House prices grew at their fastest pace for 12 months in February 2017, according to the latest informations, with average prices increasing 0.6 per cent, double the rate in January.
Despite this boost, annual house price inflation continued to fall for the 12th consecutive month, dropping to 2.4 per cent, the lowest annual rate since 2013.
The North West, where prices grew 4.1 per cent annually, is an increasingly important part of the market. Growth in property sales in Greater Manchester over the three years to the end of 2016 rose 36 per cent compared to the previous three months – only marginally above the average for the region as a whole, but six times the sales growth recorded in Greater London. Average prices in the city, meanwhile, are up 7.2 per cent annually.
It’s not just Manchester contributing to the emergence of a Northern Powerhouse. Merseyside set a new peak price in January, with average prices up 0.5 per cent. Heavy demand for apartments in Liverpool from both young professionals and buy to let investors renting to students has seen prices rise in the area by 5 per cent in the last year. Among the other large cities, only Birmingham in the West Midlands set a new peak in the month. Ongoing regeneration of the city centre, good connections by rail and road, and expansion of a number of large employers is giving the city renewed confidence. Prices in the area were up 0.4 per cent monthly and 6.2 per cent on the year.
The average house price in England and Wales has broken the £300,000 barrier for the first time.
The latest house price index shows that the England and Wales market got off to a strong start in 2017, with prices growing 0.3 per cent month-on-month in January. These latest results push the average price of a home in England and Wales up by £1,029 to reach £300,169 – a new high in the market, and the first fresh peak since March last year.
It leaves prices in January almost £10,000 higher than in the same month in 2016, when the average was £291,165. Prices have now doubled since they topped £150,000 in November 2002 – despite the slump following the financial crisis.
Activity in January was also higher than usual for the time of year, with 60,000 transactions. This was lower than the 62,059 in January 2016, but up by more than 2,000 on 2015.
Indeed, even London had a good December, with prices rising on average for the first time in nine months. Values grew 0.3 per cent, the same as the national average for that month, taking the capital’s average house price to £598,001. That’s largely the result of strong growth in cheaper areas as buyers search for value or affordability. Barking and Dagenham, where average prices of £301,572 are almost half the London average, saw prices rise 13.6 per cent annually.
Every other region of the country has seen prices grow in the last 12 months, led still by the East, where the average price edged up a further 0.1 per cent in the month to finish 7.1 per cent up on last December. The region was supported by strong growth in the last year in Luton (up 10.1 per cent), Thurrock (up 11 per cent) and Southend-on-Sea (up 14.7 per cent), which also saw among the strongest monthly growth at 2.9 per cent.
The strongest annual growth in a unitary authority, however, was in Kingston upon Hull, 2017 City of Culture. Prices in Hull grew 1.5 per cent in December to finish up 16.8 per cent on the year, with the average house price rising by £19,072 to £132,590.