UK house prices climb in 2019, despite Brexit turmoil

09 Jan 2020

UK house prices House prices towards the end of 2019 were 1.4% higher than at the start of the year, dismissing Brexit uncertainty, data from the Nationwide building society showed. 

Following 10 months of stationary activity in the housing market, prices jumped in November and December, recording moderate annual growth.  As of December 2019, the average price of a UK house was £215,282, said Nationwide. Property values climbed higher by 0.1% month on month. 

According to analysts, the upbeat data revealed the property market was “getting back on its feet” following a year of economic turmoil. In October, Halifax said the annual house price growth in Britain had decelerated to its lowest pace in six years. 

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner said: “Indicators of UK economic activity were fairly volatile for much of 2019 but the underlying pace of growth appeared to slow through the year as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty.”

Scotland outperformed its neighbours, boasting prices which increased by 2.8% during the fourth quarter of 2019, compared to the previous year. This marked the first time in over a decade, that Scotland was the strongest performer, said Nationwide. The West Midlands also posted strong growth, coming in at second-best performer with a rise of 2.7% for the year. 

House prices in London posted the weakest performance, with an annual house price decline of 1.8% in the final quarter. House prices in home counties within London’s vicinity edged slightly higher by 0.3%. 
Gardner however, simmered down hopes of a “Boris bounce” for the British property market in 2020.

“Much will continue to depend on how quickly uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationships lifts as well as the outlook for global growth,” he said. “Overall, we expect the economy to continue to expand at a modest pace in 2020, with house prices remaining broadly flat over the next 12 months.”

Rival mortgage lender Halifax expect house growth of 1%-3% in the coming year. 

Chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients Mark Harris said the housing market had performed “remarkably well” in 2019. 

“This has been assisted by strong employment, low mortgage rates and a lack of supply, which supported prices even in the face of considerable economic and political uncertainty,” he noted.

“First-time buyers were the big success story of the year, steadily growing in number.”

Elsewhere, Andrews Property Group’s Sam Harhat said he forecasts several would-be buyers and sellers who had refrained from making a move in the property market last year, to do so in 2020. 

“Transaction levels throughout 2019 were at a historical low,” Harhat said. 

Nonetheless, the Nationwide noted that funding a deposit to get oneself in the property space remains a challenge, even in the more affordable areas of northern England and Scotland. Someone earning the average wage and saving 15% of their salary each month would still require over five years to raise a 20% deposit in those regions. In Wales and Northern Ireland, prospective buyers would require almost seven years, while in the West Midlands, eight, it said.