Jamie Durham, economist at PwC UK, said:
"Data released this morning shows that the UK housing market remained buoyant in January, with prices up 9.6% on last year. The average house in the UK is now worth £274,000, and has added more than £40,000 in value since the start of the pandemic.
"Such strong continued growth is being driven by several factors. The pandemic has caused a shift in preferences towards properties with more space, leading to increased demand for this type of property while supply has also been constrained. There has also been an accumulation of consumer savings during lockdowns over the last two years while borrowing costs have remained relatively low.
"London was again the slowest price growth of all regions, with prices rising at the slowest rate since the middle of 2020. This is in part due to higher prices in the capital, with the average home costing over half a million pounds, which limits affordability and so price growth.
"The most significant risk to the outlook remains the increasing cost of living. Figures also published this morning show prices increased, on average, by 6.2% in the year to February. With such high rates of inflation and considerable uncertainty in the outlook, we are seeing consumer confidence start to weaken across regions and income levels. If sustained, this lower confidence may affect whether consumers are willing to make major financial decisions like purchasing a home, which could weigh on price growth.
"To try and manage higher rates of inflation, the Bank of England last week moved to increase interest rates to 0.75% and has indicated further increases may be required. While most households are now on fixed rate mortgages, which will limit the immediate impact of this move on housing costs, in an uncertain environment higher rates may affect how much people are willing to borrow to purchase a home, which would weigh on demand."
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