Nationwide Building Society

Annual house price growth hits 14-month high

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Annual house price growth jumped to a 14-month high in January, according to Nationwide.

Across the UK, property prices were 1.9% higher than a year earlier, marking the strongest annual growth since November 2018.

The average UK home is worth £215,897 in January, the building society said, up 0.5% from December.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said: "Economic growth appeared to grind to a halt as 2019 drew to a close, though business surveys point to a pick-up at the start of the new year.

"The underlying pace of housing market activity has remained broadly stable, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase continuing within the fairly narrow range prevailing over the past two years.

"Much will continue to depend on how quickly uncertainty about the UK's future trading relationships lifts, as well as the outlook for global growth."

He added that the Nationwide expects house prices to remain "broadly flat" over the next 12 months.

House price growth 'remains subdued'

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UK house price growth remained sluggish in November, the Nationwide has said, growing at an annual pace of 0.8%.

However, it noted that the rate was the strongest since April.

Prices were up 0.5% in November compared with the previous month, it said, taking the average cost of a home to £215,734.

The Nationwide said it had looked at whether there had been any effect on house prices around previous general elections.

It concluded: "It appears that housing market trends have not traditionally been impacted around the time of general elections.

"Rightly or wrongly, for most home buyers, elections are not foremost in their minds while buying or selling their home.”

Nationwide boss on pay

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When asked about the Conservative plan for lifetime mortgages, where people fix their rates for 25 years, Nationwide’s Joe Garner told BBC's Radio 4's Today Programme: “There are already some 10-year mortgages out there and they don’t prove massively popular at the moment because let’s face it, 25 years is a long time in the future to see.”

He was also pressed on whether his £2.3m pay package is too high for a mutual, which is run for the benefit of its members rather than shareholders:

“The board chooses to pay the senior executive of Nationwide less than our competition.

“Every year our members vote on our pay policy and last year 91% voted in favour of it, including my pay.”

Nationwide counts PPI costs

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One of the reasons for the big fall in profits at the Nationwide was another chunk of money being put towards paying compensation for Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) mis-selling.

In the latest results, Nationwide said it had taken a charge of £36m following the last-minute surge of complaints before the 29 August deadline for PPI claims.

In September, the building society said this late surge would cost it between £20m and £50m.

Nationwide said this latest charge brought the cumulative cost of PPI to the society to £473m.

Nationwide: Not everything is down

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More on Nationwide, the country’s third biggest mortgage lender, after the release of its half-year results which showed profits down from £516m this time last year, to £309m.

Joe Garner, chief executive, told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that it was not all bad news and a number of things are up, such as membership, mortgages and savings balances.

Explaining the profit dip, Mr Garner says this is because the building society is paying money to savers, investing in the future of the society and putting money aside for inflation.

Nationwide profits fall

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Profits have fallen sharply at Nationwide which the building society says is due to a combination of lower income, increased investment costs and additional PPI charges.

Statutory profit for the six months to 30 September fell to £309m, from £516m a year earlier.

Nationwide said that while the UK's economy had slowed as a result of weaker global growth and Brexit uncertainty, it added "household spending has remained relatively solid, and housing market activity broadly stable at subdued levels".

"Whilst the economic outlook remains uncertain, we expect the current low interest rates and competition in our core markets to continue."

Typical home '£800 pricier than a year ago'

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The price of the average home rose by £800 in the last year, according to the Nationwide, marking a slow period for the UK housing market.

In the equivalent period three years ago, the average property price rose by £9,100, the building society's data shows.

UK house prices have risen by less than 1%, on a year-on-year basis, for each of the last 11 months.

The annual increase was 0.4% in October, the Nationwide said.

That meant the average home was now valued at £215,368.

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