Britain Of Two Halves As Market Continues To Splinter !!

Date Published 02 April 2012

A Britain increasingly of two halves emerges in this morning’s Hometrack report, which paints a picture of house price rises in the South, and of widespread falls throughout the East Midlands, Wales and North.

During March, prices fell in few parts of London, the South-West and East Anglia. There were higher percentages of falls in the South-East and West Midlands, while in Yorkshire and Humber, about half the region had house price falls.

But in the East Midlands, North-West and Wales, house price falls were prevalent, and in the North they were universal right across the region.

With such widespread variations, the Hometrack survey shows national prices as a whole barely shifting – up just 0.2% from February. There was a rise in applicants of 4.4% from February, showing a downward trend.

Time taken to sell also varies widely across the country, from 11.6 weeks in the Midlands and North to under six weeks in London.

Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said: `The housing market is not firing on all cylinders nationally. The divergence in the relative strength in northern and southern England is set to remain.

`We expect prices to track sideways in the short term, with the outlook for the second half of the year hinging on households’ expectations for the economy and their incomes.`

The Hometrack report never gives house prices, but said that in March, London prices rose 0.5% over the month – the highest monthly increase since April 2010.

However, those London hikes will mostly have been recorded pre-Budget, when Stamp Duty on £2m-plus properties shot up for private purchasers from 5% to 7%, and for properties bought by entities such as partnerships, collective investment funds and companies, to 15%.

With London agents still hammering out post-Budget deals at around the £2m-£2.5m mark, there is nothing yet to confirm, or deny, speculation that prices lower down the scale will have suffered any knock-on effect.