Property prices up 0.4% at start of year in England and Wales, similar to a year ago

Residential property prices in England and Wales increased by 0.4% at the start of the year, not much change from the 0.5% recorded a year ago, the latest index data shows.

The £1,086 monthly rise took the average price of a property to over £300,000 and asking prices are now up 3.2% year on year, the figures from property portal Rightmove show.

But there is some considerable regional variations with prices up month on month in four regions and down on a monthly basis in five, including Wales, while they were unchanged in the North East.

The biggest rise was in the South East with asking prices up 1.5% to £404,804 and up 5.5% year on year, followed by Greater London, up 1.4% to £624,953 and up 2.3% year on year. Prices were also up by 0.8% in the North West and the East of England to £177,194 and £332,088 respectively and up 3.3% and 6.1% year on year.

Asking prices fell the most in Wales with a monthly decline of 3.5% and at £164,291 are 1.1% below a year ago. Price fell by 2.2% in the South West to £284,691 and are just 0.8% above a year ago. They were also down 1.4% in the West Midlands to £201,413, and are 1.4% up annually.

The East Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber saw more modest monthly falls with asking prices down by 0.6% and 0.1% respectively to £193,146 an £168,887. Year on year prices are up 5.9% in the East Midlands but just 1.9% in Yorkshire and Humber.

In the North East asking prices were unchanged on a month on month basis at £139,527 but are 1.7% below a year ago.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove housing market analyst, pointed out that year on year comparisons for sales in the first quarter of 2017 should also allow for the distortion of last April’s additional stamp duty tax deadline, as transactions were up 40% in the first quarter last year.

The data also shows that it is those at the bottom of the housing market who are paying more for a home. The price paid by first time buyers increased by 2.6% month on month and 6.4% year on year to an average of £188,612, excluding London.

Second steppers are also paying more, up 0.4% month on month and 4.5% year on year to £255,387, but for those buying a home at the top end of the market the average price fell by 0.2% month on month to £520,840 but still up 0.4% year on year.

According to Shipside those planning to buy their first home in 2017 have more choice of properties and less competition from other buyers than their counterparts a year ago however, he added that a restraining force on potential first time buyer activity is increasingly stretched affordability.

He explained that typical first time buyer homes with two bedrooms or fewer have seen the biggest price rises both month on month at 2.6% and year on year at 6.4%, and this was partly a legacy from last spring’s buy to let surge ahead of stamp duty changes for additional homes.