House prices in August edged up just 0.3%, according to the Land Registry, suggesting the market may be stronger than otherwise reported. The average house price now stands at £167,423.
The Land Registry also reported on its latest transaction level figures, covering the three months from March to June.
It said that sales in England and Wales averaged 53,089 per month, up from 43,825 per month for the same period in 2009.
House price rises across the country were not uniform. While the Land Registry recorded rises in five regions –Wales, the south-east, London and Midlands – it recorded falls in another five –the south-west, north-east, north-west, east and in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Industry veteran Nicholas Leeming, commercial director of Zoopla, said: “The Land Registry index is more comprehensive because it tracks all home sales, not just a small sample of those who need mortgage finance. “The slight increase in prices is therefore a sign that the market is less weak than some are suggesting. But there is no room for complacency. “
Mortgage volumes are down as lenders conserve cash to meet wider regulatory requirements. Confidence in the economic recovery is shaky as spending cuts loom. Buyers are being cautious at a time when the supply of homes for sale has been rising, and so we expect relatively subdued trading to continue.”
Peter Rollings, managing director of London estate agent Marsh & Parsons, said: “The misapprehension that house prices are falling has led to some home owners hesitating about putting their properties on the market in the past couple of weeks, but the official price figures from the Land Registry – based upon actual sales and not asking prices – shows that these concerns are unfounded, particularly in London.“
Whereas the severe shortage of mortgage funding on offer is stifling demand from buyers in certain parts of the country, interest from buyers in the capital has remained consistently high. “
The large proportion of cash buyers – unaffected by issues in the mortgage market – and overseas buyers has helped London to withstand the problems witnessed in other markets across the UK. “The market traditionally sees a pick-up in autumn, and assuming that the supply of property does not dry up completely, this should help drive activity levels further throughout the remainder of the year.”