Review: The Evolution of UK Property Prices Since 2008

The effects of the global financial crisis, which originated in the US in 2007 and quickly spread to UK shores in 2008, can still be felt in the property industry today. The ‘avoidable’ crash, which resulted in peak house prices plunging in 2008, hit the housing market first as banks dramatically reduced lending rates. Five years on, the legacy of this dramatic time in history is still reflected in today’s house prices through a noticeable North-South divide with a break line from Birmingham to Norfolk in the centre of the country. As the market leaps into another year, we take a look at how the market has fared after a year of massive price rises in many parts of the UK.

Direct Hits

As financial hits descended upon the property market, the effects were instant across the country. In April 2008, headlines emerged that house prices were dropping by an average of £500 a day as fiscal squeezes and hits to the 2007 property boom started to be felt by consumers. Monthly falls in the market were likened to the consecutive falls during the market crash in the early nineties.

As we move forward to 2009, the trend of falling prices continued and by February 2009, 18 months of decline was recorded. Sharper falls were witnessed in more affluent areas with prices in London down by 15.6% over the course of the year while prices in the West Midlands recorded the largest year-on-year drops of 17.7%. Mortgage lending remained low and high levels of caution were exercised by people who felt that making such a financial commitment was not appropriate during the economic climate.

A Five-Year Journey

Downturns in the property market were expected following the financial crash and direct hits were felt. However, as the UK crossed into 2010, consecutive price rises were welcome news for the economy. In June, the Land Registry recorded an 8.5% rise over a 12-month duration with the Brighton and Hove and Bristol markets producing the highest annual price rises. National average figures in 2010 culminated in a price rise of just over 10%. Data collected by the Land Registry places the April peak as the highest economic growth since 2007.

UK forecasters would have been forgiven at this point for thinking that the UK property industry had recovered and had gained momentum. However, as the Conservative Party took over Westminster, the property industry experienced change during the second half of 2010. Land Registry data during this time displayed a flat-lined marketplace which grounded at zero growth from the start of 2011 to mid-2013. 

Several factors added to this long period of stagnation, including continued caution from lenders and an unwillingness to budge on asking prices. Like the initial events in 2008, contributing factors came from overseas. Confidence in the European markets took a tumble as financial irregularities and admissions of spiralling debt started to circulate amongst Eurozone members. This in turn affected the UK’s stance as an attractive place for outside investment.

As attentions turned to bail outs and money management, housebuilding in the UK, which had undergone a celebrated surge during 2009, slumped as austerity policies took over, orders fell and staff numbers were cut. This lack of fresh buildings heightened levels of demand, particularly in London.

As gaps in the country began to widen, London became one of the only regions in England and Wales to emerge from recent slumps unscathed. While regions such as the North East were witnessing falls of around 7.2%, London remained in a better annual position, thus cementing its place as the not only the capital but as the UK’s economic powerhouse that was drifting away from the rest of the country. Trends up and down the country continued to average a national growth of zero percent through 2012 and into 2013. Although prices were 13% below the 2007 peak, the market showed resilience through a tough climate through Europe. This enduring resilience across the year was to eventually pay off in 2013.

The industry witnessed a sharp increase in activity in 2013, during which the average house price pushed through the £170,000 mark. While this positive recovery fell short of peak figures in 2007 - when the average price was approximately £200,000 - the much needed boost led to steady increases from mid-2013 to the present day.  

The Current Marketplace

2014 has presented challenges to citizens across the country. However, it has to be noted that the UK property industry regained health and was valued at £1.5 trillion by the end of the year. 

London’s stability during 2012 and 2013 helped to ease the capital into a time of considerable growth in 2014. House prices soared by 12.1% from January to September as lending and demand increased and interest from investors rapidly grew. Property in London and the Home Counties are now priced above 2008 figures while regions north of the centre border are still climbing to reach the pre-crisis peak.

With growing disparity becoming stronger, housebuilding and housing policies were placed at the forefront of the political sphere in this year’s Autumn Statement. With generation rent growing and suggestions that average prices will rise 37.3% in London over the next five years, the next government must tackle the most pressing issues to create a marketplace for the masses.

The UK property industry has undergone massive changes since 2007. While there are large issues to address, the industry has stayed afloat during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression in the 1930s. As UK markets leap into another year, real success hinges on how ideas in 2014 can be turned into tangible cement and mortar that can accommodate the next generation.


Here at LD Events, we keep a close eye on the most pressing issues affecting the industry. Since 2007, we have offered a competitive edge to thousands of senior property professionals during turbulent times with networking opportunities, market analysis and up-to-date information. Contact us on 020 8877 0088 to find out more. Upcoming conference information can be found on our website.