London house prices soar by 18.5%


London house prices increased at their fastest annual rate in more than 11 years in May, Land Registry figures show

London house prices increased at their fastest annual rate in more than 11 years in May, Land Registry figures show.

An 18.5% year-on-year upswing, which was almost triple the size of the annual increase seen across the country, pushed average property values in the English capital to £439,719.

The annual rate of increase seen in London has accelerated on a 15.4% year-on-year increase seen there in April and it marks the biggest jump on this measure since March 2003.

Across the whole of England and Wales, prices continued to lift at their fastest annual rate since summer 2010, with a 6.7% annual rise taking average prices to £172,035.

Values across the country edged up by 0.4% month-on-month, which marked a slight slowdown compared with April.

Yesterday, the Bank of England unveiled new curbs on the housing market, following concerns about the impact that overheating property prices could potentially have on the economy as it recovers.

Among the new measures, the Bank said that loans of 4.5 times a borrower's income or higher should account for no more than 15% of new mortgages issued by lenders.

Figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showed that nationally, 9% of new home loans have been for 4.5 times income or more, but this figure is much higher in London, at 19%.

The Land Registry data also shows that 577 properties were sold in London for over £1 million in March this year, marking a 26% uplift compared with March 2013.

The new figures also show that at a total of 67,969 across England and Wales, house sales were up by around one third between December 2013 and March this year compared with the same period a year earlier.

All regions have seen average house prices increase over the last year, from the 18.5% uplift seen in London to a 0.9% increase recorded in the North East, where prices typically stand at £99,319.

In Wales, house prices have edged up by 2.3% annually to reach £116,845 on average. As well as recording the biggest annual jump in prices, London also the sharpest month-on-month increase in values in May, at 2.5%, while Yorkshire and the Humber saw the most significant monthly price fall, with a 0.9% tumble taking average prices there to £119,472.

At a local authority level, Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales has seen the biggest fall in house prices over
the last year, with a 13.2% annual slide meaning the average house price there is £60,031.

However, the Land Registry report said that Merthyr Tydfil is one of the areas of the country where the figures can be "erratic", due to low sales volumes.

Separate research released today by property analyst Hometrack adds to evidence that the property market has started to calm down in recent weeks.

Hometrack said the typical proportion of a house seller's asking price being achieved fell for the first time in four months this month, to reach 96.6% typically.

Hometrack said this is an indication that estate agents were finding it harder to sustain the pace of price growth. It said it expects the pace of house price growth to slow in the coming months as buyers become more cautious amid widespread concerns that have been raised in recent months about the strength of the recovery in property values.

Toughened mortgage-lending rules came into force at the end of April which force lenders to ask mortgage applicants for more thorough details about their financial habits, and there have also been signs that these are also slowing the market down as lenders adapt to the changes.

Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, said: "Yet another rise in house prices means that even more people across the country will watch their dream of owning a home slip out of reach, however hard they work or save...

"While it's good that the Bank of England has stepped in to limit risky mortgage lending, to truly give future generations a chance, we need stable house prices and politicians committing to building the affordable homes we need right now."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "The fact that house prices are rising almost 10 times faster than wages says a lot about the unbalanced nature of the recovery.

"People should not have to rely solely on their house to increase their wealth, particularly as more people are being priced out of property altogether.

"Stronger wages and more house-building need to be at the heart of a fair economic recovery."

The people who affect house prices

The people who affect house prices