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Data Shows South East House Prices Among Most Squeezed

The UK housing market has, to an extent, defied expectations this year. Just as some had expected the economy to go into recession, so it was that large house price falls were widely anticipated. Both predictions have proved too pessimistic.

Nonetheless, those using the services of estate agents in Surrey, either to buy or to sell, might note that there are regional variations within the overall picture.

The latest Halifax House Price Index indicated that prices fell by 0.3 per cent across the country in April, after a surprising 0.8 per cent increase in March. This left an overall year-on- year increase of 0.1 per cent.

However, while the northern and Midland areas of England, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have still seen prices rise over the past year, the four southernmost regions - London, the south-east, south-west and East - have seen a collective fall of 0.6 per cent.

Halifax attributed this contrast to the fact that the southern regions have more expensive housing and this is more vulnerable to a price squeeze at a time when interest rates have been rising, pushing up mortgage costs.

A feature of the market that will be particularly relevant to first-time buyers is that the national average price for a first home purchase was up by 0.7 per cent year-on-year, whereas for home movers it was down by 0.1 per cent. Halifax attributed this to the relative benefits of buying at a time when rents have been soaring.

The announcement by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee that the base rate is rising again, this time by 0.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent, may increase the squeeze on southern prices. If so, the headline price of buying a home in Surrey may continue to drop even if the national figure increases, as the mortgage cost will be higher, at least until inflation falls and rates can be cut.

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