The latest Government figures from the Land Registry show a rise in house prices for the sixth consecutive month. The rise of 0.9% was higher than the 0.6% cited for the previous two months and it puts the average house value in England and Wales at £161,554. Although other agencies, such as major mortgage lenders, have been reporting rising housing prices for longer, the Land Registry statistics are always seen as being more accurate because they are based on sale completions. Averaged across the country, house prices are now just 0.3% lower than one year ago.
As always, the figures vary greatly from region to region. Property value in London remains strong with house prices 3.5% higher than one year ago. Conversely, prices in Yorkshire and the Humber region fell by 4.7% over the same period. In addition to geography, the type of property involved also has a significant effect on its value; detached family homes seem to be in the biggest demand, now being worth 1.6% more than in November 2009. Semi-detached and terraced homes both fell by 0.1% and 0.3% during the same period.
Eighth Consecutive Monthly Rise
House price index figures just released by the Nationwide suggest that, on average, property rose in value by 0.4% in December, which is the eighth consecutive monthly rise cited by the building society. It puts the average house price at £162,103, which means that property in the UK has risen by 5.9% in 2009. It is however the smallest rise since April and Nationwide have warned that the immediate future for the market looks uncertain.
It is fair to say that the UK housing market has exceeded expectations in 2009, given the ongoing recession and the fact that prices fell by 16% in 2008. Commenting on the latest data, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, Martin Gahbauer, said: “Few could have foreseen this development at the start of the year, when the near term price trend was still pointing to a repeat of the double digit annual decline experienced in 2008. Although house prices are still 12.2% lower than their October 2007 cyclical peak, they have now rebounded by an impressive 8.9% since their February 2009 trough.”
National Mortgage Debt Continues to Decline
Bank of England statistics are showing that homeowners are continuing to reign in their mortgage debt by repaying £4.9bn in the third quarter of 2009. This is the sixth consecutive quarter that mortgage debt has gone down, which started in the first three months of 2008 and followed a run of 39 consecutive quarters where borrowing increased. Although the prudent trend continues, repayments in the third quarter of 2009 were down £2bn on the previous one. Mortgage repayments peaked in the last quarter of 2008 at £7.6bn.