December house prices jump 4% as mortgage approvals rise

The latest House Price Index data from Halifax reports a 4% increase in December’s house prices from the previous year.

Over the course of 2019, the Halifax Index shows the average house price rose by £9,136 to reach £238,963, with the average property price in December leaping up £4,000. At 1.7% this was the biggest monthly increase of 2019, although November transactions were approximately 1.9% higher than the same time the previous year.

Figures from the Bank of England show that 64,994 mortgages were approved to finance house purchases in November, up 0.5% month-on-month and 1.4% year-on-year.

According to Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, the December surge was due to several factors including the Conservative election win encouraging buyers and sellers to get on with their transactions, and lenders concentrating on year-end and offering cut-price deals.

He said, “The signs are encouraging for 2020 with lenders keen to lend and plenty of money available to do so. It is a good time to be a borrower…”

Modest increases expected for 2020

The figures from Halifax are based on the lender’s own mortgage approvals. By comparison, Nationwide Building Society reported that its index shows house prices rising a more cautious 1.4% last year, but they too report the average property value up in excess of £4,000 to £215,282.

Halifax is expecting to see a modest increase in house prices in 2020, forecasting between 1% and 3%, as the shortage of homes for sale and low levels of house building limit supply.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, said: “Looking ahead, we expect uncertainty in the economy to ease somewhat in 2020, which should see transaction volumes increase and further price growth made possible by an improvement in households’ real incomes.”

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