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House Prices Look At Odds With Inflation Figures

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House prices look at odds with inflation figures

Next to nobody is buying a car. Nobody is buying fridges. But enough of us have decided it is time to take the plunge into the housing market to push house prices up by 1.3 per cent in a single month.

That is according to Nationwide, which said prices fell in August and September. But it looks a bit more like the verdict from Halifax, which had them rising by 1.6 per cent in August and 1.2 per cent in September.

Put that way, it may look like counting angels on a pin-head. These indices are not precision engineering.

The only certainty about numbers like these is that no one of them is ever quite right - months with the Halifax and Nationwide pulling in opposite directions are not unusual.

But exactitude is beside the point. Try compounding up one- point- anything on a pocket calculator and you don't need many months to get double-digit housing inflation - and that is before this winter's round of bumper City bonuses unleashes another generation of eager cash home-buyers in London - from whence the effect ripples out across the country.

It just doesn't fit with a two per cent inflation target for everything else. Gordon Brown tried to get round that by attaching his target to a measure of inflation that conveniently leaves out all the costs of home ownership, council tax included.

The Bank of England likes to think it doesn't matter providing nobody starts demanding more pay because they cannot afford a home - they didn't during the boom that seemed to end last autumn, perhaps because low interest rates held down the cost of mortgages.

Whether that continues now with house prices bubbling away again and most traditional first-time buyers already priced out of the market, we shall see.

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  • 338 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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