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House prices are in freefall – and so is Britain’s national faith in property ownership

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F rom leaked messages suggesting that Matt Hancock thought his job as health secretary was to “frighten the pants” off the public to Boris Johnson’s latest Trumpian contortions, our current political pantomime shows no signs of letting up.

But underneath it all, something much more era-defining seems to be afoot: the British public’s two secular gods are taking a battering.

The NHS is not in quite the mess it was a couple of months ago, but its deep problems grind on. Meanwhile, a slightly more overlooked story is becoming hard to ignore: a crisis in our national faith in property ownership, and the decline of that strange British belief that in any normal universe, house prices will only go up.Figures released last week showed UK house prices were falling at the fastest annual rate since 2012, with warnings from the financial sector that “economic headwinds look set to remain relatively strong” and property owners reportedly having to cut their asking prices by an average of £14,000.

To state the blindingly obvious, high interest rates are sucking demand out of the market by restricting access to mortgages.

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