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The pick up in house price growth over the last 18 months has spread across the UK with all 20 cities covered by Hometrack’s index registering house price growth of over 5% per annum. Average earnings are rising at just 1.3% per annum. This is the first time in a decade that all 20 cities have simultaneously registered growth of more than 5%p per annum.
London and Bristol are registering the highest rates of growth at 17.3% and 13.2% respectively. Glasgow and Liverpool are registering the slowest annual growth at 5.5% per annum against a UK average of 9.2%.
Cities with the lowest rate of growth in the spring have seen the strongest pick-up as prices rise off a low base e.g. Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle.
While the trend has been a steady acceleration in house price growth, there are clear signs that momentum is starting to slow. In the three months to May 2014 the average monthly increase in UK house prices was 1%. In the three months to October 2014 this has now slowed to 0.6% as demand softens.
There are a number of factors at play. First there is less pent-up demand for housing than 2 years ago. Those households that wanted to move and were in a financial position to do so are likely to have done so.
Second, the introduction of mortgage affordability tests in April and the more recent introduction of loan to income caps in October are constraining demand from marginal buyers i.e. those requiring a sizable mortgage relative to their income and/or those whose finances are less well able to deal with an increase in interest rates.
Growth across 20 UK cities outpaces earnings
The impact has been particularly evident in London where absolute prices are highest and house price growth has been strongest, especially in ‘emerging market’ areas of inner south east and inner north east London where first time buyers have been active.
Weaker demand is feeding more quickly into house prices in smaller cities such as Oxford and Cambridge where prices are down by an average of -0.4% and -0.8% respectively in the last three months. Price falls have also been registered in Aberdeen (-0.7% ave. in last quarter) where a falling oil price is impacting on market sentiment in an economy buoyed by the strength of the oil price in recent years.
Elsewhere across the largest cities the overall trend has been steady upwards growth with average prices moving back towards levels last seen in 2007.
The emerging slowdown in the housing market will be welcome news for policy makers who want to avoid a debt fuelled acceleration in house prices supported by record low mortgage rates. We expect the rate of house price growth to slow further in the run up to the year end.Fig 3: Relative performance of selected cities
City level house price inflation is running at 6.9% while growth in London (6.4%) is running at its lowest level for 4 years and set to slow further. House prices in many regional cities where the recovery has been muted have material upside so long as the economy continues to grow and mortgage rates remain low.
House price inflation in Manchester hits 12 year high. Growth in regional cities continues to overhaul London which dropped to 7th in the city house price growth rankings for 2016. Bristol is still the fastest growing city +9.6% but could be overtaken by Manchester in Q1.
City level house price growth is running at 7.7%, in line with our projections this time last year. We expect city house price growth to slow to 4% in 2017 with weaker growth in London and other southern cities offset by sustained growth in large regional cities.
City level house price growth is holding steady at 8.4%. This month we reveal an updated view on city level affordability. This finds that after an 86% uplift in house prices since 2009, the price to earnings ratio in London now sits above 14x with Oxford and Cambridge close behind. Other cities are at or below their long run average. Read the Report to find out what this means for city level house price inflation.