Average house price rises to £206,015 in September


House prices continued to edge upwards across the UK in September, but the pace of growth has softened, according to an index.

Across the UK, the average house price is now £206,015, following an increase of 0.3% month on month and 5.3% year on year, Nationwide Building Society reported.

This follows a monthly increase of 0.6% and an annual uplift of 5.6% seen in August.

Property values in Wales were the weakest-performing across the UK, with a 0.5% annual fall in prices taking the average property value there to £146,172.

In Scotland, values increased by 2% annually, pushing the average house price there to £143,275, while in Northern Ireland, values were up by 2.4% annually, taking the average price to £130,581.

For the first time in seven years, London was outside the top three regions in the UK with the strongest house price growth, Nationwide said.

House prices in the capital increased by 7.1% annually in the third quarter of 2016, slowing from a 9.9% rate of growth seen in the second quarter of this year.

The average house price in London is now £474,736, still making it by far the most expensive area of the UK.

The Outer Metropolitan area, which covers places including West Kent, Slough, Reading, Windsor and Maidenhead, Wokingham, St Albans and Luton, was the region with the strongest price growth annually, with a 9.6% increase pushing the average house price there to £358,153.

The Outer South East area, which includes East Kent, Bedford, Brighton and Hove, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, Oxfordshire, Portsmouth and Southampton, saw the next strongest growth, with a 8% annual price rise taking average values to £267,151.

East Anglia recorded a 7.3% annual rate of house price growth, making it the third strongest region for rising property values, pushing London into fourth place. The average house price in East Anglia is £213,831.

Nationwide said across England there have been "tentative signs" of the North/South price divide evening out.

Most southern regions saw house price growth slow in the third quarter of this year, while some northern regions saw a pick-up.

In the North West of England, annual price growth accelerated, from 1.8% in the second quarter to 4.2% in the third quarter of this year. The average house price in the North West is £151,985.

Yorkshire and Humberside also saw a pick-up in price growth, with the annual rate of increase rising from 0.8% in the second quarter to 3.5% in the third quarter of this year. The average house price in Yorkshire and Humberside is £150,823.

Overall, house prices in southern England increased by 7.5% year on year, while those in northern England and the Midlands increased by 4%.

Nationwide said house prices in southern England are still "well above pre-crisis levels", while those in the North East, North West and Yorkshire and Humberside are still below their 2007 peaks. 

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said the "relative stability" of house price growth seen across the UK suggests that a softening in demand seen from buyers in recent months has been matched by a lack of supply of homes.

He said: Survey data indicates that, while new buyer enquiries have remained fairly subdued, the number of homes on the market has remained close to all-time lows."

He said: "The number of new homes built in England has picked up, but is still not sufficient to keep up with the expected increase in the population."

On Thursday, it was confirmed that the Government is to close the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme, which was launched in 2013 to give buyers with only a small deposit saved a helping hand to buy a home. The Government has stressed the scheme was always due to finish at the end of 2016.

Since the launch of Help to Buy, many lenders have introduced low deposit mortgages outside the scheme as housing market confidence has returned.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: "Even with the removal of the Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme there are still plenty of options for first-time buyers with limited deposits."