Average house price 'passes £300,000 mark'

PA

The average price tag on a home has passed the £300,000 milestone for the first time, according to a property website.

Across England and Wales, the typical price of a property coming to market increased from £299,287 in February to £303,190 in March, Rightmove said.

Asking prices have jumped by more than £100,000 typically over the last decade. In March 2006, the average price was £200,980.

Average prices hit new records across six regions in March - London at £644,045, the South West at £292,251, the South East at £399,680, the East of England at £326,836, the West Midlands at £204,140 and the North West at £177,437.

Asking prices in the East Midlands stand at £189,819 - just £373 shy of an all-time high for the region.

In Wales, asking prices crept up by 1.4% month-on-month to reach £174,046.

Rightmove said the new record across England and Wales is being driven by momentum spreading across the north and west of the country, rather than in London, which has previously been the engine of house price growth.

It said the London housing market is now split, with some boroughs seeing prices surge upwards and others seeing them drift downwards.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: "While the start of 2016 has seen an encouraging but modest uptick in the number of properties coming to market, demand and momentum have combined to push prices over £300,000.

"On average, 30,000 properties have come to market each week over the past month, up by 3% on this time last year, but there are insufficient numbers of newly listed properties in many parts of the country to meet demand.

"Visits to the Rightmove website are up by 14% in early March compared to the same period in 2015, so it's no surprise that those buyers who can borrow more or can find some extra cash are keeping the price merry-go-round spinning."

Some reports have said that a three percentage point stamp duty hike for buy-to-let investors, which starts on April 1, has prompted a rush of people snapping up homes in recent months to beat the deadline.

Mr Shipside believes more first-time buyers and existing home owners who want to trade up are ill-equipped to cope with current prices, amid stricter mortgage lending rules and average earnings lagging well behind the pace of house price growth.

He continued: "However, stronger growth in average earnings would not have helped the situation, as it would simply have enabled buyers to bid prices up even higher, chasing the limited supply of suitable housing stock."

Rightmove also quoted the views of estate agents.

Nicky Chute, from Foxtons in London, said: "Last year the volume of sales fell across all London zones but least so in zones three to six, whilst prices continued to rise.

"For example, last year 514 properties were sold in Pimlico and Westminster with an average price of £1.2 million, making the market worth £618 million.

"In Walthamstow, where Foxtons opened a branch in 2015, 1,722 properties sold for an average of £395,000, amounting to £680 million in sales. This now makes Walthamstow in outer London a larger market than Pimlico and Westminster in central London."

Kevin Shaw, national sales director at Leaders, said: "Good prices have been achieved, with properties selling quickly, open-house viewings extremely well attended and multiple offers being received on many homes."



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