Location is key to house prices, ONS data shows
Signs of a two-speed UK housing market have been revealed in
official statistics on property prices, showing London homes rising
fastest in value.
Prices in the capital rose by 4.9% in the year to the end of April,
compared with a national average of 1.4%.
There was a fall of 1.3% in prices in the North West of England,
and Yorkshire and the Humber, the Office for National Statistics
Prices continued to plunge in Northern Ireland, down 8.1% over the
There were also house price drops of 1.1% in Wales and 0.3% in
Scotland over the same period.
Geography has always been a key factor in house prices, but
relatively low levels of activity have highlighted the significant
differences in prices in different parts of the UK.
Annual prices in the UK rose at their fastest rate on average in
April than in any month since September.
However, this was driven by the increase in London - where
properties continue to attract overseas investment and domestic
demand remains relatively high - as well as in the South East and
South West of England. These regions saw annual prices go up by
2.1% and 1.6% respectively.
In April, London continued to be the English region with the
highest average house price at £388,000. The North East had
the lowest average house price at £145,000. London, the South
East and the East of England were the only three regions that had
prices higher than the UK average price of £229,000.
"If the London property market takes its foot off the pedal even
for a second, the national picture will look far less rosy," said
Ashley Alexander, managing director of estate agent review website
Property price differences can be the result of factors ranging
from employment levels to schools "The outlook for the rest of the
year is a little foggy. The summer months are historically very
quiet as families head off on their holidays, but activity levels
could be lower than normal with the Euros and Olympics drawing
people to their television sets rather than estate agents'
"Agents will be hoping for an extra lift in September activity to
give the property market some momentum for the rest of the
Average property prices were £151,000 in Wales, £129,000
in Northern Ireland and £178,000 in Scotland in April, the ONS
The survey also highlighted the effect of the closure of the stamp
duty concession for first-time buyers at the end of March, which
had exempted them from paying the 1% tax on properties bought for
up to £250,000.
In March, 43% of the houses sold were bought by first-time buyers,
compared with 32% in April, which was more in line with the
The house price data is now compiled by the ONS, which took over
the task from the Department for Communities and Local Government
earlier this year.
SOURCE: BBC NEWS