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North west house prices rank among the most resilient in England

A “core portion” of the country’s buyers and sellers are still keen to move ahead with their property purchases and sales, and the north west has seen some of the strongest growth. 

The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) house price index released by HM Land Registry has revealed that house prices in the UK remained steady for the month of May, with overall values unchanged from April’s figures. In England, there has been a slight -0.4% fall in prices since April.

On an annual basis, average house prices across the UK have increased by 1.9%, while in England specifically the increase sits at 1.7%. This brings the average property value in England to £303,557.

Commenting on the latest findings, Propertymark CEO Nathan Emerson points out that the results show an ongoing strong appetite from people who are undeterred by the uncertain climate.

“Despite disappointing national economic news, it is clear that a core portion of the country are still looking to get moving and are not put off by current conditions,” he pointed out.

“As sale prices drop, sellers are finding a middle ground with affordability, yet sellers are still making a gain, meaning the wheels of the market keep turning for all.”

North west one of leading regions

The north west of England has been a standout region in recent years, some of which has been spurred on by the government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda and increased investment in the area’s towns and cities. Regeneration has transformed parts of the north west and made them popular investment hubs.

In the latest index, the north west saw the third highest annual price growth out of all England’s regions, with a 2.7% rise between May 2022 and May 2023. This sits above the average of 1.7%, yet prices in the north west remain relatively affordable at an average £211,790.

The top region for annual house price growth was the north east, where prices increased by an average 4%. This area remains the cheapest place in England to buy, with current average prices now at £158,779. The East Midlands saw the second highest annual increase of 3.4%, with the average price now £247,242.

Month-on-month figures can be helpful to assess ongoing trends, although tend to take the market at a much more minute level and can fluctuate more widely than annual figures. However, the north west remained more resilient than the national average on a monthly basis, with a small -0.2% fall.

The strongest performing region on a monthly level was the West Midlands, one of only two regions to experience house price growth since April. The average property value there increased by 0.5% to £248,588. This was closely followed by a 0.3% monthly increase in the East Midlands.

Changing trends among buyers?

While any major falls in house prices have not happened, with areas such as the north west, West Midlands and East Midlands proving particularly steadfast, the market is undoubtedly being affected by rising mortgage rates and inflation.

For example, the ONS house price index reveals that cash buyer prices in London’s property market has increased by 1.3% over the past year. The average price paid among this buyer type is £546,177.

Earlier this year, research from Hamptons revealed that more landlords were choosing to invest with cash in order to avoid the rising mortgage rates. The study in March found that 59% of buy-to-let purchases were funded by cash during the first three months of the year.

Another key trend affecting the market, according to Nigel Bishop, founder of buying agency Recoco Property Search, involves changes to the way people work, and how this might affect both location and property choice.

“Despite some economic challenges, such as the recent hike in interest rates, buyers remained motivated to find a property as soon as possible,” he said.

“With a high number of professionals still working from home or splitting their time between home and the office, buyers have been prioritising properties that contribute to a work-life balance.

“Larger homes with private gardens and properties in proximity to parks and other lifestyle amenities as well as easy access to London have been particularly sought-after.”

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