House price growth hits highest level since 2015
Values shot up 0.9% month-on-month, taking the average price to £229,721.
The buoyant market, however, is somewhat out of kilter with the wider economy, experts have warned.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Economic growth slowed sharply from 6.3% in the month of July to 2.2% in August and 1.1% in September, even though the economy was still around 8% smaller than its pre-pandemic level at that point.
“Rising infection rates and tighter social restrictions will have resulted in a further hit to growth in October and November.”
As a result, the forecast for the coming months is unclear, according to Gardner.
He added: “Behavioural shifts as a result of Covid-19 may provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near term boost by bringing purchases forward.
“However, housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, made the ominous comparison between today’s market and 2007.
He said: “The last time the market was buzzing like this was back in 2007 before the credit crunch.
“But this time around there is far more scrutiny on mortgage underwriting and the assessment of affordability. This, combined with historic low interest rates, mean we should not see a repeat of that crisis, despite the continued flurry of activity.
“There has been some good news for mortgage borrowers in recent days as 90% loan-to-value mortgages become more readily available.
“This should help bring down rates on high LTVs, making those deals more accessible, and further boosting the market, at least in the short term.”