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UK house prices surge again despite cost of living squeeze

House prices
House prices in England remain the highest in the UK. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Britain's house prices have continued kept soaring last month despite 30-year high inflation and a worsening cost-of-living crisis.

The average property price rose by 10.9% over the year to February 2022, up from 10.2% in January 2022, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Prices increased 0.8% in the month, following a 1.1% monthly rise in January, despite the prospect of interest rate rises to tame inflation, pushing up borrowing costs.

That means the average home in the UK cost £277,000 ($360,137), £27,000 higher compared to the same time last year.

"The property market continues to defy gravity. Despite rising rates and runaway inflation putting the squeeze on affordability, February saw another record average price, and it was another month where your house made about as much money as you did," said Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

England recorded the highest house prices across the four nations. Average house prices increased over the year in England to £296,000, or 10.7%, in Wales to £205,000 (14.2%), in Scotland to £181,000 (11.7%) and in Northern Ireland to £159,000 (7.9%).

England house prices remain the highest in the UK. Chart: ONS
England house prices remain the highest in the UK. Chart: ONS

While al regions saw increases, London continues to have the lowest annual growth at 8.1%.

The fast rise in UK rental prices also continued, recording their largest annual growth since 2016.

Private rental prices paid by tenants in Britain increased by 2.4% in the 12 months to March 2022, but rents jumped by 3.3% if London is excluded, the ONS said.

"London’s rental price growth in March 2022 (0.4%) remains the lowest of any of the English regions," ONS added. "This reflects a decrease in demand, with remote working shifting housing preferences as workers no longer need to be close to offices."

Read more: Buy-to-let investors snapping up one in every 10 houses sold in UK

Myron Jobson, senior personal finance analyst at interactive investor, said: "House price growth continues to defy expectations – much to the frustration of many wannabe homeowners who find themselves priced out of the market.

"With inflation hitting its highest rate since 1992 in March, and set to balloon further in the coming months, the escalating cost-of-living crisis will surely have a cooling effect on the red-hot property market.

Rising prices eats into disposable income, making it harder to save for a deposit, while the recent hikes in interest rates, and the likelihood of more, have driven up the cost of mortgages. Fast-rising rents exacerbates matters."

Read more: London room rents hit record high of £794

However, inflation was not just rampant in the UK's property market. Separate data released on Wednesday showed UK inflation jumped to a fresh 30-year high of 7% in the year to March, up from 6.2% in February.

March's ONS reading marks the sixth consecutive month that the print outstripped forecasts, worsening a cost of living crisis threatening to derail the nation’s economic recovery, and putting pressure on chancellor Rishi Sunak to help struggling households.

The scale of the crisis will become even more striking in April, when a 54% rise in the energy price cap kicks in. The Bank of England, which is on course to raise interest rates for the fourth month in a row in May, has predicted that inflation could peak above 8% this month.

Watch: Will UK house prices ever fall?