House prices saw the strongest growth in six years in the final month of 2020, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. House prices were up 8.5% year-on-year in December, hitting an average of £252,000. This compares to growth of 7.1% in November and is the highest annual growth reading since October 2014. Wales saw the highest growth, with prices rising 10.7% to an average of £184,000, followed by England with an 8.5% increase taking the average to £269,000. London recorded the lowest annual growth rate in the UK, where average house prices increased 3.5% in the year to December. Prices fell in the capital by £5,000 between November and December, although they are still the highest on average in the UK, at £496,000. The increase in the UK average seen toward the close of 2020 has been driven by pent-up demand amid the initial lockdown and the stamp duty holiday, with analysts saying demand and prices may wane as the tax relief comes to an end at the end of March. Howard Archer, chief economist of EY Item Club, said elevated housing market activity and robust prices “will prove unsustainable sooner rather than later” and predicted that prices will fall by around 5% this year.
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