House prices inch up in November

Booming London market disguises sluggish activity elsewhere in the UK as Land Registry figures show 0.3% rise

House prices in England and Wales rose by 0.3% in November to an average of £161,605, according to figures from the Land Registry.

The official figures showed prices were up 1.1% on 2011 on average, although the headline figure disguised huge variations around the country. In Blaenau Gwent in Wales prices were down by 13.5% year-on-year, while in Greater London they recorded a 7% increase. Transaction levels have also been low in the Welsh borough, which can lead to dramatic price movements, although the same annual fall was also reported for October.

The most significant monthly drop was in north-east Lincolnshire where the Land Registry said prices fell by 4.1% in November, while the biggest rise was in Carmarthenshire, which saw a 3.4% rise.

The figures underline how the prime London property market has continued to boom against a backdrop of sluggish activity. In Kensington and Chelsea, the UK’s most expensive borough, although prices rose by just 0.7% in November they were up 15.9% year-on-year at an average of £1.1m – almost seven times the national average.

Neighbouring borough the City of Westminster saw a 1.6% drop over the month, but prices remained 14.6% higher than in November 2011, averaging £786,565.

Recent figures from Lloyds TSB showed that four of the five most expensive streets to live on in the UK were in Kensington and Chelsea, with the priciest, Egerton Crescent, boasting an average property value of £8.1m. This was £3m more than the next highest address, Parkside in Merton, south-west London.

The Land Registry’s figures for registered sales between May and August 2012 show there were fewer transactions than in the same period of the previous year, with an average of 57,789 a month compared with 58,361 in 2011.

However, more recent data for mortgage approvals suggest the market has picked up since the summer. Figures from the British Bankers’ Association show approvals for house purchase loans reached a 10-month high in November.

Independent buying agent Gabby Adler said prices in some areas of London were being driven up by the small number of homes on the market.

“Lack of stock is the main problem in parts of London such as Barnes, where there is almost nothing on the market in the £800,000 to £1.3m price bracket. This is what most families are looking to spend when they move to the area.

“The top end of the market is quite different and most of these properties are sitting on the market for many months, with super-prime properties taking a year or more to sell across Richmond-upon-Thames, for example.”

Separate figures from upmarket estate agent Knight Frank show prices continued to fall at the top end of the rural property market, with the stamp duty changes in March’s budget having a big impact on sales of homes costing between £2m and £3m.

The agent’s prime country house index showed prices dropped by 1.2% in the fourth quarter of 2012, and were 3.8% down year-on-year.

Following the increase in stamp duty from 5% to 7% for properties worth £2m and more, the index showed a 5.6% annual price fall for homes worth between £2m and £3m. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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