Average House Prices stall in March according to Land Registry

Just two regions in England and Wales experienced house price rises in March according to price paid data released by Land Registry, with the average price down half of one percent.

Whilst London and the East of the region experienced 0.2% increases, all other regions experienced slight decreases, from a 0.1% drop in the North West through to a 2.6% drop in Yorkshire and The Humber.

However prices are still up on twelve months ago, with the average annual price rise being 6.7%. The average property price according to Land Registry is now £189,901.

Doug Crawford, CEO of My Home Move, said: “Nation-wide house prices were 6.7% higher in March than twelve months before, racing ahead by over 10% in London, the South East and East of the country. This reflects heightened activity ahead of the new stamp duty surcharge – the market has since cooled and with the Brexit Referendum on people’s minds, we are expecting an uncertain few months.

“The latest rises push London’s average house price to comfortably over half a million pounds – an incredibly high price for the privilege of capital living. Our data has found that the average deposit in London is 170% more than elsewhere in the UK, pricing out more and more hopeful homebuyers and highlighting the seriousness of this ongoing affordability problem, particularly for first-time buyers. Gifted deposits are now becoming the only hope for many and we have seen a notable increase in those relying on this cash gift to cover their deposit.

“The questions still remains – how long will it take for the UK housing market to have a sustainable supply of houses that meet the affordability needs of both first-time buyers and second-steppers?”

The Land Registry also released information on sales volumes, which stated 54,254 sales were completed in January, down 5% on 2015 whichw as in itself down 13% on January 2014.

Reposessions have also fallen further, down 51% on twelve months ago, from 657 to 322.

Andy Sommerville, Director of Search Acumen said: “A slight drop in prices across the country for the first time in a year will provide some relief to first time buyers looking to get on the property ladder, but sadly, London property continues to see huge increases in prices. While this spike could be attributed to the surge in buy to let investment prior to the April 1st stamp duty hike, London unequivocally remains attractive to ambitious young people above other cities where house prices are more reasonable.

“Land Registry’s figures reveal a pressing need for more new homes in London. Housing will be the defining issue in next week’s London mayoral election and although both Labour and Conservative mayoral candidates have pledged to deliver new homes for the capital, the pressure will be on the new mayor to take the crisis by the horns.

“Today’s figures come at a time when planning approvals within the capital have been falling, and the spillover of unaffordability has spread to areas around its commuter belt. Building on Brownfield land cannot be the only solution, and could be exhausted within six years. None of us want to go there, but ‘not in our backyard’ will simply not do anymore – we need to give serious thought to building homes on the Greenbelt around the capital.”

Andy Knee, chief executive of LMS said: “A monthly dip from February to March will cause hopeful homebuyers to breathe a sigh of relief that house prices have not stretched further out of reach. But year-on-year, a 6.7% rise across England and Wales is cause for concern. In London particularly, where house prices rose 13.9% annually to exceed an average value of £534,000, homeownership is fast become possible for only the very wealthy.

“Despite government intervention to aid first-time buyers, such as Help to Buy, Starter Homes and the Lifetime ISA, these schemes fall short of making property more affordable for millions.

“Continued speculation about Brexit in the lead up to the June 23rd referendum may ease some of the pressures on property purchases as people wait to see which way the dice rolls, although this is unlikely to have any drastic effect on house prices. Supply of housing remains critical and addressing that is the only way to keep pricing within reach for many. The housing market appears to be robust, but a healthy market is reliant upon first-time buyers and home movers being able to keep pace, something that cannot happen if house price rises continue.”

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