House prices in England and Wales up £6,700 in the past year

Euro area house prices down by 1.8%

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The Independent Online

House prices in England and Wales were up £532 in March and £6,700 over the last 12 months, according to LSL Property Services figures out today. Taking London out of the equation, prices would be only £1,117 higher.

David Newnes, director of LSL Property Services said: “House prices have only fallen once in the last 16 months, life has become marginally easier for first time buyers and house sales are increasing.

"But there is still a long way to go. Mortgage availability is poor by historic standards. There is an army of first time buyers trying to enter the housing market but they are being held back by tough mortgage criteria. The key to the recovery of the housing market is more mortgages for first time buyers. The Funding for Lending scheme has gone some way to doing that. It has eased the pressure on the market, allowing lenders to lower mortgage rates which have helped boost the first time buyer market. But it needs to be increased in scale if it is to have a more significant effect.

"Sadly, the improvements in mortgage availability, prices and sales have not been spread evenly across England and Wales. Big regional disparities remain. The market in the South East, particularly London, is going great guns, but less affluent areas are struggling. While the north is showing less resilience, having experienced the largest fall in house prices, areas in the South including Brighton, Surrey, Bristol and Cardiff have seen prices soar.”

Meanwhile, house prices fell by 1.8 per cent in the Euro area over the last three months of 2012, according to data published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Among the member states for which data is available, the highest annual increases in house prices were Latvia (+9.8 per cent), Estonia (+5.8 per cent and Malta (+5.4  per cent), and the largest falls in Spain (-12.8 per cent), Romania (-9.1 per cent), and Slovenia (-8.8 per cent).