UK house prices registered their strongest three-month growth in 15 years in November, boosted by demand for a limited supply of housing stock, low mortgage rates and a strong labour market.
The average price of a UK property hit a record high of £273,000 last month, according to the mortgage provider Halifax. The value of homes rose 1 per cent from October, 8.2 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
“The performance of the market continues to be underpinned by a shortage of available properties, a strong labour market and keen competition among mortgage providers keeping rates close to historic lows,” said Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax.
In the three months to November, house prices registered a 3.4 per cent increase compared with the previous quarter, the fastest pace since 2006.
Nationally, average property prices rose sharply despite continued weakness in the London housing market, as people in the capital looked to move to bigger and less crowded places, driven partly by the shift to homeworking.
London annual house price growth was only 1 per cent last month, in contrast with a 15 per cent rise in Wales and 10 per cent in Northern Ireland.
Since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, and the UK first entering lockdown, house prices have risen by £34,000, which equates to £1,700 per month.
As a result, buying a property in Wales has never been so expensive, with the average house price breaking through the £200,000 barrier for the first time since records began.
The Halifax figures showed the pandemic housing market boom has stretched beyond the stamp duty holiday.
The holiday, introduced in July 2020 after the first coronavirus lockdown, granted homebuyers a tax break on the first £500,000 of any property purchase in England or Northern Ireland. The tax-free limit was halved to £250,000 at the end of June this year before ceasing in October.
Anna Clare Harper, chief executive of property consultancy SPI Capital, said that while the temporary stamp duty reduction “acted as a catalyst”, it was “not the cause of recent house price growth”.
Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, an industry body, said estate agents had reported “the lowest levels of available homes to buy that we have seen to date”.
The “effective” interest rate, the actual interest rate paid, on mortgages fell in October to its lowest since records began, according to separate data from the Bank of England.
While the Omicron coronavirus variant adds uncertainty over the outlook of the property market, Andrew Wishart, property economist at Capital Economics, said it could, in fact, end up boosting house prices.
Continuing concern around the virus could support demand for housing via low interest rates for longer, as people carry on looking for more space and strengthen household savings.
But Galley, from Halifax, said that he does not expect the current rate of growth to last next year because “house price to income ratios are already historically high, and household budgets are only likely to come under greater pressure in the coming months”, due to rising inflation and high energy costs.