Average house prices in December were up 0.8% on a month-on-month basis after taking account of seasonal factors. figures from Nationwide have shown. 

All regions saw a pickup in house price growth rates in Q4, with East Midlands the strongest region with an annual growth of 8.6%.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “Housing market conditions have remained robust in recent months, even as the wider economic recovery lost momentum and the UK economy faced the prospect of further lockdowns and continued uncertainty about the UK’s future international trading relationships.

Start of the new year could mark a turning point for prices

“The number of mortgages approved for house purchase each month reached their highest level for a decade in October, nearly 50% above the monthly average recorded in 2019. Indeed, by the end of October, the total number of mortgages approved for house purchase in 2020 was only 7% below the total recorded over the same period in 2019.

“The outlook remains highly uncertain. Much will depend on how the pandemic and the measures to contain it evolve as well as the efficacy of policy measures implemented to limit the damage to the wider economy.

“Behavioural shifts as a result of COVID-19 may continue to provide support for housing market activity, while the stamp duty holiday will continue to provide a near-term boost by bringing forward home moves.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, added: ‘The resilience of the housing market shows no signs of diminishing with prices and transaction levels remaining buoyant as we head towards the end of the year.

‘There are several tailwinds and the housing market is making the most of them. Buyers require more space – both inside and out for the family and in order to work from home – and are keen to take advantage of the stamp duty holiday along the way if they can.

“Competitive mortgage rates show no sign of disappearing anytime soon, with lenders most notably returning to the 90 per cent loan-to-value space, providing a further boost for first-time buyers.”