Record house prices in Wales despite successive lockdowns

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The average house price in Wales has topped £200,000 for the first time, and now stands at £209,723, despite a series of lockdowns in 2020.

The figures have been released from Principality Building Society’s Wales House Price Index for Q4 2020 (October-December), which demonstrates the rise and fall in house prices in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales.

Last year showed the strongest annual house price inflation in 15 years (8.2%), while Principality’s report also noted record high house prices across most parts of Wales and all property types, with a double-digit percentage increase in prices in a third of local authorities. Eighteen local authorities hit new record highs in the prices recorded.

At the end of 2020, the record prices across each property type reflects a buoyant market. Detached home prices were 11% higher than a year ago, likely due to a so-called ‘race for space’ prompted by the pandemic. This is compared with 5-6% growth for most other property types.

Merthyr Tydfil recorded the strongest rise on a quarterly basis of 18.2% taking its average house price to £147,687, but this may be exaggerated by relatively modest sales data.  In north Wales,  Anglesey house prices rose by 16% annually to £237,782, while Conwy (£224,068) and Flintshire (£216,224) rose by 13.7% and 13.3% respectively.

In south Wales, Monmouthshire (£332,558), and Newport (£222,107) also achieved strong annual double-digit increases rising 14.2% and 12.1% respectively.

Tom Denman, Chief Financial Officer at Principality Building Society, said: “The strength of the housing recovery in the second half of 2020 is striking, and this reflects both the stimulus provided by the Welsh Government in terms of the time-limited Land Transaction Tax holiday, the pent-up demand which built up during the first lockdown, and the race for space to buy bigger properties with larger gardens. In Q4, all local authority areas were reporting house prices higher than a year earlier. This increased demand has been driven by increased savings in many households during the lockdowns coupled with continued historic low mortgage rates. There has probably been some additional demand from buyers across the border with England, with house prices more affordable in Wales in relative terms.

“The recent UK HM Treasury review of independent forecasts for 2021 showed wide divergences in house price expectations for the year. With so many unknowns it is impossible to offer a forecast with any reasonable accuracy. However, once there is more clarity on the containment of the virus and on the full re-opening of the economy, it will become easier.”

Overall transactions were down by 21% in 2020 compared to 2019, undoubtedly as a result of the impact the pandemic has had on the economy. The December RICS housing market survey indicated that buyer interest in Wales has been stronger and persisted for longer than in other parts of the UK.  On a range of metrics – buyer enquiries, instructions to sell, agreed sales, activity per surveyor and sales to stock ratio, Wales was equal to, or outperformed, the most active of English regions.

Rhys Gregory
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