Annual house prices growth slowed in September in England and Wales

Annual house price growth in England and Wales slowed in September to 1.3% and sales were down by 20% compared to the same month in 2016, the latest published index figures show.

Prices were also down month on month by 0.1% taking the average price to £297,287, still up £3,890 on the same month last year with the traditional North/South divide being up-ended, according to the LSL Property Services/Acadata index.

The index report points out that most recently, price growth has slowed in Southern regions, while the North proves more resilient. Outside of London and the South East, annual price growth continues to be 3.3% and in Wales the market is strengthening, with transactions holding steady.

The UK is still seeing solid growth in the East of England, up 4.5% annually, and the South West, up 4%. The North West and East Midlands are also seeing good figures, up 3.9% and 3.7%, respectively.

Wales, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and the Humber all show more modest growth although the annual rate in these regions has increased. Annual price increases in six out of 10 regions are also still higher than annual earnings growth in the UK, which currently stands at 2.1%.

Overall, 93 unitary authority areas have recorded price rises over the year, some 86% of the 108 in England and Wales. Of the 15 areas where prices have fallen, a third are in the South East. There are also 15 areas that saw a new peak average price in the month, some four in the East of England, three each in the South West and Wales, two in the South East and one each in the North West, Yorkshire and the Humber and the East Midlands.

The East of England is still the strongest growing region, helped by strong performance in Bedfordshire where prices were up 9.3% annually. Growth in the South West has narrowed the gap and includes the two strongest growing areas of Poole, up 10.5% annually, and Bournemouth, up 9.9%. Both coastal areas have benefited from strong sales of detached properties over the summer, the report says.

On an annual basis, the authority with the largest reduction in prices is Wokingham, where values have fallen by 6.9%. However, the area has seen one of the strongest increases in transactions over the June to August period with sales up 27% on the same period last year, second only to Ceredigion in Wales with a rise of 36%.

While price growth in Wales remains slower than in the fastest growth regions, it has picked up, and is now above the average of England and Wales, up 2.7% annually, against 2.1% last month.

The index shows that in Greater London prices fell by 0.8% in August to take the average down 0.7% on the same time last year, however the fortunes of the individual boroughs vary widely.

Even at the top end of the market, prices are still up 0.5% annually in Kensington and Chelsea, at £1,638,614, and up 13.5% in the City of London to £967,489, the strongest growth in the capital. In the City of Westminster, though, prices fell by 14.9% to £1,346,152. Broadly, though, growth is inversely correlated to average prices. The 11 boroughs in the top third of the market have seen prices fall an average of 2.5% in the last 12 months.

On top of this the 11 mid-priced boroughs were down 0.8% but prices in the cheapest third have continued to rise, by 2.7%. The lowest priced 11 accounted for all three boroughs seeing new peak prices in August with Redbridge up 2.1% in August and 7.3% annually, Croydon up 0.6% monthly and 5.8% annually, and Bexley up 2% and 5.1%.

‘Despite slowing price growth, particularly in the southern regions, the North continues to report positive results. The future, however, will rely heavily on stock availability, and with housing clearly on the political agenda, what government support may be offered to those looking to buy and who will ultimately influence market activity,’ said Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents.