2.5% rise in house prices shows biggest monthly hike since 2002


House prices recorded their biggest monthly jump since 2002 in January, with a 2.5% increase, Land Registry figures show.

The £4,732 cash increase in the average property value compared with December pushed the average house price across England and Wales to £191,812.

The 2.5% upswing is the biggest monthly percentage increase recorded by the Land Registry since June 2002.

On a regional basis, Wales saw the biggest monthly increase in property values in January, with a 3.7% increase taking the average house price there to £125,665.

Across England and Wales as a whole, property values increased by 7.1% in the year to January.

In London, house prices increased at an annual rate around double the national average. Property values in London recorded a 13.9% annual increase, pushing the average house price there to £530,409.

But in Reading, house prices increased at an even faster rate over the last year, surging by 16.1%.

Over the last year, average house prices leapt by 10% in Brighton and Hove, 12% in Bristol, 11.8% in Hertfordshire, 15.7% in Luton, 10.5% in Milton Keynes, 10.2% in South Gloucestershire, 15.1% in Thurrock, 10.6% in Windsor and Maidenhead, 11.3% in Wokingham and 15.1% in Slough.

The North East of England saw the smallest annual increase in house prices across the regions, with a 0.2% increase taking the average property value there to £97,117.

The region also saw the biggest month-on-month fall in house prices, with a 1.6% decrease.

The North West of England was the only other region to see house prices fall month-on-month, edging down by 0.4%.

There have been reports of buy-to-let investors rushing to snap up properties before a three percentage point stamp duty hike comes into force for this sector in April.

Peter Rollings, CEO of estate agent Marsh and Parsons, said: "First-time buyers and buy-to-let investors are moving at a brisk pace, and while they continue to grossly outnumber properties for sales, house price growth will persist through the wider political uncertainty."

Meanwhile, Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and former chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), said: "On the ground, we have seen a gradual slowdown in the market over the past week or so.

"This is happening in anticipation of the stamp duty increase for investors and second home buyers."

Campbell Robb, chief executive of Shelter, warned that people on average incomes "will continue to face a lifetime in expensive and unstable private renting, with little hope of saving for a home to put down roots in".