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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Prices still rising according to government's "final" ONS housing index

House prices across the UK increased by 9.0 per cent in the year to March, showing a significant rise from the 7.6 per cent recorded in February.

The data has come in the monthly index from the Office for National Statistics - the final such measure before a new ‘official’ index appears next month.

House price annual inflation was 10.1 per cent in England. Unsurprisingly London say the largest regional increase - prices rose 13.0 per cent over the year to the end of March. 

Prices were up 6.4 per cent in Northern Ireland and 2.1 per cent in Wales but Scotland bucked the trend with prices down 6.1 per cent over the same period.

Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 5.9 per cent over the year; on a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices increased by 2.5 per cent between February and March.

The average price of a house in the UK during March was £292,000, although average London house prices are now more than twice that figure. 

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, a former RICS chairman, says the frenzy of buying ahead of the stamp duty deadline could have been expected to have produced even higher rises. Even so, he says, the latest spike “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.”

Leaf says buyers and sellers are nervous with short-term concerns about the market and longer-term fears about the strength of the economy. “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, it is not” he says.

The new index, being launched next month, will replace the ONS figures and those from the Land Registry for England and Wales.

The new index will apply to all of the UK and comes about as a result of the National Statistician recommending back in 2010 that ”a single definitive house price index and accompanying statistics should be produced by the official statistics producer community” and should be based on completion prices, should give a UK-wide picture, and be updated monthly. 

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