House prices rose in September at the fastest annual rate since the aftermath of the Brexit vote in 2016, according to the UK’s biggest building society, as buyers continued to take advantage of a benign market despite the coronavirus pandemic.
The average UK house price rose by 5% in September compared with the same month last year, to £226,129 – a record high, Nationwide reported.
The pandemic has shaken up the housing market, with the return of demand after the UK-wide lockdown and temporary cuts to stamp duty helping to sustain sales even as economists forecast a significant increase in unemployment over the coming quarter.
Prices rose by 0.9% month on month in September after jumping by 2% in the previous month as housing market activity surged, Nationwide said. Separate data published on Tuesday by the Bank of England showed that mortgage approvals during August had risen to the highest level in almost 13 years and the rival mortgage lender Halifax also reported record high UK prices in August.
Price jumps were evident across the UK, with the south-west of England and the commuter towns surrounding London recording increases of more than 5% in the third quarter of 2020 compared with a year earlier. Only in Scotland and the north-west of England did the pace of annual growth slow during the quarter.
Average prices within London hit a record high of £480,857 in September, leaving them 57% above their 2007 levels, shortly before the global financial crisis.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The rebound [in UK prices] reflects a number of factors. Pent-up demand is coming through, with decisions taken to move before lockdown now progressing.
“The stamp duty holiday is adding to momentum by bringing purchases forward. Behavioural shifts may also be boosting activity as people reassess their