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House price growth falls to lowest level in five years

Tom Belger
Finance and policy reporter
UK property price growth is stalling. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images

Growth in the UK property market has fallen to a five-year low, with homes edging up just 2.5% in value over the past year.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the average British home gained £6,000 ($7,732) in value in the year to December 2018 — the lowest annual rise since July 2013.

The sluggish growth was largely a result of a slowdown in demand in the south and east of England, with London prices dropping 0.6% over the year.

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Prices in the capital have been falling since July 2018, which the ONS put down to its more expensive properties being hit harder by both tax and legal changes and lower EU migration.

London still remains the priciest place in Britain to buy a home, with the average property in the capital still an eye-watering £474,000.

While the market is heading downhill in some regions, prices are rising significantly in more surprising areas of the UK.

The Welsh property market is heating up significantly, with a 5.2% rise in the past year. The southeast of Wales saw the strongest growth, a rise attributed by the ONS to the abolition of tolls on the Severn Bridge crossings.

Northern Ireland saw the strongest growth of all in the UK, seeing prices up 5.5%. It remains the cheapest nation to buy a home, with the average property sold at £137,000 compared to £248,000 in England.

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The English region with the fastest-rising prices was the West Midlands, where homes were up 5.2% on a year earlier.

The December figures for Britain as a whole marked a 0.2% fall on growth numbers reported the previous month.

The ONS said the average UK house price at the end of last year was £231,000.

The Prince of Wales Bridge over the Severn. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire/PA Images.

But John Goodall, CEO of buy-to-let firm Landbay, suggested there were good reasons to expect prices to continue their long-term growth.

He told Yahoo Finance UK: “While political and economic uncertainty continues to loom, the combination of low interest rates, attractive house prices, and solid wage growth are giving buyers a little more financial breathing space.

“Any boost to affordability would go some way to rectifying the subdued transaction volumes we saw in 2018. In the longer term though, this could begin to push up house prices as demand outweighs supply.”

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