UK house price growth picks up speed again

Growth in British house prices picked up speed for the second month in a row in December, helped by a shortage of homes to buy, but price increases are likely to slow in 2017, mortgage lender Halifax said on Monday. House prices have risen more slowly since the shock decision by voters in a referendum last June to leave the European Union but surveys by Halifax and rival lender Nationwide have shown them holding up in late 2016. The resilience has confounded the warnings of former finance minister George Osborne, one of the leading voices in the defeated “Remain” campaign to keep Britain in the EU, who said in May that house prices would fall by between 10 and 18 percent if the country voted to leave the bloc. In the three months to December, house prices were 6.5 percent higher compared with the same period a year earlier, up from growth of 6.0 percent in the three months to November, Halifax said. A Reuters poll of economists had expected an increase of 5.8 percent. The pace of growth remains below a peak of 10.0 percent hit in March 2016. In monthly terms, house prices jumped by 1.7 percent in December, the strongest increase since March.

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