House prices now above previous peak in six regions

Average price paid for a house by a first-time buyer is now £209,000

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The Independent Online

House prices in the East Midlands, West Midlands and South West are now above their 2007/08 peaks, joining London, the East and the South East, according to a new report.

UK house prices increased by 11.7 per cent in the year to July 2014, according to figures out today from the Office for National Statistics.

It also indicates that the average price paid by first-time buyers has increased by 13.5 per cent over the last year, the highest annual increase for first-time buyers since March 2005. In July 2014 the ONS estimates that the average price paid for a house by a first-time buyer was £209,000.

Overall, London again was a major driver of house prices with a 19.1 per cent annual increase in the capital. Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices rose by just under eight per cent between July 2013 and July 2014.

"Month after month, the house price index feels like deja vu. Prices are rising almost inexorably with London, as ever, lapping the field," said Matt Hutchinson, director of flat and house share site SpareRoom.co.uk. "If there's one clear trend, it's that the prices being paid by first-time buyers are rising at a faster rate than they are for existing owners. For Britain’s burgeoning population of renters, it's a bleak future, as their aspirations of home ownership slip further away."

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: "ONS house prices tend to be more historic than the other indices, revealing that there was no cooling in the housing market in July with house prices continuing to increase strongly. However, since then the temperature has definitely dropped as growing uncertainty with regard to the political climate and interest rates takes the wind out of prospective buyers' sails."

Guy Meacock of buying agency Prime Purchase, said that the London market was still strong though it was hard to generalise as the city has many micro markets.

"There is a finite number of properties on the market at any given time," he said. "However, there are lots of opportunities for buyers this autumn. After five years of strong growth, there is a lot of uncertainty, with the Scottish vote for independence, the forthcoming general election, possible mansion tax and an interest rate rise next year. All of these mean that the next six to nine months it is likely to be an improving market for buyers."

Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau said: "Rising house prices have been cast as the villain of the housing market for many months now, but for many people, the boost in property prices over the last year signals a healthy and recovering market. For a large number of existing homeowners, a significant rise in the value of their home can free them to secure a better mortgage deal.

"Let’s not forget, prices have been recovering from a low base following the financial crisis, and the fact that property values are also rising in several regions outside of the capital suggests a more hopeful and sustainable future for the housing market."

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