Deposit demands ‘tough for young buyers’

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House prices continue to rise and difficulties remain for those wanting to buy their first home, according to the UK’s biggest mortgage lender.

The Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group, said that property values rose by 1.3% over the course of 2018.

This took the average cost to £229,729 and the lender said cost remained a key issue for young potential buyers.

The requirement of a “significant deposit” acted as a “restraint” on those who wanted to buy, it said.

The Halifax said that house prices rose by 2.2% in December, compared with a weak November, although the month-on-month change is widely considered to be a volatile measure of the UK housing market.

A comparison of the final three months of the 2018 with the previous quarter recorded a 0.4% fall in house prices, based on the Halifax’s lending data.

Over the year as a whole, prices rose by 1.3% – within the lender’s prediction at the start of the year of a rise of up to 3%.

The Nationwide, a rival lender, reported last week that its lending data had shown house prices rising by 0.5% in 2018 – the lowest level on this annual measure for nearly six years. It said uncertainty over the economic outlook appeared to be undermining confidence in the market.

The year-on-year comparison is calculated slightly differently by the two lenders. The Halifax compares the previous three months with the same three months a year earlier to give a smoother comparison, rather than a direct comparison of the equivalent months as calculated by the Nationwide.

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent, said the Halifax figures looked surprising at first glance at a time of political uncertainty, but there were clear reasons in the state of the market.

“When taken with the recent fall in transactions, it is clear that the increase has more to do with a shortage of stock rather than a bounce back in the market generally,” he said.

Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax, said that the lender was predicting that prices would rise by between 2% and 4% in 2019.

“This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparisons. However, this expectation will clearly be dependent on the Brexit outcome, with risks to both sides of our forecast,” he said.

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