UK house prices fall by around 0.6% as average rent hits record high of £1,238

By Staff

The average UK house price was £2,000 lower in January than it was a year earlier

The average UK house price was £2,000 lower in January than it was a year earlier.

The average UK house price fell by about 0.6% in the year to January 2024, according to an index. This made the average price of a home in the UK £282,000, which was £2,000 less than 12 months before.

This followed a drop of 2.2% in the 12 months to December 2023, said the Office for National Statistics (ONS). In the 12 months to January 2024, average house prices went down in England to £299,000 (down by 1.5%), went down in Wales to £213,000 (falling by 0.8%), and went up in Scotland to £190,000 (up by 4.8%).

Average house prices went up by 1.4% to £178,000 in the year to the fourth quarter of 2023 in Northern Ireland. In the English regions, the biggest yearly house price inflation was in the North West, where prices went up by 1.0% in the 12 months to January.

London was the English region with the smallest yearly house price inflation, with prices going down by 3.9% in the 12 months to January. Across the UK, average private rents went up by 9.0% in the 12 months to February 2024, the ONS said, showing the strongest yearly growth since UK records started in January 2015. The average private rent in Britain was £1,238 in February, which was £102 more than 12 months before.

Across Britain, the highest average monthly private rent in February was in Kensington and Chelsea, London (£3,248) and the lowest was in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland (£472). Outside of London, Bristol had the highest average private rent in February at £1,734.

New numbers show that inflation went down more than forecast in February, raising hopes that interest rates might get cut soon. In February, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation was 3.4%, which is less than the 4% it was in January. Experts think that inflation will probably go below the Bank of England’s goal of 2% around April or May.

Andrew Montlake from Coreco mortgage brokers, said about the inflation number: “It should relieve some pressures on swap rates which will see lenders start to reduce mortgage rates once more.”

Matt Smith from Rightmove, said: “Today’s news is positive, and every day is one step closer to when we might see the first base rate reduction, and mortgage rates are likely to reduce before this. I don’t think this will change the course of the Bank of England’s decision on the base rate tomorrow, but I expect both the Bank and home movers will have some renewed optimism for the direction the economy and mortgage rates are heading in after today.”

David Hollingworth from L&C Mortgages said: “The expected fall in the rate of inflation should mean that mortgage borrowers can rest easy and today’s news shouldn’t result in any big market swings. Fixed (mortgage) rates have been nudging back up in the last month after rates dropped sharply in the early part of the year.”

Verona Frankish, the big boss of Yopa, said: “With this morning’s inflation numbers coming in slightly better than expected, all eyes will be fixed on the Bank of England this week in anticipation of a base rate reduction. While we expect these hopes may be a tad premature with respect to this week’s decision, it’s seemingly a matter of when, not if, a cut does materialise.”

“When it does, it’s likely to act as a shot in the arm to the UK property market, bringing further stability, boosting buyer sentiment and increasing both transaction levels and house prices as a result.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “Increased activity in the market is likely in coming months with inflation once again falling and a reduction in interest rates potentially on the way.”

Nicky Stevenson, who runs the estate agent group Fine & Country, said: “Stock levels have been increasing, and the market is becoming much more balanced. However, pricing sensibly remains important, particularly for sellers who are pinning hopes on a quick move.”

Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agent Jackson-Stops, said: “Across the Jackson-Stops network in February we saw an uplift month-on-month in appraisals, listings and exchanges, as well as a consistent number of prospective buyer inquiries year-on-year.”

Nathan Emerson, the boss of Propertymark, said: “We are now entering spring, which traditionally is one of the busiest times of the year for the housing market.”

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