House price growth slowed in third quarter
Tue Nov 8, 2005 7:39 AM GMT

LONDON (Reuters) - Annual house price inflation in England and Wales weakened to its slowest rate in nine years in the third quarter, government data showed on Tuesday.

The Land Registry said house prices rose just 3.52 percent in July-September on the same period a year ago. That was the slowest rate since 1996 and compared to 5.43 percent annual inflation in the second quarter .

The number of homes sold in the third quarter fell by an annual 15.41 percent to 261,481.

The data, which are based on actual sales completions and are widely viewed as a lagging indicator, contrast with recent surveys by lenders showing house price inflation edging up after a sharp slowdown since mid-2004.

The nation's largest mortgage lender, Halifax, said last week that annual house price inflation was its highest in five months in October.

Economists chime with the data from the Land Registry, pointing out house price inflation is low and will remain so for a while, given that Britons are struggling with high petrol prices and rising household bills.

The Land Registry said the average house price in England and Wales was 194,589 pounds in the third quarter.

The strongest annual gain was recorded in Wales, where average prices rose 7.42 percent compared with Q3 last year to 145,188 pounds.

House prices in south-west England showed the smallest gain in the same period, up just 0.54 percent to 202,249 pounds.