Land Registry says sales fall by 13% in year

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The number of houses sold in England and Wales has fallen by 13% in the past year, according to the latest figures from the Land Registry.

The Land Registry’s market trend data report, released yesterday, shows there were just 70,404 completed house sales in June, compared to 80,823 in June 2014.

The figures also show that the average property price increased year-on-year to August by 4.2%, taking the average house price in England and Wales to £184,682. Prices increased by 0.5% between July and August.

Charles Haresnape, group managing director for mortgages at Aldermore bank, said: “While the annual price increase of 4.2 per cent in the average house price will bring positive news for homeowners, the 13% decrease in completed house sales in England and Wales compared to June 2014 is worrying news.

“The fall may in some part reflect the impact of tighter lending criteria, but price rises are likely to prove a constraint on the number of first-time buyers.”

The East of England has seen the greatest price increase over the past year, with properties now costing on average 8.4% more than they did last August. London saw the greatest monthly rise, with a movement of 1.7%.

Continuing the eastern theme, Newham in east London achieved the highest year-on-year price growth in the capital with a 15.5% increase.

Nicholas Leeming, chairman of national agents Jackson-Stops & Staff, which has 44 offices, said: “Buyers are seeking areas offering the best value and proximity to work, which reflects not only the performance in the East of England, where the Cambridge effect and regional investment are bearing fruit, but also in boroughs such as Newham and Barking and Dagenham.

“On the wider front we are seeing a continuing trend of higher property values for reported sales, but of more concern is the reducing numbers of properties coming to the market.

“However, this supply constraint in the middle markets is not being matched in the higher value sector, where many properties are struggling to find buyers at their current guide prices, mainly because of the effect that the stamp duty increase last year has had.”

Properties in the North-West increased by the lowest amount – 0.2%, while the region also saw the most significant monthly price decrease, with a fall of 1.4%.

Prices also fell in the East Midlands (0.2%) and in Yorkshire & The Humber (0.3%).

In the South-East houses cost 7.6% more than this time last year – and 6.6% more in London.

The statistics also reveal that semi-detached houses increased in value by a greater margin than any other property year-on-year. The 4.7% jump compared to 4.5% increases for detached homes.

Flats and maisonettes now cost, on average, 4% more than they did last August and terrace houses 3.7% more.

Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb said continuing prices rises were “pushing the dream of a stable home out of reach for millions”.

He added: “Piecemeal government schemes like Help to Buy or Starter Homes just aren’t helping the ordinary families who are completely priced out of a home of their own, and left to face the huge costs and instability of private renting.

“The autumn spending review is the government’s last chance to show they’re serious about giving millions of people a fair shot at a stable future by investing in the genuinely affordable homes they desperately need.”