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Agents upbeat at prospects for improved market in 2020

Annual UK house price growth exceeded one per cent for the first time in 12 months in December according to the Nationwide index.

The lender put the rise down to a healthy labour market offsetting economic uncertainty.

House prices rose 1.4 per cent over the 12 month period - a substantial increase on the annual 0.8 per cent recorded in November.

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Over the single month prices increased 0.1 per cent.

"Indicators of UK economic activity were fairly volatile for much of 2019, but the underlying pace of growth appeared to slow through the year as a result of weaker global growth and an intensification of Brexit uncertainty” explains Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner.

"The underlying pace of housing market activity remained broadly stable, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase continuing within the fairly narrow range prevailing over the past two years. Healthy labour market conditions and low borrowing costs appear to have offset the drag from the uncertain economic outlook” he continues.

"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.”

Gardner believes house prices will be broadly flat over the next 12 months.

Agents have been quick to take the figures as a sign of continued resilience from buyers and sellers - and perhaps a sign of better things to come.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “Buyers and sellers are shrugging off continuing concerns about Brexit and taking advantage of improved affordability, while negotiating hard so price rises remains modest. 

“This determination has been evidenced by the number of sales and lettings beginning to be negotiated between Christmas and New Year, with the number of market appraisals we have seen higher than the same time last year.  

“Values have been underpinned for some time by a shortage of stock but we don’t expect a sharp increase as upward pressure will be balanced out by more supply and broader concerns about the economy. Higher rises can be expected in areas where the ratio of house prices to earnings is low.”

 

 

 

And the director of Benham and Reeves agency, Marc von Grundherr, adds: “The first annual increase above one percent in as long as a year is certainly something to toast to. The cost of borrowing also remains at very favourable levels enabling more of us to secure a realistic financial foot on the ladder.”

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