UK house prices jump 7.3% as mortgage applications hit 12-year high

Britain's housing boom continues despite the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
Britain’s housing boom continues despite the coronavirus pandemic. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

Property prices leapt 7.3% year-on-year last month as Britain’s housing market boom continues, with lender Halifax reporting mortgage applications at a 12-year high.

Figures from the bank show the average residential home sold for £249,870 ($322,877) in September, with the highest annual rise since 2016.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, noted political uncertainty had weighed on prices last September, but said the market had still been “extremely strong” since the first national lockdown eased.

Prices were up 1.6% on the previous month in a third month in a row of gains. Growth has lost less steam than expected by analysts, who had predicted monthly growth of 0.6%.

It comes in spite of the resurgent coronavirus, tighter lockdown restrictions and the ongoing economic crisis, with some experts calling the property boom a “paradox.”

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“There has been a fundamental shift in demand from buyers brought about by the structural effects of increased home working and a desire for more space, while the stamp duty holiday is incentivising vendors and buyers to close deals at pace before the break ends next March,” said Galley.

He said Halifax had received more mortgage applications from both first-time buyers and home-movers than at any time since 2008 over the past three months.

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But Galley warned of “significant downward pressure” on house prices in the months to come as the economic downturn eventually dampens the market.

“It is highly unlikely that the housing market will continue to remain immune to the economic impact of the pandemic. The release of pent up demand and indeed the stamp duty holiday can only be temporary fillips and their impact will inevitably start to wane,” he said.

“And as employment support measures are gradually scaled back beyond the end of October, the spectre of increased unemployment over the winter will come into sharper relief.”

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