House prices reach new record high – but Halifax warns market will slow when Covid support stops

THE average house price in the UK has topped a quarter of a million pounds for the first time in history – but is set to drop next year.

According to new data from Halifax, the average UK home cost £250,457 in October, which is the highest price on record.

The figure was 7.5% more than the average price in October 2019, making it the highest year-on-year growth for more than three years.

But compared to September 2020 the growth was much more modest at 0.3%.

Last week, building society Nationwide came up with a different figure saying that the average UK house was worth £227,826. 

Halifax said the housing market had been boosted by people looking for more space as a result of the recent lockdowns.

Since March, the price of a typical detached house has risen by 6% or £27,400, compared to just a 2% or £2,900 increase for flats.

There is also pent up demand among buyers who had to stall their search for a home because of lockdown in the spring.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said the number of people moving home at the moment  was “unusually high”.

People are also finding it easier to finance their new homes. The latest industry figures show home-buyer mortgage approvals at their highest level since 2007.

But it doesn’t look as if the market will be this buoyant for long.

 Halifax warned that house prices will drop again once government Covid support measures come to an end and people’s finances become less secure.

The temporary stamp duty holiday, introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak in July, means that people buying houses under £500,000 do not have to pay the tax. This could save them up to £15,000, but it comes to an end on 31 March.

The winding down of other support schemes like the furlough scheme could also contribute to a fall in house prices as many people’s finances will be less secure.

“The country’s struggle with COVID-19 is far from over,” Galley said.

“With a number of clear headwinds facing the housing market, we expect to see greater downward pressure on house prices as we move into 2021.”

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