House price changes still diverging, says Land Registry

Monopoly pieces on map
Image caption The housing market in a specific area can be affected by many different issues

House prices in England and Wales rose slightly in May but the market was still defined by significant regional variations.

The average home increased in value by 0.5% in May compared with April, and was 0.4% higher than a year earlier, the Land Registry said.

However, prices have risen sharply in the last year in London but dropped in six of the English regions.

The average home was valued at £161,677, the report said.

The Land Registry figures are published later than a number of house price surveys, but are widely considered to be the most comprehensive for England and Wales.

'Wait and see'

The data shows that 54,000 residential property sales were lodged in May, with prices ranging from £10,000 to £28m.

"What is consistent across the country is that the volume of transactions is well below what we were seeing at the height of the market," said independent buying agent Gabby Adler.

"Many vendors are waiting to see what happens with the economy, while many would-be buyers believe they will not be able to get mortgage finance so there is no point in trying."

The figures show that London continues to surge ahead of the rest of England and Wales in terms of house price rises.

Prices increased by 7.7% in the year to the end of May, taking the price of the typical home to £365,359.

Over the year, prices also rose in the South East of England, by 1.7%, and in the East of England, by 1.6%.

All other areas registered house price falls, with the largest in the North East of England.

A 3.5% drop in that region has taken the average price of a typical home to £99,492.

Meanwhile, the latest figures show the number of completed house sales in England and Wales increased by 25% in March 2012 compared with a year earlier.

This was driven by an increase in the number of properties sold between £150,000 and £250,000, ahead of the end of the stamp duty concession for first-time buyers.

However, high-end properties showed the reverse trend. The number of properties sold in England and Wales for over £1m in March decreased by 41% to 501, from 845 in March 2011.

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