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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Mortgage market is “buzzing”

Brokers say the housing market is "buzzing" as latest Halifax figures show activity rebounded in December.

Prices rose 1.7% in December, reversing the 0.2% decline in November, according to the Halifax house price index.

This left prices in the three months to December up 9.5% year-on-year.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said the underlying rate of price growth has softened slightly, but supply shortgages would result in continuing upward pressure on prices.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said the latest stage of the mortgage price war should drive prices higher.

“The January sales have kicked off in the mortgage market with Virgin Money, Nationwide, HSBC and Skipton reducing their rates in recent days. 

Harris added: “The good news for borrowers is that lenders are likely to price aggressively in coming weeks in order to get off to a fast start.”

He predicted the housing market will soon be “buzzing” as landlords opt to expand their portfolios to beat the stamp duty surcharge in April.

Jeremy Leaf, former RICS chairman and north London estate agent, said house price growth typically slows a little towards the end of the year.

“Any slowdown is likely to be a short-term blip anyway, as investors are already looking at what will be coming to market in the spring so that they can complete by April to avoid paying higher stamp duty.

“While there is much speculation that landlords will be selling up in their droves because of recent changes to buy-to-let, where would they go?

“You can’t get much better returns than you can on buy-to-let once capital growth and income are taken into account.”

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