Residential property prices in England and Wales are £34,000 above their pre-crisis high of February 2008, according to the latest house price index to be published.
With a monthly rise of 0.5% the average prices stands at £273,528 with the annual rate of growth at 6.8% but sales have fallen, down 9% compared to a year ago, the data from Your Move and Reeds Rains shows.
When London and the South East are excluded from the calculation then the average annual change is 4.6% with London still boosting overall averages, the data also shows.
Adrian Gill, director of Reeds Rains and Your Move estate agents, pointed out that while average house prices are currently 6.8% or £17,340 higher than they were last year, this is the smallest annual increase witnessed for 14 months.
He also said that while home sales are down 9% year on year, there is still plenty of demand and February still marks a 4% improvement on January activity levels, and in recent weeks agreed sales have climbed above 2014 levels.
He also explained that market conditions have calmed in London and the South East. Their combined lead on the rest of the UK hit a summer peak in July 2014 when these areas increased the wider England and Wales annual change to 5.4% higher than it would have been otherwise. But in February this growth gap has fallen to less than half at 2.2%.
‘London has already had the first taste of added pressure placed on prime property in the form of revised Stamp Duty, and the £1.5 million to £5 million sector of the market has also been hit by cold feet in the run up to the general election with the threat of a potential mansion tax,’ said Gill.
‘This let up of high end activity has brought down the average London house price, but beneath the surface, the lower rungs of the ladder are thriving. For instance, the borough of Newham, where the typical property value currently stands at £273,727, saw an enviable 2.1% monthly price rise, more than double the overall 1% average London price jump,’ he explained.
He also pointed out that in terms of annual growth, more affordable areas like Barking and Dagenham with growth of 16.5%, Bexley up 15.6% and Waltham Forest up 16.8%, are doing well, coming in ahead of the year on year improvements seen in high end areas like Kensington and Chelsea, where prices have fallen 7.4% in the past 12 months.
‘In the south of the country overall we’re seeing a very orderly market, with buyers and sellers on more of an even keel. Rates of annual growth have slowed across the board in England and Wales, but it is regions with the lowest average property prices which are dragging their feet,’ Gill added.
The North saw the smallest annual uplift in January, with home values just 1.9% higher year on year, while in Yorkshire and The Humber prices stagnated over the month.