UK house prices see surprise pick-up, says Nationwide

UK house prices see surprise pick-up, says Nationwide

House price growth rebounded last month with the average value hitting a record high of £231,068, the Nationwide says.

Prices were up 6.9% from a year before, compared with 6.4% in January, the building society said.

“This increase is a surprise,” said the Nationwide’s Robert Gardner, as price growth had been expected to slow ahead of the end of the stamp duty holiday.

The holiday is due to end on 31 March although there have been reports it could be extended.

The stamp duty holiday means the tax has been suspended on the first £500,000 of all property sales in England and Northern Ireland since July.

An announcement on any changes in stamp duty could come in this week’s Budget.

The Nationwide said house prices rose by 0.7% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal effects, reversing the 0.2% monthly decline recorded in January.

However, it added that the outlook for the housing market was particularly uncertain right now, and the market could slow because of the employment situation. Many workers remain on furlough, and some of those jobs may not return.

Mr Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “It may be that the stamp duty holiday is still providing some forward momentum, especially given the paucity of properties on the market at present.

“Shifts in housing preferences may also be providing a more significant boost to demand, despite the uncertain economic outlook.

“Many peoples’ housing needs have changed as a direct result of the pandemic, with many opting to move to less densely populated locations or property types, despite the sharp economic slowdown and the uncertain outlook.”

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