Stark differences in housing market performance across the UK have been revealed by the government’s latest official house price index.
The ONS figures show house prices are rising year-on-year in the East and West Midlands by up to 6.1%, while London’s have dropped by 0.3% and the South East only managed growth of 1.7%.
Month-on-month figures reveal the more recent and wider weakening of the housing market including lower average house prices in Scotland, the East of England, the North West, London, the South East plus Yorkshire and the Humber.
Experts continue to blame the sluggish parts of the housing market on the continuing Brexit limbo and the recent stamp duty hikes for both those buying more expensive homes and buy-to-landlords.
Growth in the Midlands would appear to be driven by first time buyers snapping up the huge number of apartments in the region coming on stream(pictured above), often funded via Help to Buy.
“In the East and West Midlands the price of new builds is growing at more than 7% annually, while in Scotland it’s 6% and in Wales it’s an incredible 9.4%,” says Lucy Pendleton (left) of London agent James Pendleton.
“It means Help to Buy is popular but that doesn’t mean it’s good for the country and economy in the long run. The longer it is in place, the more the market will be very sensitive to any suggestion the scheme’s future will be curtailed.”
Nick Leeming (right), chairman of Jackson Stops, reckons stamp duty is to blame for lower transactions, which the ONS report says are down 2.7% year-on-year.
“A [stamp duty] change at the top could allow for greater movement in both the lower and middle price brackets and would be very welcome should we end up having to tackle a hard Brexit,” he says.
Jonathan Hopper (left), Group MD of property finding firm Garrington, believes the pent-up demand in the market will “spring into action as soon as the political and economic clouds part,” he says.