Two reports published yesterday confirm the strengthening UK housing market.
According to the latest housing market survey by the Halifax. UK house prices jumped 2.2% in March, mainly driven by first-time buyers taking advantage of a stamp duty holiday before it ended.
This was also supported by the latest data from Hometrack, which showed UK house prices posted a monthly rise for the first time in 20 months in March on the back of increased demand, activity and a scarcity of housing for sale.
The ending of the first-time buyer stamp duty holiday may have boosted demand but London, where prices rose by 0.5% – the largest monthly increase in the capital since April 2010 (0.6%) – continues to drive the national headline figure.
The Hometrack survey results reveal a clear divide in the strength of the market between southern England and the rest of the country. Prices rose across two-fifths of the London market and a fifth of the market in the south-east. Across the midlands and northern regions there were price falls.
The time to sell averages just under three months (11.6 weeks) in the midlands and north, less than six weeks in London and 8.4 weeks across the regions of southern England.
While there was a 4.4% increase in new buyers registering with agents, compared to 18% in February, growth in demand over the last two months has created a momentum in market activity and sales to support firmer pricing.
The proportion of the asking price being achieved has increased to 93% up by 0.5% from January 2012. As an indicator of the strength of pricing between markets, the tightest differential is to be found in London and the south-east where the percentage is over 94%. In contrast the proportion is less than 92% in the north-east and north-west.
Looking ahead, all the evidence points to a continued firming in prices in the next few months as demand increases and supply remains suppressed.