Strong recovery in UK housing market, says Nationwide

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UK house prices rose by 5% in September compared with a year ago, the Nationwide says, as the property market saw post-lockdown demand continue.

The annual rate of growth is the highest for four years, according to figures based on the Nationwide’s lending data.

The building society said activity had “recovered strongly” since coronavirus restrictions on viewings were lifted.

But job fears ahead mean many young people have put moving plans on hold.

Price rises across regions

The Nationwide said that UK house prices rose by 0.9% in September compared with August.

In the three months from July to the end of September, UK prices were up 1.7% compared with the previous quarter and the average home cost £226,129.

Prices rose on a quarterly basis in most areas of the UK, the building society said.

“The rebound reflects a number of factors. Pent-up demand is coming through, with decisions taken to move before lockdown now progressing,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

He said the temporary stamp duty holiday, which means no tax is levied on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland until the end of March, was “adding to momentum” by bringing purchases forward.

“Behavioural shifts may also be boosting activity as people reassess their housing needs and preferences as a result of life in lockdown,” Mr Gardner added.

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Media caption‘Mortgages are so inaccessible now’

However, the Nationwide has joined other commentators in warning of the medium-term impact of the pandemic on the housing market.

Lucy Pendleton, from independent estate agents James Pendleton said: “[House price growth] can’t continue forever, and it is very likely indeed that we won’t see a higher annual growth rate this year.”

The Nationwide’s Mr Gardner said younger people were much more likely to have put off plans than older people, reflecting concerns about job prospects, particularly as government wage support becomes less generous.

Potential first-time buyers have also found it difficult to secure a mortgage when they are unable to offer a large deposit, as lenders take a safety-first approach fearing defaults as finances are squeezed.

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