House sales up by 46%

Number of £1 million sales grows by nearly two thirds

March house prices in England and Wales were down 0.4 per cent compared to February, according to the latest figures from Land Registry, although they were up 5.6 per cent compared to the same time last year.

The figures put the average house price in England and Wales at £169,124 (£414,490 in  London), though other price indices put this figure much higher, well above £200,000.

London saw the highest year-on-year rise with a 12.4 per cent increase, while the East and North East regions saw the greatest monthly rise with a jump of 1.1 per cent. Wales experienced the only annual price fall, down 1.6 per cent. Over the last month, prices there fell 4.2 per cent.

The most up-to-date figures available show that during January the number of completed house sales in England and Wales increased by 46 per cent to 63,123 compared with 43,373 in January 2013.

There was also a 61 per cent rise in the number of properties sold  for more than £1 million in January 2014 compared to the same time last year.

Both Newcastle upon Tyne and Knowsley saw the highest monthly price rise, with an increase of 2.2 per cent. The biggest fall was in Wolverhampton, down 3.4 per cent.

Nicholas Ayre, managing director of home buying agency Home Fusion, said: "The capital's housing market doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon. While parts of the country are starting to see a slowdown in price rises, the capital defies the odds. Pressure to buy is still considerable with many buyers competing via open houses and sealed bids for a limited amount of stock.

"The increased availability of mortgage finance at higher loan-to-values is finally making it possible for many frustrated first-time buyers to take a step onto the ladder. The real challenge is finding a property you can afford to buy and being able to secure it in the face of stiff competition before prices move higher still."

Brian Murphy, Head of Lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau said: "Homeowners across the UK will be glad to see that house price growth is no longer a one horse race - prices rose annually across all regions except Wales, suggesting nationwide recovery rather than regional improvements.

"While it’s clear that the shoots of recovery are now extending beyond the South, the national market still has room to grow. However, consumers worried about rising house prices can take solace in the Bank of England’s active role in monitoring the property market. The introduction of MMR is also expected to cool any overenthusiastic growth as lenders adapt to new systems designed to cultivate responsible and sustainable lending."

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