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House prices fall in England and Wales for third month in a row

House prices in England and Wales fell for the third month in a row in April and the annual rate of growth is just 1% above a year ago, having fallen for 11 months in succession.

The latest index figures show that annual growth is well down on its last peak of 9% in February 2016 but if London and the South East is excluded from the calculation prices are up 3% year on year.

The data from the Your Move index also shows that prices fell by 0.1% from March to April to an average of £302,252 but some parts of the country are proving to be more resilient, particularly in the North.

A breakdown of the figures shows that annual growth was led by Wales with a rise of 4.8%. Within Wales, Cardiff and Swansea recorded a rise of 9.7%, the Vale of Glamorgan was up 10.2%, Torfaen up 10.4% and Monmouthshire up 11.3%.

However the index report points out that the annual growth figures in Wales could be affected by the introduction of a new Land Transaction Tax in April, with the amount to be paid rising for properties in the £400,000 to £925,000 price bracket and therefore buyers may have brought forward their purchase to avoid the higher rates of tax.

The next biggest growth was in the North East of England and the East Midlands, both up 3.9% annually, the North West up 3.6% and the West Midlands up 2.7%. Within these regions prices in Merseyside increased by 3.9%, in Tyne and Wear by 5.4% and Birmingham they were up 5.2%.

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At the other end of the scale, Windsor and Maidenhead in the South East recorded the biggest annual fall in prices at 9.2%. Meanwhile in the South East in general prices were flat month on month and up just 0.4% year on year.

London was the only place to see prices fall year on year with a decline of 2.5% and prices also fell month on month, down by 2.1%, taking the average property price to £601,808, some £15,415 lower than a year earlier.

The index shows that in London price falls continue to be concentrated at the top of the market. Eight of the 11 most expensive boroughs in the capital have seen prices drop in the last year, including Westminster, the second most expensive borough, down 13.3%, Wandsworth, down 13.6%, and the City of London, down 31.4%.

Among cheaper areas only mid ranking Southwark, down 17.5%, comes close to such falls. The big exception to the rule is Kensington and Chelsea, right at the top of the market, where prices are up 23.7%, but the report points out that this is due to a small number of extremely expensive £10 million plus properties. Ignoring this, the top 11 boroughs would be down 5.8% annually on average.

At the bottom of the market in London it is less volatile and, overall, more positive. Price growth for the cheapest 11 boroughs is up on an annual basis by 0.1% and the cheapest four boroughs have all seen modest annual increases. Overall, two thirds of London’s 33 boroughs have seen prices fall in the last year, and almost the same saw prices decline over the month, with monthly prices down 2.1%.

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‘London remains the exception, rather than the rule when it comes to the strength of the market in the major cities of England and Wales, which remain strong. The market remains slow, though, when it comes to the number of transactions,’ said Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents.


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