House prices closing in on 2007 peak
The average house in December cost £177,766 as prices continued to edge up following an annual growth of 7% in the preceding 12 months. In November alone prices rose by 0.6%.
Unsurprisingly it was London that saw the greatest increase in its average property value over the 12 months with a 16.3% rise.
But Guy Meacock of buying agency Prime Purchase cautioned against looking at London as a whole and advised drilling down into the individual boroughs figures to get a clear picture of the capitals property market.
He said: “Within London the boroughs are behaving quite differently. Kensington and Chelsea saw a monthly drop of 0.6%, for example, while Newham and Hillingdon saw rises of 1.6% and 1.5% respectively.
“An average is therefore quite unhelpful. It is always worth remembering that the Land Registry doesn’t include transactions bought in trust names or corporate entities, as many of these are not recorded.
“Despite the slowdown in house price growth, there is still some confidence among buyers and sellers with interest rates likely to remain low for the foreseeable future.”
On the other end of the scale the North West saw the lowest annual price growth with prices dipping by 1.5%.
However it was the North East which continued to be the area where buyers get the most bang for their buck with the average home still costing less than £100,000.
But whilst growth was apparent in most areas the figures did reveal a softening of the market as movement slowed towards the end of 2014.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The Land Registry is just the latest index to show that house-price growth is slowing ad with the BBA pointing to a dip in lending as well, the market is definitely more subdued.
“That said, the CML pointed out that 2014 was the best year for mortgage lending since 2008 and while we expect the housing market to be quieter over the next few months, we still predict lending in the region of £215bn for the year, compared with £205bn last year.”
Harris said this increase in borrowing would be fuelled not by first-time buyers, as the market was last year, but an increased amount of remortgaging.
He said: “While first-time buyers were a key driver of the market last year, we expect the remortgaging market to be strong over the next 12 months with borrowers not so much fearing a rate rise but enticed by some of the astonishingly cheap deals now available.
“With this month’s minutes from the Monetary Policy Committee revealing that the Bank of England’s two hawks have dropped their calls for an interest rate rise, it seems unlikely that we will see rates go up this year, or even next.
“With inflation falling to 0.5% in December, its lowest level in nearly 15 years, the pressure is off the rate setters to move rates.”