month in September and the pace of the decline may accelerate in the coming months, property researcher Hometrack Ltd. said.

The average cost of a home slipped 0.1 percent from August and was down 3.5 percent from a year earlier, the London-based company said today in an e-mailed report on its monthly survey of real-estate agents. Prices based on Hometrack’s measure have fallen in every month but one since July 2010.

Nationwide Building Society said last week that downside risks to Britain’s property market have increased as Europe’s debt crisis undermines confidence and global growth prospects weaken. Almost a third of economists in a Bloomberg News survey say the Bank of England will restart its asset-purchase program this week to support a faltering recovery.

“Events in the euro zone, together with pressures on the domestic economy and household incomes are clearly taking their toll on consumer confidence,” Richard Donnell, Hometrack’s director of research, said in a statement. “We expect demand to continue to slip back” and see “a likely acceleration in the level of monthly price falls over the final quarter.”

New property listings rose 22 percent in the nine months through September, double the pace of demand growth, Hometrack said. On the month, new buyers registering with real-estate agents fell 2.6 percent from August.

London Rises

London was one of only two regions tracked by Hometrack to record an increase in values in September. Prices increased by 0.2 percent, with Yorkshire and Humberside up 0.1 percent.

Nationwide’s house-price report on Sept. 29 showed that values increased 0.1 percent last month. Chief Economist Robert Gardner said there’s a risk that a worsening debt crisis in Europe could reduce the availability of credit.

The region’s finance ministers are meeting in Luxembourg today and tomorrow amid investor concern that Greece will default. The European Commission said last week that the euro- area’s overhauled rescue fund will likely be in place by the middle of this month after German lawmakers approved an expansion of the package on Sept. 29.

In a separate report today, Lloyds Banking Group Plc said its index of business confidence rose to 7 in September from minus 3 in August. A measure of companies’ outlook for their business for the next 12 months rose to 34 from 30.

Nine of 30 economists say the Bank of England will raise its target for bond purchases at this week’s policy meeting. The remainder say the Monetary Policy Committee will hold the program limit at 200 billion pounds ($312 billion).

All 53 economists in a separate poll say the panel will leave the benchmark interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent. The bank announces the decision at noon on Oct. 6.

--Editors: Fergal O’Brien, Andrew Atkinson

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Ryan in London at jryan13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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