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House price growth slows

Growth in house prices has slowed as 2014 draws to an end, the latest figures from Nationwide have revealed.The organisation found a 0.2 per cent month-on-month increase in property values occurred in December. This means annual house price growth slowed for the fourth successive month, dropping from 8.5 per cent in November to 7.2 per cent. For 2014 as a whole, property values increased 7.2 per cent, down from 8.4 per cent in the previous year. Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said that while some of this slowdown can be attributed to the cooling London market, the capital still had the highest annual growth rate of 17.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.“In many respects the regional pattern prevailing in 2013 remains in evidence, with the south of England recording significantly stronger rates of house price growth than Wales,Scotland and the north of England," he stated.The average price of a home in London during the fourth quarter was £406,730. This is more than double the figures recorded for all regions in the Midlands, northern England, Scotland and Wales respectively.Regarding the outlook for the new year, Mr Gardner said the evidence suggests activity in the housing market should pick up. "If the economic backdrop continues to improve as we and most forecasters expect, activity in the housing market is likely to regain momentum in the months ahead," he stated.Mr Gardner added there have been promising signs that the construction sector is set to pick up and said he is hopeful that when combined with income growth, this will help to drive house prices higher.He claimed the recent stamp duty reforms are likely to have a modest effect on demand for housing, with the impact felt most keenly in the south-east and Scotland. 

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