Expert comments on the latest ONS house price figures

House Prices are up by 5.4% in the year to September, according to the latest ONS / Land Registry UK House Price Index.

House price growth has been led by the North West of England in the last year, while property prices in the capital continue to grow at the slowest pace of any region in the UK.

Fresh data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Land Registry show that residential property prices increased by 7.3% in the year to the end of September in the North West of England, which is higher than the UK average of 5.4% over the corresponding period. In London, the home price rise was just 2.5%.

The average UK house price was £226,000 in September 2017, which is up £11,000 compared with the same period a year earlier. Asking prices have risen, too.

The ONS figures show that house prices in Northern Ireland rose by 6% in the year to September, compared with a 5.7% rise in England, a 5.3% increase in Wales, and a 3.1% rise in Scotland.

Increasing property prices is making it tougher for first-time buyers, as reflected by the latest mortgage data from UK Finance, which shows that 31,100 loans were advanced to first-time buyers in September, down 10% on the previous month and 1% on the same month a year earlier.

To help gain a better understanding of the latest house price data and what is happening in the housing market, here are some views from key property experts.

Nick Leeming, chairman at Jackson-Stops, said: “It’s full steam ahead for house price growth in the North West, with average prices up more than 7% year-on-year in September. The region, which is home to major cities including Manchester, Liverpool and Chester, has risen up the ranks in terms of annual house price growth, surpassing the likes of the East Midlands and the East of England which have performed exceptionally well across 2017.

“With the average house price in the North West around £100,000 less than across England as a whole, is it not surprising to see buyers turning their attention to the region’s property stock. The increase in demand means we will likely see accelerated growth here in 2018.”

Alex Gosling, CEO, online estate agents, commented: “Buyer and seller activity did pick up in September, but the traditional Autumn bounce wasn’t anywhere near as high as we had hoped after a quiet summer.

“The market needs a serious energy boost from somewhere, and the Chancellor has the opportunity to do just that next week.”

John Eastgate, of OneSavings Bank, said: “Between rising inflation and stagnant wage growth, pressure has been gradually mounting on people’s wallets, so a jump in house price growth will come as little relief to those busy saving up for a place of their own. Property affordability remains a huge challenge in the UK, and despite a brief hiatus in house price growth earlier this year, they’ve now begun to rise again steadily.”

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent, said: “The UK market reflects all different areas working at various paces, The trend in London is quite different where an excess of supply and weak demand are combining to reduce prices consistently with no real prospect of an increase until early next year at the soonest.”

Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, commented: “Winter has come early to the London property market. What began as a freezing of prices in the capital’s most exclusive postcodes is turning into a harder frost on both activity and prices.

“London is now not just the worst performing English region, it’s a serial laggard. In the 12 months to September, prices in the capital rose at barely a third of the pace of those in the fastest-growing region.

“This shift is being driven by a steady flight of equity from London – and other previously overheated regions – to areas with greater affordability.”

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “Limited stock and high demand continues to drive annual house price growth, and it’s only making homeownership a more exclusive club. With house prices estimated at 7.6 times the average annual salary, for the majority of would-be first-time buyers the prospect of affording their own home is not a near possibility, leaving them forced to rent for longer to save a deposit.

“With housing set to be a key area for the Autumn Budget, we hope to see a real push from the Government to address the chronic issues in the market. We have already seen some steps in this direction, with an extra £10bn for the Help to Buy Scheme, but the underlying issue of supply remains. We’ve had years of promises and announcements, now is the time for the Government to really get started and take the action that is necessary to lead our housing market into a fairer future.”

Russell Quirk, founder of estate agent, said: “The [UK] market has continued to splutter along, registering yet more marginal positive price growth despite a sustainably lower level of buyer demand.

“This is certainly promising for those on the ladder and we should see a large degree of stability return with a heightened level of buyer interest come January.”