Land Registry figures show house prices fell 0.3% in April

Figures released by the Land Registry today show that house prices fell by 0.3% in April, as the average house in England and Wales costs £160,417.  This represents an annual fall of 1.0%.  
When looking at the regions, London is the area with the biggest increase in prices.  House prices here rose by 5.1% compared to March, and 5.1% since April 2011.  The South West, South East and East also recorded monthly price rises, of 2.0%, 0.1% and 0.1% respectively.  
The area with the largest recorded price decrease is the West Midlands, where house prices fell by 2.7% since March, and 4.7% since April 2011.  Other areas recording monthly falls in price are Yorkshire and the Humber (2.4%), the North East (2.1%), the North West (1.3%), East Midlands (0.3%) and Wales (0.1%).  
David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services, owners of Your Move and Reeds Rains commented:
“There’s clearly some stamp duty effect in this fall in prices and it shows how unwelcome the additional fiscal burden is for first-time buyers who have been working hard to secure an adequate deposit. But this fall also demonstrates lenders have been forced to resign themselves in as a result of the consistent trickle of bad news from the continent. But even though prices have slipped this month, during 2012 property has proved a relatively stable investment, as prices have risen by 0.5% since December 2011. We may not be about to see prices boom, but steady growth in some regional markets means property has proved capable of holding its value despite the economic buffeting the market has suffered in the last few months”. 
Paul Hunt, managing director of Phoebus Software said: 
“A double-whammy of the return of stamp duty for first-time buyers and receding confidence among lenders hit property prices last month. According to LSL’s House Price Index, transactions in April dropped by 18% and that such a precipitous drop in activity hasn’t pushed prices down further shows most of the drop in transactions was predominantly for lower value properties. But we’re also seeing the impact of reduced confidence among lenders as in April Greek politicians dithered and ultimately failed to establish a government, which has brought the liquidity-damaging possibility of a Greek exit to centre stage. As the eurozone crisis has continued to develop this month, it’s likely ongoing caution from lenders will put further downward pressure on prices in May”. 
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