Today’s monthly report from HM Land Registry records an increase of 0.2% in sale prices in April compared to March and a jump of 8.5% on April 2009. The price average price now stands at £165,596.
But the encouraging number is buried towards the back – the increase in the number of homes sold. The total number that changed hands in England & Wales in February was up 49% to 40,502 with an even bigger jump in London which nearly doubled to 5,925.
However these numbers mask an uncomfortable increase in the supply of new homes being offered for sale. Spring has seen a 78% increase in the supply of new property in March alone with 121,000 homes coming to the market.
An increase in sales is to be welcomed as the market was close to comatosed last year. Increases in supply however are unlikely to be soaked up by new buyers many of whom are yet to fully appreciate how tough it is to get a new mortgage today.
There is some significant regional differences in the numbers. London traditionally represents 12% of sales in England & Wales but provided 15% of sales in February. Sale prices rose over the year by a whooping 11.5% in the South East according to the Land Registry but fell 2.2% compared to March in Yorkshire & Humberside, 1.6% in Wales and whilst they were 10% higher over 12 months in the East they fell back nearly 0.6% when compared to the month before.
House prices in London were up 14% over the last year but this market was principally driven by increases in the number of sales at the top end of the market. Sales of homes between £1m and £1.5m rose 240% when compared to February 2009. The prime Central London market is now driving prices in the Capital. An increase in interest from Russian and Greek buyers this year has provided a significant boost to the über-market with few if any dependent on mortgage finance.