UK house prices rise at slowest pace in six years as Brexit nears

FILE PHOTO: Property sale signs are seen outside of a group of newly built houses in west London, Britain, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices rose at their slowest pace in six years in the three months to November, mortgage lender Halifax said on Friday, the latest sign of weakness in the housing market as Brexit approaches.

Annual house price growth slowed sharply to 0.3 percent from 1.5 percent in the three months to October, Halifax said.

Halifax’s house price index was rising by nearly 10 percent a year at the time of the 2016 Brexit vote.

In November alone, house prices fell by a monthly 1.4 percent, the third decline in the last four months and the biggest fall since April.

Halifax Managing Director Russell Galley said the slowdown in annual price growth remained within the lender’s forecast range for 2018 of zero to an increase of 3 percent.

Property analysts say the main factor preventing prices from actually falling is a shortage of homes on the market although prices in London have fallen, according to some measures.

Howard Archer, an economist with EY Item Club, said prices would probably slip modesty on a nationwide basis if Britain leaves the European Union in March without a Brexit deal.

Earlier on Friday, home-builder Berkeley Group BKGH.L announced a 26 percent fall in profit and it warned about uncertainty in the short term as people put off house purchases ahead of Britain's exit from the EU.

Writing by William Schomberg; Editing by Toby Chopra