After a year of record rises, house prices in the UK have finally begun to cool off. The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show they increased by 3.5 percent over the year to April, down from 4.1 percent in March.
The nation’s biggest building societies and real estate platforms, however, say asking prices are already falling at rates not seen in over a decade.
A typical UK property fetched £286,000 in April – £9,000 higher than a year ago but well below September 2022’s £293,000 peak – yet the picture varies widely depending on location.
By region, house prices shot up by 5.5 percent to £160,000 in the North East, while by just 2.4 percent in London to reach £534,000.
At a local level, these disparities are even starker – with home values plummeting in some neighbourhoods.
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A total of 27 local authorities saw their average house price fall during the year to April, with London’s Kensington and Chelsea chief among them.
In the royal borough where bricks and mortar is more expensive than anywhere else – where the median selling price in 2022 came to £1.4million – property got 15.8 percent cheaper over the past 12 months. This was the largest year-on-year drop of all.
House prices in Kensington and Chelsea had fallen 9.3 percent in the year to March, 4.2 percent in February and 2.3 percent in January, suggesting the situation there is worsening.
Nearby Westminster experienced the next-biggest collapse (13.3 percent), followed by Na h-Eileanan Siar in the Outer Hebrides (7.4 percent), and the City of Aberdeen (seven percent).
East Lothian, on the coastal outskirts of Edinburgh, is the UK’s property hotspot of the moment. House prices in the local authority rose 17.2 percent in the year to April – up from 9.0 percent in March and 5 percent in February.
Fylde in Lancashire came next (15.5 percent), followed by Melton (13.3 percent), Swindon (12.4 percent) and Inverclyde (12 percent).
Even in these places, however, prices aren’t bound to keep buoying upwards for long. The average two-year fixed mortgage rate has now surpassed six percent for the first time this year.
This is because of the Bank of England’s policy of raising the interest rate – which increases the cost of borrowing for everyone – in its bid to curb inflation. It has now done so 12 times consecutively, and is widely expected to do so again at its next meeting on Thursday.
The inflation rate, for its part, remains persistently high – coming in at 8.7 percent in May, unchanged from April.
You can find out what the impact of a 4.75 percent base rate would be on your mortgage using our tool linked here.