House prices soar in places but plummet in others

House prices soar in places but plummet in others

House prices rebounded last month – but behind the headline figure is a story of completely different markets.

In London, said the Land Registry, house prices went up 6.2% in the last year. In the North-East, house prices fell by almost the same amount, 5.7%, over the same period.

Overall, the average price in England and Wales last month was £161,458 – up 0.4% since March, and up 0.7% since April last year.

In London, average house prices are well over double the national average, standing at £375,795. In the North-East, the average house price is £95,546.

London’s monthly rise of 1.4% between March and April was also much higher than elsewhere, and contrasted with the monthly fall in the North-East of 1.6%. But even in London itself there were big differences, with five boroughs showing double-digit increases in house prices over the last year and two with gains of under 2%.

House prices rose over the month in five regions, and in five regions they fell.  

House sales went down, the Land Registry also said, although its latest figures only go to February. Between November and February, there were an average of 51,386 sales per month, compared with 53,151 for the same period 12 months earlier.

In February itself there were just 43,573 transactions, 3% down on February 2012.

The Land Registry also now reports on repossession figures, which it says averaged 1,400 per month between November and February, down from the 1,695 per month from the same period a year earlier.

Nationwide’s latest – and more up to date – house price survey, reporting for May, said house prices in the UK edged up 0.4% compared with April, to stand at £167,912.

Nationwide said that there were signs of real momentum in the market, with the number of property transactions in the first four months of this year running at around 5% above the monthly average of 2012.

In London, estate agent Peter Rollings, of Marsh & Parsons, insisted there is no house price bubble in the market.

He said: “A steady growth of 6.2% does not constitute a bubble and the figures show the London property market continuing its orderly rise. Demand for prime London properties remains consistently high, bolstered by both overseas and domestic buyers striving in competition for the best properties.”

* Meanwhile, the Land Registry has announced that it is to make public, as from next month, data on house prices which currently goes only to paying customers. This ‘price paid data’ – as distinct from the House Price Index which is calculated on the basis of prices of houses sold more than once since 1995  – shows the records of the actual price paid for every home sold between January 1, 2009, and January 31, 2012.

By November, the data will go back earlier to 1995.