United Kingdom

Biggest house price jump for FIVE YEARS: London leads the way with £500,000 average home

London has driven a 7.6 per cent national rise in house prices after the average property in the capital surpassed £500,000 for the first time.

In the UK as a whole, the average price of a home rose to a record £249,633 in November, up from £231,100 a year earlier, said the Office for National Statistics.

It was the highest annual rate of growth since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.

And in London there was an even sharper rise of almost 10 per cent, which experts said was fuelled by foreign buyers seeking to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday and the introduction of new taxes in April.

In the city, a typical property now costs £513,997 – up from £468,757 and another record.

London has driven a 7.6 per cent national rise in house prices after the average property in the capital surpassed £500,000 for the first time

Jonathan Hopper, chief executive of Garrington Property Finders, said the market was ‘passing more milestones than a car in the fast lane’.

He added: ‘The blistering annual price growth recorded in November is a huge leap on the rate seen in October.’

But he warned that price growth could now slow, with the January lockdown leaving the market ‘more like a parked car, with the handbrake on but the engine revving loudly’.

The biggest increase of any London borough during November was in Kensington and Chelsea, where the average price rose 28.6 per cent to a staggering £1.5million.

There were also big increases in other parts of England. Prices in Yorkshire and the Humber rose by 9.7 per cent, while they rose 8.5 per cent in the South West and North West and by 8.3 per cent in the North East. 

The ONS said the market had been boosted by Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday, pent-up demand following the national lockdown and ‘changes in housing preferences’ caused by the pandemic, with many families seeking more spacious homes.

This was underlined by figures showing that while UK prices for flats and maisonettes were up annually by 5.4 per cent, prices for detached houses had jumped 8.5 per cent. 

But while some families have ditched big cities for more rural areas, the ONS said that changes to taxes for foreign buyers in April are likely to have boosted demand in the capital as well.

In the UK as a whole, the average price of a home rose to a record £249,633 in November, up from £231,100 a year earlier, said the Office for National Statistics

Mike Scott, chief analyst at estate agent Yopa, said: ‘The tax saving is much higher on more expensive properties and so there is more urgency around purchases of more expensive homes.’

However, Pantheon Macroeconomics economist Samuel Tombs said the withdrawal of the furlough scheme, mortgage payment holidays and the return of the stamp duty threshold to former levels was likely to leave prices about 2 per cent lower by the end of the year.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, said the drop could be as big as 5 per cent.

Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agent Jackson-Stops, said: ‘The market was firing on all cylinders in November. I do urge the Chancellor to consider how to ease the market out of the stamp duty holiday to avoid the cliff-edge Government has created.’

RUTH SUNDERLAND: There's hope this house price boom may be far from over 

Commentary by RUTH SUNDERLAND BUSINESS EDITOR FOR THE DAILY MAIL

COVID-19 has caused more damage to the UK economy than any other crisis in living memory, yet the housing market is booming. So why is this happening and equally important, can it continue?

The pandemic forced many of us into stay-at-home lifestyles, which made people discontented with their existing properties and keen to move to a bigger and better place.

Crucially, many middle-class professionals can afford to turn those desires into reality, having hung on to their jobs and racked up large sums in lockdown savings.

On top of that, there is a large element of pent-up demand because the market was shut during the first lockdown in the spring. Buyers rushed back in the minute it re-opened.

COVID-19 has caused more damage to the UK economy than any other crisis in living memory, yet the housing market is booming. So why is this happening and equally important, can it continue?

Add into the mix Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday and interest rates at near to zero – the main Bank of England rate was slashed to 0.1 per cent in response to the virus – and you have a recipe for a surge in house prices.

The detailed picture is intriguing. Surprisingly, at least for those commentators forecasting an exodus from London in favour of working from home from a bucolic idyll, prices in the capital have soared to a record high.

Increases in some exclusive enclaves such as Kensington and Chelsea, where a townhouse will cost you nearly 30 per cent more than a year ago, are driven by special circumstances.

These include the flight to the UK of wealthy individuals from Hong Kong, along with the rush among rich international buyers to beat a new additional rate of stamp duty which is due to be slapped on non-UK residents from April.

Add into the mix Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty holiday and interest rates at near to zero – the main Bank of England rate was slashed to 0.1 per cent in response to the virus – and you have a recipe for a surge in house prices

But the robust performance in more ordinary boroughs suggests that so long as power and influence are concentrated in London, it will remain a honeypot for the ambitious and talented.

So much for predictions the capital will morph into a ghost town, hollowed out by Covid.

Some analysts argue rises of this order are unsustainable and that we are riding for a fall. The economy in their view is being artificially propped up by government support. 

When the furlough scheme ends, unemployment will shoot up, launching a torpedo at property prices. There are also fears the end of the stamp duty holiday could hit values.

Increases in some exclusive enclaves such as Kensington and Chelsea, where a townhouse will cost you nearly 30 per cent more than a year ago, are driven by special circumstances

The EY Item Club, which bases its forecasting on Treasury models, is predicting a 5 per cent fall by the end of this year, as does respected think tank the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

But if the vaccine roll-out is successful and the economy is brought out of the deep-freeze, the market may well prove the pessimists wrong, as it has consistently over the last 30 years.

Mortgages are likely to remain affordable and interest rates are not expected to be hiked any time soon – indeed, they may even fall further.

And, with returns on savings virtually non-existent, for many property will continue to look like an attractive investment.

Rising house prices are a mixed blessing because they make it harder for young people to put a foot on the ladder.

But taken in the round, it is a very good thing indeed that the property market, the bedrock of the UK economy, has proved so resilient – and the Chancellor should extend the stamp duty holiday to help keep it that way.

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