The latest Nationwide house price index has revealed that during January, the average price of a house in England and Wales increased by 0.3%, while annual house price growth remained stable at 4.4%.
According to the report, annual house price growth has remained between 3% and 5% since the summer of 2015.
However, Nationwide's Chief Economist suggested a 'modest acceleration' in price growth during 2016 was to be expected.
Robert Gardner said: “As we look ahead, the risks are skewed towards a modest acceleration in house price growth, at least at the national level. The labour market appears to have significant forward momentum. Employment has continued to rise at a robust rate in recent months and, while the pace of earnings growth has slowed somewhat, in inflation-adjusted terms regular wages continue to rise at a healthy pace.
With this trend expected to continue and with interest rates also likely to stay on hold for longer than previously anticipated, the demand for homes is likely to strengthen in the months ahead.
The concern remains that construction activity will lag behind strengthening demand, putting upward pressure on house prices and eventually reducing affordability. Indeed, the market is already characterised by a shortage of stock, with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reporting that the number of properties on estate agents’ books remains close to all-time lows.”
Adrian Whittaker, Sales Director, New Street Mortgages, commented: “Yet again these figures show an unseasonal increase in house prices resulting from a market that is characterised by rising demand and limited supply. The mortgage industry has been slow to keep up with new technology, and if we are to satisfy the demand for faster mortgage applications and adapt to the rising competitiveness of the market, it is crucial that as an industry we look to keep systems and processes up to date.”