House prices in England and Wales reach new peak of over £303,000

After a slow start to the year, house prices in England and Wales rallied to a new peak in May to an average of £303,200, the latest index shows.

This was a month on month rise of 0.3% and year on year prices were up £13,934 or 4.8%, according to the Your Move data.

Activity remained relatively strong with sales just slightly lower than usual for the season but still up 6% on April, with an estimated 62,500 sales.

The index report also show that there has been a sharp slowdown in sales in London, the South East and East of England but this increasingly being offset by more resilient performance in the North.

‘The market remains resilient and there’s encouraging activity in the North, but we need to urgently address the serious blockages in house building holding back labour mobility and economic competitiveness in too many areas of the country,’ said Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents.

Sales were up 13% in Wales, 10% in the North East, 7% in Yorkshire and Humberside, 6% in the West Midlands and 4% in the East Midlands in the three months to the end of April 2017 compared to the same period in 2015.

But sales fell by 19% in Greater London and by 7% in the South East. It means that sales in the three months to the end of April are now 29% lower than the same period last year.

Prices in London continue to rise, up 2.7% in the year to April 2017, but this is the second lowest annual rise seen in London since March 2012. The average price in the capital at the end of April stood at £615,838, up 0.1% on the month before.

Despite the overall slowdown in the London, the prime property market has been recovering. The two highest priced boroughs, Kensington and Chelsea with average prices of £1,995,443 and Westminster at £1,778,245, have both seen strong growth on an annual basis, up 8.8% and 9.7%, respectively.

The City of London, meanwhile, saw the biggest monthly increase, up 9.6% to £998,709, while the best performing borough is Haringey with prices up 12.5%, driven by increases in flat prices. Islington, meanwhile, has performed worst, with prices down 10.4%, largely as a result of comparison with a surge in sales of terraced houses ahead of the 3% stamp duty surcharge on second homes introduced last year.

In the regions, the West Midlands has now cemented its position as the UK’s property hotspot, leading annual house price growth for the third month running. Prices are up 5.1% in the year to April, despite a fall of 0.7% over the month. Shropshire, where prices have increased 7.4% annually, continues to lead growth in the region.

Overall, every region in England and Wales has grown in the last year, with the East of England also up 5.1%, The East Midlands up 4.4%, the South West up 4.2% and South East up 4.1%.

The North East, up just 0.2%, continues to trail the rest of the market, but the North West has performed well with prices up 3.2% annually. It, too, set a new peak in April, largely as a result of strong growth in Merseyside where prices are up 6.2% in the last year. Increased Help to Buy activity is supporting the lower end of the market in North Liverpool, while high value new build sales in south Liverpool are boosting activity in properties priced from £300,000 up to £500,000.