Slight fall in average house price

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Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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House prices eased back from their previous record levels in December amid signs that the housing market has continued to cool, Nationwide Building Society has reported.

Across the UK, property prices lifted by 7.2% annually in December to reach £188,559 on average, edging slightly lower than an all-time high of £189,388 recorded in November.

Nationwide named London as the UK’s “top performer” for price growth in 2014, with prices there up by 17.8% year on year, reaching £406,730 typically.

Wales was the weakest-performing region, with values having increased by 1.4% annually to reach £141,631 on average.

St Albans in Hertfordshire was the city with the strongest house price growth across 2014, with prices there rising faster than those in London.

The average house price in St Albans has surged by 24% annually to reach £494,777 typically.

Reading has seen prices grow by 19% over the year, taking values to £318,333 on average. Meanwhile, Belfast has seen a 17% growth in values over 2014, with the average price there reaching £189,245.

Manchester was named as the “worst-performing” city, with values there showing a 0% increase over the last year and standing at £210,685 on average.

Nationwide’s chief economist, Robert Gardner, said all regions apart from the North of England have seen a slowing in the annual pace of price growth in the last three months of 2014.

In the last three months of the year in the North, house prices have increased by 4.4% compared with a year earlier, taking them to £121,486 on average. In the third quarter of the year, the annual pace of change in the North was 4.3%.

Despite the general slowdown seen towards the end of 2014, Mr Gardner said he expects housing market activity to pick up in the coming months as the economy continues to recover.

He said: “There are encouraging signs that construction is starting to pick up. Hopefully, this will set the stage for house price growth gradually converging with income growth in the quarters ahead.

“Recent changes to stamp duty may also have a modest positive effect on demand, especially in the South of England and Scotland.”

The much-criticised “slab” structure of stamp duty was completely overhauled in the Autumn Statement and replaced with a graduated version of the tax.

Mr Gardner said: “The greatest impact is likely to be for home owners looking to buy property just above £250,000, who could save around £5,000 in tax.”

Published: Tuesday 30th December 2014 by The News Editor

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