House prices beat expectations to grow at their fastest pace in more than two years according to Halifax, but economists raised questions about the reliability of the mortgage lender’s data.
A series of indicators have pointed to a slowing housing market, but Halifax said that prices grew by 5.2% on an annual basis in the three months to May. That is up from 5% annual growth in the three months to April. This was the highest rate of growth since January 2017.
Halifax said that prices rose by 0.5% in the month of May. Russell Galley, Managing Director, said that the overall message was one of stability: “Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, underlying conditions in the broader economy continue to underpin the housing market, particularly the twin factors of high employment and low-interest rates,” he said.
The Halifax figures also contrast sharply with the Nationwide Building Society index, which estimated that prices rose by only 0.2% in the month to May, lower than the 0.5% stated by Halifax. Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that house prices fell by 0.2% month to month in March, a seventh successive drop.
On an annual basis, Nationwide said that house price growth had slowed to 0.6% in May and the ONS figures for the year to March came in at 1.4%.
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