Spring is traditionally one of the busiest times of the year in the housing calendar, it is therefore no surprise to find that Rightmove reports asking prices jumped 1.5% last month, the largest rise in March for seven years. First and second stepper homes hit all time average highs of £189,840 and £272,031 respectively.
The rises are being driven by a combination of the traditional spring bounce, cheaper Stamp Duty and a desire to beat looming mortgage price increases. At the same time, the supply of houses for sale contracted by 5% when compared to last year.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst comments:
“Many buyers entering the traditionally busy spring market this year face paying more than ever for their target property and having a more limited choice. High demand and limited supply in parts of the country mean that the average price of newly-marketed property is at its highest ever level in four out of eleven regions.
There is also upwards price pressure in the lower and middle market sectors with both first-time-buyer and second-stepper properties at new national record price highs.”
Nationwide’s figures were, yet again, markedly different. According to their figures, prices dipped by 0.2% in March, which was a slight improvement on the 0.4% drop in February, although they note there were some wide regional variations.
So why are the figures so different this month? Rightmove’s figures are based on asking prices and are therefore at the forefront of any changes, in this case, the start of the spring market. Building societies, on the other hand, must compile their figures based on completed sales, which often entail a delay of up to three months and can be markedly lower than the original asking prices.
One area they both agree on is that prices in London continue to soften. Although Rightmove’s figures show they rose by 0.6% last month, they were down by 0.6% over 12 months. And conditions vary from borough to borough, too, from a 0.9% fall in Newham, to a 2.7% rise in Kensington & Chelsea.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, highlights the growing North/South divide:
“Over the past two years the Southern English regions have seen a steady deceleration in price growth, which is now running at its slowest pace since 2012. By contrast, the Northern English regions have recorded a gradual acceleration and recorded their strongest growth rate since 2014 in the first three months of this year.
However, these trends have so far made only small inroads in narrowing the North-South divide.
House prices in the North of England are, on average, still less than half of those prevailing in the South.”