Property prices heading for boom

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House prices climbed by more than 8 per cent in a year, though this rise disguised wide regional variations, according to official figures issued by the Land Registry yesterday. London notched up the sharpest increases, but Leicestershire, Dorset and Northumberland were among other house price winners.

The figures for England and Wales compared the period January to March 1997 with the same three-month period last year. The average house price is pounds 72,900 - up 8.6 per cent on the January to March 1996 figure of pounds 67,097.

Prices in parts of London and the south-east have been soaring in recent months, partly as a result of property shortages. In the London borough of Camden, a detached house which would have cost an average of pounds 375,000 early last year has rocketed to around pounds 640,000.

The average price of a house in Greater London as a whole has burst through the six-figure barrier, reaching pounds 107,900 - up 12.2 per cent on the January to March 1996 figure of pounds 96,220.