House prices to rise 4-6 percent in 2016 - Halifax

LONDON (Reuters) - British house price are likely to rise more slowly next year, with prices increasing by between 4 and 6 percent compared with growth of nearly 10 percent in the past 12 months, mortgage lender Halifax forecast on Friday.

Estate agents boards are lined up outside houses in south London June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Last year, Halifax said house prices would rise by 3-5 percent in 2015. But their own figures have shown growth of more than twice that in the year to October.

“House prices look expensive compared to incomes but valuations are supported by the low levels of property for sale, low levels of housebuilding, and exceptionally low interest rates,” Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said.

The failure of the Bank of England to increase interest rates, as markets had expected this year, was a key reason why house prices had risen faster than forecast, Ellis added.

Other data show a slower rate of increase than Halifax’s numbers. The Office for National Statistics has reported a 6.1 percent rise for the year to September.

Economists polled by Reuters last week predicted on average that house prices would rise by 4.3 percent next year and 3.9 percent in 2017.

Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane last month called the British housing market “broken”, blaming a long-term failure of construction to keep up with demand.

Last year, the BoE restricted high loan-to-income mortgages for residential purchases. It is looking now at whether to recommend curbs on ‘buy-to-let’ mortgages favoured by small property investors.

But the central bank has stopped short of deeming the price rises a major threat to financial stability.

Halifax is part of Lloyds Banking Group LLOY.L and is one of Britain's biggest mortgage providers.

Reporting by David Milliken; editing by William Schomberg