UK House Price Inflation At 6-Year High

UK house prices grew at the fastest pace in six years in December as the property market remained resilient despite the pandemic, data published by the Nationwide Building Society showed on Wednesday.

House prices climbed 7.3 percent year-on-year in December, following November’s 6.5 percent increase. Prices were expected to rise 6.7 percent.

On a monthly basis, house price inflation eased slightly to 0.8 percent from 0.9 percent in the previous month. The expected rate was 0.4 percent.

House prices were 5.3 percent above the level prevailing in March, when the pandemic struck the nation.

Since March, housing demand has been buoyed by government policies and changes in preferences among households.

In the fourth quarter, house prices increased 6.4 percent from the last year. London was the most expensive region.

All regions in England saw prices rise over the year, within a fairly narrow range of 5 percent to 9 percent.

Housing market conditions have remained robust in recent months, even as the wider economic recovery lost momentum and the UK economy faced the prospect of further lockdowns and continued uncertainty about the UK’s future international trading relationship, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said.

“Behavioural shifts as a result of Covid-19 may continue to provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near-term boost by bringing forward home moves,” Gardner said.

Nonetheless, the economist said housing market activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labor market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March.

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