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Tuesday, January 5, 1999 Published at 08:23 GMT

Business: The Economy

UK house prices fall again

House price inflation has slowed since last summer

House prices in the UK fell slightly again in December, according to the latest housing survey by the Halifax bank.

[ image: Fears about job security are making buyers reluctant to splash out]
Fears about job security are making buyers reluctant to splash out
But the fall in prices - 0.1% - was less than the 0.7% fall recorded in November.

However, compared to last year, house prices are still on the up - by 4.5% in December, but down on the November figure of 4.9%.

The average price paid for a house in the UK in December was £73,124.

First-time buyers paid an average of £51,637 while for new houses the average price was £77,306.

Soft landing for market

The Halifax said there were signs that the underlying rate of house price inflation had slowed slightly since the summer, with the annual rate of increase falling below 5% in the last two months of 1998.

This is consistent with the expected easing in house price growth during 1999.

However, the bank added that housing remained at highly affordable levels, in an historical context, and with interest rates falling many homeowners were seeing their mortgage payments fall.

These factors should support the market, helping to offset the adverse impact of deteriorating economic conditions and ensuring that the softening in the market proves modest.

The Halifax predicted that house prices would rise by 4% over the year.

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