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ONS: House prices up 9% in past year

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House prices rose 9 per cent to £292,000 in the year to March, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Growth was up from 7.6 per cent in the year to February.

Annual UK-wide growth was driven by London (13 per cent), the South East (12.2 per cent) and the East (12.1 per cent).

Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices grew 5.9 per cent over the past year.

Prices grew 10.1 per cent annually in England, 2.1 per cent in Wales and 6.4 per cent in Northern Ireland. Prices fell 6.1 per cent in Scotland over the same period.

Jeremy Leaf, a former RICS chairman and north London estate agent, says: “We might have expected the house-price increases to be higher bearing in mind the surge in activity prior to the stamp duty hike in April. However, this is likely to be the last big rise for a while as more realism enters the market, although a shortage of listings and low transaction levels may underpin house price increases in future.

“Lack of supply continues to be a huge concern and while the ONS takes some comfort from recent UK construction output figures which showed that house building was the bright spot for the industry in the first quarter, this is potentially a last hurrah as confidence is likely to dip in response to weakening activity. Those house builders who are building now made the decision to do so six months ago when demand was higher so the next quarter’s figures may be ok but the quarter after that might see a dip to reflect the current lack of activity.

“People are nervous: there are short-term concerns about the market but longer-term fears about the strength of the economy. Brexit is a bit of a smokescreen – the strength of the economy is a bigger issue. While in the suburbs and outside the centre of London the housing industry is still confident, in the centre of London where there is oversupply and a lot of cranes, they are not.’

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