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House prices climb in every UK region for first time in nearly two years

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
A row of houses in Notting Hill in London. Official data from the Office for National Statistic showed an uptick in UK house prices in December. (Matt Crossick/EMPICS Entertainment)

House prices increased in every UK region in December for the first time in nearly two years, according to official data released on Wednesday.

The average house price was £235,000 ($305,480) in December, a £5,000 increase on the same month in 2018, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said on Wednesday.

Average annual house prices increased by 2.2% in December, a jump from the 1.7% level seen in November.

It was the first time that every single region of the UK saw upward price momentum since February 2018.

Read more: Energy, clothing, and airfares drive surprise jump in inflation

The ONS said that the fall in house prices seen in the north and east of England since the 2016 Brexit referendum has been partly reversed since the summer.

Prices in London climbed by 2.3% compared to the same month in 2018, the second consecutive annual increase.

The ONS suggested that the sharp rise in London may reflect high-value properties changing hands as a result of Brexit-related considerations or other financial issues.

“Price growth in London in particular has rebounded,” said Jamie Durham, an economist at PwC, noting that the country was experiencing the highest rate of growth since late 2017.

“This may suggest an end to North-South divide in house price growth that has been evident over the last couple of years.”

Analysts have broadly attributed an uptick in housing prices and a turnaround in the construction sector to December’s emphatic general election result, which has increased short-term certainty in the economy.

Read more: Frozen housing market thaws as UK buyers ‘move on from Brexit’

A series of other indicators have pointed to a similar surge in sentiment. Buyers have “moved on from Brexit” according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Members in every region of the UK said in this month’s RICS survey said they were optimistic that sales volumes would continue to rise in 2020.

Meanwhile, Rightmove said this week that a boom in buyer numbers had pushed average property prices close to record highs.

Asking prices on the property site have jumped by £2,589 over the past month, reaching an average of £309,000 in early February.

It leaves prices just £40 short of their all-time high for Rightmove sales in June 2018.