Bigger than expected asking price surge - but market still cooling

Rightmove calculated the average asking price of a property in England and Wales in March was £310,108, representing a 1.3 per cent increase on February and only £363 below the record high average of £310,471 recorded last June. Real consumer spending will rise 1.7 per cent this year, compared with a 12-year high of 3.1 per cent in 2016, it said.

"Since 2007we've only once seen a larger rise than this in March, and we are also keeping pace with last year's rise, which had the added momentum of investors looking to beat the Stamp Duty tax deadline of April 1st".

The data, from Rightmove, says the price rise of the past month has only been exceeded once at this time of year since the heady market of 2007.

In terms of regions, the strongest performance was seen in the Midlands, with East and West Midlands prices at record highs.

The average asking price across the country was £306,231 in February, up from £300,245 in January.

For the whole of the United Kingdom the price of property coming to market increased by 1.3% in March and 2.3% year-on-year, down from annual growth of 7.6% in March 2016.

House prices across England and Wales have been driven by growth in the Midlands.

London property prices rebounded to an all-time high this month, boosted by areas on the periphery of the British capital, according to Rightmove.

Prices in the East Midlands were up 2.1% on the month and 5.7% on the year, surpassing £200,000 for the first time.

In Greater London asking prices increased by 1.4% to £649,772 and were up by 0.9% year on year.

The average United Kingdom asking price hit £310,108 this month.

'The prices set by house sellers and their estate agents are a leading indicator of market sentiment, and these figures demonstrate the slower pace of increases, ' said Shipside.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "The pace is no longer being set by the more affluent commuter-belt South, including London with its global appeal".

"As markets in other areas of the country become more mature and run out of price-rise steam and froth, the fundamentals of the Midlands have come to the fore".

Economists polled by Reuters expect house prices to rise by around 2.5 percent this year, slower than in previous years but still in positive territory.

Milton Keynes was identified as the best-performing new town for property price growth over the past 30 years, with Telford, Corby, Warrington and Skelmersdale also recording strong house price growth between 1986 and 2016.

  • Zachary Reyes