The average UK house price fell by £10,000 in July compared with a month earlier, official figures show, as the housing market appeared to cool after the phasing out of the stamp duty holiday.
The average UK house price was £256,000 in July, which was £19,000 higher than a year earlier, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
Average house prices in the year to July rose by 8%. However, the increase was down on the 13% recorded in the 12 months to June. The housing market fell slightly in July, as many homebuyers had rushed to complete their purchases before the stamp duty holiday deadline of 30 June.
From 1 July 2020 until June 2021, buyers did not have to pay stamp duty on the first £500,000 of a purchase price of a property in England and Northern Ireland, provided the purchase was completed in time. The threshold at which stamp duty begins in the two nations fell to £250,000 on 1 July this year, and will return to the pre-pandemic level of £125,000 on 1 October.
According to the ONS data, average house prices rose at different rates in the four UK nations over the year, with the largest increase, just under 15%, in Scotland, where the average reached £177,000.
In Wales, the increase was almost 12%, taking the average price of a Welsh home to £188,000, while 9% was recorded in Northern Ireland, taking the average house price there to £153,000.
House prices climbed at the slowest rate in England, by 7%, although the nation records the UK’s highest average at £271,000.
London remained the region with the lowest annual growth (2.2%) for the eighth consecutive month.
Soaring house prices over the past year have pushed home ownership further out of reach for many people, said Nitesh Patel, a strategic economist at Yorkshire building society.
“With housing supply low relative to high demand, we can expect house prices to remain out of reach for many first-time buyers. And if rents also continue to increase, their ability to save up for a deposit will continue to diminish,” Patel said.
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Despite the slowdown in July, prices are not expected to fall any time soon, according to Sarah Coles, a personal finance analyst at broker Hargreaves Lansdown.
“There are no signs of imminent deflation, because the race for space, rock bottom mortgage rates, and the welcome return of first-time buyers are continuing to breathe life into the market,” she said.
“We still haven’t finished the process of reassessing how and where we want to live in a post-pandemic world. Many of those who were keen to move held back because they couldn’t find anything on the market, and they didn’t want to get embroiled in a bidding war.”
The ONS has said its July house price figures may go on to be revised in future, as there was less transaction data available than expected during the pandemic.