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House prices fell by 1.8% over 2023, says Nationwide

House prices fell by 1.8% over 2023, says Nationwide
Shekina Tuahene
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Shekina Tuahene

Average house prices in the UK fell by 1.8% over the course of 2023, analysis from building society Nationwide indicated.

The Nationwide house price index showed the average home valued at £257,443 in December. This was a fall on the previous month where house prices stood at £258,557 on average. 

The report said house prices were nearly 4.5% lower than the record high seen in summer 2022. 

Northern Ireland and Scotland saw gains

Over 2023, declines were recorded in all regions except for Northern Ireland and Scotland where there were house price increases of 4.5% and 0.5% respectively. 

East Anglia saw the sharpest fall in average house prices with a 5.2% annual drop. 

Overall, there was a 2.9% decline in house prices across England when compared to the final quarter of 2022, while Wales saw a 1.9% decrease. 

In the north of England, house prices fell by 1.8% with Yorkshire and Humber coming out as the best performing northern region with a 0.5% yearly fall. 

In the south of England, there was a 3.4% annual fall in house prices, and London was the best performing region with a 2.4% decline. 

Preference for smaller homes 

Nationwide’s report showed that transaction numbers for flats outperformed other property types as people looked to buy  smaller, less expensive homes. 

Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide, said: “This may be because affordability for flats has held up relatively better as they experienced less of a price increase over the pandemic period.” 

Nationwide’s data revealed the average price of flats increased by 11% since Q1 2020, while detached homes saw 22.6% growth over the same period. The average price of semi-detached homes rose by 21.4% and terraced properties by 19.3%. 

Compared to last year, semi-detached homes fell by 1.8% in value while flats and terraced houses both declined by 2.1%. Detached properties fell by 2.7%, making them the worst performing property type. 

Predictions for house prices 

Gardner said housing market activity was “weak throughout 2023” with transactions running at around 10% below pre-pandemic levels in the latter half of the year, and around 20% down for mortgaged purchases. 

He said cash purchases were higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

The report said housing affordability was still stretched and the average first-time buyer with a 20% deposit would have monthly mortgage payments amounting to 38% of their take-home pay. It noted this was significantly higher than the long-running average of 30%. 

It said deposit requirements were still “prohibitively high” for many buyers too. 

Looking ahead, Gardner said falling mortgage rates would be encouraging for potential buyers in 2024, as well as the prospect of a decline in the base rate. 

He added: “It appears likely that a combination of solid income growth, together with modestly lower house prices and mortgage rates, will gradually improve affordability over time, with housing market activity remaining fairly subdued in the interim.  

“If the economy remains sluggish and mortgage rates moderate only gradually, as we expect, house prices are likely to record another small decline or remain broadly flat (perhaps zero growth to a 2% decline) over the course of 2024.”