House prices slipped back marginally in March, but are still growing at an annual rate of 4.2 per cent, according to the latest ONS data.
These figures – based on Land Registry data – show that the annual growth rate has continued to slow since 2016. With the exception of one month (October 2017) this growth rate has remained below 5 per cent.
The average UK house is now priced at £224,144.
These ONS figures show considerable regional variation. The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices decreased by 0.7 per cent over the year.
This is the lowest annual growth in London since September 2009, when prices fell by 3.2 per cent.
London has shown a general slowdown in its annual growth rate since mid-2016. The second-lowest annual growth was in the North East, where prices increased by a more modest 2.1 per cent in the year to March 2018.
In contrast the East of England showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 5.8 per cent in the last 12 months. This was followed by the East Midlands (5.6 per cent).
In England prices rose by 4 per cent over the year to March 2018, with the average house priced at £241,000.
In Wales there was a 3.5 per cent increase over the last 12 months, with the average house priced at £153,000.
In contrast, in Scotland houses prices rose by 6.7 per cent over the year – and the average property now stands at £146,000.
The average price in Northern Ireland is £130,000, with an increase of 4.2 per cent over the year to quarter one (Jan to March) 2018.
Mortgage broker Trussle’s chief executive Ishaan Malhi says: “House price growth may be relatively slow at the moment, but prices are still rising faster than wages, making the journey to home ownership increasingly tricky for first-time buyers.”
OneSavings Bank sales and marketing director John Eastgate adds: “House prices are a reflection of general levels of consumer confidence and these numbers show that whilst we’re not as confident as we were a couple of years ago, equally no one is forecasting anything disastrous for the UK economy.
“Annual house price rises in excess of 5 per cent are arguably not sustainable, so we should welcome this more moderate figure.”
Estate agents Housesimple chief executive Sam Mitchell points out these figures effectively turn the north south divide on its head. “Compare London to Liverpool. While London house prices are in negative growth territory, in Liverpool, average prices are up 12.5 per cent over the same period.
“Where affordability has been a major problem in the south of England, the north offers value, particularly for families looking for larger homes.”