U.K. House Prices Fall to 19-Month Low as Loan Restrictions Deter Buyers

U.K. house prices fell to the lowest level in more than 1 1/2 years last month as banks’ requests for larger deposits deterred first-time buyers, Acadametrics Ltd. and LSL Property Services Plc said.

The average price of a home in England and Wales fell 0.1 percent from June to 217,300 pounds ($351,700), the lowest since December 2009, the groups estimated in an e-mailed report in London today. Prices dropped 2.6 percent from a year earlier.

The housing market may struggle to gain momentum as banks restrict lending and inflation outpaces growth in wages. The escalation of Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis and the downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, which have sparked a global selloff in financial markets this month, also threatens activity, Acadametrics Chairman Peter Williams said.

“There is little to suggest the market will change greatly in the next few months,” Williams said in the report. “Recent events continue to erode both confidence and the prospects for growth in house prices or indeed for the wider economy.”

Out of the 10 regions in England and Wales tracked by Acadametrics, all apart from London posted price declines in the past three months compared with a year earlier. Prices in northwest England led the drop, with a fall of 5 percent, while London posted a 0.4 percent gain.

While Acadametrics and LSL estimate that transactions in July rose 5 percent to 60,000 from June, that is still only about 58 percent of the long-term average, they said.

The Bank of England kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.5 percent last week to boost the faltering recovery.

“The costs of mortgages have recently fallen and loans have become more readily available, with a strong suggestion that the core problem at present in the housing market is a lack of demand,” Williams said. “Were the economic news to improve and were the rate of price falls to continue to slow over the next few months, activity could pick up.”

Acadametrics and LSL combine initial transaction data from the U.K. Land Registry and results from other price measures for an estimate for the most recent month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Hamilton in London at shamilton8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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