UK Property Market

Government Confirms Annual CPI+1 Rent Increase

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The Government has indicated that it will permit annual rent increases of up to one per cent above the consumer price index (CPI), in it’s response to a consultation with the sector.

The MHCLG announced plans in October 2017 to permit Registered Providers to increase rents on social rent and affordable rent properties by up to CPI plus 1% each year from 2020, for a period of at least five years.

In September 2018 it launched a consultation on its proposed direction to the Regulator of Social Housing concerning social rents from 1 April 2020 onwards, which closed on 8 November. Yesterday it published the results of that consultation and it’s response.

Seventy-one per cent of respondents to the consultation agreed that the regulator’s Rent Standard should apply to local authorities.

Meanwhile 57 per cent agreed with the proposal to permit Registered Providers to increase rents by up to CPI plus one per cent each year. However 34 per cent of those responding to this question disagreed with the proposal, including 87 per cent of responses from individuals and organisations representing tenants.

The MHCLG stated in its response: “The government acknowledges the concerns raised about the potential impact on tenants of permitting rent increases of up to CPI+1% each year from 2020. However, it is important to recognise that most existing tenants will have benefited over the previous four years from a reduction of 1% each year as implemented through the Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016. MHCLG adds that the CPI plus one per cent is the maximum increase but “landlords have discretion to apply a smaller (or indeed no) increase based on local circumstances”.

The response concludes; “Overall, we believe that the proposed CPI+1% limit strikes a fair balance between the interests of landlords, tenants and taxpayers.”

It adds: “The Government therefore intends to proceed with the proposal to permit annual rent increases of up to CPI+1%.”

In October 2017, Theresa May announced that the CPI plus one per cent rises would resume for five years from 2020, and the government launched its formal consultation in November last year.

The consultation received 157 responses, of which 37 per cent were from local authorities or their representative bodies. Eighteen per cent were from private Registered Providers or their representative bodies and 35 per cent were from individuals or tenant organisations.


Source: Social Housing

Social care paper delayed

By | Assisted Living, UK Property Market

The long awaited green paper on social care has been delayed as a result of Brexit-related work, the government has said.

The paper on long-term reform of the care funding system was initially due to be published this summer, but was then delayed until the autumn.

The industry will now have to wait until the new year to hear the government’s proposals for how care should be funded.

The department of Health and Social Care confirmed the paper would be introduced for debate in the house of commons at the “earliest opportunity” in the new year.

Several solutions are said to be on the table, including a ‘Care Isa’ – a capped savings product, exempt from inheritance tax – and a ‘care pension’, which mixes drawdown and care insurance.

There have also been calls for a ‘Social Care Premium’, effectively a new tax on people over the age of 40.

The paper follows the government’s scrapping of the proposed £72,500 cap on social care in December.

Social care had been on the agenda for a number of years, with former prime minister David Cameron promising to implement a cap on the cost of care of £72,500, which was supposed to come into effect in April 2016.

But in 2015 the government pushed this back to 2020, because it would have added £6bn to public sector spending at a “time of consolidation”.

Meanwhile, some stakeholders have said they consider it the job of care providers to get on with ensuring the right level of social care is delivered.

Professor Martin Green, CEO of Care England, said: “The green paper will give the government’s view of the future of long term care. We have waited a long time for successive governments to pontificate therefore the sector has to find its own solutions.”

Nadra Ahmed, chief executive of the National Care Association, said: “The green paper delay is no surprise.

“Successive governments have raised the issue of social care only to kick it into the long grass. This is a mistake when you consider that more people are living longer and needing social care.

“Dementia and obesity are adding to the catalogue of problems that the social care sector faces, both practically in terms of physical and psychological care.”

Francis Klonowski, chartered financial planner at Klonowski & Co, said: “I can’t see this making any difference.

“Relying on the government is a foolish practice. I always advise my clients to ensure they build in provisions for their retirement years, including the possibility of long-term care.

“If you live in rude health post retirement, you’ll have more money to enjoy your retirement, if not having savings to hand will be essential, and will be infinitely preferable than draining your inheritance.”

Source: Financial Times Adviser

UK inflation holds steady at 2.4% in October

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The UK inflation rate remained steady at 2.4% in October, confounding analyst expectations of a rise to 2.5%.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) figure included falls in food and clothing costs, but rising utility bills and petrol prices, said the ONS.

The inflation figure comes a day after data showed that wages were rising by 3.2% – the fastest pace in nearly a decade.

Core inflation also held steady at 1.9% in October.

That figure strips out the out the effects of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco prices.

October inflation chart

Has inflation peaked?

Inflation hit a five-year high of 3.1% in November 2017, as the inflationary effect of sterling’s decline after the June 2016 Brexit vote hit its peak.

However, it is still above the Bank of England’s 2% target.

The ONS’s head of inflation, Michael Hardie, said: “Prices paid by consumers continued to rise at a steady rate, with falls in food and clothing offset by rising utility bills and petrol, as crude [oil] prices continued to rise.”

The Bank of England expects inflation will drift lower, but expects to have to raise interest rates in coming years to keep inflation at or near its target figure.

How were different retail sectors affected?

Food prices cooled off. The cost of oils and fats dropped by 6.3% compared with the previous month, while milk, cheese and eggs prices were down 1.4%.

Overall food and non-alcoholic drink prices dropped by 0.2% in October. Clothing and footwear also dipped by 0.5%.

But gas and electricity prices both jumped by 2%, while liquid fuels soared by 7.2%.

How have manufacturers fared?

Looking at the latest date, for manufacturers, the cost of raw materials was 10% higher than in October 2017.

And manufacturers increased the prices they charged by 3.3% year-on-year compared with 3.1% the previous month.

Earnings and inflation

How have house prices been affected?

The ONS said house prices in September rose by an annual 3.5% against 3.1% in August.

But prices in London fell for a third month running, down by 0.3%.

What does this mean for interest rates?

Analysis by economics correspondent Andy Verity

There may not have been a change in the inflation rate, but there has been a change in expectations regarding when interest rates are likely to rise. In the City, the betting now is that the next upward move by the Bank of England is more likely than not to come as early as next May.

That would take the official rate to the giddy heights of 1%.

But is by no means obvious that rates will have to rise soon to tame inflation. If you strip out volatile items like food and fuel, so-called “core inflation” remains subdued at 1.9%.

Even though wages are rising more strongly, there’s little sign that prices are rising to compensate for those higher costs – rather, competition is holding prices down. Then again, the Bank of England has made no secret of its desire to “normalise” rates, so the markets may be right.

Is there a Brexit factor?

According to Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown: “Brexit is still the elephant in the room when it comes to the future path of inflation, and consequently of monetary policy.

“That’s because the pound now waxes and wanes with the Brexit negotiations, and that has a big impact on how much UK consumers pay for imported goods.

Source: BBC UK

People should be proud of their council house – Theresa May

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People who live in council houses should be made to feel proud of their homes, Theresa May has said.

The PM announced £2bn to build new homes in England, in an attempt to remove the “stigma” of social housing.

Under the plan, housing associations, councils and other organisations will be able to bid for the money to spend on new projects, starting from 2022.

Labour said the announcement fell “far short” of what was needed for the social housing sector.

BBC home editor Mark Easton said the government hopes the money will allow local authorities and housing associations to build schemes that would otherwise seem too risky.

He said the sector’s calls to provide more confidence about future funding – so the 300,000 extra homes required in England each year can be built – had appeared to have been listened to.

Mrs May told a National Housing Federation summit in London: “Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

“On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”

She will encourage housing associations to change how tenants and society view social housing.

“We should never see social housing as something that need simply be ‘good enough’, nor think that the people who live in it should be grateful for their safety net and expect no better,” she said.

“I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”

In mixed developments, she said it should be impossible to tell the difference between full-price and affordable housing, which should not be “tucked away out of sight and out of mind”.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said the prime minister’s announcement was “extremely welcome”.

“This represents a total step change. For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing,” he said.

He said that by changing the way the funding was allocated, ministers had given “long-term confidence and confirmed that we are trusted partners in solving the housing crisis, building new homes and communities”.

But shadow housing secretary John Healey said the reality was spending on new affordable homes had been “slashed” and the number of new social rented homes built last year “fell to the lowest level since records began”.

“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house-building programme for more than 30 years,” he said.

The English housing survey for 2016/17 reported that 3.9 million households – about nine million people – lived in the social rented sector, which was 17% of households in the country.

The funding covers the next spending review period, from 2021 through to 2028.

Downing Street said the money was separate to the £9bn of public funding put toward the existing affordable homes programme until 2022.

Source: BBC News

Brexit and the housing market

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Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, discusses what impact Brexit is having on the UK property market as real estate continues to be seen as a good investment

On 23 June 2016, the UK went to the polls to determine whether the country should remain a member of the European Union (EU). After months of fierce political debate leading up to the vote, the public ultimately decided in favour of leaving the EU. The implications of this decision were felt almost immediately, with the then Prime Minister David Cameron tendering his resignation and the pound plummeting in value.

Some economic commentators feared the Brexit decision had ushered in a new era of stagnant market growth, with investors less likely to consider investment into the UK. In the ensuring months, however, the positive performance of the UK economy demonstrated that people had not been deterred from pursuing real estate investment opportunities. A survey of investors commissioned by Market Financial Solutions (MFS) at the beginning of the year found that 77% do not think Brexit is likely to affect their long-term investment strategies.

Of all the asset classes on offer in the UK, residential and commercial real estate have remained popular for those seeking an investment that can deliver stable returns. The MFS report found that 63% regard property as a safe and secure asset, with 18% of investors considering to invest in one or more properties over the next 12 months.

With Brexit scheduled to formally commence on 29 March 2019, businesses, investors and consumers have been given little detail on how the withdrawal process will be managed. For property investors, homeowners and prospective house buyers, an awareness of the current market trends is vital. Such awareness ensures UK society is ideally placed to take advantage of the property opportunities during the Brexit transition period.

House prices rise steadily
Since 2000, UK house prices have been steadily rising as a result of sustained market demand for property. Over the two years since the EU referendum, house prices across the UK have grown on average by 7.3%.

The rate of house price growth may have slowed down in London, but there are two primary reasons why this should not be cause for concern. Firstly, the average price of a London home sits at £476,752. To put this into perspective, the UK’s average house is currently worth £228,384. Secondly, the city’s allure as a cosmopolitan city continues to attract investment from domestic and foreign investors. Foreign direct investment from Asian countries have proven to be particularly popular. For example, South Korean investment into the UK property market totalled £1.1 billion in the first half of 2018, with £1 billion of this used to facilitate real estate transactions in the capital.

Outside of London, the UK’s regional cities have become investment hotspots for property investors. The performance of Manchester and Edinburgh’s housing market has been nothing short of impressive, with each experiencing respective house price growth of 7% and 7.1%. The reasons for this range from affordability to the new-build development projects and reflect the positive outlook construction companies and prospective homebuyers hold towards the future growth prospects of the UK’s regional cities.

Housing policy
Historically, attempts to resolve the housing crisis have been undermined by a lack of policy cohesion. For example, since 2000, there have been 18 different housing ministers. This makes the ability to deliver long-term policy particularly difficult. Part of the government’s efforts to resolve the housing crisis stem from promoting new-build developments.

However, the overall effectiveness of the government’s approach to encouraging housing construction has been questioned – a survey earlier in the year revealed that only 12% of surveyors think the government can reach its target of 300,000 new homes a year.

Based on the resilient performance of the property market over the past few months, Brexit certainty has not deterred prospective homebuyers from seeking real estate investment. This makes it extremely important for the government to ensure that the current imbalance between housing supply and demand is addressed in the lead-up, duration and follow-through of the UK’s transition outside of the EU.

Alternative finance
The global financial crisis was a defining moment for the UK’s financial sector. The imposition of strict lending measures imposed by banks made it difficult for investors and businesses to acquire the credit they needed to pursue new investment opportunities.

In response, alternative finance instruments such as bridging rose in popularity, offering access to fast, flexible and tailored loan solutions. Since September 2011, annual bridging loan completions have jumped from £474 million to an impressive £4 billion at the beginning of the year.

With 29 March 2019 set as the Brexit date, there is the risk of traditional lenders introducing strict lending rules similar to what was seen a decade ago. This time, alternative finance instruments will be at the ready to meet market demand for fast capital.

While it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how Brexit will affect the property market, the trends that have transpired following the EU referendum suggest that property will remain a popular investment. House prices are rising, and with demand outweighing supply, there is an added onus on the government to ensure people can move up the property ladder. The uncertainty surrounding Brexit could also lead to tighter credit controls, however, the rise of alternative finance means that investors are well-placed to access capital.

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

UK inflation rate rises for first time since November

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UK inflation rose to 2.5% in July, after holding steady at 2.4% in the previous three months as the cost of transport and computer games increased.

It was the first jump in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure since November and was in line with forecasts.

Meanwhile the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation fell to 3.2%.

The Department for Transport uses the RPI figure to set the maximum annual increase for regulated rail fares.

The latest Office for National Statistics figures show that increases in computer games and transport were partially offset by falls in the price of clothing.

For manufacturers, the cost of raw materials was 10.9% higher than in July 2017, the biggest rise in more than a year.

Much of that cost pressure has been caused by oil price increases of more than 50% over the period.

The CPI figure had hit a five-year high of 3.1% in November, when the inflationary effect of the pound’s fall following the June 2016 Brexit vote reached its peak.

Earlier this month the Bank of England forecast inflation would rise to 2.6% in July before falling back.

The Bank expects inflation will settle down to just above its 2 % target in two years’ time as it gradually increases borrowing costs.

On Tuesday, official data showed average earnings, excluding bonuses, rose by an annual rate of 2.7% for the three months to June.

Source: BBC News

Halifax: Average house prices hit new record high

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The latest data and analysis from Halifax has revealed that house prices in the three months to July increased by 3.3% against the same period a year earlier with the average house price rising to hit a new record of £230,280.

Halifax revealed that on a monthly basis, prices rose by 1.4% in July, while in the latest quarter (May-July) prices were 1.3% higher than in the preceding three months (February-April 2018)

Fall in housing activity in June

UK home sales fell by 3% to 96,340 in June. In the three months to June sales were unchanged from the previous three months. The volume of residential transactions has been broadly flat over the past year and is likely to remain so in the coming months. (Source: HMRC, seasonally-adjusted figures)

Mortgage approvals rise again for second successive month

Bank of England industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – grew by 1.4% between May and June to 65,619 – the second highest monthly level this year. There are some encouraging signs with mortgage approvals up 4.1% since April, however, demand remains weak. (Source: Bank of England, seasonally-adjusted figures)

Housing activity remains steady

New buyer enquiries have been flat or falling for 18 consecutive months, whilst agreed sales deteriorated between May and June. On past evidence, both sets of data point to mortgage approvals holding broadly flat until the end of 2018. On the supply side, new instructions, which had fallen for 26 consecutive months have now edged up in the past two months. (Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) monthly report)

Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: “House prices picked up in July, with the annual rate of growth rising from 1.8% in June to 3.3% in July, the largest increase since last November. The average house price is now £230,280, the highest on record. House prices in the three months to July were 1.3% higher than in the previous quarter, the fastest quarterly increase, again, since November.

While the quarterly and annual rates of house price growth have improved, housing activity remains soft. Despite the recent modest improvement in mortgage approvals, the latest survey data for new buyer enquiries and agreed sales suggest that approvals will remain broadly flat until the end of the year.

In contrast, the labour market remains robust, with the numbers of people in employment rising by 137,000 in the three months to May with much of the job creation driven by a rise in full-time employment. Pressures on household finances are also easing as growth in average earnings continues to rise at a faster rate than consumer prices. With regards to the recent rise in the Bank of England Base Rate, we do not anticipate that this will have a significant effect on either mortgage affordability or transaction volumes.”

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, says: “House prices experienced a rebound in July but this was mainly due to shortage of stock and continuing low mortgage rates, as we have found on the high street that many buyers have already factored in the increase in interest rates. It is almost as if the north/south divide is working in reverse with more activity outside rather than inside the capital.

There is still no clear pattern to the market after June saw the slowest growth for five years. Viewings are up but it is hard to obtain commitment as political and economic uncertainty remain.

We are looking forward to a reasonably active summer and autumn period as fewer but more serious buyers come to terms with changed market conditions.

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, says: “Mortgage approvals continue to be strong and we don’t expect this month’s interest rate rise on its own to have too much of an impact. However, it may cause some nervousness going forward as buyers worry about the possibility of future rate rises. It is no surprise then that fixed-rate mortgages continue to be by far the most popular product as borrowers look to protect themselves against future uncertainty.”

Mark Readings, Founder and Managing Director of Online Estate Agency, House Network, said: “The UK property market remains resilient despite political uncertainty. The second half of the year is proving to be more positive, with many areas continuing to see moderate growth. At House Network, we are seeing record levels of market appraisals being untaken which would suggest homeowners are positive about the market as they develop Brexit fatigue.

Following the recent moderate rate hike to 0.75 by the BOE, mortgage rates still remain low and this small increase is unlikely to put anyone off buying a property as rental prices continue to increase.”

Russell Quirk, founder and CEO of, commented: “While these house price reports cover the whole of the UK and provide us with an average which, of course, can conceal regional idiosyncrasies, the current trajectory of the UK property market is one that favours homeowners both existing and aspiring.

In fact, this could be described as house price growth utopia as any news of an overly excessive increase is criticised as bad for home buyers, while a fall is met with toxicity by those that already own a home. Many usual voices will be quick to highlight a ‘lacklustre property landscape’, but the highest increase in prices since November speaks for itself and is still palatable, if not absolutely ideal for both camps.

Prices are up annually and while a slightly weary market hasn’t narrowed the unaffordability gap over the last year or two, it has at least stalled it from widening somewhat.”

Source: Property Reporter UK

Quarterly property review suggests confidence is still building in UK residential market

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Confidence is building in the UK’s residential property market with house prices stable, no significant discounting and average asking price in London up 3.1%, says a new analysis.

Smaller homes are the most popular and new instructions are up nearly 7% year on year while the use of online estate agent is rising, according to the fifth quarterly home mover report from TwentyCi.

It also points out that in the second quarter of 2018 interest rates remained on hold, and a strong labour market and wage growth finally picking all contributed to an increasing number of home owners entering the market.

A review of 2017 listed prices compared to the price actually achieved shows an average discount of up to 4% for properties sold for less than £1 million, suggesting there is no significant property devaluation occurring. The realised value of properties over £1 million, however, shows an average discount of 8%.

Online estate agents now represent nearly 8% of all exchanges, an increase of 13% quarter on quarter. Indeed, in the last year, online agents have established a greater footprint across England, helped by significant investment in advertising and the introduction of more local property experts.

The share of the properties they represent has also grown, increasing by more than 30% in most price bands below £1 million and the report points out that the recent merger of Emoov and Tepilo may indicate the start of consolidation of players within this space.

Smaller homes are the biggest sellers Terraced and semi-detached houses continued to make up the largest proportion of property sales, accounting for over 55% of all exchanges in the second quarter. Both housing types have grown in the last year, driving growth overall. In comparison, flats showed a significant decline in sales volume with the conjecture being that flats now dominate the rental rather than sales market in our major towns and cities.

London continues to operate its own unique property ecosystem. The average asking price was up by 3.1% in the second quarter of 2018, an increase seemingly generated by a lack of available properties.

Source: Property Wire

More affordable options attracting more people to property investment

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A rise in the number of affordable properties coming onto the market in the UK and the growing power of the digital property market is giving rise to a new breed of property investors, it is claimed.

The idea of a stereotypical property investor is no longer accurate, with innovations in technology opening up the market to an entirely new audience, according to Richard Reed, head of property at auction firm John Pye Property.

‘The image of the middle aged man in a suit with a medium sized portfolio is giving way to a new breed of investor. With the emergence of the online property market and an ever growing variety of properties that are suitable for buy to let, investors in 2018 are having to become digitally savvy and prepared to think outside the box when it comes to making their purchase,’ he explained.

A survey conducted by the firm found that the majority involved in property investment regard the current market in a positive light. Some 62% of respondents noted an increase in the number of affordable properties available.

‘There is no doubt that the industry is changing and the growth of the online property market is playing a huge part in this. Our monthly online property auctions have generated millions of pounds in sales since they began in 2013, with successful bidders from across the UK and around the globe,’ said Reed.

‘We anticipate that the online property trade will continue to grow going forward, and in doing so will usher in a new generation of property investors,’ he added.

One example is Ashley Dawn who focuses on properties in South Yorkshire. She has used a mixed property strategy and took to investing as a way to give her the passive income to be more financially free and spend more time on her other passions, such as travelling and farming.

‘I believe property will always be a sound investment and I think people have started to realise that property is a far safer pension pot and offers more security and greater returns than a lot of other trade or investment options available,’ she said.

Source: Property Wire

Prices reach record level in England and Wales, latest index shows

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Every region in England and Wales have seen record property prices with the housing market showing a slight rise in annual growth following 11 months of falls, the latest index shows.

In the 12 months to May 2018, annual price growth crept up from 2.1% to 2.2%, but month on month prices were unchanged, the data from the Your Move index shows.

Growth was led by regions in Wales with prices up 13.9% in Monmouthshire, up 11.6% in the Vale of Glamorgan and 9.5% in Cardiff, but the report points out that this may have been due to buyers rushing to beat the new Land Transaction Tax introduced in April as the growth calculations are based on three month averages.

But Wales is still seeing strong growth with prices up 5.2% year on year. Average prices have reached a new peak of £291,344 in Monmouthshire and £269,609 in the Vale of Glamorgan, making them the most expensive locations in Wales.

Some cheaper areas have also seen strong growth. In Carmarthenshire prices were up 12.6% to £163,633. However, Wales has also seen price falls. Indeed, of the 33 areas to see prices drop over the last year, outside London, eight are in Wales.

The next strongest growth was seen in the North East of England with a rise of 4.5%, led by 9% growth in Northumberland and 6.1% in Tyne and Wear. Meanwhile, the East Midlands, with prices up 2.6% annually, was the only region to see annual price increases in all its local authority areas, led by Rutland up 9.3%, Northamptonshire up 4.1% and Leicestershire up 3.4% to a new peak of £244,633.

At the other end of the scale, growth is weaker in Yorkshire and the Humber, up 1.2% annually, and the South East where prices increased by just 0.6%. Indeed, Windsor and Maidenhead saw one of the biggest annual fall in prices with a decline of 11.3%. But some areas in the region are performing well with the Isle of Wight, Medway and Oxfordshire all setting new peak average prices in April.

London saw annual growth of 2.9%, the lowest since March 2012 and prices also fell on a monthly basis, down 0.3%, taking the average house price in the capital to £636,947. A number of London boroughs recorded substantial falls over the 12 months to April 2018.

Prices fell by 24.9% in the City of London but this was related to a small number of sales, the report says, while prices were down by 19.1% in Southwark, down 19.1%, largely as a result of high value properties sold the year before.

Only Kensington and Chelsea, the most expensive borough, recorded double digit growth, up 10.4% to £2.17 million, followed by Lambeth where prices increased 5.8%. Overall, 24 London boroughs have seen prices fall over the year, and just nine have seen them rise.

‘Whilst the market may seem subdued, we should welcome the fact that every region in England and Wales is still growing and that the London market seems to be shaking off its malaise,’ said Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains estate agents.

Source: Property Wire


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