thisismoney.co.uk, nationwide.co.uk, hbosplc.com
The latest Halifax price index figures to be released show that the average house price for January has remained steady at £197,244. Something of a surprise when taking into account the pressure on the market from increased affordability constraints and tightening lending practices.
This is relatively good news for the home owners, considering all the doomsday forecasts that have been circling in the media. However, the report also states that the rate of house price inflation has fallen below 5%, down to 4.5%; its lowest level since November 2005.
The rate of annual house price inflation peaked at 11.4% last August, with house prices then falling three months in a row until December, which the society recorded as a surprise 1.3% increase. The average home will now cost you £7,628 more than it did one year ago.
Whilst the Halifax figures show that house price growth has dropped significantly, the experts say that (coupled with additional data from Nationwide) they are also an indication that the market is showing resilience. Howard Archer, the chief economist with analysts Global Insight said: "The Halifax and Nationwide data indicate that, while house prices are cooling significantly, they are not plunging through the floor."
Some analysts also believe that the fact that house prices did not plunge in January will prompt the Bank of England to limit a potentially aggressive interest rate cut down to a more tame one quarter of a percent, which would take it from 5.5% to 5.25%.
The press release from the nationwide was slightly more pessimistic, stating that house prices fell by 0.1% in January (the third consecutive decline) and that the annual rate of house price inflation fell from 4.8% to 4.2%.
Halifax have indicated that they expect house prices to remain flat in 2008, having reported a drop of 1% in the average house price in the last three months. Nationwide say that the market conditions for the year ahead will depend on "how much pent-up demand returns to explore the market, and how much of this is translated into actual housing transactions". A clear reference to first time buyers who, until now, have been priced out of the market.