Rising interest rates trigger fears of house price falls

The persistent strength of both the labour market and inflation suggest that the Bank could be pushed to raise rates higher than anticipated, said Mr Wishart. Job vacancies are at record highs and inflation in November hit a 10-year high.

The Bank last month raised its forecast for the April 2022 CPI inflation peak from 5pc to 6pc – three times its target rate.

It is clear the momentum of the Bank’s policy has picked up fast. The research consultancy Pantheon Macroeconomics has brought forward its forecast for a further rise to 0.5pc by three months. It now expects this to happen in May, followed by a jump to 0.75pc in November, and further rise to 1pc in May 2023. 

Markets, however, expect an earlier rise to 0.5pc in February.

Crucially, the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee acknowledged signs of greater persistence in domestic cost and price pressures. In other words, high inflation is not likely to be as transitory as it had hoped.

“There is a clear risk of a less benign scenario in which the MPC is forced to raise interest rates by more, and raise the possibility of house price falls,” said Mr Wishart.

Meanwhile, however, a continued surge in omicron cases will trigger a drop in consumer spending. Unless this is met by government support, it will take a heavy toll on the labour market. The housing market could have to grapple with rising unemployment.

But in the short-term, omicron could contribute to even higher rates of inflation by bringing further disruption to supply chains.

Andrew Montlake, of mortgage broker Coreco, said a quick succession of rises could unnerve the market regardless.

“If there are two or three rises in quick succession then that changes everything,” said Mr Montlake.

“Nobody is used to rising rates. This rise feels like it is more significant than it is, it feels like it is massive because everyone has got so used to very low rates. There is a whole generation that is not used to high rates,” said Mr Montlake.

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