BoE’s Andy Haldane: Don’t Slam Brakes on UK Housing Market

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By Shane Croucher | December 13, 2013 10:08 PM EST

Andy Haldane of the Bank of England said we should not restrict the current recovery in the UK housing market (YouTube)

Britain's soaring housing market does not need to be held back despite growing fears of a bubble, according to a senior Bank of England official.

Andy Haldane, executive director for financial stability at the BoE, said it is still "early days" in the UK's economic recovery, which is in part being driven by rising house prices amid mortgage easing stimulus such as the Help to Buy scheme.

"Now would not be the time to be slamming on the brakes on the housing market or any other market. We are in the very early phase of recovery," Haldane told BBC Radio West Midlands.

His comments follow an academic study by Warwick Business School which claims there is a string possibility of a housing bubble in 10 of the 13 UK regions because house prices are so far ahead of earnings.

According to Halifax, the building society whose data was used for the study, the average UK house price leapt 7.7% on the year in November.

London is most at risk with a 93% probability it is experiencing a house price bubble, according to the research by Professor Mitchell, head of Warwick Business School's Economic Modelling and Forecasting Group.

Second is Wales, at 83%. The only three regions probably not in a bubble are Northern Ireland, the East of England, and Scotland.

"The results raise the risk, although not the certainty, that house prices will fall, although predicting the timing and manner of any fall is even harder than identifying the presence of a bubble," said Mitchell.

"But a bubble it appears to be and we should all - householders, business people and policymakers alike - be alert to this risk."

Mark Carney, BoE governor, said policymakers are keeping an eye on the UK housing market over potential concerns.

He told a New York conference that activity in the housing market is more subdued than before the financial crisis. He also said that mortgage underwriting had been "substantially transformed", given banks and taxpayers had been stung by the pre-crisis proliferation of sub-prime mortgage lending.

"But there is a history of things shifting in the UK and the housing market of moving from stall speed to warp speed and underwriting standards slipping. So we want to avoid that," Carney said.

The Bank of England has repeatedly said it stands ready to tighten credit conditions in the mortgage market if it fears there is a bubble.

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