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City level house price growth rate is 6.4%, up from 4.9% at the end of last year. 2017Q1 saw city level house prices rise by 3.5%, the highest quarterly rate of price inflation for 3 years. House price inflation in London continues to slow and has now reached 4.9% yoy which means the capital is among the five slowest growing cities along with Oxford and Cambridge.
City house price growth 6.4%yoy
UK city house price growth is picking up momentum. House price growth in the first quarter of the year was 3.5%, the highest quarterly rate of growth for 3 years (Fig. 1). This has resulted in the annual growth rate increasing to 6.4%, up from 4.9% at the end of 2016 Q4 but still lower than 12 months ago (8.1%).
Growth at 12 year high in larger regional cities
The impetus for faster house price growth is emanating from large regional cities such as Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh with Newcastle. These cities have registered above average price increases over the first quarter of 2017 (see Table 2). Manchester remains the fastest growing city covered by the index where the annual growth rate is 8.8% followed by Birmingham at 8.0%.
Attractive affordability levels, record low mortgage rates and an improving economic outlook are all supporting demand for housing. Together with limited availability of stock for sale this is creating scarcity and an upward pressure on house prices. Price rises are not running away but house price growth is well ahead of earnings growth.
Prices rises at 12 year high in some regional cities
Fig. 3 shows the ratio between new supply and sales agreed comparing London to Birmingham and Manchester. It highlights how the balance between new supply and sales remains ‘tight’ in Birmingham and Manchester while market conditions have weakened in London. In the case of Birmingham (8.0%), Manchester (8.8%) and Newcastle (5.6%), continued improvement in underlying market conditions has resulted in the annual rate price increases reaching levels not seen since early-2005.
Southern cities ex-growth
In contrast, house price growth in London, Oxford and Cambridge has slowed to less than 5% for the first time in five years as affordability pressures, and tax changes for investors, constrain demand. It is clear that in London sales are failing to keep pace with supply. Stock that is on the market will require downward price adjustments in order to sell.
Election impact and immediate outlook
Buyers outside the south of England appear to be shrugging off concerns over Brexit and a squeeze on real incomes to take advantage of low mortgage rates. The announcement of the General Election may create some short term uncertainty although comparing the profile of sales volumes between election years and non-election years there is no material difference.
Compared to the level of uncertainty over Brexit, it is debateable whether the election will really make a material difference to buyers’ decision in the next two months. In our view the current market trends appear well set for the rest of 2017 where above average growth in regional cities offsets weak, single digit increases in southern cities.
Fig. 3 - Ratio of new supply to sales agreed
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.