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The divergence in house price growth between southern England and regional cities continues, with overall HPI at 5.2%. London growth remains slow at +1%.
City house price growth running at 5%
UK city house price inflation is running at 5%, up from 4% a year ago. Edinburgh is the fastest growing city (+7.7%) with Birmingham, Manchester, Leicester and Liverpool all growing by more than 6% per annum.
Prices falling in real terms across five cities
There are five cities where house prices are falling in real terms – Southampton, London, Oxford plus two where prices are falling in nominal terms – Cambridge (-1.1%) and Aberdeen (-6.6%).
Price growth since 2009 ranges from +6% to +86%
The level of house price inflation since the end of the downturn in 2009 varies widely. Fig. 2 shows that growth ranges from 6% in Aberdeen to 86% in London. Oxford and Cambridge have performed like extensions of London, while robust price growth in Bristol has resulted in a 70% increase since 2009.
There is a clear gap to the remaining cities, each of which have experienced varied growth. These differentials are explained by economic and demand side factors. A similar pattern of relative performance was seen mid-way through the last housing cycle.
Timing and scale of growth varies over time
Over housing cycles housing markets register different growth rates at different times. Fig.3 shows the variation in the timing and scale of house price growth since 2009. By the end of 2013, the strongest growth had been registered in London as overseas and domestic buyers boosted demand.
In contrast, most large regional cities outside southern England failed to record a 10% increase in prices by the end of 2013. Glasgow and Liverpool continued to register price falls at this time. Only in the last 2 years have large regional cities started to record above house price growth on improved consumer confidence, rising employment and attractive affordability metrics.
Will all cities grow as much as London?
Cities outside southern England have further room for house price growth. We do not expect growth to match the increase registered in London as the market dynamics are different e.g. high levels of overseas and investor buying. There are also questions over the sustainability of pricing in London where gross yields are sub 4.5% and affordability levels are at an all time high. We expect average house prices in London to drift lower in real terms in the coming 2-3 years with lower turnover (down 16% since 2014) creating scarcity.
How much further can prices rise in regional cities?
We expect house prices in regional cities such as Birmingham and Manchester to increase by 20% to 30%. This is based on our analysis of how the last housing cycle unfolded and adjusting for today’s policy environment. It assumes mortgage rates remain low by historic standards and the economy to continues to grow. At current growth rates this will take 3 to 4 years to feed through into house prices.Fig.3 – Cumulative house price growth from 2009
UK city house price growth in February 2020 was +1.6%, higher than the +1.2% a year ago. That said, in recent weeks coronavirus has had a rapid impact on housing demand, which is 40% lower in the last week. Transaction volumes are set to decline by an estimated 60% in the next quarter with a further fall in sales volumes over Q3 2020.
This month's Cities Index is the second in a row to record a 3.9% increase year-on-year. This is taking average prices up to a nearly 3-year high. Prices have now also recovered across all English cities to pre-recession 2007 levels. Supply is still flat and outpaced by demand, at 2.6%.
This month’s Cities Index shows a continuation of the strong end to 2019. City house price growth is at a two-year high, at 3.9%. Coupled with a bounce in demand, which at 26% far exceeds the traditional new year boost, we see green shoots of returning market optimism. At a regional level, affordability of local stock is driving growth forecasts for Northern and Midlands cities, while in the South, the picture is more subdued.
Average UK city house prices have increased at an annual average rate of 4.4% per annum. While price falls in the latter part of 2018 suppressed the annual growth rate, these have dropped out of the annual growth calculation and explain the increase in the current annual rate of growth. The outlook for 2020 will be driven by affordability factors. We expect city house prices to increase by +3% over 2020 with above average growth in the most affordable cities and below average growth in cities across London and southern England.