Halifax has reported that house prices in the three months to December were 1.3% higher than in the same three months a year earlier – up from the 0.3% annual growth rate recorded in November.
However, house prices in the latest quarter (October-December) were 0.4% lower than in the preceding three months.
On a monthly basis, house prices increased by 2.2% in December, following a 1.2% fall in November.
The average house price is now £229,729.
Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “In December the average cost of a home was £229,729 and annual house price growth stood at 1.3%. A stronger monthly growth figure for December improved from a weaker November. Overall, house price growth in 2018 was very much within the range of 0-3% as we forecast at the start of the year.
“In 2019, we’re expecting continued stability in house prices with between 2% and 4% price inflation. This is slightly stronger than 2018, but still fairly subdued by modern comparison. However, this expectation will clearly be dependent on the Brexit outcome, with risks to both sides of our forecast.
“Of course, there are a number of other factors that will impact the market in 2019. The need to raise a significant deposit still acts as a restraint for those looking to buy a new home, limiting the number of potential purchasers.
“This year, mortgage payment affordability is more difficult to predict. There are competing pressures with signs of positive annual pay growth supporting affordability, but risks associated with the potential for higher interest rates are pulling in the other direction. On balance we do not see affordability pushing house price growth significantly in either direction.
“The shortage of homes for sale and continuing low levels of housebuilding both constrain the supply of houses, and in turn support high prices, which will continue to inhibit demand in 2019.”
Steve Seal, director of sales & marketing at Bluestone Mortgages, added: “With New Year resolutions in motion, it will be hoped that the market has some of its own – with the most important being to help more first-time buyers onto the property ladder. Although today’s statistics show that house price growth remains moderate, more can be done to ensure dreams of homeownership are not dispelled.
“High-street banks are still not catering for every borrower’s financial status, and as we see more people making the jump to self-employment, specialist lenders are on the rise – our Specialist Tracker research showed that 52% of mortgage brokers believe it would increase by at least £1 billion over the next six months.
“There’s no denying that specialist lenders are here to stay – reassuring borrowers that no matter what their financial situation is, homeownership is within reach.”