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This week’s roundup includes news of a significant decline in mortgage approvals, calls for low-income households to start their festive saving early, a suggested ‘inheritance boom’ for millennials and the most significant house price rises for 2017 revealed.

Mortgage approvals ‘lowest for over a year’

The number of UK households taking out new mortgages stood at its lowest level in more than a year in November 2017, official figures have revealed. According to data from UK Finance, banks approved 39,507 mortgages during the 30-day period, the lowest number since August 2016.

Representing a 5% fall on November 2016 approvals, the data comes after the Bank of England announced plans to increase base rates to 0.5% in the first rise in a decade in November 2017, which could have impacted activity.

Many high street lenders also increased the cost of fixed-rate mortgages before the announcement, another move thought to discourage some buyers.

Howard Archer, Chief Economic Adviser to the EY Item Club, said it was likely that housing market activity may have been impacted as a result of the Bank of England’s decision on interest rates. He said: “While the increase was only 0.25%, and mortgage rates are still very low, there may have been a significant impact on potential buyers' psychology.”

Low-income households ‘should start saving now for Christmas’

Low-salary households have been urged to start saving money now in time for next Christmas to avoid falling into financial difficulty. The Money Advice Trust (MAT) is advising customers budget for the year ahead amid concerns that more people will struggle with their finances this January than last year.

An internet survey conducted by the debt charity revealed 16% of respondents said they were either ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to fall behind with their finances in January as a result of Christmas spending.

According to the MAT, the 16% equates to some 7.9 million people who are at risk of financial difficulty, compared with 11% in a similar poll conducted at the beginning of 2017. The survey revealed that 68% of respondents said they felt they would be able to cope financially during the month.

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the MAT, advised low-income families to look at their personal finances early in the year and set a household budget, while exploring different savings options, in order to be financially prepared ahead of Christmas.

Millennials ‘to secure inheritance boom’

Millennials are set to benefit from the most significant ‘inheritance boom’ of any post-war generation, a report has suggested. According to the Resolution Foundation, people who have parents and grandparents in the ‘baby boomer’ generation will be left record sums of inheritance.

Findings of the report suggest that inheritances are set to more than double over the next 20 years before reaching a peak in 2035, as the relatively wealthy baby boomers progress through old age.

However, millennials, which the report defines as those currently aged between 17 and 35, are likely to have to wait until they reach an average age of 61 until they gain access to their inheritance.

According to the Resolution Foundation, almost two-thirds of young adults have parents who own property, which they could get a share of in the future. By comparison, only 38% of adults born in the 1930s received an inheritance.

Biggest house price increases for 2017 revealed

Property prices in Cheltenham increased at the fastest pace in the UK during 2017, research from Halifax has revealed. According to new data published by the lender, the Gloucestershire town saw prices rise by 13% to an average of £313,150 over the 12-month period.

Data from Halifax revealed Perth in Scotland experienced the biggest fall in prices, dropping by 5.3% to an average of £180,687. Bournemouth recorded the second largest rise, with prices increasing by 11.7%, while Brighton came in third with an 11.4% increase.

The majority of the biggest gains in property prices were in London and southern England, while Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber reported the most significant declines.

According to the lender’s report, which is based on its own mortgage data, the average increase in house prices across the UK was 2.7%.

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