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Big lenders split on housing market prospects

Halifax and Nationwide are split over the prospects for the housing market with Halifax still bullish but Nationwide predicting a downturn.


The Halifax house price index rose 1.2 per cent in October compared to a 0.6 for the Nationwide survey.


Halifax says house price inflation rose to 6.7 per cent from 5.4 per cent in September.


Nationwide figures show the rate of increase in house prices has slowed sharply with recorded house sales down 5 per cent over the first eight months of the year compared with the same period of 1997.


Halifax says the steady trend in prices suggests the housing market remains healthy with no indications of either a boom or bust in activity.


The lender does believe that there will be a sharp slow down in the economy next year which is likely to reduce housing demand and curb market activity.


Nationwide head of research Paul Sanderson says: &#34Given prospects for the wider economy any rebound in the housing market in the short-term appears unrealistic, and decline in both activity levels and house price inflation looks likely as we go into 1999.&#34


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