U.K. Housing Market Growth Stalls for First Time Since April

U.K. house prices stalled in February for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, indicating the market may be losing momentum after a surge last year.

Prices were virtually unchanged following nine consecutive monthly increases, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday, citing Land Registry data. Prices rose 8.6% from a year earlier, up from 8% annual growth in January, mainly because of base effects from 2020 when lockdowns to control the coronavirus kept potential buyers at home.

Britain’s housing market has taken a softer tone after a boom in 2020 fueled by a tax break on purchases and historically low borrowing costs. Buyers also are bidding up properties outside city centers, anticipating more of them can work from home and avoid a five-day-a-week commute after the pandemic finishes.

U.K. Housing Market Growth Stalls for First Time Since April

The Land Registry figures are the most complete reading of the market but lag other surveys. Nationwide Building Society last month said prices dropped unexpectedly in February. Since then, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended the break on stamp duty, reviving confidence among real estate agents about the outlook for this year.

  • The average U.K. house price was 250,341 pounds ($348,725) in February 2021, up by 19,732 pounds from a year ago
  • Prices fell in the month in London, the northeast and east. They rose in all other regions except for the southwest, where values were unchanged
  • London remains the most expensive of any region in the U.K. with an average value of 496,269 pounds
  • Separate tax authority data show 190,980 residential property transactions were completed in March, reflecting deals agreed after the stamp duty holiday was introduced last July
  • Private housing rents rose 1.3% in the 12 months to March, the ONS said in a separate release. The biggest gain was in the South West, where rents rose 2.4%. In London, they gained just 0.5%, the least of any region.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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