The average UK house price has topped £260,000 for first time, after surging by nearly £30,000 over the past 12 months.
The typical property value reached £260,230 in February, Nationwide Building Society said.
In cash terms, the average house price in February was £29,162 higher than a year earlier, the biggest annual cash increase the monthly index has recorded in more than 30 years of its existence.
Nationwide added that the price of a typical home is now about a fifth (20%) higher than it was back in February 2020, just before the coronavirus lockdowns started in the UK. This equates to a cash increase of more than £44,000.
As house price growth has outpaced wage increases and housing affordability has become stretched, the price of a typical home now sits at about 6.7 times average earnings, up from a ratio of 5.8 in 2019, according to Nationwide.
Annual UK house price growth accelerated to 12.6% in February 2022. Prices were up by 1.7% month on month.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Annual house price growth accelerated to 12.6% in February, up from 11.2% in January and the strongest pace since June last year.
“Prices rose by 1.7% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal effects, the seventh consecutive monthly increase.
“The price of a typical home rose above £260,000 for the first time in February, an increase of £29,162 over the past 12 months.
“This is the largest ever annual increase in cash terms since the start of our monthly index in 1991.
“The price of a typical home is now £44,138 (20%) higher than in February 2020 – the month before the pandemic struck the UK.”
Mr Gardner said housing market activity has remained robust in recent months, with mortgage approvals continuing to run above pre-pandemic levels at the start of the year.
He said: “A combination of robust demand and limited stock of homes on the market has kept upward pressure on prices.
“The continued buoyancy of the housing market is a little surprising, given the mounting pressure on household budgets from rising inflation, which reached a 30-year high of 5.5% in January, and since borrowing costs have started to move up from all-time lows in recent months.
“The strength is particularly noteworthy since the squeeze on household incomes has led to a significant weakening of consumer confidence.”
Mr Gardner said the economic outlook is uncertain, although it is likely that the housing market will slow.
He said: “The squeeze on household incomes is set to intensify, with inflation expected to rise above 7% in the coming months.
“Indeed, there is scope for inflation to rise even further as events in Ukraine threaten to send global energy prices even higher.
“Assuming that labour market conditions remain strong, the Bank of England is also likely to raise interest rates, which will exert a further drag on the market if this feeds through to mortgage rates.
“Housing affordability has already become more stretched, in part because house price growth has been outstripping earnings growth by a wide margin since the pandemic struck.
“The price of a typical home is now equivalent to 6.7 times average earnings, up from 5.8 in 2019.”
Karen Noye, a mortgage expert at wealth managers Quilter, said: “Prices now on average stand an incredible £29,000 higher than they were a year ago.
“For first-time buyers these increases represent a game of cat and mouse where prospective buyers just manage to save enough for a deposit before the cost of their first home is just out of reach again.”
Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, said: “The harsh reality is rising rents, ballooning inflation which continues to outstrip wage growth, and a lack of affordable housing has priced many out of the market.”
Amanda Aumonier, head of mortgage operations at online mortgage broker Trussle, said: “Alongside the overall increase on household bills, the past week has seen petrol and diesel prices rise significantly – something that may hit those saving for potential house deposits.”
Iain McKenzie, chief executive of the Guild of Property Professionals, said: “Demand is driving this upward trend and in many areas, hordes of prospective buyers are ready and waiting for the right property to come on the market.”
Nicky Stevenson, managing director at estate agent group Fine & Country said: “This is a remarkable bull run and the prospect of any house price correction seems rather remote for the time being.”
Phillip Stevens, director of London-based estate agency Antony Roberts said: “What is happening with prices is very different depending on the profile of the property. Flats without outside space are still struggling to sell, whereas houses are few and far between and increasing in value.
“As long as there is a shortage of supply and significant demand, pricing will be bullish.”
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