House prices fall just 0.4% in November as decline slows

27 November 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The recent steep decline of house prices has levelled off a bit this month, falling just 0.4 per cent in November compared to 1.3 per cent in October and similar falls in recent months, moderating the average annual fall to 13.9 per cent, down from 14.6 per cent last month.

The figures, from Nationwide's monthly House Price Index, reveal that the average house price is now £158,442, down from £158,872 in October but still about £25,000 higher than they were five years ago in November 2003.

Current homeowners who are at risk of falling into negative equity will be relieved that prices have at least slowed this month, and they will have taken further comfort from the dramatic cut in the Bank of England base rate, with another one expected for December.

Most mortgage lenders have now announced that they have cut their interest rates in line with the base rate, and the Government has threatened legislation for those which do not start making it easier for new borrowers to secure a mortgage and existing homeowners to refinance theirs.

"In spite of the moderation in house price falls recorded in November, with the economy in recession, conditions do not appear very favourable for a swift recovery in the housing market." said Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide's chief economist of the new data.

"However, there are a number of measures which should provide some support to the market in general and help existing and potential homeowners in these difficult times." Ms Earley is hopeful that the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee's reduction of the base rate "will help a significant number of existing and potential homebuyers."

For example, the one-third of borrowers who have tracker mortgages will have benefitted from the cut, as will the approximately one fifth of borrowers who are paying their lenders' standard variable rate.

For those with a fixed rate mortgage, the benefits of falling mortgage rates will not be immediately apparent, but they will find it easier to get a cheaper deal when their deal comes to an end and they have to find a new one.

Meanwhile, the price that people are asking for their properties has fallen markedly, as property owners come to the realisation that slashing the asking price is the only way to sell.

Where they have thus far been raising the asking price in many cases in order to counter-act the effects of discounts to buyers looking for a bargain, sellers are now reducing the asking price dramatically, according to property website Globrix. Some areas of London, which has seen an average reduction of £28,796 in the weeks since November 10, have seen prices cut by as much as £100,000.

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