House prices rise at fastest pace for seven months as cheap mortgages and shortage of homes keeps values steady despite looming election

Property prices across Britain have risen at the fastest annual pace since April, new figures from Nationwide show, suggesting the market is shrugging off political turmoil. 

In the last month, the average cost of a home hit £215,734 – 0.8 per cent higher than at the same point a year ago.

However, annual house price growth has remained below 1 per cent for twelve consecutive months, the data shows. It is also off the 2019 price peak of £217,663 reached in July. 

Experts at Britain’s biggest building society do not believe the general election – on 12 December – will have a major impact on property prices or the actions of buyers and sellers.

a close up of a map: Average: Across the country, the average cost of a home has risen to £215,734© Provided by This Is Money Average: Across the country, the average cost of a home has risen to £215,734

In its report, it said: ‘Past general elections do not appear to have generated volatility in house prices or resulted in a significant change in house price trends.

‘On the whole, prevailing trends have been maintained just before, during and after UK general elections. 

‘Broader economic trends appear to dominate any immediate election-related impacts.’

The data shows that house prices shot up after the 1997 and 2001 election result. 

© Provided by This Is Money House prices: The impact of general elections on UK property values over the years

They fell after the 2010 result, but the global economic crisis is likely to be to blame. 

Meanwhile, on a monthly basis, house prices increased by 0.5 per cent, up from the 0.2 per cent growth seen in October and higher than the 0.1 per cent analysts had predicted. 

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said the data shows that the housing market remains ‘largely on hold but still relatively resilient.’

The housing market is being propped up by cheap mortgage deals, Help to Buy schemes, decent household spending levels and, in many areas, high demand and a shortage of housing stock coming up for sale.

Mr Leaf adds: ‘At the sharp end, pent-up demand can remain so only for so long as realistic buyers and sellers prepare for life beyond the election and cautiously check on value before deciding to move.’  

a garden in front of a house: Data: Month-on-month, house prices increased by 0.5 per cent, Nationwide's figures show© Provided by This Is Money Data: Month-on-month, house prices increased by 0.5 per cent, Nationwide’s figures show

However, one industry insider, Guy Harrington, chief executive of property lender Glenhawk, is less optimistic about the housing market’s prospects in the midst of so much political and economic uncertainty.

Mr Harrington said: ‘The annus horribilis that is 2019 continues. 

‘October’s marginally higher growth may reflect the market’s quietly increasing confidence that the general election result may not be the disaster it feared, but overall it’s a case of ‘bring on the new decade’. 

‘Worryingly for UK vendors, with neither the Tory or Labour manifesto offering much cause for optimism, it may take more than a general election and Brexit resolution to rouse the market from its deep slumber.’

a close up of text on a white background: Ratio matters: UK house price to earnings ratios from 1989 to 2019© Provided by This Is Money Ratio matters: UK house price to earnings ratios from 1989 to 2019

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: ‘Indicators of UK economic activity have been fairly volatile in recent quarters, but the underlying pace of growth appears to have slowed as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty.’ 

Banks and building societies are locked in a war to lure in mortgage customers by offering the cheapest deals. 

Homeowners can now lock into fixed rate mortgages that last an entire decade at record low levels.

The lowest ten-year fixed rate mortgage on the market is currently set at just 2.2 per cent by Coventry Building Society, following the news earlier this month that five-year fixed rate home loans are also now at record low levels.

Earlier this month, the figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that nationally, property prices rose by 1.3 per cent in the year to September, unchanged from August. 

Average house prices increased over the year in England to £251,000, Wales to £164,000, Scotland to £155,000 and Northern Ireland to £140,000.

London experienced the lowest annual growth rate of -0.4 per cent, followed by the East of England, which dipped by 0.2 per cent. 

Howard Archer of EY Item Club predicts that house prices will keep climbing by around 1 per cent in the near term.

With consumers having more purchasing power, interest rates at near record lows and a shortage of homes coming up for sale, prices continue to be pushed up, Mr Archer said. 


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