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Annual house price growth in January strongest for 17 years

Written by: Anna Sagar
House price growth in January came to 11.2% year-on-year with average house prices estimated at £255,556, the strongest start to the year since 2005.

According to Nationwide’s house price index, month-on-month this was a 0.8% rise, which is the sixth consecutive month of increases.

The report added that the annual house price growth in January was the strongest since June last year, where a change of 13.4% was recorded.

Barring October last year, annual house price growth has been in the double digits every month since May 2021.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said housing demand “remained robust” and mortgage approvals for house purchase have continued to be slightly above pre-pandemic levels, despite the stamp duty encouraging buyers to buy earlier.

He added that the total number of property transactions in 2021 was the highest since 2007 and up by a quarter on 2019.

However, he warned that the housing stock remained “extremely low” which acted as a catalyst for the “continued robust pace of house price growth”.

Gardner said it was likely that the housing market would slow this year, as house price growth has continued to outstrip earnings, leading housing affordability to become more stretched.

He added: “Reduced affordability is likely to exert a dampening impact on market activity and house price growth, especially since household finances are also coming under pressure from sharp increases in the cost of living.”

He said inflation, pegged at 5.4% in December, which is more than double the Bank of England two per cent target and fastest pace of growth since 1992, had dented consumer confidence but “done little to dent housing market activity”.

Gardner explained: “High inflation and growing confidence that the Omicron variant will not derail the wider economic recovery has led to increased expectations that policymakers will increase interest rates further in the months ahead.

“This will further reduce housing affordability if it feeds through to higher mortgage rates, although to date a significant proportion of the rise in longer term interest rates seen in recent months has been absorbed by lenders.”

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