UK house prices stagnate ahead of Brexit: Nationwide

Estate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London
Estate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. Britain’s house prices rose at their fastest annual pace in nearly seven years last month and signs of bottlenecks in the construction sector underscored the upward pressures on the market, surveys showed on Tuesday. House price growth picked up to an annual pace of 11.1 percent in May, mortgage lender Nationwide said, fanning concerns that the property market could be overheating. REUTERS/Andrew Winning (BRITAIN – Tags: POLITICS BUSINESS REAL ESTATE)

January 31, 2019

LONDON (Reuters) – British house prices rose by just 0.1 percent in annual terms in January, their weakest increase in nearly six years, adding to signs of a slowdown in the country’s housing market ahead of Brexit, data from mortgage lender Nationwide showed.

Nationwide said the housing market’s loss of momentum reflected the unusually “uncertain economic outlook” but if the economy grew modestly, house prices on a national level would probably grow “at a slow single-digit pace” this year.

In monthly terms, prices rose by 0.3 percent.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May, under pressure from her own Conservative Party, says she wants to change a key part of the withdrawal agreement she struck with the rest of the bloc.

That has raised the prospect of an economically damaging no-deal Brexit.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since the Brexit referendum in June 2016 when Nationwide estimated house prices were rising by around 5 percent a year.

Surveys published earlier on Thursday showed British consumers remained their gloomiest in five-and-a-half years and businesses were also downbeat.

Economists who took part in a Reuters poll of economists ahead of Nationwide’s data had expected prices to be flat when compared with January last year and to rise by 0.2 percent in monthly terms.

(Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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