Yearly house price growth increased to 5.8% in the year to October 2020, Nationwide's House Price Index has found. This represents an increase from the 5.0% growth in September 2020.

Monthly price growth has slowed from 0.9% between August and September to 0.8% between September and October. Commentators believe that data suggests that the economic recovery has lost momentum in recent months with economic growth slowing sharply to 2.1% in August, down from 6.4% in July, despite a strong boost to the hospitality sector from the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which has since expired.

Labour market conditions also weakened with the unemployment rate rising to 4.5% in the three months to August ' still low by historic standards, but up from an average of 3.8% in 2019. Nevertheless, housing market activity has remained robust. Mortgage approvals for house purchase climbed to 91,500 in September ' the highest level since 2007. The outlook remains highly uncertain and will depend heavily on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy.

Behavioural shifts as a result of Covid-19 may provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near term boost by bringing purchases forward. However, activity is likely to slow in the coming quarters, perhaps sharply, if the labour market weakens as most analysts expect, especially once the stamp duty holiday expires at the end of March.

About the Author: Glen Callow

Prime Accountants News Centre

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