House prices hit record high of nearly £255k amid biggest annual spike since 2006 as buyers fork out nearly £24k MORE for a home than a year ago
The average house price surged by nearly £24,000 this year, marking the biggest increase ever recorded in a single year in cash terms.
The typical price of a property in Britain reached a record high of £254,822 in December, representing a £23,902 increase over the past year, Nationwide Building Society said.
This year was the strongest one for house price growth since 2006, it added, amid a shortage in homes coming up for sale and strong demand from buyers on the hunt for more space.
Costly: The typical price of a home reached a record high of £254,822 in December
In terms of house price growth, Wales was the strongest performing region in 2021, while London was the weakest.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: ‘The price of a typical UK home is now at a record high of £254,822, up £23,902 over the year – the largest rise we’ve seen in a single year in cash terms.
‘Prices are now 16 per cent higher than before the pandemic struck in early 2020.’
Nationwide said house prices were 10.4 per cent higher annually and 1 per cent higher month-on-month in December.
Mr Gardner said demand for homes has remained strong despite the ending of the stamp duty holiday this year.
He added: ‘Mortgage approvals for house purchase have continued to run above pre-pandemic levels, despite the surge in activity seen earlier in the year. Indeed, in the first 11 months of 2021 the total number of property transactions was almost 30 per cent higher than over the same period of 2019.
‘At the same time, the stock of homes on the market has remained extremely low throughout the year, which has contributed to the robust pace of price growth.’
Ratio: A chart showing the UK house price to earnings ratio over time
Mr Gardner said the outlook for the housing market ‘remains extremely uncertain.’
He added: ‘The strength of the market surprised in 2021 and could do so again in the year ahead.
‘The market still has significant momentum and shifts in housing preferences as a result of the pandemic could continue to support activity and price growth.’
However, there are potential clouds on the horizon, in the form of rising interest rates, sky-high living costs and uncertainty over the path of Covid-19.
Mr Gardner added: ‘It appears likely that the housing market will slow next year, since the stamp duty holiday encouraged many to bring forward their house purchase in order to avoid additional tax.
‘The Omicron variant could reinforce the slowdown if it leads to a weaker labour market.
‘Even if wider economic conditions remain resilient, higher interest rates are likely to exert a cooling influence.’
Nationwide also published quarterly figures showing house price trends in the UK’s nations and regions of England.
It said Wales ended the year as the strongest performer, with house prices up by 15.8 per cent year-on-year.
Mr Gardner said it is the first time in the history of the regional series, which started in 1973, that Wales has ended the year as the top performer.
Annual house price growth in Northern Ireland reached 12.1 per cent, marking the strongest end to the year it has had since 2007.
Meanwhile, annual house price growth in Scotland was 10.1 per cent, in line with the UK generally.
Mr Gardner said: ‘England saw a slight increase in annual price growth to 9 per cent, from 8.5 per cent in the third quarter.
‘The South West was the strongest performing English region, with annual price growth of 11.5 per cent, the largest calendar year increase in the region since 2004.’
Iain McKenzie, chief executive of The Guild of Property Professionals, said: ‘The property market ended 2021 on a high, and it’s incredible to think that average house prices have soared almost £24,000 this year.
‘This was the year that Britons took stock and decided it was time to find their dream home, and the trend shows no signs of slowing.
‘Mortgage approvals are still well above pre-Covid levels, and with demand outstripping supply, prices are still being pushed up.
‘We expect 2022 to start the same way, with fears over the Omicron starting to subside. Buyers will have one eye on soaring inflation, but the housing market continues its upward climb.’
Variations: Where in the income distribution would a typical buyer fit?
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: ‘The Nationwide survey not only demonstrates the underlying strength of the market after the withdrawal of the stamp duty holiday and furlough but gives a broad hint of the direction of travel for 2022.
‘We are seeing much the same at the sharp end, too, including in the run up to Christmas with rising Omicron cases, inflation and interest rates resulting in reduced activity but not a significant correction.
‘Further Covid restrictions will only lead to a build-up of more pent-up demand. But momentum will continue to be compromised by lack of supply as we have found sellers tend to be more put off than buyers because they are concerned about having people in their homes for viewings.’
What’s happening to house prices near you?
Here are average house prices in the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by the annual increase in cash and percentage terms, according to Nationwide Building Society:
– Wales, £196,759, £26,913, 15.8 per cent
– Northern Ireland, £167,479, £18,096, 12.1 per cent
– South West, £294,845, £30,333, 11.5 per cent
– Outer South East (includes Ashford, Basingstoke and Deane, Bedford, Braintree, Brighton and Hove, Canterbury, Colchester, Dover, Hastings, Lewes, Fareham, Isle of Wight, Maldon, Milton Keynes, New Forest, Oxford, Portsmouth, Southampton, Swale, Tendring, Thanet, Uttlesford, Winchester, Worthing), £329,869, £33,579, 11.3 per cent
– North West, £196,806, £19,882, 11.2 per cent
– Yorkshire and the Humber, £190,855, £18,530, 10.8 per cent
– East Anglia, £268,146, £25,342, 10.4 per cent
– East Midlands, £221,813, £20,861, 10.4 per cent
– Scotland, £172,605, £15,836, 10.1 per cent
– West Midlands, £227,031, £19,428, 9.4 per cent
– Outer Metropolitan (includes St Albans, Stevenage, Watford, Luton, Maidstone, Reading, Rochford, Rushmoor, Sevenoaks, Slough, Southend-on-Sea, Elmbridge, Epsom and Ewell, Guildford, Mole Valley, Reigate & Banstead, Runnymede, Spelthorne, Waverley, Woking, Tunbridge Wells, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham), £410,992, £33,316, 8.8 per cent
– North East, £148,105, £10,574, 7.7 per cent
– London, £507,230, £20,668, 4.2 per cent