UK house prices grew at the fastest pace in 15 years over the past three months, with the average home valued at £20,000 more than this time last year, according to Halifax.
Prices rose by 3.4% in the quarter to the end of November, which is the highest quarterly rate since late 2006 and brought the average price of a home to a record of £272,992. A shortage of properties on the market, a strong jobs market and competitive mortgage rates were all propping up prices, the lender said.
House prices rose for a fifth month by 1% in November and were 8.2% higher than the same time last year, when the average property cost 252,235. Both the monthly gain and the annual growth rate were the same increases as in October.
Wales remained the UK nation with the fastest house price growth, with annual inflation of 14.8% taking the average price of a home to more than £200,000 for the first time. Northern Ireland also continued to record double-digit annual growth, of 10%, and a typical property cost £169,348. In Scotland, the average price of £191,140 is the most expensive on record, as values rose 8.5% year on year.
In London, annual house price inflation lagged at 1.1% last month, up slightly from October, but the average price of £521,129 is still much higher than the rest of the country.
Russell Galley, the managing director at Halifax, said: “The performance of the market continues to be underpinned by a shortage of available properties, a strong labour market and keen competition among mortgage providers keeping rates close to historic lows. Those taking their first step on to the property ladder are also playing an important role in driving activity, with annual house price inflation for first-time buyers at 9.1% compared with 8.8% for home movers.”
Flats are leading with double-digit annual price inflation of 10.8% while detached properties went up 6.6% in price year on year. This suggests the “race for space” is becoming less prominent than it was earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic, when a shift to working from home prompted many people to seek out bigger properties in leafier locations.
The overall number of house sales has fallen back since the end of the stamp duty holiday and reached a nine-year low in October, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs.
“Looking ahead, there is now greater uncertainty than has been the case for quite some time, with interest rates expected to rise to guard against further increases in inflation,” Galley said.
“Economic confidence may be also be dented by the emergence of the new Omicron virus variant, though it remains far too early to speculate on any long-term impact, given insufficient data at this stage, not to mention the resilience the housing market has already shown in challenging circumstances.”
He expects house price growth to ease next year, as household budgets come under greater pressure, from soaring energy bills and food prices. The Bank of England’s monetary policy chief, Ben Broadbent, has said inflation is likely to soar “comfortably” above 5% next spring when the energy regulator, Ofgem, raises a price cap affecting millions of households.