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House prices rise 11% in April

Written by: Anna Sagar
House prices have increased 10.8% year-on-year in April, bringing them to a record high of £286,079.

This is a slight fall in annual growth from 11.1% in the same period last year, but this partly reflected the strength of the market a year ago, according to the Halifax house price index.

Monthly house prices have increased by 1.1% in April, which is the 10th consecutive monthly rise. It is also the longest run of monthly increases since 2016.

Halifax added that prices for detached and semi-detached properties have risen by 12% over the last year, which compared to around 7.1% annual growth in flats. In fact detached properties have increased by around £50,000 over the past year, nearly five times more than for flats.

Northern Ireland reported the strongest annual house price growth at 14.9%, with average house prices pegged at £182,565.

Wales also had a healthy yearly growth at 14.2%, with average house prices coming to an all-time high of £214,396.

Scotland’s house prices reached a record £196,471, with annual growth coming in at 8.3%.

The report revealed that six out of nine regions in England recorded double digit growth, with the South West bringing in the largest year-on-year increase of 14.8%. This takes average house prices to £301,632.

London lagged behind other regions with a 6.2% annual average house price growth. However, average prices are now at £537,896 which is a new record for the city.

Overall, average house prices are now up by £47,568 over the last two years. To put this in context, it took the previous five and half years to make an equivalent leap (+£47,689 between October 2014 and April 2020).

Further, the average monthly gain of 0.9% over the past year is more than double the typical monthly increase seen in the past decade.

Halifax said that while this raised the possibility of house prices breaching £300,000 this was “unlikely” due to predicted economic conditions.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said that housing transactions and mortgage approvals were above pre-pandemic levels and there was growth in new buyer enquiries, which suggested activity would be “heightened in the short-term”.

He added that supply and demand imbalance remained, with fewer new properties coming on to the market and competition driving up prices.

“For now, at least, despite the current economic uncertainty, the strong increases we’ve seen in house prices show little sign of abating. Demand in the housing market remains firm and mortgage servicing costs are relatively stable with fixed-rate deals making up around 80% of mortgages on homes across the industry, protecting many households from the effects of rate rises so far,” Galley said.

“However, the headwinds facing the wider economy cannot be ignored. The house price to income ratio is already at its highest ever level, and with interest rates on the rise and inflation further squeezing household budgets, it remains likely that the rate of house price growth will slow by the end of this year.”

House prices expected to taper this year

Industry figures said the statistics showed that despite the increasing cost of living and other factors, there was still heightened demand for housing.

Sundeep Patel, director of sales at Together said even with the rising cost of living, property deals were “completing at record rates”.

However, he said that with surging food and fuel prices, and typical mortgage rates set to double, first-time buyers could “face tough affordability challenges”.

“There remains too many buyers chasing too few properties and the frenzied spring moving season will be fuelled by an excess of demand and competitive pricing. But as budgets continue to tighten and people’s financial priorities shift, the property market boom may start to taper off as households reorder their finances and ability to spend,” Patel said.

Stuart Law, chief executive of the Assetz Group, said the market was being driven by low interest rates and a desire to change lifestyles post-pandemic.

However, he said that rising interest rates could “take some heat out of the market” and a “desire to curb living costs will come to the fore” in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

He said that a new generation of buyers were increasingly opting for modern properties that “reduce energy and maintenance issues, and improve comfort and quality of life”, and this trend would become “further defined”.

“We need to boost our stock of new homes urgently to meet growing demand. Currently, the housebuilding sector is held back by an overbearing planning system, economic challenges around cost of labour and materials, and ongoing supply chain interruptions in the wake of Brexit and the war in Ukraine,” Law explained.

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