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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 11:40 GMT
UK house prices 'on stable trend'
People looking in an estate agents window
Confidence in the market remains, Nationwide says
UK house prices remained unchanged in November, according to the Nationwide, bringing annual inflation down to 2.4% from 3.3% in October.

The lack of growth followed a rebound in prices last month, and Nationwide said the overall picture was one of "stability rather than acceleration".

Prices for the three months to November were up just 0.6% on the previous quarter, the building society said.

The Nationwide said the average price of a house in the UK was now 157,139.

In a separate report, the Bank of England said mortgage lending reached a new record during October. A total of 26.84bn was advanced during the month - the highest figure on record.

The number of mortgages approved for people buying new property rose to 113,000, the highest for 18 months.

Buyers return

In October, Nationwide had reported a 1.3% increase in prices, the strongest rise for many months.

The market has settled back down to the pattern of small rises in some months and small falls in others, with prices overall growing only very slowly

"As we expected, the strong rebound in prices in October was temporary, driven by buyers postponing purchases until after the August base rate cut," said Fionnuala Earley, Nationwide group economist.

"The overall picture remains one of stability rather than acceleration," she added.

The building society pointed out that according to its index, house prices in the UK were now almost the same as they had been in May this year.

"November's data suggests that the market has settled back down to the pattern of small rises in some months and small falls in others, with prices overall growing only very slowly," said Ms Earley.

No crash

The figures from the Nationwide have chimed closely with those from other house price surveys.

For well over a year now, the Nationwide's survey has moved in step with that of its rival mortgage lender, the Halifax.

Last week, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which publishes the government's own survey of the market, reported that in the year to September, house prices grew on average by 3.3%.

Some commentators had predicted a year or two ago that the slowdown in the UK property market would turn into a crash with big falls in prices.

But the Nationwide said that the UK housing market appeared to have achieved a so-called "soft landing" in the past six months, thanks partly to the Bank of England's management of interest rates.

As a result, prices have stabilised and not crashed.

The building society also said there were signs that confidence remained in the market.

"Estate agents are reporting increasing buyer interest and that buyers and sellers are reaching agreement on price more readily," Ms Earley said.

On Tuesday, the Bank of England reported that the value of approved home loans rose to 27.46bn, a level not seen since September 2003 when annual house price inflation ran at about 18%.

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