Slump in monthly housing transactions, Land Registry reports

Average house prices in England and Wales ended the year at £162,080 – 1.79% higher than 12 months earlier.

According to the Land Registry, house prices in December rose by 0.8% on the previous month.

The figures were driven by a 3.1% monthly rise in London, and an 8.4% annual rise. The average house price in the capital ended the year at £371,223, with the most expensive area being Kensington and Chelsea, where house prices rose by 13.4% over last year to stand at an average of just over £1m – £1,080,479.

By comparison, houses in the North-West fell 0.9% in the last month of last year, and by 3.5% over the year as a whole. House prices in the region stand at £108,257. The region with the lowest house prices is the North-East, at £99,974, while the area with the greatest annual fall (9.5%) was north-east Lincolnshire

Of more concern was that transactions were sharply down, according to the Land Registry’s latest data, relating to July to October. There was a monthly average of 57,661 house sales, down from 62,073 for the same period in 2011.

Volumes of sales for properties over £2m, on which higher Stamp Duty was imposed in last year’s Budget, were up 22% in the month of October, compared with October 2011, to total 151, of which 121 were in London. Sales in all price brackets below £200,000 nationwide were down, and sales in London below £250,000 were also down.

The Land Registry also published repossession data showing that an average of 1,523 homes were repossessed per month between July and October – down on the 1,864 monthly average for the same period in 2011. The areas with the highest repossession numbers were the North-West, Yorkshire & the Humber and the South-East.

David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, said that the fall in repossessions was welcome, but added: “Nearly four years with a record low bank rate has been crucial. Many borrowers who have been financially hard pressed since the recession have been given more breathing room by lower interest payments.

“Nevertheless, after so long with rock-bottom rates, borrowers and new buyers must remember that rates will eventually rise – and not be taken by surprise when they do so, or we will see mortgage arrears cases and repossessions climb rapidly when the MPC does take a different course of action.”