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House prices were 1.4 per cent higher year-on-year in December, the first rise of more than one per cent for 12 months.

According to research from Nationwide, after seasonal factors had been considered prices rose by 0.1 per cent in December.

Numbers of first time buyers have also continued to recover, reaching 354,400 in the twelve months to October.

The figure is more than double the 155,000 recorded in 2009 and 12 per cent below the 2006 peak.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardiner said that despite volatile economic indicators for much of 2019, the UK’s housing market had remained broadly stable.

He added: “Looking ahead, economic developments will remain the key driver of housing market trends and house prices.

“Much will continue to depend on how quickly uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationships lifts as well as the outlook for global growth.

“Overall, we expect the economy to continue to expand at a modest pace in 2020, with house prices remaining broadly flat over the next twelve months.”

However, London prices fell for the tenth consecutive quarter, with an overall annual decline of 1.8 per cent.

Despite the continued decline, prices remain only five per cent below the all time highs of 2017.

David Westgate, chief executive at Andrews Property Group, welcomed the news:

“Christmas and the small matter of a General Election made December difficult to read but the fact that annual price growth was above one per cent for the first time in a year will be seen by many as a positive precursor to 2020.

“There is an exceptional amount of pent-up demand in the market that has the potential to drive prices higher. Add to that continued low borrowing costs and the strong jobs market and you have all the ingredients for growth.”

Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of housing lender Octane Capital, said he expected London’s performance to improve this year:

“London may have been the weakest performing region in 2019 but that may well change this year.

“The capital certainly won’t be returning to the obscene growth rates of yesteryear but it may drag itself off the bottom of the table.”

By Edward Thicknesse

Source: City AM

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