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City level house price growth accelerating: Annual house price inflation across UK Cities is rising once again on the back of low mortgage rates, tight supply and a 32% increase in transactions volumes since April 2015.
City level house price growth accelerating
City level house price inflation is running at 8.5%, up from 7.2% in April (figure 1). House prices are up by 4.3% in the last 3 months – the highest quarterly growth rate for 11 years.
All cities with the exception of Aberdeen are registering house growth ahead of growth in average earnings (currently 2.4%). The highest year on year growth is 10.9% in Cambridge followed by Oxford, London and Bristol. The lowest growth rate is being registered in Aberdeen (-0.7%) where the weakness in the oil price is impacting the local economy and demand for housing. Other cities with below average house price growth are Newcastle, Liverpool and Sheffield where annual growth is running between 2.5% and 4.5%.
Table 1 - UK 20 city index summary, July 2015
Source: Hometrack House Price Indices
There is room for further catch-up in house prices. Nine of the twenty cities still have average prices that are lower than 2007 levels although this gap is narrowing rapidly. The relative performance of house prices since 2007 remains wide and reflects different economic and demand side drivers of house prices.
Average prices in London are 40% higher than in 2007 and 14% higher in Bristol. Cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow have registered a resurgence in growth more recently post the Scottish referendum although average prices remain 2% and 11% below their peak.
City level house prices register the highest quarterly growth for the last 11 years
More growth to come in near term
Low mortgage rates, economic growth and rising earnings will continue to stimulate demand and put an upward push on house prices across most cities. As an international city, London is out on its own setting new highs for prices and (un)affordability. How long this can be sustained is down to the prospects for the different segments of demand, specifically international buyers, domestic investors and domestic home owners. Overall we expect city level house price inflation to remain on course to end the year at 10% year on year.Figure 2 - House price inflation by city (%yoy)
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.
UK city house price inflation is higher as prices start to firm up in London and Southern England. Large regional cities continue to post above average price growth on the back of rising demand and attractive affordability, supported by low mortgage rates. London is experiencing its highest rate of growth for 2 years and follows a period of modest price falls.
HPI is currently running at +2.4%, half the average growth over the last five years, and below average earnings growth. Time to sell has hit a 3 year high, while discount to asking price has widened across UK cities. Despite this, underlying market conditions still vary widely across large areas of the country.
With HPI moderating at 1.9%, it appears the slowdown in house price growth is an indication of a return to a more sustainable pace of price growth. However, a change in buyer mix from cash buyers to those with mortgages, plus wide variance in the recovery of house prices is sending mixed signals about current housing market activity.