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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

No change - Bank of England base rate stays at 0.5% for now

The Bank of England has kept its base rate to 0.50 per cent despite many analysts expecting it would be cut to 0.25 per cent in what would have been the first change in over seven years.

It was a clear eight to one decision by the Bank's monetary policy committee.

A cut was widely interpreted by industry commentators as a bid to bolster the housing market against what is expected to be a drop in transactions thanks to the economic uncertainty following the EU referendum.

This morning the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors released shock figures suggesting that since the EU Brexit vote new buyer enquiries declined by no less than 36 per cent to the lowest level since mid-2008.

The biggest declines were in the south of England with 58 per cent more surveyors in London seeing a decline rather than a rise in buyer interest. Most surveyors now expect that to be reflected in falling prices too.

However, there has also been a large-scale fall in stock available to buy. 

“We view this as a silver lining because if supply contracts in the face of falling demand, prices should be underpinned, and interestingly 16 per cent more  contributors [to the RICS survey] reported prices to have risen rather than fallen over the last three months” says City investment consultancy Jefferies. 

The consultancy says the autumn selling season remains key. 

“If it is strong and long, the housing market will be judged to be in good shape. If it is weak and short, with hindsight today's RICS survey may have been the first indicator to call time on the current cyclical upswing” it warns.

Even when the base rate is cut - many now expect it to happen in August - there is no guarantee that mortgage lenders will necessarily follow suit.

“There is a risk that the cost of mortgages may rise further down the line as banks seek to protect their margins. At the end of June the average quoted interest rate for a two-year fixed mortgage stood at 1.74 per cent at a lender’s margin of 1.24 per cent. This figure has been largely unchanged over the last 12 months, having progressively fallen over the preceding five years” says Lucian Cook, research director at Savills estate agency. 

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