Author : Maryanne Bowring
In 2020 our lives were transformed by Covid-19. Unfortunately 2021 started with tighter restrictions and the likelihood of a third national lockdown, despite the promise of vaccinations during the next few months. But for many homeowners there is a chink of light – house prices.
According to the latest data from the Halifax, house prices across the UK grew by an average 10% in 2020, with the biggest percentage increases in parts of London, Yorkshire, the West Midlands and northern Scotland. In London’s Islington, the average property price jumped a massive 13.4% - the equivalent of £85,918 - in 2020, closely followed by Croydon which showed a 10.9% increase. This is more than double the average percentage growth of 6% recorded in the Greater London area. However, Halifax reports that prices in London are now a tale of two halves; in contrast to Islington, the cost of homes in Hackney fell by 1.4% - that's an average fall of £9,843 compared to 2019. So some good news for buyers in this popular borough which saw the second biggest price drop in the UK, after Paisley in Scotland.
Elsewhere in the country, Leeds showed the second highest hike of 11.3% in average house prices; slightly higher than the regional average of 9% across Yorkshire and Humberside. In Wolverhampton too there is good news for sellers as homes now cost 9.5% more with the average price standing at £217,837. The latest data from Zoopla reveals an average increase of £10,000 in prices across the board. To put these figures into perspective, this means an average increase in values of £27.81 per day. The online agent’s figures show that locations outside London with the biggest increase in housing value include homes in coastal and rural locations. This clearly reflects the pandemic-driven instinct of potential buyers to look for a different lifestyle - and more space, Zoopla puts homes in Windsor in first place after those in the capital, with an increase in value of £29,063 in 2020. Other locations in Zoopla’s top ten and within commuting distance to London include Winchester in Hampshire, St Albans and Bishops Stortford in Hertfordshire.
So good news for homeowners but depressing reading for anyone saving for a deposit and hoping to take their first step on the housing ladder this year. As the Chancellor’s Stamp Duty holiday comes to an end, this is likely to be made even harder in 2021. Let’s hope the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda will include the problem of affordability, which affects thousands of people around the country and cannot be solved by housebuilding alone.
Mary-Anne Bowring FIRPM FRICS FARLA FCABE Founder/Head of Asset Management
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