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UK house price growth is increasing again with the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics showing an annual rise of 9.6% in the year to March 2015. This is up from annual growth of 7.4% in the year to February 2015 and some parts of the country have seen record increases. House price annual inflation was 9.4% in England, 5.7% in Wales, 14.6% in Scotland and 7.5% in Northern Ireland. This is the highest annual increase in Scotland since July 2007. Annual house price increases in England were driven by an annual increase in the East of 11.4%, London 11.2% and the South East 11.2%. Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 8.1% in the 12 months to March 2015. On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 1.1% between February and March 2015 and prices paid by first time buyers were 7.8% higher on average than in March 2014. For existing owners prices increased by 10.3% for the same period. But there are concerns that house price growth is so strong. ‘House prices are going up four times faster than people’s wages. No wonder mortgage approvals are falling and first time buyers are struggling to save a large enough deposit. And we all know that housing bubbles burst and cause economic chaos,’ said Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Council. ‘There is no sign the government yet understands the challenge of ending the housing crisis. Their headline policy is an incredibly unpopular plan to sell off social housing to the private market. This would reduce the supply of affordable homes when we should be adding to them as quickly as possible,’ added O’Grady. Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons, pointed out that it is worth bearing in mind that these figures concentrate on March. ‘The country was still convinced that we had a close-run election on our hands and vendors and buyers in London were holding their breath about what impact mansion tax and other possible policies might have,’ he said. ‘Now the reality is far different, a frisson of excitement has returned to the high-end market,’ he added. Continue reading →
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