House prices up 1.9% in January: Nationwide

House prices ticked upwards by 1.9 per cent in the year to January, reaching an average of £215,897, the latest index from Nationwide reveals.

The annual growth figure was up from 1.4 per cent in December, which followed 12 successive months in which increases were below 1 per cent.

Month on month prices rose by 0.5 per cent between December and January.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner says that indicators of UK economic activity were fairly volatile for much of 2019, but the underlying pace of growth slowed through the year as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty.

He says: “The underlying pace of housing market activity has remained broadly stable, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase continuing within the fairly narrow range prevailing over the past two years.”

Gardner believes house prices are being supported by the healthy labour market and low borrowing costs.

Economic factors are likely to drive housing market trends in the year ahead, he says.

Gardner adds: “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.

“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.”

Andrews Property Group chief executive David Westgate says: “While prices didn’t skyrocket in January, compared to just three months ago the mood in the property market has changed quite materially.

“There is a huge amount of pent-up demand in the market and we are already seeing it start to come through.

But he says that the signs for Spring are promising, but February will be the real test of confidence.

Westgate adds “How the market responds once we have formally exited the EU could set the tone for the rest of the year.”

James Pendleton estate agents founder Lucy Pendleton says: “This index lands two days after UK Finance also revealed that home buyer mortgages were up 24 per cent annually in December so Britons really look to be on the move.

“January usually marks a return of listings and viewings after the Christmas break.”

She says that in London agents are seeing increased interest from foreign buyers and a return of enthusiasm to move among domestic consumers.

Pendleton adds: “More footfall, more listings, more viewings and more offers over asking price have all marked out this month as the strongest start to any year this century.”

Original article by Leah Milner – Mortgage Strategy