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House price inflation is at 4.6% year on year, with prices falling across 20 local authorities in London. The gap between London and other cities is set to narrow, mirroring the trend over 2002-2005.
City house price growth running at 4.6%
UK city house price inflation was +4.6% over the last 12 months. House price growth across the twenty cities ranges from 7.1% to -5.7% (Fig.1).
Edinburgh and Manchester continue to register the highest rates of growth at 7.1% and 7.0%, respectively. House prices are falling in real terms across five cities – Belfast, Oxford, London, Cambridge and Aberdeen.
Prices falling across 20 local authorities in London
House price growth across the London City index is now 0.4% over the last 12 months. Prices are falling in nominal terms by up to -3.2% across almost half of the 46 local authority areas covered by the index.
Gap between London and other cities to narrow
With house prices in regional cities rising faster than London, the gap between London and the rest is narrowing. Figure 2 shows the ‘price relative’ between London and selected other cities (this is simply the ratio of the city to London as the base at 100%). It shows how, over the housing cycle, the price relative between London and other cities expands and contracts.
Price relatives reflect different drivers over time
Across all cities, the price relative ranges from 90% to 24% (Table 2). The size of the price relative between London and other cities reflects variations in the timing and levels of economic growth, incomes, job creation, available supply and the flows of net new investment.
Price relative set to narrow in regional cities
Over the next 12-24 months we expect the gap between London and other cities to narrow further, mirroring the trend over 2002-2005. Back then, London house price growth was weak after a period of out-performance from 1996-2000. In contrast, regional housing markets had under-performed and only started to register strong growth from 2001 onwards, which closed the gap to London.
How much can the house price relative close?
Figure 3 shows the level of house price growth required to return the price relative to one of two benchmarks – 1) the long run average and 2) the ‘high’ registered between 2002 and 2005. In cities that have registered strong house price growth, such as Bristol and Cambridge, the gap to the long run average is less than 5%. However, house price growth of 20% to 25% would be required to return the relative to the previous high in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool and Leeds.
Price falls in London can also reduce the gap
It is important to note that the narrowing of the price gap is not just about house prices rising in regional cities but prices in London falling in nominal terms. On balance we see the narrowing in the price relative being driven by price growth in regional cities but the weakness of price growth in London will support the overall trend over the medium term.Fig. 3 – Growth to return price relative to benchmark
UK city house price inflation is registering +1.7%. Glasgow leads on house price growth at +5.1%, the lowest growth rate of the best performing city since 2012. London is the slowest growing city with growth registering at -0.5%.
Weaker market conditions mean cities house price inflation has slowed to 1.7%. As affordability pressures grow, London's weak growth spreads across southern England. Sales volumes in southern cities are 13% lower than in 2015. Conversely, sales volumes are 19% higher than 2015 in regional cities. The cities registering the highest rate of growth at present are those where recovery in prices since 2008 has been weakest.
House price inflation is currently sitting at +2.8% annually, with growth ranging from +6.8% in Leicester to +0.2% in Cambridge. Prices are up 17% in two regional cities since the Brexit vote, and growth in London rises to +0.4%.
The 20-city index is registering house price inflation of 2.9%. Growth ranges from +6% in Leicester to -1.6% in Aberdeen. Comparison of time to sell and discounts to asking price indicates the strength of city housing markets, with twelve cities having relatively strong market fundamentals.