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Halifax: Housing Market “Significant Headwinds”

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Latest house price data from the Halifax shows that property value rose slightly in June – up 1.2% on May, but down 3.5% from one year ago.  However, despite this rise, the bank indicated that the road ahead was very much uphill.  The data, based on Halifax’s own lending was similar to the Nationwide’s finding from one week previously.  Its figures showed no change in house prices from May to June 2011 but down 1.1% in the last 12 months.Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: “Low interest rates, an increase in the number of people in employment and some tightening in market conditions earlier in the year are likely to have been the main factors behind the recent improvement in price trends.  A slowly improving economy and sustained low interest rates should help to support broad stability in the market over the coming months.  The market is, however, likely to continue to face significant headwinds which are expected to constrain housing demand.”Halifax figures also showed how low interest rates are managing to keep borrowers afloat in a climate of sustained cost of living increases; in mid 2007, typical mortgage payments for a new borrower were 48% of average disposal income – in the second quarter of 2011 this figure was down to 28%.  The bank said that the average house price currently stood at £163.049.  The Land Registry data, that somewhat lags behind the big mortgage lenders, showed a 0.4% fall in house prices for the month of May, with property value being 2.2% lower than one year ago.These figures come amidst a climate of consolidation as homeowners weather the financial storm by putting more equity into their properties.  Bank of England statistics have shown that borrowers injected £5.8bn worth of equity into their homes in the first three months of 2011.  This is generally seen as a trend associated with a lack of activity in the housing market, but the figure is down from the record-breaking £7.1bn seen in the last quarter of 2010.  In fact the Bank stated that the equity injection was a result of lack of sales rather than people consciously overpaying on their mortgages.  From July 1998 to 2008 there was an extended period of equity withdrawal as homeowners borrowed an extra £328bn against the rising values of their houses, but since March 2008 this trend has gone into reverse.