Press Association: Housing Market 'Topsy-Turvy'
Wed 02 Jan 2013
Housing Market 'Topsy-Turvy'
The "topsy-turvy" nature of the housing market was in evidence today, as official figures showed that prices edged up but sales slowed.
House prices increased by 0.3% month-on-month in November to reach 161,490 across England and Wales, pushing them 0.9% higher than a year earlier, the Land Registry said.
But sales were more sluggish, with 57,971 transactions taking place between June and September 2012, representing a drop of around 7% on the same period in 2011.
Distractions such as the Olympics have been blamed for disrupting the housing market last summer.
There have been conflicting predictions for house prices this year, with some studies forecasting slight increases, some saying prices will edge lower, and others predicting they will be broadly flat.
Peter Rollings, CEO of estate agent Marsh & Parsons, said: "Rising national house prices will provide cheer for homeowners who have seen their equity dwindle since the initial credit crunch, but the falling number of moves taking place highlights the topsy-turvy nature of last year's housing market.
"Even as late as September, the market was struggling to come to terms with distractions earlier in the summer, which hampered the number of buyers in a position to finalise moves in the month.
"But recent improvements in mortgage lending, combined with rising national house prices point towards a more positive end to the year and start to 2013."
Continuing a long-running theme, London recorded the strongest year-on-year house price increase in November, with a 5.9% rise taking typical prices to 362,592.
Prices also rose at an above-average rate in London on a month-on-month basis, recording a 0.5% increase.
But some analysts have predicted that the top end of the London market could cool down slightly in 2013, following a 7% stamp duty rate which was placed on homes worth over 2 million last spring.
The latest Land Registry figures showed that sales of homes worth more than 2 million were down by 26% year-on-year in September.
The vast majority of these transactions took place in London.
The North East recorded the highest monthly house price rise across England and Wales in November, with a 2.4% increase, although on a year-on-year basis the region has also seen the biggest fall, with a 2.9% drop taking average prices to 98,304.
Wales was the region with the biggest monthly house price fall in November, with a 1.6% drop taking average prices to 115,202.
Prices were 0.9% lower in Wales than they were a year ago.
Some studies have found evidence that a North-South divide in the housing market has narrowed in recent months, with the gap between asking and selling prices shrinking in northern regions.
The Government launched a multi-billion pound scheme in August to kick-start lending to households and businesses, which has prompted an increase in mortgage availability and a price war among mortgage lenders who have slashed their rates.
But much of the strongest competition so far has been aimed at people with larger deposits and would-be buyers still face the hurdle of meeting lenders' toughened borrowing criteria amid the difficult economy.