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Average house prices in England and Wales increased by 0.4% in May to reach a new high of £277,178, the fourth price record set this year, the latest index data shows. However monthly property price growth is still only a third what it was a year ago, according to the LSL house price index. Year on year price were up 4.5% and excluding London the annual growth was 4.4% as London was knocked into fourth place with price rises accelerating in North of England. Only a few months ago price rises in London were skewing the annual figure, but not anymore. Indeed, the data shows that home values in Kensington and Chelsea are now 16% below their peak in the autumn 2014. The LSL index data also shows that home sales were down 14% year on year in May as a lack of supply suppresses housing market activity. Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move estate agents, pointed out that the 0.4% boost in compares to 1.2% at the same point 12 months ago, but he believes that the recovery is still underway. He also pointed out that there are now only four regions across the country where house prices are still dallying below 2007/2008 benchmarks and it is those areas which have most catching up to do and where price increases have typically been smaller, where growth is now accelerating. For instance, while average property values in the North are still 4% lower than during the pre-crisis years, this region has experienced the fastest increase in the rate of annual growth recently, up from 2.3% in March to 3.6% in April. Price rises in the North West, South West, and East Midlands are also on the up, at the same time that growth in London is waning. ‘This has knocked the capital back into fourth position in the rankings of regional house price growth over the past 12 with the annual rise in London estimated to now be less than 12% of what it was in of July last year and 2.4% in May 2015, down from 20.7% in the summer of 2014,’ explained Gill. He also explained that on a monthly basis, London house prices have dropped for the third successive month since the start of the year. It is the higher priced boroughs which have seen the biggest price falls, and Gill said this is a side effect of costlier stamp duty on top-end properties. For example, home values in Kensington and Chelsea, the most expensive London borough, have dropped 6% in the past year, and are now 16% below their peak in September 2014. This falloff at the top tiers of the market has cooled activity levels too. Home sales in London have dropped 16% year on year in the three months to April 2015, the most significant drop-off of all regions. Continue reading →
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