UK house prices pick up 6.9pc

3 March, 2021 12:00 AM printer

LONDON: British houses picked up unexpectedly in February with surprise annual growth of 6.9 per cent, compared to 6.4 per cent in January, according to lender Nationwide.

The average house price reached £231,068 ($320,920) last month, despite expectations of a slowdown in the housing market as finance minister Rishi Sunak prepares new budget measures to boost the property market, report agencies.

In February alone, house prices rose 0.7 per cent reversing a 0.2 per cent decline in January.

“This increase is a surprise. It seemed more likely that annual price growth would soften further ahead of the end of the stamp duty holiday, which prompted many people considering a house move to bring forward their purchase,” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist.

“While the stamp duty holiday is not due to expire until the end of March, activity and price growth would be expected to weaken well before that, given that the purchase process typically takes several months.”

Britain’s mortgage approvals remained “robust” in January, another signal of a strong market, with UK lenders approving 98,994 home loans in January, according to the Bank of England, down about 4,000 from 102,809 seen in December.