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House prices rise, but picture mixed outside London

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House prices across England and Wales rose 0.3% over the past year, buoyed by continued growth in the London market, according to the latest house price data from the Land Registry.

Prices in England and Wales grew by 0.3% over the past year, with the average house price now £162,900. This figure is up 0.8% on the previous month.

London boasted the biggest price increase, jumping 6.5% to £367,785, propping up the average figure for the country as a whole.

House prices in the North West region were the biggest faller in the last 12 months, with prices dropping an average of 3.9% to £109,235. Prices in Wales, the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, the South West, North West and North East were also down year-on-year.

The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea is the area with the biggest rise, with a yearly growth of 16.1% to £1,089,406. Outside of the capital, Welsh county Powys experienced the biggest annual price change, growing 7.7% on last year.

This follows a recent report by LSL which said first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors were becoming more active in the south and central areas of Wales.

The Land Registry also reports that the number of completed house sales in England and Wales broke the 50,000 mark in May 2012, up from 48,974 during the same month in 2011.

Tracy Kellett, director of BDI Home Finders, commented: “Like a drunk uncle at a wedding, the housing market is still dancing in slow motion on the spot.

“For every small step forward, there is an ungainly lurch backwards. So while London is making strong progress, prices are still dropping in the North.

“All this despite a buoyant first half of the year, when we saw many would-be buyers come off the fence and start househunting in earnest. That early spike in demand should be converting into a surge of completions now, so the fact that it is not is deeply worrying.”

Kristjan Byfield, director of Base Property Specialists, added: “The property market is hardly fluid but it’s hanging in there. The collapse many predicted has failed to materialise.

“What we are definitely seeing is a sea change in people’s relationship with property. More and more people are resigning themselves, and not even grudgingly, to long-term rentals. People’s philosophies surrounding property have changed quite substantially.

“Rather than gear themselves up on debt, those people still aspiring to buy are saving and doing things the old-fashioned way. It may be a while before these people get onto the ladder but when they finally do the property market will be in a far healthier position.”

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