A huge surge in property prices in September has pushed the average cost of a UK home to a record high.
The Halifax House Price index rose by 1.7 per cent last month – equivalent to more than £4,400 – pushing the average price of a UK home to £267,587.
The monthly rise was the sharpest seen since February 2007, and meant that house prices have risen by 7.4 per cent in the past year.
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Buyers have been incentivised to pursue their housing transactions throughout the pandemic by the Government’s stamp duty holiday.
The scheme meant that house purchases up to £500,000 made between 8 July 2020 and 30 June 2021 were exempt from stamp duty, with the zero rate applying to the first £250,000 of a purchase price from 1 July to 30 September this year.
The rates have now reverted to their pre-pandemic levels, meaning that a zero rate is only applied to the first £125,000.
However, Halifax’s Russell Galley said the stamp duty holiday was not the only factor behind the rush or purchases.
“While the end of the stamp duty holiday in England – and a desire amongst homebuyers to close deals at speed – may have played some part in these figures, it’s important to remember that most mortgages agreed in September would not have completed before the tax break expired,” he said.
“This shows that multiple factors have played a significant role in house price developments during the pandemic.
“The ‘race-for-space’ as people changed their preferences and lifestyle choices undoubtedly had a major impact.”
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Mr Galley said the price of flats had risen by just 6.1 per cent (equivalent to £6,640) compared to 8.9 per cent for semi-detached properties and 8.8 per cent (equivalent to nearly £41,000) for detached.
Henry Pryor, a housing market expert, tweeted that while a record average price had been reached, the “rate [of growth] is slowing”.
Experts suggest there are several factors that could now lead the housing market to cool, such as the rising cost of living – notably due to household energy bills – as well as the prospect of tax rises, with National Insurance rising by 1.25 per cent in April.
However, the cost of borrowing remains low meaning that affordability might be less of an issue for some buyers.
Neal Hudson, a UK housing market analyst at BuiltPlace, noted that mortgage rates were back to pre-pandemic lows.