The property market in the UK improved slightly in December with annual price growth of 1.3%, up from the 0.3% recorded in November, according to the latest lender index.
This took the average price to £229,729 and overall in 2018 house price growth was within the 0% to 3% forecast from lender the Halifax.
The data from the Halifax index also shows that month on month prices increased by 2.2% in December following a fall of 1.2% in the previous month but on a quarterly basis prices were 0.4% lower.
‘In 2019, we’re expecting continued stability in house prices with between 2% and 4% price inflation. This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison. However, this expectation will clearly be dependent on the Brexit outcome, with risks to both sides of our forecast,’ said Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax.
He pointed out that there are a number of other factors that will impact the market in 2019 and the need to raise a significant deposit still acts as a restraint for those looking to buy a new home, limiting the number of potential purchasers.
‘This year, mortgage payment affordability is more difficult to predict. There are competing pressures with signs of positive annual pay growth supporting affordability, but risks associated with the potential for higher interest rates are pulling in the other direction. On balance we do not see affordability pushing house price growth significantly in either direction,’ he explained.
‘The shortage of homes for sale and continuing low levels of housebuilding both constrain the supply of houses, and in turn support high prices, which will continue to inhibit demand in 2019,’ he added.
But the figures suggest the market is still erratic, according to Andy Soloman, chief executive officer of Yomdel, who pointed out that figures are still down on a quarterly basis. ‘Despite the strong monthly growth, this erratic movement will do little to stabilise a market that has and will continue to suffer from wider political uncertainty,’ he said.
‘While other external factors such as mortgage affordability and a lack of stock may continue to stimulate the market to a certain extent, we’ve already seen a number of inbound buyer and seller enquiries stating concerns over Brexit so far this year,’ he added.
Kevin Roberts, director of the Legal & General Mortgage Club, believes that the market is seeing sustainable levels of growth. ‘Couple this with lenders lowering interest rates for small deposit buyers and first time buyers are getting much-needed support to get onto the housing ladder,’ he said.
‘It’s not just lenders that are stepping up to help buyers though. Government Schemes such as Help to Buy and Shared Ownership continue to play a positive role in our housing market too. With a wide range of innovative solutions and support on hand for buyers, we hope to see more and more individuals take their step into homeownership over the year ahead,’ he added.