House prices show no monthly change

First-time buyer numbers up more than a quarter

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The Independent Online

Latest house price figures from the Land Registry indicate that the average house price in England and Wales is now £172,011 compared with the peak of £181,466 in November 2007.

According to its report out today, the June sigures an annual price rise of 6.4 per cent but that there is no monthly change from May to June, although seven out of 10 regions actually recorded month-on-month falls.

London saw the greatest increase in its average property value over the last 12 months, up by 16.4 per cent, while the West Midlands experienced the greatest monthly rise with growth of 1.9 per cent.

The North East saw the lowest annual price growth, down by 0.8 per cent, with the biggest monthly fall in Yorkshire & The Humber (1.3 per cent).

The report also showed that during April 2014 the number of completed house sales in England and Wales increased to 66,659 compared with 51,022 in April 2013. The number of properties sold for over £1 million in April 2014 jumped to 1,028 from 740 in April 2013.

Andy Knee, Chief Executive of Legal Marketing Services said the double-digit growth in house prices in London would intensify pressure on the Government and the Bank of England to 'step in and flex more regulatory muscle'.

"But we must not look at one month in isolation and should instead step back to take a longer term view, as the dust has not yet fully settled from the shakeup of mortgage rules," he added.

"London is clearly the engine powering the house price freight train. The capital is not just in a different league, it is playing a whole different sport. Take London out of the equation and price rises are far more modest.

For first time buyers this highlights yet again the difficulty in making the leap on to the property ladder. With wages yet to see significant improvement this begs the question of how many first time buyers would be able to take that step without a helping hand from the Bank of Mum and Dad. It’s crucial that the government make sure that owning property, especially in the South, does not just become the preserve of the wealthy.

A second report, from LSL Property Services, shows that in the first half of 2014,  30,000 more first-time buyers got on the housing ladder than in the same period last year.

In total, there were 146,600 first-time buyer transactions between January and June this year, up 27% from 115,700, the strongest first six months in seven years. 

The average first-time buyer deposit was £24,530 in June, falling 18 per cent from £29,845 over the last 12 months. 

David Newnes, director of estate agents Your Move and Reeds Rains, part of LSL Property Services group, said: "The bottom of the market continues to recover, even as activity further up the price bands is beginning to show signs of slowing down. Lenders have been more willing to lend to higher loan-to-value borrowers. Help to Buy has boosted confidence and with it demand among first-timers who have been carefully saving up for their deposit.

"But the new loan-to-income caps could have a stifling effect on the first-time buyer market. They have understandably been designed to prevent too much ‘risky’ lending to borrowers with smaller deposits, but they need careful interpretation to ensure they do not cut good buyers, with realistic and very affordable borrowing expectations, out of the market. MMR regulations already stress test borrowers’ ability to withstand a base rate rise. The further regulation could sap the energy at the bottom of the market."