House prices fell in October for first time in more than a year 

House prices in the UK fell by almost 1 per cent in October, according to Nationwide – the first monthly decline since July 2021.

On an annual basis house price growth slowed to 7.2 per cent, down from 9.5 per cent in September, according to the building society’s house price index.

It means that the typical price of a home is now £268,282, down by almost £4,000 from £272,259 last month.

Nationwide highlighted the fact that higher mortgage rates following the mini-Budget were beginning to affect house prices.

Slower growth: On an annual basis, house prices increased 7.2% in October, down from 9.5% the previous month according to Nationwide

Robert Gardiner, its chief economist, said: ‘The market has undoubtedly been impacted by the turmoil following the mini-Budget, which led to a sharp rise in market interest rates.

‘Higher borrowing costs have added to stretched housing affordability at a time when household finances are already under pressure from high inflation.’

In particular, it said higher mortgage payments would make it more difficult for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder.

‘The increase in mortgage rates meant that a prospective first-time buyer earning the average wage and looking to buy a typical FTB home with a 20 per cent deposit would see their monthly mortgage payment rise from around 34 per cent of take-home pay to around 45 per cent, based on an average mortgage rate of around 5.5 per cent,’ he said.

‘This is similar to the ratio prevailing before the financial crisis.’

Less affordable: Higher rates mean the typical first-time buyer could face spending 45% of their take-home pay on their mortgage

Less affordable: Higher rates mean the typical first-time buyer could face spending 45% of their take-home pay on their mortgage 

Yesterday, property agent JLL predicted that first-time buyer numbers would fall to around 200,000 – half the pre-financial crisis level.

While mortgage rates rocketed since the mini-Budget, some lenders – including NatWest, HSBC and Virgin, have begun to reduce rates them slightly.

The average rate on a two-year fix has fallen to 6.48 per cent, down from 6.65 per cent on 27 October, according to Moneyfacts.

However, average rates are still around 1.75 per cent higher than they were before the mini-Budget.

In addition, the Bank of England is set to announce a further 0.75 per cent increase in the base rate on 3 November, which could see rates tick up once more.  

What will happen to house prices in future?

Nationwide said that the housing market was likely to slow down in the months ahead, due to rising inflation, the cost of living and higher mortgage rates.

Some analysts have predicted house price falls of up to 15 per cent in 2023. While Nationwide did not state figure, it said that a ‘relatively soft landing’ was still possible if mortgage rates came down and unemployment rates remained low.

House price movements: The average cost of a home fell month-on-month in October for the first time since July 2021

House price movements: The average cost of a home fell month-on-month in October for the first time since July 2021

Gardiner said: ‘The market looks set to slow in the coming quarters. Inflation will remain high for some time yet and Bank Rate is likely to rise further as the Bank of England seeks to ensure demand in the economy slows to relieve domestic price pressures.

‘The outlook is extremely uncertain, and much will depend on how the broader economy performs, but a relatively soft landing is still possible.

‘Longer term borrowing costs have fallen back in recent weeks and may moderate further if investor sentiment continues to recover.

‘Given the weak growth outlook, labour market conditions are likely to soften, but they are starting from a robust position, with unemployment at near 50-year lows.

‘Moreover, household balance sheets appear in relatively good shape with significant protection from higher borrowing costs, at least for a period, with over 85% of mortgage balances on fixed interest rates.

Mortgage approvals for home buyers dropped 10 per cent in September, according to official Bank of England data published yesterday, as analysts at Capital Economic predicted a ‘collapse’ in demand.

Energy bills to impact housing choices

Nationwide also noted the impact that higher energy bill costs from April would have on people’s ability to pay the higher mortgage rates, which could prevent them from moving up the ladder.

Some have said that higher bills could lead to greater demand for homes with better energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings.

Energy expense: Nationwide has looked at how much homeowners might spend on bills depending on their property's Energy Performance Certificate rating

Energy expense: Nationwide has looked at how much homeowners might spend on bills depending on their property’s Energy Performance Certificate rating

‘Running costs for less energy efficient properties tend to be considerably higher, leaving these households particularly vulnerable to price rises,’ Gardiner said.

Nationwide’s analysis found that average energy costs for the most energy efficient properties (those with EPC ratings of A to C) were expected to rise to around £1,800 per year, compared with around £1,000 a year ago.

Typical bills for D-rated properties, the most common type, are set to rise to £2,600 a year, it said, and in E-rated properties will be paying around £120 a month more than last winter.

Those living in the least efficient properties (rated F-G) will see average bills rise to c.£4,500, an extra £185 a month compared with a year ago, though these properties make up only around 2 per cent of homes with a mortgage, Nationwide said. 

What to do if you need a mortgage 

Borrowers who need to find a mortgage because their current fixed rate deal is coming to an end, or because they have agreed a house purchase, have been urged to act but not to panic.

Banks and building societies are still lending and mortgages are still on offer with applications being accepted. 

Rates are changing rapidly, however, and there is no guarantee that deals will last and not be replaced with mortgages charging higher rates. 

This is Money’s best mortgage rates calculator powered by L&C can show you deals that match your mortgage and property value

What if I need to remortgage? 

Borrowers should compare rates and speak to a mortgage broker and be prepared to act to secure a rate. 

Anyone with a fixed rate deal ending within the next six to nine months, should look into how much it would cost them to remortgage now – and consider locking into a new deal. 

Most mortgage deals allow fees to be added the loan and they are then only charged when it is taken out. By doing this, borrowers can secure a rate without paying expensive arrangement fees.

What if I am buying a home? 

Those with home purchases agreed should also aim to secure rates as soon as possible, so they know exactly what their monthly payments will be. 

Home buyers should beware overstretching themselves and be prepared for the possibility that house prices may fall from their current high levels, due to  higher mortgage rates limiting people’s borrowing ability.

How to compare mortgage costs 

The best way to compare mortgage costs and find the right deal for you is to speak to a good broker.

You can use our best mortgage rates calculator to show deals matching your home value, mortgage size, term and fixed rate needs.

Be aware that rates can change quickly, however, and so the advice is that if you need a mortgage to compare rates and then speak to a broker as soon as possible, so they can help you find the right mortgage for you.

> Check the best fixed rate mortgages you could apply for