House prices hit a fresh high in February, data published on Monday showed, as consumer confidence improved following last year’s decisive general election.
According to Rightmove, the UK average new seller asking price hit a record high of £312,625, a 1.0% month-on-month increase that pushed annual price growth up to 3.5%.
The number of sales agreed rose by 17.8%, the highest for the time of year since 2016. Overall, properties sold an average of 6% faster nationally and 15 days more quickly in London.
The UK housing market – and the capital in particular – has struggled in recent years. Ongoing political turmoil over Brexit and successive general elections dampened consumer confidence and saw prices dip as sales fell away.
The Conservative’s decisive general election victory and the UK’s subsequent departure from the European Union have helped ease that uncertainty, however.
In London, the price of property coming to market jumped 5.1% year-on-year, to an average of £638,826, the highest annual growth rate since May 2016. The number of sales agreed ratcheted ahead 34.4%, the highest level for four years.
However, the survey conceded that going forward, the outlook was now less certain.
“The market has been waiting for several years for a window of certainty, and 2020 seemed set to be the year when many would look to make a move and satisfy their pent-up housing needs,” said Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst.
“However, the current fast pace of the housing market could now be temporarily affected by the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. We expect that housing market statistics, like other economic indicators, could be prone to volatility over the spring and summer.”
Marc von Grundherr, director at London estate agent Benham and Reeves, said: “London is now back with a bang. An annual increase in asking prices of 5.1% is the highest level that we have seen in years, and is as a consequence of buyer demand coming back strongly in all price ranges.
“Covid-19 is of course a significant issue, albeit that enquiry levels and viewings do seem to be holding up for now, and we should remain optimistic for swift resolution to the pandemic followed by a robust response from markets including property.”
Rightmove measured 111,464 asking prices, which it said was around 95% of the UK market, for its latest monthly survey. The properties were put up for sale between 9 February and 7 March.
By Abigail Townsend