Property prices in the UK fell 0.2% in September – the first time in 17 months – but London values hit a record quarterly high of £401,072, according to the latest monthly and quarterly data from Nationwide
UK house prices have fallen for the first time in 17 months – but London prices have hit a record high, according to the latest data from the Nationwide Building Society.
Values of properties across Britain fell 0.2% from £189,306 in August to £188,374 in September, slowing average annual growth from 11% to 9.4%, the monthly update shows. They last fell in April 2013.
Growth was also pegged back in London from 25.8% in Quarter 2 to 21% in Quarter 3, but average prices still reached a record £401,072 quarterly high, 31% above their 2007 peak, according to a separate Nationwide Q3 2014 report. UK property prices, excluding London, are less than 1% above their peak.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, says, “While September saw a slowing in house price growth, the picture on a quarterly basis (July, August and September combined) was still relatively strong, with all thirteen UK regions recording annual price gains. There remains significant regional variation however, with the South of England still seeing the strongest rates of growth.”
The market is robust, but it may continue to weaken, he warns. “Price growth may soften further in the final quarter of the year, given the high base for comparison from Q4 2013. However, the outlook remains uncertain. There have been tentative signs from surveyors and estate agents that buyer demand may be starting to moderate, but the low level of interest rates and strong labour market suggest that underlying demand is likely to remain robust.”
A similar pattern is set for London, says the report. “The annual pace of growth in the capital will probably continue to slow in the quarters ahead, given the high base for comparison in the next few quarters and also anecdotal evidence from surveyors and estate agents that activity may be starting to moderate.”
Among London’s boroughs in Quarter 3, Camden saw the strongest growth, with a remarkable 42% year-on-year increase in average prices.
Jonathan Hudson, founder of leading West End estate agent, Hudsons Property, says the strong rate of growth achieved over the last few years is not sustainable in the long-term.
“The Mortgage Market Review has definitely had an effect on the market. There was a spike in mortgage lending on the run up to the change, but ultimately this was brought about to make sure the banks protected themselves from further implications on miss-selling, like the PPI insurance scandal.
“Either way, the market was not sustainable at the rate of growth we have experienced over the last few years, which was fueled by strong overseas investment, cheap interest rates and a weak pound.
“We have seen overseas investment in new builds remain strong, as these buyers are keen to get investments outside of their own currency. However, a reduction in existing housing stock has dropped significantly, causing the prices to taper off a little.”
However, Mr Hudson says in current market conditions, buyers should avoid being gazumped. “That said, if I was a buyer I would rather buy now as it limits the risk of gazumping. Buying at the top of the market, or making a quick decision, which could end up being a costly mistake, is what many savvy buyers are doing at the moment.”
The Q3 market update, shows that from July-September, all UK regions saw annual price rises. Average house prices in England increased by 1.2% in the third quarter of 2014, and were up 12.8% year-on-year.
London remains strongest performing region, up 21% year-on-year with the weakest growth of 4.3% coming in the North.
Among England’s other major towns and cities, St. Albans was the top performer, with prices up 24% year-on-year. Newcastle was the worst performing city, with a 4% increase.
Most regions saw a slowing in their annual rate of house price growth; however the gap between the North and South persisted.
Prices in the South of England (South West, Outer South East, Outer Metropolitan, London and East Anglia) were up 15.3% year-on-year, whilst in the North (West Midlands, East Midlands, Yorkshire & Humberside, North West and North) prices rose by 6.7%. Price growth in the South has exceeded that in the North for 22 consecutive quarters.
The Outer Metropolitan was the best performing region outside of the capital, with annual price growth of 14.4%, closely followed by the Outer South East at 13.2%.
In the three months, the average UK House Price was £188,810, a rise of 10.5% on the same quarter last year and a quarterly change of 1.5%.
Annual price growth in Wales slowed from 9.3% to 5%. Annual price growth in Scotland was similar to last quarter at 5.2%. Northern Ireland saw a 10.2% increase in prices, although they are still nearly 50% below their 2007 peak.
In the English regions, the South continued to outperform, with double digit annual growth rates recorded in London, Outer Metropolitan, Outer South East and East Anglia.
Aberdeen City was the best performing area in Scotland, with prices up 12% on the previous year. South Lanarkshire, Scotland’s least expensive area, saw the weakest growth at 4%.
Wales was one of only two regions to see a quarter-on-quarter fall in house prices, with a 0.8% seasonally-adjusted decline. South Wales (West), which includes The Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend and Swansea, was the best performing area, with prices up 11% year-on-year.
Belfast remains the most expensive area in Northern Ireland, and was also the strongest performer over the last twelve months, recording a 21% increase.
By Adrian Bishop, Editor, OPP Connect